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Buying furniture to fit your life

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By Natalie Ahern

If you are thinking about downsizing or want to update your current home to make it more “aging friendly,”  you may be considering purchasing some new furniture.  Before you begin shopping, think about the pieces you will want to take with you and those that no longer work for you.  If your sofa is too saggy and low for you to get out of comfortably, or if your dining room set that seats 16 is no longer practical, it may be time to purchase some new furnishings.

The goal for new furniture should be comfort, safety, and ease of use.  (No one wants to struggle out of a sofa with grunts, groans, and two grandchildren pulling you up!).  You will also want to take careful measurements of what will fit.  Here are some easy to use criteria for buying new furniture.

Sofa and upholstered chairs:  Look for a shallow seat.  The deeper the seat, the more difficult it is to get up and out.  Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor while your back rests on the back cushion.  Your feet shouldn’t dangle!  Look for firm, foam seats.  It should be comfortable but not too “squishy.”

Coffee tables:  Avoid glass, which is more difficult to see as we age.  A sturdy table with rounded edges is a better bet. One of my most frequent suggestions is using ottoman “cubes.” I like the ones with a flip top that is soft on one side and has a tray on the other side.  These ottomans are great for elevating feet, provide storage for throws and other items and offer additional seating in a pinch.  Use one cube with a chair or two with a sofa.

Dining sets:  Look for a sturdy table that you can lean on if you need to.  Most smaller dining sets do not include chairs with arms, so being able to put your weight on the table to get up is important.  I like a drop leaf table for most of my clients as this is easier to fit into a tinier space and open up for more seating as needed. Chairs should feel solid…no wobbly legs!

Some other items you may need:  Tall bookshelves are great for maximizing storage for books and mementos.  Use the top shelves for your least used or decorative items.  Whenever possible, secure your bookshelves to the wall.

Your bed should be a comfortable height to get in and out of. I like a headboard to rest against to read or watch TV.  Make sure your bedframe doesn’t have any jutting edges to avoid bruised shins.

A reputable furniture store will offer guidance on long-lasting comfort and best value for your money.  Ask as many questions as you can about how the furniture is manufactured and if it is warrantied.  Inquire about easiest to clean fabrics and durability.  Take your time with your purchases and visit two stores so you can comparison shop.  If possible, take pictures of your new furnishings and ask if you can keep swatches of fabric. You may want to purchase new pillows or artwork to coordinate.

When your new furniture arrives, invite a friend or two over to celebrate your “new look!”

About the Author Natalie Ahern, founder and principal of All the Right Moves Boston, has extensive experience in project management, home decorating, and floor planning in homes on and around Boston’s South Shore. Whether a client is downsizing, relocating, or aging in place, Natalie manages it all. She is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers. You can reach her at 781-724-1681 or visit www.alltherightmovesboston.com.  

Reprinted from the March 2019 edition of the South Shore Senior News.

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