Furnishing your home isn’t always easy. Sometimes you’ll argue about whether to get a sofa or a futon. Sometimes you’ll clash over whether to get a La-Z Boy or a Victorian fainting couch. Sometimes your significant other will want to turn your living room into a Giant’s Causeway made of ottomans, and you’ve just got to let him do it so he understands what a terrible idea it is.
We’re pretty good at finding room for those unwanted ottomans, chairs, beds, sofas, desks, and whatnot. If you need self storage in Coventry or Basingstoke or wherever, then we’re the ones to call. But when it comes to decor, feng shui, furniture arrangement and all that stuff we don’t claim to know everything. For the best furniture advice, you’re probably better off talking to an expert.
Luckily, we went ahead and found one (don’t say we never do anything for you). Rebecca Snowden, Interior Style Adviser at Furniture Choice
, has plenty of experience with the practical and aesthetic aspects of furnishing homes, and was kind enough to answer the following questions for us.
How important do you think furniture is when it comes to cultivating a positive atmosphere in the home?
“It’s hugely important. Your furniture is probably the biggest contributor to how your home feels.
“If your sofa’s uncomfortable, your favourite TV show is spoiled. A proper table or desk for the kids makes for easier homework. A better mattress means better sleep – and a lumpy mattress means you’re liable to wake up grumpy. It’s no exaggeration to say that great furniture provides support to your life and your home.”
What’s more important to your customers – utility or aesthetics? Will they take home a beautiful (but awkward) chair over an ugly but incredibly comfortable one?
“It very much depends on the individual. There are two types of people in this world: those who prize style above all, and those who put comfort first, and they’re usually married to each other.
“The best furniture advice in this scenario is simple: don’t compromise. It’s possible to have both style and substance. There’s no reason a comfortable chair can’t also be aesthetically pleasing – and no reason a stylish sofa can’t also be comfortable.”
Are some items of furniture more awkward than others?
“Well, every retailer in this industry occasionally runs into delivery access problems. I tried to avoid this problem by picking up my new armchair myself instead of getting it sent to my home.
“Turns out it was an inch too big for my car. I ended up having to borrow a van. Nightmare! Before you buy anything, a bit of simple furniture advice is this: do your measurements. If that lovely new sofa can’t fit through your doorway it might end up being more trouble than it’s worth.
“This isn’t a problem we typically run into at Furniture Choice, because we control the design and manufacture of our products and can make adjustments for awkward spaces. One corner sofa we had was really popular, but it wouldn’t fit through particularly narrow openings, so we ended up totally redesigning it.
“We have a free return policy just in case – but it can be heart-breaking to choose something else because your first choice couldn’t get over the threshold. Check your dimensions before you fall in love with something!”
As an e-commerce retailer, do you occasionally find that customers won’t love something they quite liked online?
“Well, we always try to make sure our customers get what they want the first time. We take a LOT of photos of our products. Often videos, too! There’s comprehensive information available: dimensions, reviews – free fabric and samples if you need to match colour schemes.
“It doesn’t happen that often, but sometimes a customer will simply change their minds. Regardless of whatever furniture advice you offer, a new sofa or bed is a big purchase. If an item isn’t working for you, arrange a refund.
“Nobody wants to live with a wrong decision – and they shouldn't have to.”
Finally, do customers ever do anything strange? Any good anecdotes?
“Sometimes, customers truly surprise you. We've had customers show up to collect king-size mattresses in a hatchback. On one occasion, we’ve had them ask us if our sofas float. Never really worked out why they’d need to know that.
“From time to time, we hear an amazing story about their moving triumphs and catastrophes. These can be due to moving dates, delayed decorators, or even natural disasters.”