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Useful And Fantastic: Shopping For Furnishings

"When you buy furnishings and furniture, ask questions,''says Val Yule. "Are you wanting something stylish, or to show-off, or are you wanting a home?''


Can you buy new seats for the chair-frames, or mend the seats?

What happens to that vinyl or leather lounge suite if there is a tear in the fabric?

Where has that teak or mahogany come from? Tropical forests that are being wrecked?

How easy is it to keep clean?

Will we get fed up with it because it isn't comfortable enough or the style will be tiresome after a while or we can't modify it to fit a renovation?

Will it stand heavy use from children or parties or getting moved around?

Can you move it around easily?

Are there bits that are easy to bump into or trip over?
Can you get just as good second-hand from the Op-Shop, Trading Post magazine or online?

What can you do with it when you yourself don't need or want it any more?


Can curtains be washed or dry-cleaned?

Will that pale shaggy carpet be regretted when it can only be cleaned by expensive steam-cleaning that decimates the shag?

Look for labels and guarantees, any information about 'environmental friendliness', and about the makers.

What sort of colours will not fade easily? What sort of carpets and floors will not look dirty easily?

Lined curtains and/or Venetian blinds (plastic last longer) and awnings and shutters can be great for helping to insulate your home. 'Lace curtains' give privacy but still let in the light and give you a view.

Look for Energy Labels, Guarantee labels, Local produce labels, Use-By-Dates, Ingredients, and Green Spot labels for goods reportedly produced without damage to the environment.


Look for adjustable shelving for different sizes of books and oddments.

It is handy to have shelves that are deep enough for the books plus space in front to place those oddments you are constantly using but often cannot find—from a pen-box to sissors, glasses, memo-book, current fotos.

If you are likely to be moving, think about what happens to what you are buying now. Is there anyone or anywhere that can take what you cannot take with you?

Buying cheap junk because it will be easier to throw out is not fair to the environment because of the carbon costs and waste of resources in making the junk.

It is sad to see skips and hard-rubbish collections full of furniture thrown out because it cannot be mended. I saw a big trash truck leave a university, piled with two hundred chairs from an auditorium, all fairly new chairs with handsome metal frames in fine condition, but alas, some of the fine padded seats had stains or rips and could not be replaced or mended, and all the other seats had to match. So all that lot was replaced with two hundred new chairs, all with seats that could not be replaced or repaired.

Campaining for non-waste furniture. A tremendous amount of waste is in furniture that gets thrown out because it cannot easily be mended. Furniture-link or similar title could be for locally-made furniture that could be repaired, and that when you bought, you had links to the repairers, and the makers of repair material, and to sources of compatible soft furnishings.

For exampl, thousands of chairs and armchairs get thrown out because the covers cannot be mended, or look tatty, or new seats are needed. Some seat-standardisation would be valuable and could increase sales if publicised, so that new seats or covers could be bought for the perfectly good frames.

In UK it was possibl to buy very attractiv two-way-stretch washabl covers for chairs and sofas within a good range of styles and shapes. These are made from two-way stretch materials and are washabl and mendabl. Surely a furnishings manufacturer here could link with local furniture makers to supply directly or on mail order.

For many peple who move home a lot, 'packabl' furniture is worth having. And another tip that surprisingly some peple do not know. Paying cash not credit can help you bargain for a better price, and save you paying mor interest than you can realise at the time. 'No payments for two years' means you can end up paying up to twice as much as you need. And after all, it is a bit of fun using packing cases like pioneers for a while in order to buy something good from your savings.

Re-uses for old furniture and furnishings: What are your ideas?

(PS Some surplus letters have been dropd from the spelling here. No need to waste letters and make lerning to read mor difficult.)

© Valerie Yule


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