When you’re moving into or redecorating a home, furniture is one of the expenses you need to cop on the chin, so you may as well make it an investment! Here are the four pieces you should spend money on and why.
A tip to take shopping
When you’re making an investment purchase, it’s a good idea to steer towards timeless pieces rather than “on-trend” ones that will go out of fashion within a few seasons. If you love contemporary accents, buy smaller items that can be easily (and inexpensively) updated, such as cushions. The mix of high quality furniture with fashionable, affordable pieces is a great approach to decorating your home.
The key investment pieces
Besides the bed, in many homes the lounge is the most commonly used piece of furniture. It’s directly related to relaxation: It’s the place where you unwind in front of the television, chat with visitors and perhaps even lie down for a nap. Since it’s enjoyed by everyone all the time, it’s worth splashing some cash on a high quality lounge. The problem is, with lounges, the quality is what lies inside. When shopping for a couch, there are three key things to look for: the frame, the seating support and the filling. First of all, your lounge should have a strong, sturdy frame — this is what will help it retain its shape for years to come. The best frames are hardwood; plywood isn’t as good. Also, make sure the joints have been glued and screwed in securely. If you’re looking for a comfy lounge (and who isn’t?), the support is crucial. For a lounge that isn’t saggy or rigid, go for eight-way or sinuous springs. Finally, the filling comes down to the kind of feel you prefer. If you want to sink into a really soft seat (and you’re willing to spend a little more money), choose down cushions. Otherwise, polyurethane is a great option — note that the higher the density, the firmer the cushion will be. In terms of material, leather is the best option simply because it’s easier to clean and condition.
A dining table
The next piece worth investing in: a good dining table and chairs. It’s simple really: You eat every day and you probably eat at least one meal at your dining table. If you have children, or you’re partial to throwing dinner parties, you want a table that can stand the test of time. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when purchasing a dining table. In terms of material, darker woods tend to be more durable than lighter ones. Granite is also excellent as a top. As for the finish, choose smooth ones that don’t have a high luster and are easy to clean; oil and wax are great choices, laquer isn’t. When it comes to chairs, you might be surprised to hear that they are usually more expensive than the table. If you’re a fan of matching pieces, buy the “suite” — it will save money in the long run. If you’re not prepared to shell out, consider pairing your table with more modern, plastic chairs. If you don’t mind shopping around for a good deal, check out consignment stores or auctions. When people move, they often sell their furtniture to these “in between” places, so you may be lucky enough to score a quality table with a much cheaper price tag than you’ll find in the shops.
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A bed frame
What’s a home without a bed? Answer: Not really one you want to come back to after a long day! In comparison to the other investment pieces, bed frames are probably the simplest to shop for. The base material of the frame really depends on the décor of the bedroom. Metal frames are modern (and can be repainted easily), while wood frames are very durable and “homely”. Again, the darker the wood, the sturdier the frame will be. Another thing to consider is the support. Unless you want to fall through your bed in the middle of the night, make sure your mattress is lying on sturdy wooden or metal slats. As for size, the rule of thumb is to buy the biggest bed you can fit into the room without overwhelming it. The larger the bed, the more room you (and your partner) have to move.
We spend up to a third of our lives in bed, so it makes sense to splurge on a mattress that will give you a good night’s sleep. In fact, if you’re going to invest in just one piece of furniture, make it a mattress — it really is that important. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” philosophy when it comes to mattresses, so it’s also one of the most difficult items to shop for. A good mattress needs to strike the perfect balance between support and comfort. There are four types of mattresses. Inner spring mattresses contain independent springs and padding, which provide support and comfort. Latex mattresses curve to the shape of your body and they attract less dust mites, making them great for allergy sufferers. Made from polyurethane, memory foam mattresses support hips and shoulders, but they often retain too much heat to be comfortable. Finally, pillow tops have an extra cushion layer to support your head. The way you sleep is a good indication of the type of mattress you need. For example, soft mattresses are great for people who sleep on their stomach, while firm ones suit people who sleep on their back. The only way to find out is to test the mattress. Go to a specialist store and lay on the mattress for 10 minutes in your sleeping position. We’re talking about investment pieces here, so don’t worry about feeling like a fool!
A word on warranties
With furniture, warranties vary anywhere from 12 months to 10 years. In other words, the warranty is only as good as the company, so be sure to deal with reputable ones. In general, things like dining tables come with a one-year limited warranty on manufacturing and material defects, while a good mattress should have a minimum of 10 years warranty.