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Everyone enjoys a comfortably furnished home where everything is just the way they want it and today, more than ever before, it is possible to have just what you want. Thanks to new materials, construction and styles, consumers can find an almost unlimited range of furniture in every style and price range. As with any investment, however, it pays to keep some basic facts in mind before you begin shopping for furniture. Plan before you buy. Make sure you know what you need, know how it will be used, know how much space you have as well as how much you can spend. Keep in mind that you will not be able to see the most important parts of an upholstered item: the frame, the strapping and the cushioning material. Squeeze the arms of sofas and chairs to be sure there is enough padding so that you cannot feel the frame. If you can feel the frame, chances are the padding won't stand up to daily use for very long. Examine the fabrics to be sure patterns are matched and seams are well-stitched and strong enough to resist splitting or tearing. Be sure cushions fit snugly and give even support. Check to see if the covering material is treated with a protective finish that will help resist dirt and soiling. The finish of case goods furniture is an important sign of quality. Better quality pieces are finished on the top, sides and front as well as on the back and the underside. There should be no cracks or bubbles in the finish. Check the joints to see how the wood is joined together. The strongest joints are dovetail, mortise and tenon and dowel. The least satisfactory is simply glued or nailed. Lean on tables and tip back chairs to be sure they do not wobble or sway. Make sure drawers and doors are securely fitted, do not sag when opened and fit snugly when closed. Shop around for quality, price, credit terms and service. Before you buy, ask about the seller's credit terms and delivery service. An added charge for delivery or a higher credit charge compared to others may mean that a 'good buy' is not as good as it appeared.

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