Has your sofa gone from comfy to lumpy? Does your new TV seem out of style on your 80s-style stand? If so, you’re in the market for new furniture. But before you head out, check out these sure-fire furniture shopping tips. Educate yourself and you could save hundreds of dollars and plenty of heartache.

PREP BEFORE YOU SHOP
When you enter the furniture showroom and salespeople attack from all sides, you might think your shirt has a bullseye on the back and “sucker” printed on the front. Follow these steps and you’ll stride through the store with confidence.

1. Know who will be using the furniture and for what
If pets, kids or other messy folks will be using the furniture, consider durability and ease of cleaning. You won’t love your white plush sofa if you hate cleaning it all the time. Consider ALL activities the piece may need to support—working, gaming, sleeping, eating—plus environmental risks like lots of sunlight, heavy traffic or the safety of little ones.

2. Understand your color scheme
Does your furniture need to fit with an existing color scheme or décor? If so, bring samples or photos so you can select furnishings that match. Not good with color? Bring a friend or family member who is.

3. Measure, measure, measure
Don’t think you can see a couch in the showroom and know it will fit in your living room. Measure, triple-check your measurements, write them down and bring them with you, along with a measuring tape. Nothing puts the “wah-wah” in a furniture delivery like learning your new stuff doesn’t fit.

4. Stairways and hallways and doors, oh my!
Remember, the bed you love has to fit in the room, AND you have to get it to the room. Carefully measure and plan for stairs, halls and doorways. On a related point, pay for pros to move your furniture. It’s smart money compared to damaging your items or throwing out your back.

5. Bring a list, a friend, a budget and plenty of time
Alist is a must. It can be difficult to keep track of options, so take notes and pictures along the way. A friend will make shopping fun and will give you confidence as you make choices. Most importantly, take your time. You can stand that hideous dresser another week, so don’t settle for something you don’t love or that exceeds your budget—also a must-have BEFORE you shop.

Online Furniture Shopping
Online is fine, but if possible, view what you’re considering in the store first. Colors can look different on your computer versus in person, and don’t underestimate the value of touching a fabric or texture (technology isn’t that sophisticated yet). In case real life doesn’t meet your online expectations, make sure you know the return policy, including who pays shipping charges, before you buy.

BONUS TIPS!
If you’re shopping for several rooms or a houseful of furniture, select your biggest pieces first. You can always shop for smaller items later. Also, consider sets and used furniture as a way to save money.

Changing your furniture can alter your living space and enhance your life—so study up, then shop on!

Now, what will you do next to love where you live?

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