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Practical Guide to Buying New Furniture

Updated on September 4, 2012

Is it time for new home furnishings?

Purchasing new furniture can be stressful. There are dozens of stores and they all have different materials and different prices. While furniture isn't usually bought to last a life time anymore - it is hopefully a long term commitment. You want to make sure that you purchase furniture that is practical for you and your home.

It seems like an easy process but it can be a nightmare if you do not take a few things into consideration first. By following a few steps, you can make purchasing your new furniture fun and hassle free.

Budget - What can you afford?

I needed new living room furniture. My puppy, clearly wanted to let everyone know that he is the alpha and he marked his spot! He clawed a hole through the leather on my sofa in the corner seat cushion. I did find what he had been looking for. Now that we have established boundaries, I decided it was time to buy a new living room set.

You want to have an idea of what you can afford before you start browsing the showroom floor. Things add up quickly. A sofa, love seat, then you have to have that matching chair!

Make a budget and stick with it.

Need a Wood Finish Fix?

Small scratches on wood can be a cheap, easy fix!
Small scratches on wood can be a cheap, easy fix! | Source

Repair or Replace?

If you have a piece of damaged furniture and a tight budget there are often cheap repairs that can be made. If a piece of furniture is worn, you could use slip covers for a whole new look.

Woods can often be refurbished or polished with different types of furniture waxes to restore their former shine. For example, Walnut Oil and a pastry brush can help restore wood and cover fine scratches. A beautiful throw can cover stains or blemished fabrics.

Shopping furniture warehouses for discounts can be fun too. If you like a more eclectic look, you can buy pieces that are of differing textures, fabric, woods and colors to reflect your taste. Buyer beware though warns, Kim Georgie, Manager of O'Fallon Ashley Furniture HomeStores. I have had people complain that they see a set very similar to one of ours at a cheaper price - it may not be made with the same materials. "If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is," she warns.

This is the space I want to redecorate.
This is the space I want to redecorate. | Source

Measure And Plan

I can't stress this point enough. I have made this mistake more than once. You must measure the room and stairway if necessary prior to purchasing the davenport of your dreams. I had no problem getting the sofa I bought for the basement into the house but it would not go around the corner into the basement!

The gentleman that moved in across the street didn't measure his big screen television. They watch it in the garage as it will not fit through any of their doors.

It is very difficult to tell if furniture and accessories will fit in a room if the space is tight. Measure the size of your room and the size of the area you expect to place the new furniture. Make sure you can accommodate the door and hallway space that will be required to move it inside your home.

Ashley has a great feature that can be accessed online. Plan the room you intend to redecorate on their online room planner. This will allow plenty of time to make sure the plans in your head match the reality of the room.

Furniture used to be designed to last a lifetime, and that is just not so anymore. Styles change and people change, our taste changes.

Furniture is now made to be durable, cheaper and last several years highly dependant on the amount of wear and tear on the pieces. Personally, I get bored with different styles and I really enjoy redecorating every few years. I work from home so if I see a change that is more functional, it may be worth making a new change for my lifestyle.

Custom Made Furniture

$5000.00 for a custom sofa from Ethan Allen - these pieces are 10 years old.
$5000.00 for a custom sofa from Ethan Allen - these pieces are 10 years old. | Source
Fabric and color is still in mint condition.
Fabric and color is still in mint condition. | Source
Kim Georgie, Manager of O'Fallon Ashley Furniture HomeStore
Kim Georgie, Manager of O'Fallon Ashley Furniture HomeStore | Source

Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.

When I make a large purchase, I like to know a little bit about who is making the product. I look at customer reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau. I don't want to have to spend hours later working out problems because I trusted someone who turns out to be disreputable.

Ashley's story begins in 1945. Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. was founded in Chicago by Carlyle Weinberger. Currently, it is owned by father and son, Ronald and Todd Wanek. They believed and proved that furniture could be made better and still sold at low cost to the customer. Their ideas not only changed the way our lives look from inside our homes - they set in motion changes that would change the look, feel, texture and even the sound of the world, outside our homes.

In the 1980's Ashely began to expand and their dealers began to travel the world to develop the best furniture while moderating design costs,creating environmentally friendlier products and functional products for families.

In the 1990's the retail market boomed with the spread of independently owned Ashley Furniture HomeStores in communities everywhere across the world. These stores are most often locally and independently owned with the employees living in the community.

