Tips and Guides

Expert Advice: 4 Things to Keep In Mind When Buying Furniture

Be guided by this list when it comes to shopping for your home

Photography: Marc Jao (Main Photo)

Furniture shopping can be a very enjoyable task for anyone, but in order to avoid impulse buying, you need to be prepared before you hit your favorite home stores. Whether you’re furnishing your home from scratch or just upgrading some key pieces, it's important to know which factors to prioritize and consider.

Make a list with separate columns for the following pieces—major (bed, sofa, etc.), minor (side tables, shelving units) and accents.

Before proceeding, make sure you set an overall budget first. When finalizing your list, don't forget to identify your budget per item and the necessary dimensions as well. This has to be realistic, or else you’ll end up spending more than expected. From there, you can allocate your resources and determine which items to prioritize.

Three pieces that you need to prioritize include—your sofa, the bed frame (and mattress), and the dining set. Do not skimp on these pieces as these are the most important and will be the most used in your home. If you plan on buying something expensive, invest in these items.

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno.

Here's the fun part: make image boards of interiors and specific furniture pieces you like.

Get inspiration from sites like Pinterest to know which designs appeal to you. Decide on a style or a combination of styles that you like, so that when you go shopping you won’t get overwhelmed with all the choices available. It doesn’t have to be all matchy-matchy—or else your space might end up looking as if it was lifted from a furniture catalog.

Photo by Miguel Nacianceno.

Pick a color scheme.

Consider the colors of your walls, floors, and all other existing finishes (if any). Neutral colors are safest to use for bigger items and it’s best if you can bring a paint swatch with you when shopping so you can check actual colors against chosen fabric, wood, and other material swatches. Take pictures of your existing interior as reference for finishes and scale as well.

Photo by Marc Jao.

Take measurements of the areas where the furniture will go.

Even with an itemized list of furniture sizes, the overall dimensions will help you in cases where you’d opt to substitute items—for example, an L-shaped sofa to replace a three-seater originally. You will also find that furniture pieces are not of standard measurement, there are some bigger than the others. A few inches taken from your clearance/s can make a big difference when it comes to the scale of furniture against your interior.

Photo from Boxform Interior Designs.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]



Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at] with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

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