Some items of furniture last longer than others. For instance, you might expect your mattress to last longer than your sofa, but the opposite is often true. Experts suggest replacing your bed every five to ten years — your sofa, however, can last seven to 15 years.

We tend to delay replacing furniture because shopping for furniture can be frustrating. It doesn’t have to be that bad, though, especially if you have a good idea of what kind of furniture works best for you. Here are some questions you should answer to find furniture that really ties your room together.

Who will use the furniture?

That cream-colored sofa may look nice, but it’s not going to look nice for long if you have a toddler. Really, any small child is going to be hard on furniture. The same is also true of some pre-teens and teenagers, especially if they tend to sit on the couch and eat chips, as kids do.

Light-colored sofas look elegant, but they’re also more prone to showing dirt and stains. You don’t want grease spots or dirt spots showing up every time you try to sit down. If you do decide beige or light gray makes more sense than a dark brown, at least know what you’re getting into.

Be ready to use throws and slipcovers to shield your couch from the worst stains. As a bonus, you can often slide those slipcovers right off and throw them into the washing machine.

How much time do you have?

When we talk about time, we aren’t just talking about the amount of time you have to search for a piece of furniture. That can matter a lot, as some people only have a couple of hours after work to search for the perfect coffee table, while others can spend an entire weekend browsing through furniture shops.

But thinking about time here, you must also ask yourself what kind of assembly time a piece of furniture requires. A couch shouldn’t need any assembly other than maybe adding the cushions. That’s easy enough. But some pieces of furniture are sneaky. They look easier to put together than they actually are.

Anyone who has ever bought furniture at a place like Ikea knows this all too well. Bunk beds and bed frames are among the hardest pieces of furniture to assemble from that store. Sure, the price is right, but only if your time has no value whatsoever. Be afraid of assembly manuals that are longer than a fantasy novel.

Luckily, you have choices. You can find and buy quality modern furniture without taking an entire week off work just to put together a set of drawers. In general, drawers complicate things. Shelves can as well, depending on the type of shelf. If you’re really pressed for time, look for stores that let you take home the already-assembled floor models. Just make sure you have room for it in your vehicle.

What’s your daily life like?

You might have a job that requires traveling every other week. If so, it may not make sense to drop a couple of thousand dollars on a fancy new living room chair.

If you watch a lot of sports in your living room, then you’ll want to spring for a cozy reclining chair. But if you’re just as likely to drive a few hours to attend a Lansing sporting event in person, then maybe you should transfer a bit of money from your furniture fund to your ticket fund.

Of course, you might decide that having nice furniture is worth it no matter what. Maybe you just want your housesitter to be comfortable. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line.

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