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Here is how to buy furniture like a pro

30 November 2015, 08:40

Start-up home-owners often have to use most of their hard-earned cash to make monthly bond repayments and often the little that is left over is then spent on cheap furniture, with the intention of replacing it at a later date.

However, according to the experts it’s best to manage without, or borrow the necessities from family, and save until you have enough money to buy good quality items. Poorly-made furniture will make your home look shabby – and might not even last as long as you think it will.

1. The sofa

A comfortable sofa anchors a room and is a key element in displaying your décor style. When shopping for a quality sofa that will keep you company for years to come, take the following into account:

Select a style:

• Slipcover sofas create a comfortable, relaxed but chic look. It’s a practical option as the upholstery can be removed and machine-washed when it needs cleaning.

• An L-shaped corner unit is popular in open-plan living rooms as its shape can help separate areas. It works well in homes with a contemporary style.

• Contemporary sofas are usually boxy and linear with sharp edges. This style works best in a minimalistic room with very few freestanding items and accessories.

• Classic refers to timeless pieces that can work in a modern or traditional setting, depending on the decorative finishes such as binding, skirts and stitching. Classic furniture usually features curves.

• Traditional refers to classic designs from historical periods such as Art Deco, Victorian or Georgian. Traditional designs work well in homes that have similar architectural elements such as high ceilings, ornate cornices, chandeliers or large bay windows with plush window treatments.

Two or three-seaters:

A three-seater sofa is a good option as it can accommodate a growing family. One large furniture piece also looks much better in a small room than a few small pieces


Leather is easy to maintain; it can be wiped clean and only needs to be polished about once a year. Good quality leather will also last much longer than fabric. On the flip side, fabric is more versatile and can be reupholstered for a brand new look.

2. Armchairs

Many people now opt for two sofas in their lounge – but two armchairs work just as well. You can select different upholstery for your chairs but they should reflect the style of your sofa if you have one – if your sofa has wooden legs, the armchairs should also have wooden legs.

Armchairs are also multifunctional and can be used in any room in the house, from the bedroom to the bathroom (if you have space), which is precisely why they’re considered a good investment. Just as with a fabric sofa, you can also reupholster your armchairs for a whole new look.

3. Chandeliers

Chandeliers add a touch of glamour to any room and create atmosphere like no other décor accessory. It gives the home a classic elegant look and creates a sense of opulence.

Trends come and go but if you’re prepared to spend a couple of thousand rands on an exceptional light fitting, make sure you choose a design that is timeless and that you won’t tire of in a few years time.

You also have to make sure the chandelier is the right size for the room – and this may require a professional opinion.

4. Dining table

Dining tables are multifunctional – used for everything from homework to parties – and dining room suites are definitely a worthwhile investment.

But they do take up a lot of space so it’s important to choose a style that works with your existing décor or a timeless design that will look good for years to come. The size of your dining room suite will depend on the available space, so keep the following in mind:

• The size of your family or the number of guests you usually entertain.

• If you buy chairs with broader armrests, you will probably fit fewer people around the table (for example just six around an eight-seater table).

• You should also have enough space to be able to pull the chairs out comfortably: a chair needs a square of about 460mm placement space, plus another 460mm behind it so you can push it back to stand up and let someone pass behind you.

Don’t forget to check out secondhand options too – old tables usually have loads of character and are a lot cheaper than new pieces.

5. A patio set

Many of us start out with a cheap white plastic table and chairs, but it’s so ugly.

Rather invest in a good patio set from the get go – it makes such a huge difference to the look of your patio or garden. The most popular options are wood, artificial wicker/cane and aluminum.

• Wood is available in various price ranges. Most popular are balau, meranti, saligna and teak. You can leave the wood untreated to take on a weathered look but it’s probably best to oil it, especially if the set is made of imported Indian teak as this wood is accustomed to a humid environment and will crack in our hot, dry weather if not sealed.

• Artificial wicker/cane is made of plastic and other synthetic materials but it’s woven just like authentic cane and also has the same charm. It’s durable, ecofriendly and available in a wide variety of colours and styles.

• Aluminum is ideal for exposed patios as it can withstand the elements; it’s rust and maintenance-free and available in different grades, so buy the best quality you can afford.

- Woman24


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