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Furnishing Hearth and Home

Does the idea of furniture shopping bring you feelings of glee—or dread? Even if it’s not your favourite thing, choose furniture carefully to ensure you have a happy, comfortable abode. There is no one style that will suit everyone, so let’s look at some things you should consider before you furnish your digs.

The Living Room

We’ll start in the living room or family room. You’ve got options when it comes to your furniture upholstery, such as leather, wood or fabric. What will work best for you depends on a few factors.

Nice furnishings don’t always mix well with children or clawed pets. If you have small children or a feline who loves to scratch, you might want to save yourself some heartache and avoid expensive materials like leather.

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You should also consider the temperature you tend to keep your home at. If you like thing on the warm side, be aware that leather can stick to bare skin. There’s nothing fun about the sting that follows peeling your body off leather furniture. On the other hand, leather is durable and comfy to sink into. For the vegans or vegetarians among you, leather is likely out, so you may want to consider artificial leather or a different type of upholstery.

Wood can be nice for some furnishings, but you don’t want an entire couch made of it. (Imagine trying to take an afternoon nap on that.) Wood can stand up to Fluffy and her talons, though, so you might look for couches and chairs that pair wood frames with fabric coverings if you have a particularly-destructive cat. Wood gives a room a nice look and has great durability. I have cube-shaped, solid-wood end tables that I can stand on. They’re great for when my short frame needs to dust high places. Places like Biglow Woodcraft make beautiful pieces right here in Winnipeg.

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Cost is another factor when we decide what to buy. Leather and wood tend to be more expensive than fabric, so they might end up out of your price range. When considering cost, think about how long you intend to have that piece of furniture. Some people want to buy something and use it forever, and others like to change up their décor regularly. You may want to spend a bit less if you can’t see yourself liking the same desk or chair for years; you’ll want to replace it eventually.

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The size of your space also plays a major role in your furniture shopping. You might love the idea of a gigantic sectional so all your friends can come over and watch Jets games, but a sectional won’t work in a tiny apartment. Instead, you might choose something like this plush-looking condo sofa. My home is small, so we’ve gotten good at picking up furniture that fits in our space. Some people look at Ikea with disdain, but it’s a great place to find pieces designed for small spaces. We wanted a futon for our spare bedroom/office, but the room doesn’t have space for a double-sized futon. Ikea came to our rescue with a chair futon that folds out into a single bed. It’s also super comfy!

You can look for other furniture that does double duty. We store cooking magazines inside an ottoman that opens up to double as storage. Floating shelves look good and provide storage for books and knick-knacks.

The Dining Experience

Does your dining room table simply act as a repository for your mail and random objects? Or do you fancy yourself a chef and do a lot of entertaining? If you’re more the chef type, choose your table wisely. Will you have enough room for your friends and family to gather around?

Look for a table that extends if you sometimes need to serve a larger group. Keep in mind that extendable tables are not all equal. How easy is it to extend/collapse? Do you have to store the extra leaf somewhere else? We bought a great table from Urban Barn a few years ago. It extends so we can host a crowd, and one person can set up the extension without help. The extra leaf butterflies and folds down under the table, so we don’t have to store it anywhere else in our already-tight space. It’s a far cry from the tables of old that needed (at least) two people and an engineering degree to add or remove a huge leaf, which took up valuable storage space when not in use.

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Pay attention to your dining chairs, too. Do people often linger at your table? If so, choose chairs that can be comfortable for a few hours. When we bought our table, we had the option of purchasing coordinating benches that would have seated 3 people each. They were beautiful, solid wood benches—and horribly uncomfortable. We found wood-framed chairs with leather upholstery instead, so our guests don’t need to visit the chiropractor after dining with us.

Chairs also allow you to show off your personal style. You can choose chairs all in the same subdued hue or add a bit of flair and a pop of colour! We had 4 different colour options when we bought our dining chairs and couldn’t decide which we liked better. So we bought 2 of each colour! Our mismatched chairs add a bit of whimsy to our slate grey table.

Technology Can Help You Decide

When looking for furniture, you can download a room design app to help you decide what you want! It’s fun to virtually plan out a room to see what it might look like and what will fit. With the right app, you can do more than use your imagination when you are trying to decide what works and doesn’t. Here’s an article that links to some popular room design apps you can try.

I’d still recommend going to showrooms, since look and size are only part of the picture when it comes to choosing furniture. I’m always most concerned with comfort and practicality in my furniture, but you can choose to go entirely online for your furniture buying. Either way, take the time to do your research and think about what you truly need. Buying furniture is far more expensive than buying clothes and you’ll be living with your decisions for a long time. Don’t get stuck with buyer’s remorse when it comes to your furniture!

Where is your favourite place to shop for furniture in Winnipeg? No judgement here, Ikea-lovers!