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Technique >> How to buy a sofa

Shopping for new furnishings is fun. Nerve-wracking. Overwhelming at times, but essentially, fun. I am often hired to eliminate the nerve-wracking and overwhelming part. And, to save the time, money and hassle of making the wrong choice. This is how I do it.First, take a big step back from the furniture store. There is a lot of work to do before you ever get there. I use a six-step approach for every one of my projects. Obviously, the time that goes into each step varies. For example, choosing a sofa involves a lot less work than designing an entire living room, or updating a kitchen.However, the basic steps are the same. Here is how they work when buying a sofa.1: ScopeWork out the objectives for the sofa. Do you want it as seating for visitors? To have a place to read, watch tv or snuggle? Nap? For how many people? All of these requirements demand a different sort of piece. Where in the home will it sit? How visible is it, and from what angles? What other elements of the room does it need to work with? Is there anything that limits your choices, like pets, children or allergies? Does it have to complement existing furnishings or a specific architectural style? Make a few notes.2: InitiationNext, get technical on it. Measure it. Draw it. What are the largest dimensions the space can handle? If you buy an eight-foot sofa, will you need to turn sideways to squeeze into the room? Can you fit it in the door? How about down the stairs? If you get a five-footer will it look lonely? What colours can it be? Always think about the height. If you have a small room, lower seat backs will give you a roomier feel. Taller ones are more formal. All of these things are essential to know so you can zero in on exactly the right fit for you.3: DesignNow the fun begins. Using the information you’ve gathered you can eliminate a lot of stores you don’t need to visit. They don’t sell what you need. And, when you walk into those that do, you can see for yourself what works and confidently explain your needs. You best option might not be on the showroom floor. In fact, if you've done the work upfront there are probably very few options that work. Pick your top two. Work out the prices to your door. You’ve probably noticed that I left budget out until now. There is value in shopping above your budget. While you may never buy the most expensive option, if you know about it you’ll be able to appreciate the value in something else. Next take home fabric swatches to see it in your home. Really, do this. Even if it slows you down, you will never regret it the way you will choosing a fabric based on the showroom lighting. And, make sure you understand the factors involved in the delivery. Is is custom made? Will it be shipped in the next load that the manufacturer sends when a container has been filled? You will likely be waiting anywhere from six to twelve weeks. Sometimes longer. Can you live with what you find out? Now: Make a decision.4: DevelopmentAssuming you’ve found your perfect match, you’re going to want to order it. Do. Then, actively manage the process. You’ll want to touch base and confirm the timing once or twice depending on the timing you were given. Things can (and do!) change. Make sure you know that status.5: CompletionYou get the call that the sofa is in. Book a delivery date and get ready to enjoy the new piece! If things are not right at the time of delivery then get a commitment on when the store can fix it. Place the sofa in your room, complete any styling with cushions or throws, if required.6: CloseAssuming all has gone well and your sofa is perfect, you’re done. Enjoy!I’ve purchased a lot of sofas and experience tells me that taking the time to work through the process always results in a better purchase and fewer expensive regrets.The bigger the project, the more elements that need to work together at each step for a room to feel right. However, the basic steps don’t change. If you follow them you’ll reduce the number of bumps along the road.Are you guilty of jumping straight into design? What will you do differently on your next project?