Caring for Your Outdoor Furniture

We've launched our new outdoor furniture line just in time for summer! And in the spirit of enjoying your very own backyard, we've rounded up the best in tips and tricks in caring for your outdoor furniture. Outdoor furniture sees many different elements throughout the course of the year -- especially during the summer. Because of this, maintaining your outdoor furniture is a tad different than how you care for you family sofa.

Outdoor Furniture

First and foremost, it's important to take a look at the manufacturer or care instructions. These instructions will tell you what material it's made of and how best to clean it. There are four basic types of outdoor materials: rattan/wicker, wood, metal, and plastic. And of course there are outdoor fabrics as well. Each type of material should be treated uniquely and cleaned accordingly. 

Rattan/Wicker

Rattan or wicker furniture is usually made from natural fibers, coated papers, and reinforced with metal for a stronger structure. Since natural woven materials are susceptible to damage, most outdoor pieces come covered in clear resin, varnish, or paint. This way sunshine and water won't wear on the fibers. Since the sun can damage your rattan or wicker pieces overtime, it's important to leave your furniture outside for no more than two weeks if you're not using it. When cleaning rattan or wicker furniture, use a dry paint brush with mild soap and water. Or use a vacuum. Try to avoid using too much water as you'll weaken the fibers.

Wood

Wood is a common outdoor furniture material. And most woods chosen for outdoor furniture tend to be more durable and hold up against the elements. However, it's always a good idea to use a sealant on your wood furniture every 1-3 years. A sealant will help preserve the color and protect against general wear and tear. If you're looking to remove stains or mildew, mix a solution of 1 gallon hot water with powdered oxygen bleach. Then use the solution to scrub the furniture with a soft bristle brush and then rinse with water. And to restore the original wood coloring, use fine-grit sandpaper and then rinse off. In the event that the area of wood is too large to sandpaper, mix water with oxalic acid crystals (also known as wood brightener) and that should do the trick. 

Metal

Since most metals are prone to rust outside, most outdoor metal furniture is treated with resin, clear varnish, or paint. So when cleaning, use a mild solution such as soap and water and then wipe it clean. After cleaning, apply a quality liquid paste or auto paste wax with a lint-free cloth, to seal it and give it a sheen. If you do need to do a touch-up with paint, try and find the closest color in an outdoor paint, or reach out to the manufacturer. Avoid painting on days that are extremely humid as the increase in air moisture can affect the way the paint dries.

Fabric

All outdoor fabrics are considered performance fabrics so they are extra resistant to sun damage, stains, moisture, and mildew. Outdoor fabric has pigment-infused fibers so that they are less prone to damage from elements. If you have removable outdoor covers, then you can put them through the wash or hand-wash them. Or for covers that are not removable, try a power-washer or rinsing them with mild soap and water. In order to avoid permanent staining, regularly brush off dirt and debris and rinse as needed.

More Tips

  • Apply a fabric protector such as 303 High Tech Fabric Guard once a year. 
  • Before making a purchase, look at the seat width and depth for maximum comfort and lounging. 
  • Outdoor umbrellas not only keep you cool, but they also keep your outdoor furniture in tip-top shape by blocking natural elements.
  • When you're not using your outdoor furniture, store them inside or invest in furniture covers. 
  • Before cleaning and caring for your outdoor pieces, read the care instructions so you know what materials it's made from and how to best clean it.

Find the Perfect Sofa Shape for You

When shopping for a sofa, you should always think about the fabric, quality, and the size. But here's something you might not think about: the shape of your sofa. Before researching sofas, it's important to know what to search for - and what style you like or will work with your room. There are so many different sofa shapes, and variations of those shapes, as well as styles of cushions, legs, arms, and more. We explore some of these differences so you'll know what to look for when shopping for your dream sofa. 

Sofa Shapes

There are a couple of classic sofa shapes that are standard throughout the world. These include the Bridgewater, Camelback, Chesterfield, English, Lawson, and Tuxedo. These names might not mean anything to you now, but they soon will! These six sofa shapes originated throughout different times (and countries) becoming classics that keep on being reinvented with different variations and fabrics. 

