Re-styling your home can be an exciting time! Perhaps you're buying or building a new home or maybe you're just needing a change from your current look. Whatever your situation the golden rules are still the same and today I'm going to share with you the 5 steps to successful furniture shopping. 

There is nothing that hurts my ears (or eyes!) more than hearing stories of people who have purchased the wrong size, colour or fabric and are then are stuck with those expensive mistakes! Furniture is not cheap, well good furniture isn't and making large purchases like these need to be taken as seriously as a car or house purchase. Your furniture style and selections play a huge role in the quality of life you and your family will have which is why I recommend you actually consult with an interior designer to get this complex process correct!

Now I have to mention, as many don't realise,  when you use a designer to style + purchase your furniture, you will actually get your furniture cheaper than retail prices. The discounts you get on your furniture will often be so great that it covers your design fees and ensures you won't risk losing money on successive shopping mistakes! It really is common sense approach to decorating and it amazes me how many people don't understand that hiring an interior designer will save you money and get you enjoying your dream home for many years to come. If you still don't want to talk to a designer and get a professional looking home, then at least let me give you these 5 steps to successful furniture shopping.

1. Measure your space

Before you even step out your front door or press purchase on your computer, I can't emphasise how important it is to measure measure measure. Yes, please please get the tape measure out! I know it sounds like common sense but I hear so many stories of people going out, purchasing an expensive piece and then realising IT WONT FIT THROUGH THE DOOR!! This is so common and just crazy considering most furniture stores require 20/40% non-refundable deposits on orders. It's like buying a car not knowing if it actually runs or drives.

A few considerations on the importance of measuring!

  • Measure the width/length of the space- Write it down :)!!!

  • Measure your door way/access points/elevators (IMPORTANT)

  • Work out how all the furniture will sit together

  • Do you have the correct space between all your pieces?

  • Will the room flow and function correctly or will you be tripping over things?

  • What proportion of negative space will remain once the sofa is in place? Will it be the correct proportions or will it look too small/too large and unbalanced?


Often a purchase can be made without taking into consideration all the important factors we need to consider. So when it comes to functionality, is your purchase going to tick all the boxes? Ask your self the following ; 

  • What is the purpose of the piece?

  • What do I need it to do in the space? 

  • How many people will it need to cater to?

  • Is it suitable for the people living in the space, elderly/kids/dogs etc

  • Will it last as long as I need it to?


What is your style, are you clear on your perfect style? This is when a designer is very very handy as we have ways of helping clients find out their true style. Many considerations need to be made, here are just a few:

  • What is your personal taste and style? 

  • When you find a style you like, ask yourself, 'is this a passing trend + will you feel this way in one month, two months or could you change your mind and then dislike your purchase'? = wasted money/time

  • Will the style suit the rest of my family?

  • Will the style suit the rest of my furniture?

  • Is this in keeping with my style or will this add to my homes already confused split personality. :) :


Do you know your colour palette? A colour palette consists of usually 3-4 colours that your whole home is based on. Make sure you have this sorted before any big purchases are made!! This is the number one blunder I see! Sorry guys, but too often the colour is wrong wrong wrong!!!!! All wrong I tell you!! Sorry I got a little emotional there, but I have to say, so many people are getting colour wrong!!! This is because there is actually a science behind creating a colour palette. Designers don't just pull things out of the air and hope for the best (that's what others may do, but NOT designers) We base our colour palettes on a thing called 'chords'and colour wheels. Chords are almost like music chords but instead of being made up of notes, they are made up of colours and tones and this is why if you are serious about getting colour correct, get a designer!!

A few considerations you can use for your next purchase are:

  • Create a colour palette

  • Decide which colour from your palette your new purchase should be.

  • Will the colour of your piece work with your other furniture colours

  • Is the colour choice going to create balance + the complete the colour chord.

  • Is it working well with the actual style you have chosen or is the style + colour choice creating a confused look.


The material you use will either reiterate your chosen style, bringing the space to next level or it could honestly be the end and a complete disaster. Creating a polished seamless space requires pulling together so many factors and possibly the most important is the materials you chose.

  • Is the material working with your chosen style ( black leather + coastal = not happy) Well perhaps a clever designer could make it work, but ensure your thinking about the common materials used in your particular style, not because it is on 'trend' but because materials create a sense of feeling and energy that will further communicate the design style you're trying to achieve. Hard shiny surfaces = cold , wood+ fabric = warmth/inviting/relaxing  etc....

  • Is the material high quality, durable? Will it last and cater to the use of the furniture piece?

  • Is it fake or authentic? Is this important to you?

  • Is it toxic? Faux leather is often full of chemicals and even genuine leather can be tanned using poisonous chemicals. Ask your supplier, if they don't know is it worth the risk?

  • Ask your retailer 'whats the fabric composition and how does this affect durability?' Whats the 'Martindale Test' reveal? This is a rub test that reveals how well the fabric will hold up against abrasion.

Well, those are my 5 steps to successful furniture shopping, I hope you get a lot out of them and perhaps I saved you from a near disaster! My last little bit of advice is to take your time with this, please don't go out for bread and come home with a ridiculous sofa that looks like someone actually enlarged your bread and threw it in your living room, lol. There is so much more to consider than just imagining yourself sprawled out on your sofa and it's important to truely understand that good interior design is not just fluffing cushions!! Interior Designers study for a minimum of two years + so that they can consider all the many many factors needed to correctly design a space. So please if your thinking about re-styling, consider getting a designer! Its a beautiful experience and it will save you so so much time + wasted money. I know many people have some style + many have a clever eye, but here is so much more to really getting this right! This is so important and if you create a beautiful space, your family will thank you for many years! In the mean time, happy shopping!!

Peace Out xx

Melanie Sherwell - Interior Designer

Soul Shapes- Lifestyle Interiors