Pro Tips for Choosing the Right Furniture

While most design elements are included to increase your enjoyment of a room, or to evoke a certain feeling or emotion, furniture is what makes a room functional. Furniture is also generally one of the largest expenses/significant line items in a decorating budget. Furniture can make or break your room. It can be the difference between enjoying and spending a lot of time in that space, or avoiding it because it isn’t comfortable or functional.

5 bella vista primary bedroom

When you get it right, the furniture is scaled correctly to the size of the room, it serves its purpose/function, it’s comfortable, and you can easily move around it.

Purchasing new furniture can be overwhelming and there are so many factors to consider. In this article, we will cover the main decisions that need to be made, so you feel more empowered the next time you go furniture shopping or work with a designer on custom pieces.

Identify Your Needs and Space Considerations

Before you even look at a piece of furniture (and risk falling in love with something that won’t work for you!), you should make a list of what your needs are. Consider things like:

  • What activities happen in the room?
  • Does the room have a single function, or is it a multi-purpose space?
  • How many people regularly need to be accommodated?
  • What kind of storage do you need or want?
  • What is the impact of children and pets?
  • How important is comfort to you?

When you know what you value and what you require, it can help you focus your furniture search.

1 kings heights portland living room

Measuring and Space Considerations

Once you have identified your needs and wants, you must know how much space you have to work with.

It is important to get accurate measurements of the room, as well as the furniture. When measuring your room, consider things like where outlets are located, as well as windows and doors.

Once you have all your measurements, you can create a floor plan. One of the benefits of working with an interior designer is that they can do this for you in a 3D design program, allowing you to visualize the space. As you experiment with furniture placement, remember to leave space for free movement and walkways within the room.

Design Needs

Finally, think about your existing décor style and if this furniture refresh is going to work with that, or if you are moving in a new direction. Is there anything currently in the room that you are keeping? If so, think about how the items will work together, both functionally and design-wise.

Defining Your Furniture Style and Preferences

If you are working with an interior designer, you have likely already identified your design themes and signature style. However, if you are shopping for furniture on your own, you should be aware of how furniture can contribute to or detract from the overall design.

If you are still trying to identify your design style, try our free quiz.

Each design style has its own unique features that are present in furniture pieces. For example, modern furniture is all about simple, clean lines, with lots of neutrals. Bold colors can also be used, but the use of patterned fabrics is minimal. You would not see an overly ornate side table or paisley fabric here!

A modern, black and white office with a dark green shiplap ceiling.

In the traditional design style, furniture should be reminiscent of things past. It does not necessarily have to be an antique, but you would see furniture legs, tables, and other wood pieces cut in a classic way. Upholstery could be floral, damask, or paisley.

sunroom design by portland designer home decor blue sofa

Setting a Budget for Furniture Shopping

Today, furniture is readily available at all kind of retail establishments from local furniture stores to big box stores like Target.

However, if you are looking for something that will last a generation or more, and is customized to your life stage, needs, and signature design style, working with an interior designer on a custom piece is your best option.

Cost is influenced by the custom options you choose (like finishes, fabrics, and detailing) and the way the furniture is manufactured. At Allison Smith Design, we have decades-old relationships with quality furniture manufacturers, so please contact us for more information about custom options!

Researching Furniture Options

There is a plethora of furniture types and materials out there, and it can be difficult to pare your options down! Setting a budget and determining your design style, as discussed above, are two ways to start narrowing your furniture search down. But here are some other factors to consider as you are researching furniture:


We have come so far on the fabric front, and today we have lots of options for durable and beautiful fabrics. One of our favorites is Crypton. Crypton is a relatively new fabric that is truly washable, impervious to staining, and is heavy duty. We love it!

If your furniture piece includes wood or another natural material, there is a lot to compare here like hard vs. soft woods, types of finishes available, or whether or not the material you are choosing has specific maintenance requirements (think marble).

Your interior designer can furnish you with samples, sometimes you can order samples online, or you can visit showrooms.

Ultimately you need to know what your durability requirements are, how practical a particular material is for your, and what the maintenance is like.


Comfort is an important consideration for some furniture pieces like sofas, arm chairs, and even dining chairs. While plentiful showrooms are a thing of the past, interior designers are adept at listening to your needs and fitting furniture to what you want.

teal great room


In today’s digital world, you have access to things like customer reviews. As helpful as online reviews can be, it is important to read some of the best and worst experiences to get a thorough understanding of other people’s experiences with the product you are considering.

Even better, ask people you trust for recommendations. You know how trustworthy the people in your life are, and their experiences are probably most relevant to you.

Terms & Conditions

When choosing furniture, you may need to account for availability. If it is a custom piece, what is the lead time?

You should also find out what the warranty covers, for how long, and what return policies are in place.

Furniture Shopping Key Takeaways

In order to have the smoothest furniture buying experience, and end up with what you actually want and need, it’s important to follow the process outlined above. Identify your needs and wants, then follow it up with solid research. When you take the time to consider all the factors, you are much more likely to end up with something you love.

If you would like help buying new furniture for your home, contact us today!