Online shopping is ubiquitous. It seems that everyone, everywhere is doing it. We are constantly bombarded with emails telling us about the latest online promos, discounts, and limited-time offers. We can buy pretty much anything we want online — from pants and shoes to vitamins and lamps. The question is, should we buy furniture online?
At Smitty’s, we understand the convenience of online shopping when it comes to smaller items. However, when it comes to making larger purchases that you intend to keep for a long period of time and which can greatly impact your lifestyle and your home, you need to see those pieces in real life.
Here are some key reasons why it is still very important to shop in-store for furniture.
Reasons to Shop for Furniture In-Store, Not Online
It is really important to feel the fabric of your furniture. You need to touch it, sit on it, and assess the level of comfort.
You will want to see the colour of the fabric and the wood stain in person. It’s very difficult to get a sense of sheen and weave from an image online.
Despite listing sizes online, it can be very tricky to accurately assess the size of your furniture without seeing it in person. An online photo of a sofa might make it look too small or too big for your space.
You can ask questions and get answers. If you would like to know more about how the furniture is constructed, about the warranty, or the delivery process, you will be able to get answers in-store more easily.
Getting professional advice is priceless. At Smitty’s, our in-store interior decorating team can provide you with expert advice and guide you through the process of customizing furniture to suit your home.
Let’s start with some inspiration from well-known designer Candice Olson:
“A common mistake people make regarding dining rooms is to buy a matching set of table and chairs, which can be monotonous. I like to mix guest chairs in one style and head chairs in another for a more interesting, dynamic look.”
At Smitty’s, we tend to agree. Variety is the spice of life and having even different styles of chairs as a part of your dining room set can really create a wow factor for your guests.
On the other hand, if symmetry and coordination are more your speed, never fear — there are plenty of table and chair sets that still offer variation, but within the same style and colour palate.
Our showrooms are filled with gorgeous chairs from Bermex, Future Fine Furniture, Amisco, and many other Canadian manufacturers —but before we get too excited, let’s start with the basics.
Start with the Basics
(Bermex Chair C-1450 pictured above.)
First things first, how do you know what sort of dining chairs to purchase?
Here are a few expert tips to help you decide on the perfect dining chairs for your home:
1. Decide how many chairs you will need.
Ensure that you take into account whether you are looking for chairs for your existing dining table, or if you will be purchasing a new table. You don’t want to purchase only four chairs if you are upgrading to a larger dining room table, where six chairs would be more appropriate, or if you regularly require additional chairs for entertaining.
Expert Tip: If you’re unsure about how many chairs will fit comfortably around your table, aim to have a minimum of six inches between each chair, so that your guests will have some personal space while seated.
2. Decide if you are looking for wooden, steel, or cushioned chairs.
Consider who will be regularly sitting in your new chairs. If you have children, you may want to have a surface that can easily be wiped clean. If you appreciate comfort while dining, you may be more interested in getting upholstered seating.
3. Decide if you want your chairs to match your table, or stand on their own.
You aren’t committed to purchasing the chairs that match your dining table. All the rules that once applied have been broken. You are free to select any style that suits your taste, your budget, and your home. Feel free to mix and match fabrics, materials, and colours.
4. Decide if you will want to use your dining chairs in other rooms of your home.
If you would like to be able to use your dining chairs as additional seating in your living room, home office, or other area of your home, then make sure that you consider whether you will be able to easily move them from one space to another.
At Smitty’s, we regularly have customers ask us for our professional advice on how to purchase the best sofa for their home. We understand that there are many considerations to take into account, in order to find the right piece to fit your space and your lifestyle. So we asked our interior decorating experts to put together their best pointers on how to buy a sofa.
Measure Your Space
Before you begin looking at styles and colours, it’s vital that you measure your available space. You will want to measure the length, height, and depth of your ideal sofa location to ensure that your sofa will fit.
Some sofas have a lower back design, which is handy if you are considering placing a sofa table behind for easy access to snacks, books, remotes, etc. Other sofas can be quite deep and that must be taken into consideration, so that you don’t risk blocking walking space, doorways, or room flow.