Chippendale Camelback: The Camelback sofa is a more traditional sofa, with a curved back and tight-back cushions. The arms are usually rolled, at a higher height and the sofa features exposed legs. These sofas tend to have uniquely round backs, often arching (hence the name, Camelback). The Camelback is meant to be a statement piece in a parlor so it's often never placed against the wall, but instead in the center of a room.

Camelback Sofa

Chesterfield: The Chesterfield sofa originated during the early 1700s, believed to have been commissioned by trendsetter-at-the-time Lord Phillip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield. He wanted a sofa with a lot of tufting (which at the time showed off wealth as the tufting process required more fabric), quilted leather upholstery, rolled arms, ornate wooden legs, and low-seat base. As Lord Stanhope aged, so did his Chesterfield pieces, thus showing off the distinctive look of the aged Chesterfield sofa. If this is your sofa, you should explore the Marquette Beige or the Marquette Chocolate.

Chesterfield Sofa

English: The English sofa is also an English classic, with a low and deep seat, loose-back cushions (usually three), rolled arms with pleats, and differentiating front and back legs. The back legs are usually a sloped, tapered leg while the front leg is a tad more ornate, and some times feature a wheel. The English sofa tends to be a bit lower and with very deep seats, allowing for the perfect lazy Sunday afternoon lounging. If this is your sofa, then you'll love the Fairchild Cream or Fairchild Bark.

English Rolled Arms

Lawson: The Lawson sofa tends to be a more traditional sofa with rolled arms, loose cushions, and either traditional legs or a skirt. The sofa tends to have a thicker, bulkier shape than other more delicately-shaped sofas. The Lawson sofa was originally commissioned for a wealthy Boston financier named Thomas W. Lawson in the late 1800s. He enjoyed furniture that was more comfortable and layered with pillows. We love our version of the Lawson sofa: the Englewood.

Lawson Sofa

Tuxedo: A tuxedo sofa is a much more contemporary shape, usually connected to Art Deco style and the look of early 1920s club houses. It was invented in the 1920s, with its name originating from the same place as the tuxedo - Tuxedo Park in New York. Similar to the Chesterfield, the Tuxedo's arms are the same height as the back of the sofa, and therefore the back cushions are either tight-back, or loose cushions that rise above the back of the sofa. The Darcy Violet is a great example of a more elegant Tuxedo sofa shape.

Tuxedo Sofa

Arms

There are two different shapes to arms: square or rolled arms. Most of the time, rolled arms tend to be more traditional, while square arms tend to be more modern or casual. With square and rolled arms, the height of the arm itself can vary on the type of sofa. For example, a Chesterfield has rolled arms that are high (at the same height as the back of the sofa), whereas an English sofa has arms that are much lower, closer to the base of the sofa. The lower the arm, the more casual a sofa tends to be. A lower arm is also great for a smaller space, where it can make the space seem much larger than it actually is. 

Legs

The legs of a sofa can really define its history -- whether it's mid-century modern from the 1960s or from the days of Marie Antoinette. Cone legs tend to be more common with the mid-century modern style -- a thinner and sleeker leg holding up the weight of the sofa. Whereas a thicker, tapered leg tends to align with a more classic sofa such as the English. And more ornate legs, with spindles tend to be tied in with Chesterfield sofas, a much much older style. More formal and traditional sofas do not have legs, but rather a skirt which shows off luxury and conceals the legs. Notice the more traditional look of the Preston sofa's legs with the more contemporary look of the Concord sofa's legs. 

Cushions

There are two different types of cushions -- tight-back and loose-back cushions. A tight-back cushion tends to be more formal, lining up to the counter of the back of the sofa, Although it can tend to be less comfortable as it has less cushioning than a loose-back cushioned sofa. A loose-back sofa tends to have cushions that are either not attached, or attached at the base. For example, the Darcy sofa has a tight-back cushion with tufting, whereas the Highline sofa has loose cushions with tufting.

 

Sources: Elizabeth Reich, Insignia Homes, Marcye Philbrook.