Ashley is involved in many environmental causes, they offer support to those with disabilities, they have been involved with collections for the needy, veterans, music and art programs in schools and another thing that makes them the largest furniture dealer in North America is their effort to leave a GREEN footprint. They also maintain an AAA+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

From the material they use to build furniture to the fleet of trucks that deliver it, they are at the top of the class in preserving the habitat they have grown from. This is exactly the type of company that I want to support.

Kim says that now days "Furniture is Fashion." The designers at Ashley want to bring the most beautiful, functional and comfortable furniture while maintaining echo friendly designs and bring the best prices to the public.

"They do not believe in wasting a thing. The design team is so vigilant they figured out how to save money by cutting 3 inches of fabric from each sofa. It may not sound like a lot but we produce in volumn. Ideas like that add up to more savings for the customer."


Tips for Decorating Small Spaces

Bernard, Salesman at Ashely Furniture HomeStore in O'Fallon, MO.
Bernard, Salesman at Ashely Furniture HomeStore in O'Fallon, MO. | Source

Different Styles for Different Lifestyles

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Out with the old - in with the new!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The empty room.Forget the tornado watches, hail and rain - the delivery guys showed up on time!Moving it all in.It's a bird! It's a plane! No! It's the Ashley Furniture Delivery Men!What a mess!
The empty room.
The empty room. | Source
Forget the tornado watches, hail and rain - the delivery guys showed up on time!
Forget the tornado watches, hail and rain - the delivery guys showed up on time! | Source
Moving it all in.
Moving it all in. | Source
It's a bird! It's a plane! No! It's the Ashley Furniture Delivery Men!
It's a bird! It's a plane! No! It's the Ashley Furniture Delivery Men! | Source
What a mess!
What a mess!

What's your style?

I often see furniture that I love but while it looks great on the showroom floor - it would not be practical for my lifestyle. I love white leather sofas but with two kids still living at home and three dogs - it would look more like a Dalmatian after a week.

I popped into my local Ashley Furniture HomeStore and Bernard was there to help me. Again. He helped my uncle choose new furniture several months ago when my uncle moved to town. I was glad to see he was working on the floor and available to assist me in purchasing new furniture for my living room. We sat down at his desk to talk about my needs. I brought photos of the room that I wanted to furnish so that he could see how it is shaped, colored and designed. I bought my previous set at Ashley and he did recognize the set.

"Why do you need to replace that - it looks fine!" he said surprised.

"Oh it's all great and fine except that hole my puppy clawed in the seat cushion."

Bernard quickly looked up my account and noted I had purchased the protection plan but it does not cover pet damage. I knew and was informed of this when I bought it, I acknowledged.

I had to use it once. I thought it was going to be a big old pain or I wouldn't be able to get a free fix because my child had ripped the ottoman with her belt buckle. Much to my surprise when I phoned the store they assured me it was fine. They told me where to call and I took a few photos of the damage so they could assess the tear. They decided it couldn't be repaired and sent a guy right out with a brand new one!

Completely free of charge to me as I had paid for that protection plan. The ottoman in question was an over-sized large storage chest with leather fabric. It would have cost me about $400.00 to purchase a brand new undamaged one.

Bernard explained I could just have the cushion repaired or order a new one and I could save a lot of money. "Shhh! I want new furniture and that is why I didn't bring my husband so don't go telling him that kind of crazy stuff!"

Bernard said he hoped my husband wouldn't ask. So did I, because I didn't get the feeling he was going to be able to keep mum on that.

Kim was on the floor and we talked about design a bit more. "We have tall ceilings, fluorescent lights in the showroom and it's hard to tell how things will look in your home. Colors and fabric look different, finishes can look different. If you want to match a particular color, I recommend that you take it to the furniture store and compare it inside or even walk outside to see how it looks in natural sunlight."

I asked her about the mattresses at Ashley. She informed me that they are now designing and making them for Ashley! They are extremely echo friendly and extremely comfortable. "Bigger is better in this case," she told me. Research has proven that a better night of sleep is had if there is a larger sleeping area. "Get the biggest bed your room will accommodate but don't forget to take into consideration the other furniture that needs to occupy the room."

Buy furniture that fits your personal needs and style!


My entire order was ready for delivery the following day. I knew my husband didn't plan on removing all the current furniture that evening but it turned out to be a must. We had some friends come over, provided food and drink and broke it down.

Even though it was raining, hailing and tornado sirens were blaring, the Ashley delivery truck came right on time. My delivery was pretty seamless. I asked the driver what the worst delivery was that he ever had.

