Essential tools for furniture shopping


Shopping for home furnishings can be a pleasure or pain – and sometimes both. There’s pleasure in the exploration and discovery, of weekend shopping excursions to search for hidden gems, and making unexpected finds. Yet there can be pain if you’re not sure where to look and how to make sense of the overwhelming options. Then there’s the mix of pleasure and pain when you find something amazing that meets both needs and wants, but you’re not sure if it works in your space.

Whether furniture and decor shopping is easy or hard for you, there are a few things you can do to make it a little more focused and functional.

VISUALIZE. Know what you’re aiming for in a new design or refresh. Browse online to learn about styles and trends, and to find examples that appeal to you.

FOCUS. Agree on your shopping objective(s). It’s easy to get distracted by selection (although not always a bad thing), so find a focus for each shopping excursion.

MEASURE. Measure your rooms and specific spaces in them where you’ll put a piece of new furniture, lighting or decor.

BUDGET. Arrive at an overall budget for your makeover if you’re looking for multiple pieces, but don’t lock yourself into a budget per item. Stay flexible to splurge on one item and economize on another. If you’re looking for just one piece, then settle on a not-to-exceed budget.

RESEARCH. Do a little research on stores in your area so you go to the right places. Do they carry the style and kinds of things you want? Is their quality what you expect? Are their prices within your budget?



  • Floor plan and measurements
  • Photos of your room(s) that you can carry with you to the store
  • Samples of paint colors, fabrics, wallpaper and other decorating materials
  • Paper and pen, or a tablet or phone (use a notes app for the latter)
  • Measuring tape
  • Camera to take pictures of things you find along the way

Now you’re ready to make shopping both a pleasure and productive.

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