The Spring Cleaning Guide

Now that spring is here, it's the perfect time to get your house ready for warmer weather, more entertaining, and some good old, well, spring cleaning. Spring cleaning has been around for ages and it's suggested that the origin of it dates back to the Persian New Year, which falls on the first day of spring. For the New Year, everything in the house is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture. Other cultures have very similar traditions during the spring time. Whether it's wiping down those high-dust areas, or updating your furniture, we always think it's best to start with a list to help you organize and prioritize.

Spring Cleaning

1. Inspect Your Furniture and Take Notes

As you begin spring cleaning, take a look at your furniture. Are there items that need a touch-up on polish or paint? Are there items you want to keep or get rid of? Has the family sitting chair seen better days? Do you want to reupholster it or invest in a new one? Take a look at your upholstered items like sofas and ottomans. Are there stains? Tears? Make a list so you know what materials you need to make everything as good as new. This way you won't forget everything and if you need to make a trip to your home hardware store -- you won't forget anything. 

2. Take a Step Back

Take a step back and look at the room as a whole. Is the layout right? You've probably had the same room layout for a couple of years but maybe there's a different way to approach the room. Is the sofa against the wall? Does it have to be? A new layout will help you feel like you're in a completely new space. Eliminating or updating furniture will help with this. As you figure out what pieces are old or won't work anymore, you'll be able to re-design a space in addition to cleaning.

3. Give Your Furniture Some Love

Day-in and day-out, your furniture sees a lot of use. Whether it's your family-old dining table or your family-friendly sectional, it's good to have your items routinely cleaned (or clean them). Especially upholstered items which attract dust, dirt, and spills over time. Make sure you consult the manufacturer's cleaning directions first so you can read up on the best way to clean it. Test a hidden spot on the furniture first to see how the product mixes with the materials. With upholstered furniture, focus on the smaller spots and blot any spills immediately. If you are using a cleanser, opt for the mildest option possible with a soft brush to work into the fabric's fibers. And don't forget to vacuum it after to absorb all the dirt and chemicals.

For leather furniture, use a damp (but not soaking wet) cloth to clean built-up dirt. Always make sure to use a white cloth so you don't deposit any dyes on the furniture. And you'll want to vacuum with the leather furniture as well. For wood furniture, make sure to wipe all dust with a soft damp cloth, cleaning the surface in a circular motion. After cleaning it, you can then oil or wax it, depending on the type of wood and style.

And remember, the best way to care for all of your furniture is to try and tackle any stains as soon as they hit. And don't be afraid to call a professional for larger stains. 

4. Donate or Throw Away

It can be hard to say goodbye to things. Especially when you have a history with them. But sometimes you have to face the facts: your beloved coffee table has seen better days. And it's not just furniture -- sometimes it's time to get rid of those mail piles that seem to collect over the years. Here's a good rule of thumb: If you haven't needed it for the past year then think about if you'll use it next year. Is it something you really need? Or is it something that could be eliminated to open the space up and make you feel more clutter-free? 

Spring cleaning can be an overwhelming time -- so make sure you set aside a weekend or a couple days to it. So you can really get rid of things you no longer use and then clean your home from top to bottom. 

How to Choose the Right Recliner for You

Choosing a recliner isn't as simple as it sounds. There are so many technologies and features to consider when choosing the right recliner for you. Whether you're looking to add a reclining seat to your living room or a recliner set to an in-home theater or media room, choosing the right reclining features is an important decision. We've got some helpful things to consider when choosing the right recliner for you.

Which recliner is right for you?

Fabric vs Leather

One of the first things to think about is whether you'd like a fabric or leather recliner. There are some things to consider when making this decision. Bonded leather tends to be easier to clean than fabric, as you can simply wipe down spills. But fabric can be softer and retain heat much better than a leather feel. Before making your purchase, take a look at the type of fabric and the cleaning instructions. Some fabrics, like microfiber are great for pets and kids and are almost as easy to clean as bonded leather. 

Power Versus Manual

The difference between power and manual is the functionality of the reclining. With a manual recliner, your back moves the chair into the position you'd like. So there is more control in getting to your preferred reclining position. With a power recliner, there are several different positions you can recline into. However, you adjust the recliner using a level on the side or near the foot. Both style chairs allow you to recline easily, but in different ways. 

