Adulting 101: How To Buy Furniture Without Losing Your Mind Or Getting Divorced

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Just like that first trip you took to Home Depot voluntarily, nothing feels quite like adulting as much as buying something with a tag that says you’ll be arrested for removing. Whether you have good taste, bad taste or no taste (or you just aren’t sure either way), buying furniture is generally expensive, time-consuming and one of life’s major annoyances if you do it wrong. So, don’t do it wrong.

Two years ago, I got rid all of 99% of my furniture. My then fiancé (now husband) and I were moving into our first place together and it was time to cleanse myself of all things bachelorette. He also got rid of all of his furniture. Not because I mostly hated it, but because we were in the process of combining things like airline miles and sock drawers.

Here are the most important things I learned throughout the process.

Measure The Room, Measure The Furniture, Measure Your Head

This might be the most important tip. Buy a tape measure and figure out the dimensions of the room you plan on putting the furniture in. If you aren’t sure if something is going to be proportional, ask for a tear sheet, go home and measure. If you still aren’t sure if something is the right size, take masking tape (string and dental floss also work) and outline the pieces on the floor.

Ask Yourself How Long You Are Going To Use The Furniture For

Because we were buying quite a bit (and by that I mean literally everything), we decided that what made the most sense was to buy furniture I’d keep for five(ish) years. That seemed like an adequate time goal. While I am not sure my bedroom set will be in my bedroom for more than five years, I love it enough and it’s good enough quality to be relegated to my future guest room. If I change my overall décor style when I move, my current bedroom set can easily work.

If you are in a place in life where you aren’t sure how permanent your current home is, it’s not necessary to invest in expensive furniture that you probably have to sell or throw out later. But if you are truly adulting, aim for the space that is between crap and heirloom. That being said, if you buy nice things, you can always have them moved, NBD. 

Consider What You Are Going To Use Most

Things like couches are really important because you sit on them and probably choose the rest of your furniture around that one large piece. You sleep on a mattress every single night. You likely pass out and possibly drool on your throw pillows. On that note, my throw pillows were expensive and all I want to do two years later is throw them out. A coffee table that is too short will annoy you on the regular. Spend your time/money/energy where it counts.

Don’t Be Afraid To Fall In Love

If there is a piece of furniture or décor you really love—think about it like an outfit. You can buy the fancy designer version or you can buy the less expensive Forever21 version. The same applies to furniture. If you have a reasonable budget, you can probably find a version of it you can afford. You might just have to search a little, but it is possible. There are even knockoffs or as they call it in Furnitureland, “replicas.”

Ask Questions

Let’s say you find a piece you LOVE, but it’s not within your budget, ask someone working at the store when they are having a sale. Stores find ANY reason to have a sale—after Christmas, Arbor Day, National Donut Day, etc. Sure you might have to wait a few weeks, but it’s totally worth it. Also, find out if there are any floor models available.

The same goes for colors. If you see something you like but the color doesn’t work—it might be available in another color, even if you don’t see it right there.

Stores Want To Give You Financing

This is not a finance blog and I’m certainly not telling you to buy something you can’t afford, but let’s say you have some cash coming in and you can’t wait for a television stand--just finance it. Pretty much every furniture store, whether it’s a local store (Stu’s Furniture) or a major like Crate and Barrel offer financing, often at a lower rate for a specific time period. Don’t deprive yourself of something you really want if you can’t afford it upfront or rack up a ton of interest on your current card.

There are also other benefits of store credit cards including discounts, events, free shipping, etc. If you aren’t sure if a store offers financing, just ask. When I was deep into my furniture hunt, I noticed some stores had signs out while others did not.  

Remember It’s Not Forever

Two years into this furniture and I’m already thinking about what I will do next go-round.