When folks shop for furniture, they often get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options available today. Walk into any furniture store and you’ll see what I mean! Unfortunately, some stores lead you to believe that you should be buying a matching “furniture suite.” I disagree.
“Matching” furniture is a thing of the past. In decades gone by, the traditional thing to do was to purchase a furniture suite of matching pieces. For example, buying a bed, two matching side tables and a matching dresser – all in the same color and finish, all with the same look.
The same was true in the living room; have any of you ever bought a sofa, loveseat and chair – all in the same fabric?
Here is my #1 rule for furniture-buying (#2 rule is to make sure it all fits in the room, so this first rule is really important!): Furniture should not match – it should coordinate.
What’s the difference between “matching” and “coordinating?” Plenty. Furniture that “matches” is all in the same style, wood, fabric or finish. The pieces are often selected from a “suite” of furniture, containing sofas in various sizes, chairs, ottomans and sometimes even side tables all in the same look and finish. I’m here to tell you…matching furniture is boring. There. I said it. You can say you heard it here first.
Furniture that “coordinates,” on the other hand, can be taken from many different collections, but it all works together to create a cohesive room. There may be many different finishes and fabrics involved; you may even combine new pieces with pieces you already have on hand. Coordinating pieces do not need to match.
Now, that’s not to say that furniture collections are a terrible thing. On the contrary, they can provide some wonderful options for furniture in different sizes when you are looking for something in particular. However, instead of buying the entire “set” of furniture, as shown on the showroom display floor, I recommend taking a few pieces from one collection and a few from another. This will give you a “collected over time” look, instead of a “I bought the entire set last weekend” look. See the difference?
When shopping for coordinating – instead of matching – furniture, here are a few things to keep in mind. The various furniture pieces in a room should have some thread of continuity running between them. So, perhaps you want to find pieces with a similar leg style. Or, maybe you want to keep the wood finishes somewhat consistent – all dark or all light. Maybe the arms of all your upholstered pieces will be similar, but (as in the Sam Moore photo above) you choose pieces with different fabrics and different back styles and details. Throw in an accent piece – perhaps a painted table or metal and glass stand – to spice things up. Consider your accessories, too; no need to find a matching pair of lamps. Mix and match to create a designer look in any room.
What’s more, you don’t even need to match your furniture with the finishes in your home! Just because you have golden oak wood floors and trim doesn’t mean you need to find furniture to match. In fact, choosing furniture specifically because it DOESN’T match is preferable. Consider pieces darker or lighter in hue for more contrast and more interest in the space; just keep the undertones similar for best results. For example, choose a darker brown table to work with those golden floors, instead of a mahogany – red – table.
You can even use an antique or existing piece of furniture as the starting point for your new room. Find new furniture pieces to coordinate with the existing piece – similar finish, similar shape, etc – and the room will fall into place beautifully.
The easy and safe route will always be to buy the matching furniture set. But, I encourage you to give coordinating furniture a try and see what a difference it makes in the style of your home. If you are having trouble, be sure to consult a local or online interior designer to help you pull it all together; it will be money well-spent.
I am buying furniture at consignment shops and some new pieces too. I was thinking of getting different chairs for the living room (two matching pairs) and having them all upholstered in the same fabric. My husband thinks that I should not do that. What do you think?
To clarify my post, my husband thinks each pair should have their own fabric that coordinates with the other pair.
I like to have a variety of fabrics in a room. I wouldn’t do all 4 in the same fabric. But, you could definitely do one pair in one fabric and the other pair in a coordinating pattern. Sounds like fun!
I love this post and came across it when looking at how to accent my leather sofa. I have a leather sofa from Stressless Ekornes and am looking for accent chairs to go with it. The sofa is a blue color, not very dark or light. I am not sure if I should go for accent chairs in leather or fabric. What do you recommend?