Picking furniture that is complementary and makes sense in a space is not rocket science, but when it comes to mixing eras, styles, fabrics, types of wood and colours of stain, there are a few things you should know.
The first is that being all matchy-matchy is no longer the norm — especially when it comes to woods and stains. In days gone by, people would buy furniture made of only one type of wood — say, oak or cherry. These days, eclectic is in. Free yourself! You can mix and match in whatever way you like, so long as the colours and styles have some kind of visual tie-in or are complementary in colour.
Another recent development is that classic furniture standbys such as oak are bowing out to other hardwoods. Val Townsend, a manager at the Navan location of The New Oak Tree, says that people are now going for non-standard woods such as maple.
Townsend recommends shelling out the cash for furniture made of real wood rather than the mass-produced pressboard found at larger chain stores. You’ll save money in the long run because, if it’s made of real wood, chances are it’s also built better — for example, dovetail drawers held together with screws instead of staples.
“Shop for value rather than just price,” Townsend says. “The cheapest item is not always the best buy.” Greg Jones, of Funky Furniture, a mid-century-modern vintage furniture shop in Hull, wholeheartedly agrees about investing in quality pieces rather than going on the cheap.
“There are literally a handful of award-winning designers from the ’50s,” Jones says. “Essentially, there are only a handful that make the quality designs. If you do your research, you’ll see that classic design — it’s almost unmistakable.”
Before making major investments in new or vintage furniture, think about your lifestyle and taste — what style or era most appeals to you? What do you need or want in terms of features? What might work best with the size and shape of the room(s) you’re outfitting? Are you willing to go outside your usual comfort zone? For example, are you looking to acquire a new, mid-century-modern piece and set it up in your living room in a way that complements some of the more traditional furniture in the room?