Cord Length

Every power recliner has a different cord length, and this can help you determine how far it needs to be from an outlet. If you're sofa isn't going up against a wall with an outlet, then the length of the cord (and a power recliner) is something to think about. You'll want to make sure that you can't trip over the cord if it has to be plugged-in across the room. And this may also affect the overall layout of your living room or home theater space. 

Comfort

The more padded a recliner is, the comfier it is. Many recliners offer a padding pillow-like headrest, and some headrests are even adjustable. Other recliners offer up pillow-top arms which are extra padding arms for maximum comfort. 

Cupholders and Storage

A recliner doesn't just have to be for sitting! Many recliners come with arm storage. So if you're looking for a place to store the TV remote or magazine, a recliner with storage might be perfect for you. Other recliners offer cupholders and even light-up cupholders for when you're watching a move in the dark. These types of features are perfect for an in-home theater. 

Positions

Some recliners offer unlimited positions, where as some offer 3-4. Think about how you like to sit when you watch TV or read a book. Do you find yourself moving around frequently, trying to find the right spot? Or, do you stay stationary? Answering this question will help you determine how many positions your chair should have and can help eliminate all the reclining choices out there. 

Find the Right Living Room Fabric for You

Whether you have kids or pets, or neither, it's important to find the right fabrics for your living room. Specifically for your sofa/sectionals, accent chairs, or ottomans -- anything that will be used frequently. There are many types of fabric out there, so we've pulled together a list of these fabrics and what they're best for. 

Acetate: Acetate was developed to be similar to silk, however acetate can withstand mildew, pilling, and shrinking. Similar to silk, it doesn't offer a lot of resistance against dirt, wearing, wrinkling, and the sun. So if you have kids, pets, or lots of natural light, avoid this material. 

Acrylic: Acrylic is meant to be an imitation to wool that holds up to wear, wrinkles, dirt, and fading. High-quality acrylics are great for kids and pets as they hold up to a good amount of wear. 

Bonded-Leather: Bonded leather is great for those that love the look of leather but need something a bit more durable. Bonded leather can be easily wiped down and isn't as prone to scratching and fading as real leather is. We love the lux look of the Carmen Collection

Living Room

Cotton: Cotton is a natural fiber that's great for standing up to wear, fading, and pilling. However, it's prone to staining and wrinkling -- just like with cotton clothing. If you like the look of cotton but want something more durable, look for a cotton blend with other fibers that will make it more resistant. For example, damask cotton weaves are best for formal spaces while canvas weaves such as duck and sailcloth are better for casual spaces. We love the light and refreshing look of our Nantucket Stripe Collection.

Living Room

Leather: A tough and durable material, leather can be vacuumed and wiped down with a damp cloth as needed. Just make sure you use a leather conditioner or saddle soap. Depending on the type of leather, this material can be good for kids. We say depending, because some true leathers scratch easily as part of their character. So if you have furry friends, they can easily scratch the leather with their paws. 

Micro-Fiber: One of the best options for kids, pets, and an active family lifestyle, microfiber is soft and tough, and holds up against absorption and water spillage. And it gives off a luxurious look, similar to velvet, like with the Darcy Violet Collection.

Living Room

Nylon-Blend: Nylon is blended with other fabrics which makes it one of the most durable upholstery fabrics. It's great for kids and pets as it doesn't soil or wrinkle, but keep it out of direct sunlight as it can fade. 

Olefin: Olefin is a great choice for kids and pets -- it holds up very well to wear and tear and doesn't really have any cons. 

Polyester-Blend: If you're looking for a more durable fabric, look for a polyester-blend. When added to other fabrics, polyester provides resistance against wrinkles, wear, and fading. We love the look of polyester blend in the Pompano Collection

Living Room

Wool: Wool and wool blends are sturdy and durable, standing up to pilling, fading, wrinkling, and dirt. In most cases, you'll be looking for an upholstered item that's a wool blend so it's easier to clean. You'll also avoid felting the fibers -- something that's unique to wool. Wool blends can be spot-cleaned easily when needed, but can be more difficult for more intense cleanings. 

Vinyl: Vinyl is less expensive than true leather and great for kids and pets in your living room. You can simply wipe them down -- it's very rare that this material will absorb stains. 