"That's easy," he said, "some lady ordered one of those beds with the motorized hydrolics. The bedroom was upstairs. Those things are so heavy and awkward to set up, it was the worst," he said shaking his head and wiping sweat from his brow.

My husband snorted and gave me that narrow eyed, accusing stare. Neither one of us wanted to admit that I had one of those beds sitting upstairs. I did not buy that bad bed from Ashley and it was an impulse buy. My husband hates the bed because the memory foam is uncomfortable to him. It's working fine though - further proof that some things shouldn't last a lifetime.

I love the way the room looks!
I love the way the room looks! | Source

"I consider that a man's brain originally like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose." ~Arthur Conan Doyle


Submit a Comment

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Oh wow thank you so much Sharyn! I did put lots of work into this one and heck I probably made at least 10 cents! hahaha I do still love the furniture and will be relaxing on it soon I hope!

  • Sharyn's Slant profile image

    Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

    Wow Kel, you worked your butt off putting this hub together. It's awesome. And in the long run, you got the new furniture which is beautiful. I like yours better than the showroom pics too. Very nicely done!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Tammy! Oh thank you SO much! The whole thing was really's hubs like this that I have to remind myself it's work! You aren't supposed to love that as much as I do, I know! Lol

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Haha Stephanie - because guys just need a blanket, remote and tv:) as long as things are clean I think guys are hubby kept stringing me let's wait for the puppy to get bigger...well how much bigger? He's a mini dog! Lol. So the moment I saw the WTI - I was like "HEY! Dave HP boss says I have to get new stuff now. We all do!" hahaha

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Cyndi! Thank you! I do love shopping there - they have terrific buyers and the cost for say a lamp there is like 1/2 the cost other stores charge! I got my niece the most adorable lamp for a housewarming gift there - it was adorable! It was a floor lamp with silk fringe about 6 incessant of it - all the way around the lamp shade a gorgeous! It reminded me of the 1920's era...oh and the niece LOVED it:)

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

    This is an awesome hub. I enjoyed reading your interview in the newsletter about this hub. Way to go! :)

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

    Enjoyed your hub and I love the way your redecorated room looks! Very classy! I've been thinking about some new furniture lately, but hubby is not keen on it. How come husbands can live with the old stuff so much longer than we can? :)

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

    Love the pics! Great experience and Ashley Furniture sounds like a winner. I have new-found respect for them. :) Thanks for sharing your story!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    That's so hilarious Thomas - and I started my day on a happy note reading this comment:)

    THANK YOU! Hahha

  • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

    ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada


    Oh no...we slunk through the dark of night with our stinky burden. As I recall we did so while humming the old theme song to Mission Impossible. We then made our way back (still humming the theme song to Mission Impossible) as we dashed from tree to tree.

    Needless to say..I don't know what we were trying to accomplish....we took the thing in broad daylight then it was sitting on our porch for a week. Yes...clever that.

    Mandy sounds awesome!! That's a party I want to go to next time it's thrown!!


  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thomas! OMG! I can somehow picture that scene:) I LOVE IT! hahahaha

    So let me ask - morbid curiosity - did you carry the sofa in the daylight or under the cover of darkness in the night? hahaha

    My friend (MANDY - oh yes I will name names!) was the instigator I believe at a Halloween party maybe last year? They thought it would be funny to re-arrange the neighbor's lawn. They set a sofa, chairs - a whole scene on their front yard after they went to bed! hahaha Can you imagine - waking up to that on the front lawn? haha

    We should have a party....wanna come over? LOL

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Stacy - Yeah you can get a really beautiful slip cover and be just as happy if the problem is just dirt. When my girls were little - I just planned on having stains and spills. That's just life! So I never freak about it either - I know darn good and well I can get new stuff:) lol

    Yeah this is super cool - The owner of Ashley in Wisconsin (!) ha Arcadia - made a memorial park. I think it is notable that it's a timeline and it begins with the beginning of the US (rather than the beginning of the company name!) and each war is marked with a memorial in that date on the time line. It is dedicated to the people who fought for this country and that is just SO cool! I did know you would like knowing that - as an individual who has served our country together with your husband!

    I will find out if they do offer a discount - I'll let you know!

    Thank you so much:)

  • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

    ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada


    The last couch we got was located on the side of the road with a sign that said, "FREE." (It was in our price range). We carried it the block and a half to our house (Delivery was on schedule). It would not fit in our door (we left it on the porch). We noticed an odor (It was bad). We got a letter from the city saying we had to remove it (We didn't think it was THAT bad of an odor). We carried it back a block and a half and left it where we found it. By that time there was also a chair there (We put the couch a little ways away so in case they decided to fight).

