How to Choose & Buy New Furniture

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If you’ve ever had a place an order for a large piece of furniture with a hefty price tag, then chances are you’re all too familiar with the condition we affectionately call “analysis paralysis.” When buying larger items of furniture for the home, it can be hard to commit – especially if it means you’re spending thousands of dollars.

3 Steps for Choosing and Buying New Furniture - Make decisions for your home with confidence!

What if you don’t like it? What if you can’t return it? (Although, you always want to check the return policy first.) What if it’s not the right scale for your home? Or what if it starts a “if you give a mouse a cookie” effect and then you have to start changing everything else in the room?

These are all questions I’ve asked myself lately as we’re on the hunt for a new living room sofa.

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How to Decide on New Furniture

While some of the answers to those questions will have to be answered by you, I can help you with some of the steps I walk through as I make decisions about buying new furniture. I don’t take these large purchases lightly, because they are so expensive and oftentimes can’t be returned.

I hope this helps you be more confident in your choice like it has helped me.


The best way to know if a piece of furniture is to measure out the space. If you’re buying furniture for a room for the first time, I highly recommend using a piece of graph paper (or printing off a free version) and drawing out your space, including openings and doors. Then add in the furniture to scale.

Space planning and home decor concepts

Make sure to leave 30-36 inches for walkways and space out seats 3-10 feet for comfortable conversations.

If you want to read more about this, just search for “space planning” and several helpful sites will pop up. West Elm has a free design planner, which I’ve never used, but you can try it.

How to Choose a New Sofa | How to Pull the Trigger on New Furniture
We found out after we taped the size down that it will need to be moved significantly away from the fireplace. But that’s why we do this exercise!

Since I already have furniture in the space, I used the painter’s tape method and created the outline of the sectional we want with some painter’s tape. It helped us envision the space, with the new couch and we were able to see how it would work with the existing furniture.

We found out that we will have to move the desk and console table on the walls coming into the living room, but we’ll be able to move the console table to the back of the new sofa.


If it’s possible, do sit on the chair or couch before you buy it! Lay in the bed if you can. See the finish of the armoire in person. If it’s at all possible, try out a large purchase before you buy!

Pay attention to the materials as well! We already have the same fabric on our old sofa, so we know how it will hold up and how it looks in our space.

If it’s not possible to see the furniture in person, order a sample of the material so you can see it in your space!

A navy, gray, oatmeal distressed vintage rug. Abbeville Eclectic Dark Gray Area Rug

By the way, the slipcovered sofas from Pottery Barn with canvas material wash up like a dream. I love the fabric and it has been a great option for us even with little kids. I wash it every few months and spot treat any stains and they’ve come out beautiful. I have even gotten out red ink pen from the cushions. (We have the twill fabric in parchment color.)

Definitely get a sample of the material you’re looking to purchase from the manufacturer and test it out. Spill something on it and wash it to see how well it holds up.


Places like Pottery Barn, where I bought my sofa, has their Buy More, Save More sales event for every major sale holiday. I know that at any of those times I can save 30% off a purchase of $3,000 or more, so I’m not going to buy it when it’s not on sale.

How to Choose a New Sofa | How to Pull the Trigger on New Furniture

I usually will watch a large ticket item for up to a year before I purchase, just to see if the price adjusts. If it doesn’t go down in a year, then I know I’m not going to get a better deal.

Go Ahead and Hit “Buy”

If most everything checks out, go ahead and press the “buy” button. No piece of furniture will be THE perfect piece. But if you’ve eyed something for a while and done your due diligence on measuring, testing materials and watching for sales, then go ahead and buy it.

If you want to see the sectional I ordered, you can see it in our new living room reveal. We LOVE it!

Want to Know When to Splurge vs. Save on Home Furnishings?

Click here to read my post on which items I recommend splurging on and which items to save on. Hint: one to splurge on? A sofa!

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  1. Thank you for these tips. We are in the process of buying new furniture and we need to really check it out to make sure it’s comfortable, how hard it is to get dog hair off (yes they are extremely spoiled) and fit in the room. I refuse to buy online. We will go to ikea and Ashley furniture. Possibly Nebraska furniture mart.

    1. I totally get that! I ran all of the numbers online, but I went to the store when I finally made my purchase. Even though I was basically buying the same couch in a sectional, I still wanted to sit on it in the store! 🙂

  2. While I have no real difficulty with buying a cupboard or table online, I have more difficulty buying a sofa or large chair that I can’t try first. Not only is it not easy to return such a purchase (logistically), but if it is one for main use, I really stop and think about it and am normally not able to convince my husband to bite the bullet. That’s why our last 3 sofa purchases came from IKEA…

    1. I totally understand, Rachael! I had to go to Pottery Barn this afternoon to sit on the couch one more time before I bought it! There’s something about needing to sit on it first. I DID get our beds recently without laying on them first, but I relied heavily on other customer reviews to make my decision!

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