Expert Tip: Once you have your ideal sofa measured out, cut painter’s tape into strips to match your measurements and tape them on the floor in the location you are considering. Taping your sofa outline to the floor will help to give you a visual sense of its placement in your room.
Discuss Wants, Needs & Lifestyle
Make sure that you consider how the sofa will be used. Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you need a pull-out sofa to accommodate guests?
Do you want to be able to fit several people on the sofa at one time?
Will you want to curl up and watch movies, or stretch your legs straight out and nap?
Do you have pets or children? (This can impact your choice of fabric.)
Do you want the sofa to blend in with your existing decor, or stand out from it?
If you live with someone, ensure that you are both on the same page before heading to the showroom!
Determine Your Budget
Before you begin shopping, make sure that you have figured out how much you can afford to spend on your sofa. As a central piece of furniture in your room, your sofa will likely be a focal point for your interior design and should be considered as an investment in your home — you want your sofa to look good and feel comfortable for many years.
Different fabrics and styles can have a large impact on the price of a sofa, so be sure to consider all your options when you’re in the showroom. There are lots of gorgeous options to choose from!
Once you have your measurements, wish list, and budget prepared, come and visit us at Smitty’s. Our inhouse interior decorating professionals will help you find the perfect sofa.
Interior design and interior decorating experts understand the importance of the visual impression and functionality of your living space. Making sure that your furniture works for your life, while, at the same time, offering visual interest and style is the key to high contrast design — chalk it up to yet another good reason to work with an expert.
What is high contrast room design?
High contrast room design is an interior design technique that aims to design a room with contrasting elements to help highlight a focal piece of furniture, create a striking visual impact, or accent a particular architectural element.
For example, you can pair the elegant sectional (pictured above) by Palliser with a lighter and more neutral coloured area rug to showcase the furniture.
Easy ways to create contrast in your room
There are many ways to achieve a beautiful, contrasting design in your home — it all depends on your style and your space. Here are a few easy ways to get this look:
Pair a darker coloured sofa with a lighter coloured area rug, or try the reverse. A dark rug with a neutral-coloured sectional looks amazing.
Add contrasting decorative elements to your space. Try adding colourful throw pillows to your accent chair or sofa, or add a grouping of colourful vases to your side table or coffee table.
If you are going for a more urban look, try adding black and white artwork and mirrors to your walls.
Mix and match your furniture and decor
Another excellent way to bring high contrast design into your space is by mixing and matching furniture pieces with decorative elements.
The metal base and wood-topped dining table (pictured above) by The Table Factory is a perfect example of a high contrast design. The natural element of the wood is contrasted by the urban look of the metal base. This example also helps to illustrate how a darker table can contrast nicely with a lighter coloured floor.
Forge Design can help you achieve this look with their sleek, chrome coffee tables with glass tops. If smaller, decorative items are more your speed, then consider adding some contrasting decor from Surya’s amazing collection.
One of the hottest trends in interior decorating is creating a vignette in a room of your home. Vignettes are a lot of fun to create and can help to bring out your creativity and showcase your unique style.
What is a vignette?
A vignette is a grouping of objects that, when combined, creates a mood, a theme, and a decorative focal point in a space. Vignettes can include large pieces, like artwork, or small decor items like vases.
While you can create a vignette in any room of your home, they work especially well on flat surfaces in living rooms, bedrooms, and guest rooms.
Types of vignettes
A vignette can be anything you want. It can reflect your personality, it can showcase a particular theme, or it can be styled to embody a time period.
Popular vignette groupings include:
The beach: shells, wood, sand, plants, etc.
Cities: Paris, New York City, London, etc.
Family: photos, mementos, antique toys, etc.
The arts: movies, books, artwork, etc.
Colour & Texture
Colour combinations that either accent the main colour in your space or add contrasting tones
Different materials and types of objects to create depth
Historical elements and vintage pieces that reflect particular time periods
Collectible pieces and memorabilia
Personal items or inherited pieces that reflect family history
How to create a vignette in your home
A vignette can be created with any item that fits your theme and your style.
Here are a few expert tips to keep in mind:
1. You can mix new items with objects and furniture you already have in your home.
If you have a dresser that you love, and it would make an excellent horizontal space for a vignette, then use it!
You can purchase decorative items like vases, lamps, and artwork to bring your vignette to life.
