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10 Tips: Furnish your place with much less cash

Whether you're just starting out or you've been established for years, you may find yourself stumped over how to furnish a special room or section of your home. These tips can help:

By Laura T. Coffey, Times Correspondent
Published February 24, 2008


Whether you're just starting out or you've been established for years, you may find yourself stumped over how to furnish a special room or section of your home. These tips can help:

1 The Internet is your friend. Rather than blow weekends visiting furniture stores on a potentially fruitless search, shop online first. Compare prices and details of similar pieces of furniture at 10 to 12 different stores in a matter of minutes.

2 Reflect on ways to spend nothing, or almost nothing. Don't necessarily turn your nose up at the idea of scoring free or low-cost pieces of furniture from other people who live in the Tampa Bay area. You could find exactly what you're looking for via Web sites such as,,,, and

3 Check out the goods in person. It's important to be careful about buying furniture based solely on a tiny image on the Internet. Try to inspect the furniture before you buy. Another benefit of examining the furniture in person: You could avoid exorbitant shipping fees.

4 Remember warehouse stores. Places like Costco and Sam's Club aren't just for bulk purchases of dog food, diapers and artichoke hearts. You can find surprising deals on high-quality furniture and literally save hundreds of dollars.

5 Be alert for deals. Get in the habit of scanning ads in your Sunday paper, your mailbox and windows of area stores. Look for going-out-of-business sales and same-as-cash financing deals with zero percent interest for six to 12 months. Note: If you finance a furniture purchase in this way, pay it off in full in the time you're given to do so.

6 Think ahead before you buy. You may fall in love with the look of a certain piece of furniture, but take a moment to read the care instructions. Reflect on how the piece will hold up after a few encounters with small children or pets. If it's likely to be trashed in mere days or weeks, don't buy it.

7 Examine construction. For units such as bookcases, tables and entertainment centers, determine whether the items are prefinished or made of unfinished wood. Sanding and finishing shelves can take a lot of time and effort. Think twice before buying "wood grain" laminate or particle board that looks fake, and watch out for sloppy corners on moldings and doors that don't align properly.

8 Measure, measure, measure. Be sure to measure the area where you want the furniture to go so you can be confident that it will fit well and it won't overwhelm the room. With shelving units, write down the dimensions of the items you want to store on them.

9 Plan ahead for transportation. Make sure you have the capacity to transport big, heavy items home or have the store deliver them for you - hopefully for a reasonable fee. Also, if you decide you don't want to keep the item, will you have to lug it back to the store yourself?

10 Eyeball the warranty carefully. Make sure you understand what it does and does not cover, and get the details of any agreement in writing. For instance, if a salesperson raves about a fabric-guard guarantee that sounds fabulous, make sure the details of that guarantee are clearly spelled out in writing.

Laura T. Coffey (

[Last modified February 22, 2008, 21:42:25]

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