    Yup...that's the last time we got furniture. Somehow...your process is much more civilized.

    Very informative article here! Next time we will measure the door and do some serious sniffing before all that work.


  • barbergirl28 profile image

    Stacy Harris 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

    Your furniture looks amazing... even though I thought your other furniture did as well. We got our livingroom furniture off craigslist for 100 bucks. It worked for our needs and was cheap which helped out immensly because we had a lot of stuff to replace with our move. However, time is going to come soon for us to replace it. Cream color was not a good option with three dirty kids running around. However, the price was right so I can't complain too much, and a slipcover would probably give it a whole new look anyway! :)

    Loved the hub and you did a great job on the buying furniture guide. I know some people will go for the cheaper version but from experience, I have gotten cheap furniture and someone sat on it wrong and it broke. No warranty and since we just bought new furniture, it obviously wasn't something that we could easily replace.

    I did notice one thing that you said, Ashley furniture is involved in helping certain organizations. You mentioned Veterans. Do you know if they give veterans and active duty military a discount. I know when we went shopping for our bedroom furniture, that was one of the things that sold me. Any business that is good to veterans and active duty military are the ones I want to support!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    haha Drbj - I loved that movie! My favorite line is when Scarlet asks Rhett, "would you like to have a Mint Julip on the veranda?" Oh gosh I need to watch that movie again!

    Yeah measure before you buy - and the space you have to get the furniture into the house too! We had to take the legs off of everything to get it in or out but it barely squeezed through! Maybe they need to make a new Lego type furniture? Build it as ya go?

    Dave is easy - ! I wouldn't have it any other way:) hahaha

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

    I learned so much useful information from this hub, Kelly, thank you. I learned:

    - always measure, measure, measure first before you buy

    - buy good stuff that will last - but only until you tire of it

    - Dave is 'easy'

    - and Ashley is dependable. Happy to learn that since I wasn't too fond of his wussy ways in "Gone with the Wind."

    Oh, one more: - voted up!

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

    Great ideas and a very insightful hub as to buying new furniture. I have been wanting to buy a new couch for so long, and have just trying to get the style down just perfect. I wait a little longer, and then I find another "perfect" sofa for my living room space, etc. There is a lot to consider, shape, style, size, comfort, etc. So I am not going to get in a big hurry. Thanks for sharing such great ideas and your beautiful home here. In His Love, Faith Reaper

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Haha I can imagine you on the phone "Al - we got a problem baby!" haha

    I was asking the delivery guys about nightmarish things to deliver - one guy said some lady ordered 3 sofas for an apartment on St. Louis - upstairs. They had no way to get up there except the fire stairway outside of the house. He said it was all rickety and she asked him to please he did...and it wouldn't fit once he got up there and he had to being it back down! Scary! You know those fire escapes? Gosh he's way too nice I told him:) lol

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Dr. Pooja - that's awesome! I love redecorating - and I love 3 year old little boys too! Lucky! I had all girls:). That's a great point too - if you have little ones like that - you need plastic furniture! Haha. Good luck and thank you!

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    This was fun and it was as if I was shopping for furniture right along side you. I love what you chose. I remember the first sectional we bought when we had our first apt. The delivery guys said they couldn't get the sectional into the apt. We had special ordered this couch and I was so mad that they couldn't get it to fit in the doorway. I called Al and he came home right away as we'd spend a month looking for that perfect couch. He got the couch in the doorway no problem :)

  • Dr Pooja profile image

    Dr Pooja 5 years ago

    I too am going through the phase of buying furniture for my living room and agree with you that we should do research and stick to our budget .I have 3 yr old boy at home who needs all the space and while buying I paid attention to this aspect too.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Oh I wish I could have a pool! We have thought about trying to add one but it would just be too crazy looking. Most of my yard is on the side - I'm on a corner lot. My back not big enough for a pool:) lol. Maybe a spa?

    Yeah - poor Dave my foot! Lol. He told me to just go find something nice and gave me a budget. Which I multiplied by two:) hahaha. He is awful happy now thought Lela and he LOVES it! So he said he didn't mind - which I knew he wouldn't to begin with. I wonder if it's easy - being that easy! Hahaha

    Yeah you and Bob will have to come for a visit - !

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Melbel! Thank you so much:) I do like my house and I'm slowly getting it just the way I would have built it.