2. Place objects of different heights and sizes together.
Using odd numbers of objects is key to bringing a vignette to life. Group pieces in threes, fives, etc. This will be pleasing to the eye without looking too organized.
Try to mix your objects around a key element to create your vignette’s focal point.
3. Keep scale, balance, and variety in mind.
While you do want to ensure visual interest, you don’t want your vignette to take over your entire space or look forced. Keep your objects appropriately sized for your space.
Try to make sure that the variety of pieces is not overwhelming and fits on your horizontal surface comfortably — you don’t want anything hanging off as it will look odd and could get bumped or damaged.
Not every home is filled with light, and often the entryway of a home can be quite dark. At Smitty’s, we often get asked for our best tips on brightening dark entryways.
Here are few expert ideas to try in your home:
Mirrors are one of the most effective, and simplest, ways that you can bring light into any space — entryways in particular.
You can place a medium-sized mirror by the door, you can arrange several smaller mirrors in a gallery-style formation to fill a larger space on your wall, or you can hang (or lean) a large mirror on one wall in your entryway. If you opt for the large mirror, be sure to place it on the wall opposite the way your door opens — you don’t want to risk the door handle opening and breaking the glass!
Smitty’s Pro Tip: Mirrors will not only reflect light and help to bring it into your home, but hanging two mirrors opposite each other will double the light and help to create depth in a front hall that is narrow and dark.
Ceiling lighting isn’t always enough to brighten a dark entryway. We recommend adding a floor lamp (if you have the room) or a table lamp on your front hall console table. Even adding a small lamp on an entry table will definitely help to bring light into your entryway.
If you have room for a console table, we recommend a chrome and glass topped table. The glass will help open up your space by letting the light flow through. Then, top your table with white or neutral-coloured decorative items to add bright accents.
Working with an interior decorator means that you will save yourself from making expensive mistakes. You won’t spend money on furniture and decor that doesn’t look good in your home.
2. You will have expert help to plan out your space.
A professional interior decorator will have the tools and the skills to expertly plan out your rooms. They will understand spatial design and proportion to help your home look great.
3. You will save time.
Your interior decorator will conduct all of the necessary research and product sourcing, so you can save your time and energy for more fun things — like selecting your favourite accent chair!
If you find yourselves sitting on the floor of your room (like the couple in the photo) eye-balling and imagining your room by holding your hand in the air to “frame the space”, then you need to hire an interior decorator.
We all want a home that showcases our unique personality and highlights the important elements that make up our lives. Sure, model homes look fancy, but they don’t have much character and it’s pretty obvious that no one lives in them.
You have a life filled with memorable moments, adventures, and meaning — and when you welcome these elements into your space, you will bring it it life.
Here are a few key ways to personalize your space:
Personal Items & Momentos
A simple and effective way to personalize your space is to add personal items and mementos that are unique to you and your family.
Perhaps you’ve travelled to a special destination and brought home a souvenir, or maybe there’s a type of collection that you would like to feature. Highlighting these elements can be accomplished with photos, artwork, decorative pieces, and more.
Here are some examples of personal items worth highlighting in your space:
Photos that you’ve taken of family, friends, or nature; professional photos that you’ve purchased; or a mix of both.
Sculptures, paintings, hand-crafted items, etc.
Postcards, maps, trinkets, pottery, etc.
Photos, Photos & More Photos!
Adding photos and wall art to your space is definitely on trend.
Creating a gallery wall is a fun activity that allows you to mix and match photos, paintings, artwork, mirrors, and more. It’s an effective way to showcase your life, and it will be sure to help personalize your space.
Here are some do’s and don'ts for your photo space:
Add photos that have meaning to you in your life and fill you with positive thoughts or meaningful memories. This could include family photos, baby photos, travel photos, special holidays, pets, and more.
Showcase images that are highly personal or might be considered as over-sharing. This could include images with nudity, past relationships, and more.
Mix and match photos from different time periods and with different colours. You can have black and white or colour photos side-by-side, and you can exhibit photos from your parents’ childhood as well as your childrens’.
Cram every photo you love onto your wall. Be discerning and only select pictures that you will be happy to see every day. Make sure that you leave enough space between the images, so they have some space to breathe and you can take them in one at a time.