Silk: If you have an extremely formal and elegant room where kids and pets won't be present, then opt for silk. As you probably know, it's a delicate fabric that needs to be professional cleaned when dirty. But be sure to avoid any food or drink nearby. 

Get Your Home Ready for 2014

You’ve most likely gotten a head start on your resolutions. The New Year is the perfect time for a fresh start – and to shake things up in your home, improving your energy and making you feel refreshed. It’s always good to make some tweaks and updates to your home throughout the year. If you’re resolving to eat healthier or get more active, you can also improve the quality of life in your home. Here are some tips to get your home ready for 2014.

Get Your Home Ready for 2014

Try a bold new color

Don’t be afraid to try a bold new color – and it’s an easy way to add a “wow” statement to your home. Try painting your entryway in a bright and festive color – like a teal blue or Pantone’s Radiant Orchid. Or upgrade an older piece of furniture with an unexpecting color. You’ll love coming home each day to a change in color and a change in your space.

Deep clean your home

Resolve to clean your home once a week and do a deep, through clean once a month. Not only will your home be cleaner, so will the air quality. And don’t forget your upholstered furniture: every 3-4 months take your sofa cushions to be cleaned. Or clean them yourself. Just make sure you look up proper cleaning instructions based on the fabric. By doing this, you will avoid dirt build-up and increase your furniture life.

Have your fireplace inspected

There’s nothing better than celebrating a new year by the fireside. If you have yet to use your fireplace, make a point to use it. Have it looked at by a certified chimney inspector for a reasonable price so you can enjoy it for the coming winter months (and years!). This is something you can cross off your never-ended to-do list.

Bring in fresh flowers

There is a saying in interior design, and it’s that a vase of fresh flowers is all it takes to transform a room. The fresh cut smell along with a pop of color do wonders to your home. In 2014, once a week or twice a month, invest in fresh flowers in your home. Try out new flowers each week – you will love coming home to a fresh bouquet.

Invest in a programmable thermostat

While not as fun and colorful, a programmable thermostat can be chic and cheap. With a programmable thermostat, you can regulate heating and air conditioning based on your schedule, so you’ll save money. There are different kinds of programmable thermostats including 7-day systems and 5-day/2-day systems.

Change to energy-saving light bulbs

Switch to energy-saving CFL or LED light bulbs and you’ll save about $15 each year, per bulb. And the life of a CFL or LED light bulb is several months to a year. So you’ll spend less time on the ladder trying not to get shocked. Be sure to appropriately choose a light bulb with yellow or blue depending on the type of space you have.

Test out wallpaper

Try a classic wallpaper pattern that you absolutely love (this is important!) and test it out in a smaller space like a hallway, entryway, or bathroom. Most wallpapers are not too costly and are a great way to try a bold new style.

Save up for your dream piece

Chances are you’ve already resolved to save more money. If there's a piece of furniture or art that you love, make a goal to save up for it. A timeless piece that you love is well worth the investment and you will admire it for years to come.

How to Maximize Seating During the Holidays

With Thanksgiving, football season, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and other gatherings, you’ll be entertaining a lot more in the coming months. And most likely you’ll have guests gather in the living room to be near the fireplace, the tree, or a holiday movie. And with more entertaining, comes more guests – and a need to maximize seating. Your sectional for six or sofa and loveseat may be more than enough during the year, but now you’re scrambling to find seating for friends and family. We’ve got some tips to make sure everyone has a seat while your living room stays clutter-free.

Cocktail Ottoman

During the holidays, a larger ottoman becomes your best friend. The cocktail ottoman is usually square or rectangular and takes the place of the coffee table. When you need two to three extra seats, you’ll be able to use your ottoman. And, with the addition of a serving tray, you can still use your ottoman for food and drinks. Having an upholstered ottoman in the center of your room also adds coziness and luxury to any room. Like the Diamondback cocktail ottoman shown below. 

Cocktail Ottoman

Accent Chair

If you’ve got the space for it, invest in one or two accent chairs. For a larger space, invest in two wing chairs to add a statement of  elegance. For a smaller space, look for one or two slipper chairs in a fun color or fabric to add some pop. We love the sophisticated style of the Diamondback accent chair for some extra seating. 