    Isn't getting new furniture so much fun? I don't even mind the work involved because I know I'm going to enjoy it for years:). Good luck - it's gotta be beautiful! Lol

  • Austinstar profile image

    Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    Excellent hub on your new furniture experience. Funny too. Poor Dave, if he only knew ;-)

    I finally got my insurance settlement (really low though, but the lawyer said that was about the best I could do with SunLife Insurance - they suck) and I've talked Bob into building a deck down by the pool and putting a spa tub on the deck. Yes, this will cost more than my settlement, but I am worth it. We use the pool every day in the summer and now we will be able to use the spa almost every day during the rest of the year.

    So look for a hub about decks and spas, eh?

  • melbel profile image

    Melanie Shebel 5 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

    Wow, Kelly! The furniture looks amazing! We are getting new furniture too, it looks very similar to yours. We'd have received it by now, but we changed our order.

    You have such a beautiful home. Great hub, Kelly! Shared and up-voted! :)

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Tammy I should have totally guessed you shop there - I was looking at one of the photos in my living room and realized my favorite Japanese statue came from there! They have the best accessories too. Their buyers have awesome taste. I like to go in and look atthri decor - it's always priced right too!

    Thanks so mich!

  • tammyswallow profile image

    Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

    What a gorgeous room! I didn't realize Ashley was into environmental causes and did so many great things. That makes me feel good about shopping with them. I really love that store, especially the children's bedrooms. Great and helpful hub!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Melovy - the manager reiterated that a few times - measure, measure, measure!

    I thought I was being smart and 'prepared' before I moved into this house. I bought furniture for the basement in advance....stored it in my house for a couple of months before we moved in. The sofa would not go around the stairwell in the basement! Unless I sawed it in half - it wasn't happening. Mean while - the store I got it for such a great deal - went out of business! I ended up giving it away. Brand new set!

    Another thing Kim did talk to me about was that people need to actually sit in the stuff before they buy online. She said she has heard of a multitude of stories like yours - unless you are bed ridden and arn't planning to use your funishing - you should test it out! lol

    Thanks so much for the read, comments, and votes!

  • Melovy profile image

    Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

    This is a really useful hub for anyone buying furniture. My in-laws made that mistake of not checking sizes and couldn't get a sofa into their house. We once ordered one online. Never again. The fabric was horrible and the seats were hard. It went straight back, and we went back to sitting on beach chairs for another few months! Now we only buy from companies we know and trust.

    Voted up.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I am all in for that Ruchira - anything is possible. I did manage to hold a virtual wedding ceremony between two hubbers! lol

  • Ruchira profile image

    Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

    How about a new furniture virtual party...kelly ;-)

    I will get the champagne and you provide the couches and

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Ruchira! Thank you so much!

    Ha - you even have one near you it sounds like? I shop there for accessories and house warming parties - I love their stuff!

    I love my new furniture too - it's fun to walk into the room and see it because it's so new I keep forgetting I redecorated:) lol

  • Ruchira profile image

    Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

    I sure like your new furniture, Kelly.

    What a journey you took us on...brilliant and awesome!

    It is fun to decorate a room provided all accessories are a one

    I am a big fan of Ashley furniture...they are good and have a good variety.

    Cheers to your new couches :)

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Thanks so much Paula! I do not work so I do feel obligated to try to make my house look great. I do take a lot of pride in entertaining and having dinners and family over. So you can see why buying furniture means so much to me. I work from home and spend most of my time here - so I want to be feeling good about this place:)

    You can come right on over honey, I even have a spare room all ready! I swear I do! lol

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thank you so much Julie! This one truly was a labor of LOVE:) lol I had so much fun redecorating so I just decided I might as well document and make a hub - it's what our lives become, huh? lol

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Kelly.....WAY UP!!! Useful, awesome, beautiful and interesting. Your home is MAGNIFICENT!! beautiful, classy, IMMACULATE! You do your own cleaning??!! more thing...

    I'm almost done packing. Traveling very light, since I won't need all that much to move in. I can always get new clothes and personals once I arrive. If you have a minute, could you send a picture of my bedroom?

    I'd like to get some coordinating nightgowns & slippers.......Oh, and I'll have my own bathroom ....right?

    Will call just before I leave to give you Flight info.... I planned it to be just in time for one of your FAB dinners.

    To HELL with the house next door to you. P.S. I do windows.

  • Julie DeNeen profile image

    Blurter of Indiscretions 5 years ago from Clinton CT

    Wow. You covered it all! Nice job. Voting up!