Custom Fabric & Design
Every room in your home is different, and you want your furniture to reflect your personality and style. At Smitty’s, we carry a wide variety of furniture that can be customized to suit your taste. You can choose your fabric, your furniture legs, your throw cushions, and more.
Here are some tips on customizing the fabric and design of your furniture:
Accent furniture, like chairs, coffee tables, and bedside tables can be customized. Chairs can be covered with leather or fabric in a wide range of colours to work in your space. Some brands, like Decor-Rest, also allow you to select the type of chair legs. Tables can be stained or painted in a variety of colours. Some brands, like Durham Furniture, will also allow you to select the number of drawers, hardware, and other features.
Sofas and sectionals can be customized to suit any space. Many brands, like Brentwood, offer a huge range of fabrics and leather options. Once you’ve selected your fabric, you can add throw cushions in accent tones to add an extra element of personalization.
There are many ways to personalize your space and make it your own.
Summer’s here and it’s full of sunlight and possibility. Why not bring some of this energy into your home this season? This is the perfect time of year for a summer refresh!
Bringing some additional colour, design, and tropical themes into your home is the hot trend — and it will definitely help you invite the warmth of summer into your space.
Here are two easy ways to help you refresh your furnishings and decor without breaking your budget:
Patterned Throw Pillows
Colourful, patterned, and tropical fabrics are incredibly popular this season.
The nice thing about throw pillows is that there are no rules! You can add as many or as few as you want. You can also play around with size and shape — try grouping square pillows with rectangular-shaped pillows, or for additional fun, add in a round or cylindrical pillow!
When selecting your fabric, keep in mind the colour of your walls and the colour of any focal pieces of furniture, such as your sofa. While it’s fun to add all kinds of different colours to your space, you don’t want it to completely clash with the main pieces of furniture in your room.
Tropical Themed Everything
This year you will see tropical themed design elements everywhere! It’s the hottest trend in decor this summer.
There are a variety of easy ways to add this theme into your home. Here are some tips:
Add a colourful area rug to help define and refresh your space. Surya offers a huge variety of area rugs that will bring new life to your room.
Add colourful decorative elements, like vases, bowls, and candlesticks. Decorative pieces with sparkle, colour, and shine will help to create fun and creative focal points in your space.
Add organic elements, like ferns, palms, or decorative items that feature natural fibres, wood, or shells. Incorporating these pieces will add a tropical accent and will help you bring some nature indoors.
At Smitty’s, we have a wide variety of decorative items and furniture that can be customized to your liking.
Wall art is a fun and creative way to add some style and personality to your home.
Whether you are looking to add a punch of colour, showcase artwork, display photos, brighten with mirrors, or even add a terrarium, wall art is always on trend.
At Smitty’s, we get a lot of questions about how to use wall art and hang art. Here are some of our expert tips on making the most of wall art:
1. Go Big with Wall Art
Don’t be afraid of placing large artwork on your wall.
If you have a room with a focal point, like a sofa or a fireplace, try hanging a large, single piece of art over the centre area. The art can be anything from an original painting to a reproduction on canvas, to a large-scale printed photo.
If you have a large piece in another room of your home, try bringing it into a different room — sometimes simply moving your wall art around can freshen up your space.
2. Use Mirrors
Yes, it’s true, mirrors are considered wall art — especially with all the different shapes, styles, and designs on the market.
Similar to placing a large piece of art, consider hanging a large mirror behind your sofa or above your fireplace. Adding a mirror in this manner will bring light into your space and help to brighten your room.
3. Try Word Art
Adding word art to your walls is a fun and creative way to bring new life into your space.
Many of you might remember the trend of having the words “Live, Laugh, Love” in a front hall, but all kinds of words and phrases are being displayed throughout homes. You can have some relaxing words in the bedroom, some fun words in the family room, or even a famous food quote in the kitchen — it’s all up to you!
4. Deer Heads
Don’t worry, we’re not talking about stuffed deer heads — we’re talking about the shiny, decorative kind.
Yes, having a chrome or brass deer head on your wall is one of the hottest trends this year. Available in a range of styles and sizes, it might be just the final touch that your wall needs.