Blog Accent Chiar

Small Ottoman

If you plan on keeping your main coffee table, then look for extra seating in smaller ottomans. These smaller ottomans are great because they tuck under furniture (for example a sofa table or coffee table). And they’ll add a bit more visual detail and color to your living room. Like the Ritz ottoman, which is perfect for someone in a much smaller space.

Small Ottoman

Bench

If you’ve got a long or narrow space, a bench is a great way to add a lot of extra seating (usually about three to four per bench!). Like the Avenue bench. And when the holidays are over, you can store your bench somewhere else – like the foot of your bed. It’s a great multi-purpose piece that you can use in any room of the house. And if your bench is high enough, you can use it in the dining room for extra seating. 

Bench

Sources: Domicile Interior Design, Toby Fairly Interior DesignLDA Architecture and Interiors, and CWB Architects.

Talking Tufted Furniture

Tufted furniture – it’s a classic furniture style that has never quite gone away. Tufting happens during the upholstery process when layers of fabric are pulled inward (often with a button) to create the tuft, giving off a “buttoned-up” look. Tufted furniture originated in historic France and England (around the 1300s-1400s) and was one of the ways upper classmen would show off their money as tufting requires more fabric than other upholstery methods. Back then, these fabrics were usually rich velvets or silks but today tufted furniture comes in a variety of different fabrics with bright colors and fun patterns to combine old and new styles. You’ll often find the tufted look on the Chesterfield sofa, Barcelona chair, and classic chaise lounges and ottomans.

Tufted Furniture

Tufted furniture has the ability to upgrade any room with a more upscale look, for both traditional and contemporary rooms alike. The Brittney ottoman is a more traditional approach to tufting, with a neutral velvet and classic wooden legs. Whereas the Casino IV chair shows how even modern mid-century can be glammed up with bonded leather and metal legs. Almost every design style has its own version of tufted furniture – whether you love shabby chic, modern, and glam.

One of the key benefits to tufted furniture is its longevity. Since this furniture type is tightly upholstered with reinforcement every couple of inches (the tufts), it has less fabric sagging over time. So you can have an elegant look that lasts. We love these tufted rooms!  

Products and images (from left to right): Kim Scodro Interiors with the Montage Ottoman,  Martha O’Hara Interiors with the Classic Accent Chair, J. Scott Interiors with the Marilyn BedNiki Papadopoulos with Casino III Chair, and Distinctive Mantel Designs with the Brittney Ottoman.

Mix and Matching Living Room Colors

Your living room may feel a bit drab right now -- and you might be missing color or mixing the wrong colors. In a multi-function space like the living room, it's a great place to test out different colors and patterns. While neutral tones like grays and beige will always be classic, adding in punches of color will help give the room a bold and elegant statement. 

There are two ways you can explore color in your living room. Try bringing color in with accent pieces (think pillows, a side chair, or curtains) or start with a dramatic focal point (such as a bright blue wall or red sofa). A bold color in an otherwise neutral room will give your home a clean and contemporary feel. Think about your favorite color -- or what you want your main color to be. For example, if you love grassy green, start with that as your main color and think about where you'd like the green to be. Once you've figured out what your color focus is, explore some accent colors. For example, grassy green goes great with burnt orange, pale pink, or teal. Mix these colors together using paint chips, fabric swatches, or print outs. This way you'll be able to see how the colors react to one another. 

You may notice that the burnt orange is beautiful next to the green, but is also very saturated. In this case, you might opt for a smaller orange accent like a vase or tray. There are a lot of different types of pieces that can add color to your living room. Have fun with colors and patterns. Try out different throw pillows (like a mix of 4-5 different patterns that work together), vases, trays, accent walls, rugs, or curtains. Whether you're transforming your living room with a mix of colors, or opting for one statement color, your space will feel much more alive. Below are some great ways to mix color palettes for your living room. 

Chevron Ottoman

Try an orange/gold and tie in a contrasting purple and blue, with softer tones like gold and beige. These colors will create both a fresh and regal look.

Blue Sofa

For a calmer space, try out a robin's egg blue with a sunny yellow, tangerine orange, and a bright green. These colors are calming but also add a bit of life to an otherwise neutral space.

