How to source furniture for your home—the pro way » Manila Bulletin Lifestyle

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We all need to buy functional and beautiful pieces for our homes at some point, but is there an easy way to do it? These tips might help you on your next trip to the furniture store.

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By Camyl Besinga

I wish I could say with much conviction that there is one easy-peasy way to shop for furniture. But because the decision to buy one piece is too personal and too unique to every individual—we all have different tastes and preferences when it comes to comfort, quality, cost, and aesthetics—I can’t really say there is one such way.

But there are ways to avoid all the pitfalls of furniture shopping mentioned above, and then some.

  • Classy living room setup at House of Ital, Uptown Mall BGC

  • A contemporary brass and marble lamp from Our Home, SM North Edsa

  • Classy living room setup at House of Ital, Uptown Mall BGC

  • Chairs on display at Home Folk, Uptown Mall BGC

  • Refurbished finds at Rescued Furniture, K-2nd Street, Kamias QC

  • A tabletop arrangement at Ashley Furniture, Shangri-La Plaza Mall


Firstly, arm yourself with the following tools:

  • Tape measure. Measure every darn thing that fancies you. This is very important, because getting dimensions of an item lets you know if it will fit the space you intend to place it in, and also if it will be proportional to all the other pieces in that same space (for example, its neighboring couch, table, or ottoman). Putting two furniture pieces that have disparate proportions (i.e., a particular chair may feel too large and bulky for a sleek and contemporary desk you want to pair it with) may upset the balance you are trying to achieve in a space. Or, simply put, it feels wrong and not well-thought-out.
  • Pen and small notebook (or any note-taking app on your phone). You will need this to take down all the necessary information you will need about a particular piece—dimensions, color (and other color options available), name of the store or brand you found it in, plus cost and payment options. Some sales personnel will volunteer to email you a formal quotation with all this info and even a photo, but consider that not all stores will have this value-added service readily available.
  • Camera. Your phone camera will do, and this is what many retail buyers and interior designers do when sourcing pieces for their clients. Nowadays, it’s easy to take pictures at the store (very few stores still disallow taking pictures though) and send to the decision-makers—a.k.a. clients, your spouse, other family members who want to weigh in—via instant messaging apps. This also allows you to remember what a certain piece looked like, and you can go back to the photos when you need to finally decide on what item to buy for your space.
  • Important

measurements taken at your home. These include the widths and heights of doorways, elevators, and hallways. Many people forget that when their furniture orders are delivered, the delivery guys have to carry these pieces to their houses or condo units. It has happened to many to have had to return their orders, or worse, chop up the items just so they would fit in elevators and stairwells. I know of someone who ordered a large marble slab as a tabletop, only to find out that the slab wouldn’t fit the service elevator. It took six delivery guys three whole days just to carry it up to a 30-something floor via the fire escape. So for their sake (and your sanity), have this information ready before you go shopping.

Secondly, take pictures of the space you need or want to put a piece of furniture in. Why is this so important? Has it ever happened to you that you’re at a store, something catches your eye and you just can’t seem to move on, but then you’re unsure if it will look right for your space? A photo of the room in question may help you make a decision more quickly. It may also help sales personnel make other recommendations for you to look at if they have an idea of what your home looks like.

I cannot stress enough the importance of getting the right furniture size, particularly the furniture pieces you still have at home.It has happened all too often when I’ve had clients who went ahead and purchased something they liked at the store without consulting or confirming if it would fit. Chairs and bar stools, for example, need to be the just-right size so that when you sit on it, your legs will still fit under the table or bar counter. Nightstands, bed frames, and mattresses all need to have proportional heights so that when you put them side by side, the nightstand doesn’t feel too high or too low for your bed. And so on.

Lastly, ask as many questions as possible at the store. Ask about other similar styles, color, or fabric options. Ask what materials were used in the construction of the item. Ask if they can customize. Ask if they offer free maintenance and/or repairs. Ask if they have a warranty. Ask about upcoming promos. Ask how the pieces are delivered—if flat-packed or already assembled. Ask if they offer free delivery and assembly. Ask if they offer flexible payment terms. Ask if they allow storage of fully paid items if you can’t have the piece delivered yet. Don’t feel shy about being too inquisitive. Sales personnel are paid to know everything about their products, so it’s your right to ask as many questions as you can and want.

Let’s talk about online and catalogue shopping in my next column. Until then!

About the author

Camyl Besinga is an interior stylist and design consultant by profession. Follow her interior design exploits on www.instagram.com/gal_at_home. If you have any questions regarding home and interiors, feel free to DM her on Instagram or email her at camille [dot] besinga [at] gmail [dot]com, and she may answer your queries in her weekly column here in Manila Bulletin Home and Garden.

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