Shopping for the perfect piece of furniture can be fun -- but, it can also be a challenge. Size, color, quality and price all have to meet in the right combination. With a defined purpose, color scheme and theme, however -- you should be set up for success.

Continuing with the example from my previous articles, How to Plan Your Next Home Décor Project and Finding Inspiration and Ideas for Your Home Decorating Project, this article will use an example for working a living room project.

The Living Room Project -- Total Budget: $1,000
Purpose: Create a living room for family/friends to socialize and watch TV
Color Palette: Brown, red and tan
Theme: Contemporary or geometric design

Basic Elements
$50 Wall Coverings; Plan: Paint
$50 Flooring; Plan: Brown, tan and red geometric area rug
$550 Furniture; Plan: Seating for 6 people (existing tan sofa 3; additional seating 3), 2side tables, coffee table, TV table
$150 Lighting; Plan: Ceiling fixture, 2 table lamps
$200 Accessories; Plan: To be purchased after furniture placement

♦ Shopping for Furniture

Believe it or not, I actually prefer to shop for furniture before selecting the lighting, accessories or paint (which I consider to be just another accessory). Once you have the basic furniture pieces, you can try a few room arrangements to ge the furniture placement finalized. Then it's easier to determine the size, color and textures you need to finish the room with lighting, accessories and paint.

In this example, there is only $550 for furniture to seat 6 people to socialize and watch TV. A neutral tan sofa, TV and a brown, tan and red geometric area rug are already in place.

♦ Seating

Addressing the seating on a limited budget is always a challenge. Luckily, the existing sofa will take care of three people. A good way to get low cost seating is to bring in a couple of ottomans or upholstered cubes – topped with a sturdy tray, they can also serve double duty as a coffee or side table.

For this project, we'll shop for two upholstered cubes, a large sturdy tray to sit on top of the cubes, a side chair (to bring more weight to the room), two end tables and a TV stand. We'll break down the $550 budget into the following targets:

$100 Upholstered cubes (2)
$25 Large, sturdy tray
$250 Side chair
$75 End tables (2)
$150 TV stand

♦ Tables

The end tables and TV stand have a budget of $225 for all three pieces. Since the sofa color is already a neutral tan – it's best to try to bring in some contrast with the other pieces of furniture in the room. We'll shop for dark tone wood or painted pieces.

♦ The Hunt

Anywhere and everywhere is fair game when looking for furniture. You can visit local furniture stores and thrift shops – however, for smaller pieces I find it's much easier to shop on line with companies that offer free or low cost shipping. I have a few favorites that usually deliver on quality and price.

My first search is for "ottoman." Immediately, I score – I can get two brown bonded leather ottomans for $39.99 each (less than the original $100 target). Brown is one of the colors in the inspiration area rug, so we now it's in our color palette.

Next, next search is "end tables" and I am thrilled to find red end tables for $33.99 each – again I'm under target. Remember, red is another color in the inspiration area rug, so this is quite a find. I notice these end tables have a matching coffee table for $58.99. Now, I have to tell you, I'm not a big fan of "matching" pieces of furniture – but, after seeing the coffee table I decide to capitalize on the current trend of using long, low height tables to perch the TV upon. Since the TV table won't be right next to the end tables, this is still a good choice and a fantastic price (our target was $150).

The last piece of furniture will be a little tricky to find – we've already got tan, brown and red furniture in the room. Ideally, a print with all those colors would be fantastic – but, it may be hard to find. I search "chair" and now I remember why I love so much. I actually find an upholstered side chair in tan, a couple shades of brown and red in a small geometric print and it's on sale for $185.99. Here's what I end up with:


I search for "tray" – but, don't find anything large enough or in a style that would fit. So, I'll put the $25 for the tray and all the other money I saved aside for buying lighting and accessories.

Overall we spent $395.89 (including the $2.95 shipping for all items at – leaving $154.11 that can be added to the rest of this project. The final articles in this series will address shopping for lighting and accessories.

♦ ♦ ♦

This article is part of my Home Décor series. To read them in the order of a typical home décor project start with How to Plan Your Next Home Décor Project and progress through Finding Inspiration and Ideas for Your Home Decorating Project, Furniture for Sale – How to Find the Perfect Pieces for Your Room, Lighting for Sale – How to Find the Perfect Pieces for Your Room, Shopping for Low Cost Accessories and Selecting the Right Artwork for Your Room.

You'll get a wealth of ideas on how to put it all together and be well on your way to successfully completing your project.

Check back for my coming mini-series with quick decorating tips and projects you can work over a weekend.