Furniture Buying Guide

Skip the overwhelm and let me help share with you how to buy furniture, whether you choose to go with an online retailer or in person!

A question I get a ton is how to buy furniture that you’re going to love for years to come.

There is just so much out there and it can be super tough to make things feel cohesive, but I’m here to help!

I want to share with you guys today how to buy furniture both online or in stores and this technique has been tried and true for me, and with other people I’ve shared it with as well – so let’s dive in!

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Whether you’ve just purchased your first home, moved into an empty apartment, or are looking to revamp your interior, the process of buying furniture requires careful planning and thoughtful execution.

Assess Your Needs and Space

Measure Twice, Buy Once

I can not tell you how many times I had to return something because I eyeballed it and didn’t actually measure it.

coastal style living room

Room Sources: White Couch | Coffee Table (seadrift finish; no longer available) | Spindle Chairs | Similar, Budget-Friendly Spindle Chairs | Chair Pillows | Round Side Table | Woven Shades | Sideboard | Rattan Pendant Light | Rug | Coffee Table Tray | White Coffee Table Book | Match Cloche | White Vase (small size) | White Hydrangeas | Pink Hydrangeas | Woven Rattan Chain Links (similar) | Woven Planter

I can promise you nothing is more frustrating than purchasing a stunning sofa, only to find it doesn’t fit through the living room doorway or up your stairs.

Getting the dimensions of your room is important, yes, but don’t forget to note the dimensions of your doorways and any potential tight corners the furniture will need to maneuver through.

Use these measurements as your guardrails — they’ll keep you from choosing items that just won’t work.

Lifestyle Assessment

Another thing to think about when considering how to buy furniture – reflect on how you truly live.

wood dining table with runner

Room Sources: Dining Table (Seadrift finish) | Gray Rope Chairs | Similar Upholstered Chair | Rug (Natural color) | Woven Vase | Hydrangeas | Coral Wall Decor | Abstract Artwork | Woven Shades (“Tibet Ivory” color) | Pendant Light

Do you love to entertain and in need of a large dining table to create stunning tablescapes? Is a spacious desk required because you work from home? Do you have kids who will ruin anything nice so need to prioritize durability over looks?

Consider the functions and purpose of each room, as well as your personal habits, to steer your selections towards practical yet stylish choices.

Setting a Budget

Money matters, especially when it comes to a big investment like furniture. Establishing a budget is an essential part of the process and will guide your shopping in a realistic direction.

Be Realistic, Be Flexible

Begin by calculating what you can comfortably afford.

Remember, your budget should accommodate not only the essential pieces but also any additional items required to complete the room.

Be prepared to adjust your budget slightly if there’s a piece that you truly love and believe will stand the test of time.

I always recommend spending the bulk of your budget on big, often used items.

close up of white spindle arm chairs

Room Sources: Spindle Chairs | Similar Spindle Chairs | Chair Pillows – no longer available | Round Side Table | “Beautiful” Coffee Table Book | “For the Love of White” book

For living rooms, that’s a sofa or arm chairs. For a dining room, that’s obviously a table. In a bedroom, you can save a bit on the bed frame but do not skimp on a good mattress.

Prioritizing Purchases

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to buy everything at once, so prioritization is key.

white bedroom with upholstered bed and curtains on large french doors

Room Sources: Upholstered Bed | Rug | Nightstand (similar “look for less” nightstand) | Wall Sconces | Duvet Cover | White Linen Euro Shams | Blue & White Pillow Covers | Blue Lumbar Pillow | Drapes (“snow white” color | Curtain Rod | Clip Rings | Woven Shades (“Tibet Ivory” color) | Rattan Chair | Sunset Artwork | White Vase | Hydrangeas | Palm Stems

Begin with the most critical items, such as a bed if you don’t have one – then move on to secondary pieces later.

This phased approach ensures that you are setting up the most functional living environment that suits your needs first.

Researching and Selecting Furniture

The internet is your ally as you begin to explore the myriad options for furniture. But there can be a lot of noise out there.

Here are some of my favorite ways to filter through the choices and find pieces that resonate with your style.

Get Inspiration Before Buying

coastal bedroom with sailboat artwork, a rattan bench and a tall dresser next to it

Room Sources: Bench | Bench Cushion | Sailboat Wall Art | Lumbar Pillow (no longer available) | Blue & While Pillow Cover | Tall Dresser | Textured Vase | Seagrass Frame | Woven Shades (“Tibet Ivory” color) | White Duvet Cover

From Pinterest to Instagram to interior design magazines, there are endless sources of inspiration to help you discover what you love.

