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Q: How do I choose the right furniture for my living room?

A: When buying new furniture, there are several keys to success.

Start by examining the layout of the room and deciding where the new furniture will go.

Does the current layout of your furniture work for your needs? Does your room have a focal point, such as a window view or a fireplace? Do you have a big-screen TV that the family likes to gather around?

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Next, consider how you use the room. Is it a formal living room with occasional use, or is it your everyday family room enjoyed by everyone, including kids and pets? Another important question is how much seating you need in the room.

Understanding the seating needs will determine the space you have left for accessory pieces, such as a coffee table, end tables and lamps.

Measure the space in the room so you are choosing pieces that won’t appear too big or too small. Common sizes for a sofa or love seat are 5, 6 and 7 feet.

Be aware that stairways and ceiling heights can impact your ability to get large furniture pieces up flights of stairs and through doorways. You don’t want to buy something, only to discover that you have no way to get it into the desired room.

Think about your style. Do you want this room to be a departure from the style of the rest of the house?

Are you replacing well-worn furniture now that the kids have grown? Maybe you are changing the primary use of the room to better match your current lifestyle. These factors can help you purchase furniture that meets your needs.

Make a shopping list and a budget, and start with the biggest and most important items. Invest as much as you can in a quality sofa.

They tend to be the most expensive piece in a room, and a well-constructed sofa can last for many years. Ask about the cushions and the construction of the piece before you buy.

Be strategic about your fabric choices. You want a durable fabric that will wear well. A neutral sofa color allows you the freedom to update and refresh easily and often with pops of color from patterned or vivid toss pillows and accessories.

That way the room can also accommodate seasonal changes and holiday decorations.

Make sure your new pieces are comfortable. Whenever possible, visit showrooms and sit in the actual pieces you are thinking about buying. Even if the style, size and color are perfect, you won’t enjoy your new furniture if you don’t find it comfortable.

Michelle Yorke owns Michelle Yorke Interior Design and is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. HomeWork is the association’s weekly column about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to

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