Purple Chair

Pair a rich purple with a sage green, coral red, or teal for a fun and festive living room space.

How Do I Figure Out My Design Style?

Figuring out your design style is a tricky thing. Are you contemporary? Eclectic? Retro? A mix? And what do those terms mean when talking about a room? For example, many of us say our style is "contemporary" but the definition varies so much for each individual. If you're in the process of refurnishing your home or buying furniture for a new home, it's very important to understand your style and how everything will work together to create the look you're going for. 

Get Googling, Pinning, our Houzzing

Before tackling the shopping process, start searching for rooms instead of terms. Look on Google Images, Pinterest, or Houzz and get lost in the different spaces. When you see something you like, save them all in a board, folder, or ideabook. If you're unsure what to search for, try searching for catch-all keywords that will show a variety of different styles such as "bedroom" or "fireplace design". By searching in this way, you'll find a variety of different design solutions and styles to help you visually identify your look. 

Make a List

A week later, take a look at what images you've saved with a fresh eye. Write down trends you notice from picture to picture. For example, have you noticed that seven of the rooms have starburst mirrors? Or, that all the rooms have fabric sofas instead of leather? You'll notice themes throughout your these images that will help you understand what you like. You'll notice that your "themes" list is morphing into a shopping list such as: circular mirrors, microfiber sofa, moroccan tile rug, and slipper chairs.

Find Your Interior Design Style

Here are some things to look for throughout photos: 

     
  • What types of wall art and decor are in the rooms? Are there kinds that I like or don't like?
  • Are there mostly fabric sofas? Or leather sectionals?
  • What kinds of coffee tables do the rooms feature? Do they have clean lines or have room for storage?
  • Are there colors I'm gravitating towards? Or do the colors vary?
  • Are there consistent materials throughout the photos? 

Start Shopping

Start the shopping process with the list you just made. As you do this, pin or save what products you like. That way, you can look at everything holistically and make sure everything ties into the style you want. Shopping online is a great way to make sure your keeping to your style and plan. Check out the example Pinterest board we created to get the look from one of the rooms above!

Image Sources: Paul Moon DesignHouzz Traditional RoomsErika Bonnell, Inc.Paul Moon DesignMichael Abrams LimitedJane Lockhart Interior Design

Living Room Fabric Options for Kids and Pets

Many parents or pet owners are hesitant to replace their old living room chairs or sofa, thinking it would be better to wait until the children are older or the puppies and kittens are all grown up. But you can have your family – furry friends and all – and a new living room design too! Some fabrics are more conducive to the wear and tear of these specific family members, and choosing such a fabric for your living room upholstery will give you all furniture that you can live with.

Leather Living Room Furniture

A leather sofa or living room chair is a fantastic choice for a number of reasons. It is very durable and comfortable. Leather furniture will contour to the shape of your body when you sit on it but will also keep its shape. You can easily clean any spills or smudges with a damp cloth, and it doesn't attract pet hair. And, as asked in the Moms Write Stuff blog, “Who in his right mind wouldn’t want to sit in the lap of luxury? One way to do that is by choosing leather furniture.”
 
Microfiber Living Room Furniture

Microfiber is another fantastic option for your living room upholstery. This fabric has a seemingly flat weave, so your pets won’t easily get their claws stuck in anything by simply jumping on the furniture (which can be the case with some textured fabrics). And its smooth, tight feel makes microfiber easy to clean, however, you may need to use microfiber-specific cleansers, because the bleach and fabric softeners found in some household cleansers could damage the microfiber over time.

If you do fall in love with a living room set that is not upholstered in a durable fabric, like leather or microfiber, all is not lost. You might be able to treat the fabric for durability, however, be careful and consult manufacturer instructions – this could impact the fabric’s feel.

5 Sofas Under $500

A new sofa refreshes the look of your living room -- it can also completely change the style of the room. If you're in the market for a new sofa and want to update your living room, you don't need to spend a ton of money to get the style and quality you're looking for. We've pulled together five of our favorite sofas that you can bring home for less than $500.

