Friday, September 23, 2011

Furniture Shopping

Pamela and I haven't owned much in terms of furniture over the years.  Dorm rooms and then NYC apartments aren't particularly spacious.

My parents, who live in the tri-state area, have offered to let us take our pick of furniture they have in storage or sitting in a garage.

We'll still be in need of a lot of items, but at the same time, we aren't in any rush.  We don't need to have a bed in every bedroom and for the most part, we'll only use two chairs at the dining table (Akina's bowl sits on the ground).

A Few Tips
While you probably don't need help selecting furniture, let me just add a few comments from our searches:

  • Make a priority list - you can go without a tea cozy for longer than you can go without a place to sit while you eat.  This also goes back to proper budgeting.
  • Find furniture you like even at stores you can't afford - lower priced retailers will likely carry something similar.  You can also use key words from a high end retailer's description of its product to help you search online.  This seems particularly true about lighting fixtures.
  • Measure - "Measure twice, (purchase) once"
  • Move in, then purchase.  There isn't much of a point in loading up on bulky items that you or movers will have to haul.  Also, once you are in your home, you can better understand the space you have to work with.  
  • Buy on sale - A couch is not a phone or an iPad - technology hasn't evolved making last year's products obsolete.
  • Sign up for the store's credit card - you could spend thousands of dollars on just a few items.  Store credit cards will often offer a discount or some sort of rewards currency for future purchases.  These cards often have very high interest rates, so I would advise you to purchase, get the rewards, then pay off in full.  *Warning* Don't sign up for new credit cards while your mortgage process is ongoing - lenders really really don't like that.
Pamela and I bought a sectional sofa several months ago from West Elm.  We weren't yet house hunting, but Pamela felt it would fit in our apartment.
Akina likes the couch!
This sofa design was being discontinued.  The store had it out on the floor but didn't have any others to sell, so it was doing little more than taking up space.  We didn't necessarily want all the pieces, but the store manager gave us a huge discount if we'd take all of it out of the store that day.  Soon we'll have a full living room and it'll fit a bit better.
Where to Shop
Below is a rough ranking of stores in terms of the pricing of items they sell (cheapest to most expensive):
IKEA - everything you'd want in one location with low prices
Brooklyn Flea - we haven't had a chance to go, but friends have come home with great pieces at great prices
Bob's Discount Furniture - the ads might be a bit on the cheesy side and you might be reluctant to shop here.  Pamela didn't even want to stop the car but I convinced her to check it out with me.  What a great store!  Big selection and very low prices.  The store we visited near Paramus, NJ has a complementary cafe. Pamela fell in love with a recliner with massage controller... maybe next time.
West Elm - a personal favorite of ours
Crate & Barrel - speak to a sales rep about a "Homebuyer Coupon".  You fill out a form which needs to be approved, but you are then granted a one time coupon for 10% off.
Restoration Hardware - most of the items here are a bit above our range.
Ethan Allen - a high end store with quality products and prices that reflect
Drexel Heritage - high end, lots of customization options
Stickley, Audi & Co. - high end, lots of customization options

There are a lot more options out there including other chain stores and Mom & Pop type stores.  Heck, you can even make your own furniture.  Have fun, but don't break your budget!

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