When men buy "guy stuff" - cars, lawn mowers, electronics - they're on their home turf.
For those purchases, “Men can rely on familiar brand names and test drives to guide their decision-making,” says Jackie Hirschhaut, spokesperson for the American Home Furnishings Alliance.
But even though men are becoming more involved in decorating their homes, according to research by the American Furniture Manufcaturers Association, “For most men, furniture stores are unfamiliar territory,” says Hirschhaut.
Sofas and chairs top the list of furniture men are most likely to purchase, she says. And the qualities men want in those pieces are comfort, durability and attractive styling.
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Hirschhaut offers the following tips:
Kick the tires. Not literally, of course. But do put likely pieces through your version of a quality test. Lift one corner of a sofa to see whether the frame feels sturdy. Press gently outward on the arms to make sure there is no “give.” Ask what materials are used and how joints and stress points, such as arms, are reinforced.
Look under the hood. Some stores have handy “cut-aways,” which show how upholstered pieces are assembled. But you probably will have to rely on the know-how of a well-trained sales associate to explain the hidden benefits of a piece. A variety of construction techniques offer comfort and durability, but in general, the number of springs in a foundation and the way they are reinforced determines the cost and quality level.
Take a test drive. Don’t buy a sofa, chair or recliner without sitting, slouching or reclining in it – for at least a few minutes. Put your feet up. Put your head back. Settle into the piece they way you would at home.
BUYING WOOD FURNITURE
Wood furniture is easier to buy than upholstered styles because the materials and construction techniques are not hidden under layers of fabric and fillings. What you see is what you get, more or less.
When buying wood furniture, follow these tips from the American Furniture manufacturers Association:
Operate all doors and drawers. Do they open and close easily? The fronts of higher-quality drawers should be attached with dovetail joints.
Check that hardware is attached securely and straight. Drawer interiors should be smooth. Higher-quality pieces should have support blocks on drawer bottoms and dust panels between drawers. Dressers and chests-of-drawers should not wobble or creak.
Turn chairs upside-down and examine the joints, which should be snug and free of excess glue. Check under tables that the corners are reinforced and the legs securely attached.
Measure the length of walls where furniture will be positioned and the width of doorways before purchasing pieces. For entertainment centers, measure the height, width and depth of the TV and other components.