Casino Leather Sofa

Get the on-trend look of furniture design’s modern masterpieces with the Casino leather sofa. With a nod to mid-century style, this piece has an architecturally-inspired silhouette with wide track arms and box-style seat and back cushions, covered in classic white bonded leather. Tufted details on the seat add a graceful touch and keep the look from being too modern, while cantilevered chrome legs add sculptural flair. Attached seat cushions and velcro-adhered back cushions ensure the look is always crisp and clean. And this sofa is just $449.

Casino Leather Sofa

Colette Sofa

Give your living room a fashionable touch with the crisply tailored Colette sofa. Sloping rolled arms, classic box seat cushions and knife-edge back cushions all feature finely constructed welted detailing. The heathered gray herringbone upholstery provides a dignified background for the fashion-forward fabrics on the accent pillows. Neither too masculaine nor too feminine, this comfortable sofa will showcase your good taste! And it's just $499.

Colette Sofa

Griffin Sofa

Sink into dreamy comfort with the Griffin sofa. Deep seat cushions and back pillows are covered in chestnut-hued, plush textured chenille, contrasting with warm chocolate faux leather on the base and arms. A wide woven accent fabric in delicious tones of cinnamon and cafe au lait complete the lush and inviting color palette. Flared arms, four toss pillows, tapered legs and welted detailing round out the enticing effect. And it's only $399.

Griffin Sofa

Palmer 92" Sofa

The Palmer 92" sofa offers an enviable combination for your home — it's the perfect blend of long-lasting comfort and fashion! The style is casually contemporary, but with features that stand the test of time: easygoing roll arms, welted seat cushions and simply angled wood feet. Premium foam cores and sinuous seat springs work overtime to keep you relaxed, while the red finish exudes a certain visual energy. The accent pillows sport classic stripes and French script for a perfect dose of effortless decorating appeal. And it's available in other options, for just $499.

Palmer Sofa

Stoked Sofa

There's something exciting about the Stoked sofa, whose inviting style and contemporary look will add energy to any well-designed space. Featuring deep seating and a scatter back design, this collection boasts welted track arms and slightly tapered wedge feet for a clean and fashionable aesthetic. One coordinating fabric with a bold circle pattern and a second in rich brown corduroy add to the modern appeal. The loose, reversible back pillows allow you to customize the look and your seating comfort. And it's yours for $399.

cream sofa

5 Tips for Buying the Right Sofa for Your Living Room

The sofa is the centerpiece of your living room design. This single piece of living room furniture could end up being the most used item in your entire home. You want it to be beautiful and functional. Follow our five tips to bring home a sofa that embraces your style and creates the perfect look for your room.

Sofa Size: What Will Fit in Your Room?

You really can’t start shopping for your new sofa until you’ve measured and determined the maximum dimensions your room and doorways can handle. Nothing will ruin your day like watching the delivery people take back the sofa you had fallen in love with because it won’t fit into your home. Standard sofa widths can vary from 74 to 90 inches, so know your space limitations before you begin shopping.

Sofa Style Is Not About Stealing the Show

Since your sofa will likely be the largest piece of furniture in your living room, you may want to exercise some restraint in the pattern you choose. Think method actor, like Robert Deniro, rather than something over-the-top, say, like Channing Tatum. Your sofa will be a foil for everything else in the room, so choose a color and pattern that all your other furniture and accessories can play off of.

Remember the Classics

There is more to the look of your sofa than its fabric. When considering your sofa's silhouette and shape, remember that there’s a reason some furniture designs are considered classic – it is because they have stood the test of time. In a few months, you don’t want to hate your living room because it looks dated. Styles like the club sofa, the camelback or the chesterfield, for example, will help you create a smart, timeless look.

Think Inside the Box for Sofa Cushions

Much like a mattress, sofa cushions benefit from regular flipping. When possible, choose a sofa that has fully reversible cushions with supportive box construction. This will help your sofa keeps it shape and will limit the amount of sagging that makes a sofa look old before its time.

Or Maybe It’s Not a Sofa at All

There is no rule that living rooms have to have a sofa. Depending on the look you are going for and the size of your living room, other seating options might better meet your needs. You could consider grouping together four club chairs or opting for a couple of loveseats.

Buying your new sofa can be an investment of time and money. We hope these five tips make it an enjoyable and rewarding investment for you.