Buying a new home often dominoes into other major purchases. But before you shell out the big bucks, it’s important to do your homework
Whether it’s a dining room table or a leather club chair, choosing the right piece comes down to four things, explains Glenn Dixon, an interior designer on W Network’s Take This House and Sell It!
What is the function of the furniture and how will it be used? If it needs to withstand wear and tear, it’s better to make the investment or you’ll end up paying in the long run. A sofa, for example, should be made from medium- to high-density foam, doublewrapped in Dacron, says Dixon. Look for a hardwood base like maple, glued together with dowels as opposed to nailed together. If it will be rarely used, opt for more luxurious fabrics such as silks and velvets. For something more durable, try Ultrasuede or chenille.
Define what yours is before leaving the house— otherwise, says Dixon, “you can end up with pieces that look like an elephant in your room.”
Draw out your room and measure where you want to place the furniture. An overstuffed sofa looks fine in a 20,000-square-foot showroom with 18-foot ceilings, but will look ridiculous in a small room with eight-foot ceilings.
Budget: Know what you want to spend. Sofas range in price from $500 to $12,000, or more. For reasonable quality, expect to spend between $1,200 and $3,000. A better-quality sofa will run you $3,000 to $4,000, but should last 10 years.
With a new kitchen often comes a need for new appliances to fit the space, in terms of both size and aesthetics. But before you go shopping, ask yourself these questions: What problems need solving? What fits your space? What’s your wish list? And what’s your entertaining style? Then make a shopping list based on your habits, says George Alles of Tasco, a Toronto-based appliance retailer. “Your lifestyle has a bearing on the appliances you choose.”
For example, do you entertain frequently or does your family have varied schedules and eat at different times? You might want a warming drawer. If you cook for two people 99 per cent of the time, however, a standard four-burner stovetop is ample.
Shopping habits also matter. If you hit the market daily, Alles says a smaller fridge makes sense, but if you like to stock up during sales or cook for a crowd, you’ll likely need a bigger fridge or a freezer. (As a rule, 12 cubic feet serves two people. Add two cubic feet for each additional member of the household.) From an aesthetic point, measure your space and buy a counter-depth fridge so it doesn’t take over your kitchen, says Dixon. Expect to pay from $1,000 to $3,000, or more for added features.
For many people, a TV is the main entertainment system in the home.
Once you’ve decided which room it will go in, you need to consider the following: the seating distance from the TV, how it will be used and any competing focal points in the room (such as a fireplace). Unless you have a dedicated media room with surround sound, you don’t need an 80-inch TV, explains Dixon. It can be overwhelming and from a design perspective, it’s wrong.
You should also ask yourself whether a home theatre is in your plans, according to Peter Kelly, the operations manager at Bay Bloor Radio in Toronto. Do you plan to play games on it, watch movies or hook it up to a computer? If so, look for a TV with ports on the front for easy switching between devices. Plasma has a larger palette of colour, making it a popular choice. But in a brightly lit room, liquid crystal is a better choice because it doesn’t show the reflection from lights, says Kelly. On the downside, the picture isn’t as sharp if you are going to be watching the TV from an angle. No matter what kind of television you get, make sure that it is high definition, says Bay Bloor’s Richard Bowden.