Shopping for furniture

our first home was furnished with finds from the famous Auckland inorganic rubbish collection, but these days we aim a little higher. Furniture is a big investment and I'd hate to think of you repeating

our first home was furnished with finds from the famous Auckland inorganic rubbish collection, but these days we aim a little higher.

Furniture is a big investment and I’d hate to think of you repeating the mistake yours truly made a few months ago when I was seduced by a beautiful red corner suite which turned out not to fit our living room, and which is now on the lookout for a new home.

Living Room

When shopping for a lounge suite, the first thing to consider is who will use it and where it will go. Even the tiniest discrepancy when measuring can lead to problems, such as a door hitting the sofa each time it’s opened, a sofa that’s in the way when the kids are trying to enjoy  their interactive video consoles, or one that simply doesn’t fit as many people as you need it to.

Make sure the suite you choose has been treated with a moisture-repellent fabric protector or it may soon be wearing all kinds of food and beverage stains. To make your purchase extra useful, consider getting a sofa bed, which will prove very useful when friends come to stay.

Remember, with furniture you get what you pay for and a little research goes a long way. A suite with a hardwood frame will likely last longer than a cheaper one with a softer pine frame.

The question of leather versus bonded leather is another one where a little bit of research will pay off. The former material is tough and durable and should last for years, while the latter, a combination of re-constituted leather and other substances, will look good at first, however it’s unlikely to last anything like as long, especially if it’s in a family environment.


Living room furniture is generally well used so you should try and buy the very best quality you can. Avoid impulse purchases if possible.


We’ve all heard the old adage “you spend a third of your life in bed”, so it makes sense for bed buying to be a serious process. There are two main types to choose from: a slat-base bed, made of wood which supports the mattress, or an ensemble – an inner-sprung mattress on its own inner-sprung base.

It’s really an old wives’ tale that a firm bed is a good bed. Sure, if you like firm that’s fine, but today’s pillow-top mattresses make you feel as if you’re sleeping on a cloud and it’s a rare person who truly prefers a solid futon.

Speaking of which, if the bed is a joint purchase then both of you should test drive it together. Make sure you wear something comfy when you’re bed shopping, with shoes that go on and come off easily, and bounce onto those beds, moving around lots, in order to get a real feel for them.

There’s obviously a point you should not cross in-store, no matter how enamoured you are of the bed or each other, but most retailers will welcome some genuine interaction with their product.


The most important choice you make will be buying a good bed, so don’t rush into it. Time spent researching will always pay off in the end.

Dining Room

once upon a time, the family dining suite was a grand affair made of oak or mahogany, which would sit in the dark, seldom-used dining room. Today, families tend to use their dining room as an extension of their living space and, as often as not, the dining suite is in a joint kitchen-diner area.

When your children are young an expensive dining suite is simply a liability. A good, solid arrangement is preferable. Choose something that won’t show scratches, is heat resistant and can be wiped down easily. If a more formal occasion arises, a nice white tablecloth, some flowers, candles and the best silver are a simple way to make it look a million dollars.

And the rest

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