Whether you delight in the opulence of Victorian furnishing or prefer the sparseness of a modern look, furniture shopping can be simple.
Your additions should fit your taste and lifestyle, be easy to maintain, and, most important, fit within your budget. It pays to shop carefully, since your selections will be a part of your home for years to comes.
Here are some guidelines for simplifying your selection of furniture, window treatments, and floor coverings.
If you have children, consider getting well-made wooden or wicker furniture that can be easily wiped clean of crumbs, spills, and fingerprints; and upholstered couches with sturdy frames that can withstand repeated trouncing from your kids.
When furniture shopping, pick durable fabrics - such as cotton and linen chenille, tightly woven cotton, or upholstered nylon - that are relatively easy to maintain and can be treated with a stain-resistant coating.
In lieu of solid-colored wall-to-wall carpeting, opt for patterned area rugs that have a slip-proof backing; the patterns will hid the inevitable spills and spots of daily family life.
If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, a professional carpet cleaning every three to six months will help keep it looking its best.
If kids aren't a design consideration, go ahead and indulge yourself with those pretty yet vulnerable furnishings on your wish list. But keep in mind that ornately carved wooden pieces and dreamy silk or stain upholstery can be a nightmare to keep clean and fresh looking.
One useful rule for furniture shopping, whether or not you have kids: Buy the best furnishings you can afford. A sturdy, well-made sofa or a top-of-the-line, stain-resistant carpet usually will last longer and look better than an alternative of lesser quality.
Also, be sure to ask how best to maintain the floor covering or furniture you're considering; correct care can prolong its life.
Which sofa is best for your home?
A sofa's back is the one element that has the greatest effect on how the couch looks and feels; that is where you should start inspecting the lovely piece that has particularly caught your eye. There are four main styles to consider:
Once you've selected the back style that best suits your tastes, take a careful look at the sofa frame.
Today you'll find good long-lasting frames in steel, plastic, laminate, or a combination of materials - and many of these frames are tough enough that even the most rambunctious of children can't damage them.
Choose the frame that passes the comfort test and has the lines you find most pleasing. The rest of your decision will be purely esthetic and personal: the style of the sofa's base (such as skirted or upholstered), the base and arm styles, and the fabric.
Whatever fabric you choose, having the upholsterer protect it with a stain repellent should considerably extend the life and beauty of the piece in your home.
When furniture shopping, remember that chairs, whether upholstered or not, should be similarly comfortable.
A chair's firmness, depth, and back height all have a bearing on how you'll feel while sitting or lounging there. Sit a spell before you buy, putting your feet up or placing throw pillows just as you would if you were at home. If the chair doesn't feel right in the store, it never will in your living room.
Simple is best when it comes to window coverings.
Windows covered with ruffles to the rafters quickly get tired-looking - not to mention dusty. Most shops for window coverings offer a wide variety of styles, with equally varied prices.
If you're just looking for a simple mini blind treatment for the bath, most deals can provide dozens of options (macro, mini, horizontal, and vertical) in many colors and materials, such as plastic, wood, or metal.
But measure carefully if you're installing the blinds yourself; unless your window is a stand size, you will need to special order the blinds.
If you're shopping for fabric draperies, plan to shop around and compare prices and design advice before you sign on the dotted line. If possible, select a company that offers guaranteed in-home measuring - this will keep you from making any costly mistakes.
Most shops will provide an in-house decorating consultant to help you find the perfect fabric and style, but the advice - and the prices for the window coverings - will vary from store to store.
The many flooring options available today include vinyl, ceramic tile, laminate, and wood - what's the right choice for your family?
When shopping for flooring, consider durability first. If you have a family, you'll want to know if the material you're considering will stand up to repeated trampling, spills, and cleaning.
One good choice for the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and dining room is vinyl flooring, which is available in an enormous range of colors and patterns, some designed to look like granite, marble, wood, and other natural materials.
All vinyl floors are coated with several layers of clear vinyl or urethane that serve as a protective shield against wear and are resistant to moisture.
Glazed ceramic tiles are a good choice for kitchen and bathroom floors: They are water-resistant, and in the event of damage you can replace the individual tiles without having to redo the entire floor.