Living Room Furniture: Your Guide to Buying Quality at the Best Price

Furnishing your living room may seem like a complicated process. You have to take into account the space you have to work with, the designs that appeal to you, and how much you want to spend, among other factors. Once you’ve committed to one piece of furniture, say a leather sofa, subsequent purchases must match the existing item in style and color.

It’s easy enough to get living room furniture when you’re a college student living in a shared apartment and you don’t really care that your furniture doesn’t match. After all, you won’t be living in that apartment forever and will probably end up selling or giving away all your furniture anyway once school, or the school year, is over.

For homeowners, on the other hand, it’s usually not acceptable to get odds and ends from the Salvation Army or an Ikea. You may be lucky to come across a great find in a thrift shop, but it’s unlikely you’ll find whole matching living room furniture sets. Most homeowners also tend to be less receptive to the idea of buying living room furniture used, anyway. And while Ikea has many good products, many are lightweight and won’t stand up to constant use day in and day out.

There are a lot of choices out there even just in terms of styles. Do you want rustic/country, traditional, antique, designer, Chinese, or Italian furniture?

Should it be made of wood, and should the wood be oak or pine, or maybe wicker or rattan? How can you choose when there’s so many choices Finding the ideal furniture for your living room doesn’t have to be a chore. With a little bit of knowledge and preparation before setting off to browse your options, you will be able to quickly dismiss a lot of the stuff that doesn’t really interest you.

For instance, you might be looking for a leather sofa made of 100% natural, quality leather- in that case, you wouldn’t even need to consider leather living room furniture that is made with pigskin or leather that has been blended with PVC. By the same token, if you have an aversion to artificial things, and are looking for a marble coffee table, you would want to avoid getting something made of cultured, or synthetic, marble. Going through the process of elimination can be the best way to make your selection.

Oftentimes, a good strategy for buyers is to look for discount living room furniture from a furniture store selling new furniture. As a standard living room setup includes a sofa and loveseat or sectional, a coffee table and end tables, lamps, rugs, and other furniture like recliners, bookcases, etc., costs can rapidly add up.

Discount living room furniture can offset this cost, and may be available as a living room furniture set or with extras thrown in- the seller may include a free ottoman with a purchase of a sofa sectional, for example. You do have to exercise a certain amount of caution when buying discounted living room furniture, however. Usually an unpopular model will be discounted simply because it’s not selling fast enough, in which case you will be getting a good deal if you’re one of the few that likes the furniture.

Oftentimes such discounts will be available in inventory reduction sales, which are a great way to get furniture that may be discounted to upwards of around 30%, depending on how desperate a store is to get rid of stock that is just laying around. Here, a furniture store will simply have too much of a certain item. A large quantity of a certain piece of furniture may have been ordered with the belief that it would sell well. Expectations could fall flat, with the item taking up valuable warehouse space that could be better used for an item that sells better.

In this case, discounts do not reflect anything intrinsically wrong with the furniture and you are really getting a good deal. Furniture may also be discounted if it’s an item that has been discontinued by the manufacturer or if it’s “dead stock”, a unique item that is not part of the inventory a store normally carries. Usually, buying a floor model does not come at a discounted price. The exception is if there is some kind of flaw in the floor model you buy, in which case the item may be discounted.

One important consideration in getting living room furniture is the longevity of the furniture. In this day and age of disposable goods of all sorts, mass produced furniture has not escaped shoddy manufacturing and cost cutting that very often compromises quality. Even brand name, “designer” furniture may often be designed with profits in mind more than quality.

In general, mass producers are looking for ways to get away with what they can in terms of cutting costs. When buying furniture, it’s true that “you get what you pay for”, and one would certainly expect cheap living room furniture to not hold up too well. But the conundrum is that even when you pay high prices, you aren’t necessarily getting great quality or even value.

Take a marble top dining table, for example. Everyone knows that marble is a valuable material, and would be able to understand the high cost of a dining table with a marble top. What they don’t generally consider, however, is that the base the marble is attached to is could be relatively weak and that this expensive table might be out of commission in a few years.

Considering warranties usually last about a year or so, this hardly seems like a good investment. The same goes for leather living room furniture, which should last far longer that fabric upholstered furniture, but only if the leather is high grade cowhide (like full grain leather, for example).

With other kinds of living room furniture, the distinction between a quality item and a shoddy one may be less clear. For instance, black living room furniture is very popular, but all black living room furniture is not made alike!

Here, you can’t simply ask about the fabric to determine quality and a lot of guesswork may be involved when how well-made an object is not that readily apparent. An item may look slick and well designed, but be poorly made.

How can you tell if that good-looking sofa you’re getting will last, or will break after a couple of years of use?

This is where research comes in. Checking out reviews of the furniture you are considering is a good place to start. What do owners of the furniture have to say?

Has it held up wonderfully for years, working just as it should for many years? Or are problems reported again and again?

The majority of shoppers looking to deck out their living rooms today are searching for modern living room furniture. A more accurate description of what they’re looking for is contemporary living room furniture (“modern” denotes a specific art movement that ended in the 1970s). One of the styles of furniture most associated with the contemporary living room is sectional living room furniture.

This applies mainly to sofa living room furniture, and refers to sofas that come in two sections and are joined at the ends to make an “L”. Traditionally, the separate sofa and loveseat were the norm, but sectionals have become very popular because they give a cozier, more connected feeling to a living room and provide more sitting room while at the same time freeing up other room for more specialized seating like recliners, Lay-Z-Boys, rocking chairs, etc.

The point is, it is necessary to know the basics of quality, solid furniture. The first thing to fail on any piece of furniture is usually the joint, so check to see if joints are well made. The strongest conventional joint is the mortise and tenon for joining members, and dovetails for assembling drawers. However, you’re most likely to see these joints in high end and/or handcrafted furniture.

Choosing furniture that is beautiful and will last for years to come is important. Today, finding great furniture is easier than ever. You can shop online for high-quality brands like Four Hands from reputable dealers like House&Hold. 

The mass-produced items you find will almost certainly feature joints that are secured with bolts and other metal fasteners, and some are better made than others. Checking the joints and knowing a little about what makes a strong joint is one key to getting furniture that lasts.

Applying this knowledge of sound structure and design to the other aspects of furniture will allow you to make a choice of living room furniture that gives you the security of knowing that the furniture you’ve chosen will give you years, and perhaps a lifetime, of use.

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