When advising friends & family on how to buy furniture for their homes, I always recommend creating mood boards or saving images. This will help you build a picture of the distinctive style they want to achieve.

This will help you figure out your actual design style. You’ll also be more likely to buy pieces that collectively create a cohesive look, rather than items that don’t jive.

Quality Over Quantity

Well-made furniture is an investment in comfort and longevity. The price may sting a little at first, but it can be worth it.

However, please remember that just because it costs more it does not mean it’s worth more. You can get some amazing deals at resale shops or on Facebook Marketplace.

Research different brands and read reviews to gauge the quality of construction.

Look for solid wood, sturdy frames, dovetail joints and durable upholstery for pieces that will last.

Making Informed Purchases

Test for Quality

If you’re going to buy furniture in person, test it out. And I mean beyond sitting on sofas.

Open and close drawers, feel the fabric, and listen for any signs of creaks or instability. A comfortable piece that’s built to last will feel and sound solid under scrutiny.

Fit and Function

Ensure that the pieces you select will not only fit spatially, but will also functionally fit your day-to-day life.

Take traffic areas into account and envision the flow of the room when the furniture is in place.

coastal blue 3 drawer chest with white mirror above it

Room Sources: Blue Linen Chest | Coral Mirror | Decorative Boxes | Woven Picture Frame | White & Brass Picture Frame | Vase | White Hydrangeas

Even if your console table fits perfectly on the wall, it’s not going to be functional if you keep bumping it every time you walk past it.

Online or In Person?

Online shopping for furniture has become increasingly popular and is my preferred method with all the good options out there. However, there are pros and cons to both online and in-person purchases. When advising others on how to buy furniture, think about what’s most important to you.

Convenience vs. Experience

Online shopping offers convenience and the ability to compare prices easily, while in-store shopping allows you to see, touch, and test out the furniture before buying.

What’s important to you may vary depending on the piece. For example, I’m someone who could just never purchase a sofa without sitting on it since comfort is important to me. However, comfort doesn’t come into play when shopping for a dresser. So I have no problem purchasing it online without seeing or touching it.

Do you value convenience and the ability to browse a wide variety of options, or do you prefer the experience of physically interacting with the furniture?

Shipping and Returns

One advantage of in-store shopping is that many times you can take your purchase home with you immediately, unless it’s a truly custom piece.

However, online shopping often offers free shipping and returns if something doesn’t work out. Be sure to read the fine print and consider any potential shipping or return costs when making your decision.

My Favorite Sources for Buying Furniture Online

My Favorite Stores for Buying Furniture In Person

Bringing Your Vision to Life

After all of the planning, budgeting, and researching, it’s time to bring your vision to life. Here are some final tips for creating a cohesive and stylish living space with your new furniture.

Mix and Match

Don’t be afraid to mix and match different styles, textures, and colors. This is what will give you more of a custom, designer look.

white coastal nightstand with small plant and clock

Room Sources: Nightstand | Similar Nightstand | Geometric Pot | Table Clock | Similar Clock | “Timeless Style” book (cover removed) | Grapewood Branch

Even though I typically stick to my coastal style (because that’s what I like!), you may not be like me! So feel free to try different styles in one space!

This will add visual interest and depth to your space.

Regardless of style, I do recommend sticking with a cohesive color palette for a harmonious look.

Personal Touches

Furniture is just one part of creating a home that reflects your personality and style.

Don’t forget to add personal touches such as artwork, photos, and decor items that truly make the space feel like your own.

rattan bar cart

Room Sources: Bar Cart | White Vase (small) | Similar Palms | Grapewood Branch | “Coastal” Book | “A Summer Place” Book | Dough bowl | Shell Spheres | Coffee Table (seadrift color no longer available) | Round White Coffee Table Bowl

Buying furniture can be an overwhelming task, but with careful planning and consideration, it can also be incredibly rewarding.

The process not only provides you with function and style but also a sense of accomplishment as you transform a space into your own personal sanctuary.

Enjoy the hunt for the perfect pieces, and I hope your new furnishings fill your home with comfort and delight! Happy furniture shopping!


Furniture Buying Guide

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