If you have ever been involved in a remodel or a new construction project, the task of finding furniture for the new space has probably made it on to your team's to-do list. This potentially overwhelming and expensive task doesn’t have to be a headache. It can actually be really fun. But it is important to understand the process.
"Non-Profits and Churches are places for the community to connect – and offering our best hospitality to the community includes having furniture that is beautiful, comfortable and well-kept."
1. AIM FOR PURPOSE-DRIVEN, NOT JUST NICE-LOOKING
The first task before purchasing any furniture is to develop an understanding of purpose for each space. What activities or behaviors do you expect to support within your space? For example, some lobbies are used as “community areas” to foster relationships and assist newcomers in feeling at ease in an open environment. The primary use of other foyers is to be a place of transition to direct occupants to a final destination. The type of furniture chosen should reflect the purpose of the room.
It is also important that your purpose reflects the mission of your organization. If you want to encourage the involvement of multi-generational attendants, it is important to make sure there is plenty of comfortable seating for the elderly and new mothers in open areas. Defining the mission is important on the front-end of a redesign or new build.
"The culture of an organization can be dramatically challenged or supported by the physical space it occupies."
2. ANTICIPATE TRAFFIC FLOW
Where you put the furniture in a building greatly depends on how the space is used. Traffic flow naturally happens and can be manipulated by use of chairs, couches, info tables, and art. For example, if you have a large auditoriums with multiple exits, consider the best place to put tables with information in the natural line of sight when entering and exiting the space. Use of bar-height tables and/or sofas in a corner can solve the problem of congregating in a high-traffic area.
3. INTEGRATE WITH THE ARCHITECTURE
Most buildings are designed with the end-user in mind and have permanent features installed before move-in. This includes paint, flooring, lighting, and all permanent accents such as built-in furniture and wall coverings. A nicely designed building will have furniture that enhances the natural aesthetics of the building. This is not to say that you can’t have some bold statement pieces, but you want the furniture to compliment and not compete with the space.
4. INSIST ON QUALITY
Durability of furniture is also very important when it comes to furniture procurement. You may fill a new space with beautiful pieces that after six short months show worn fibers and scratches. Now your well-thought-out space looks shabby and damaged. Steering clear of stores that sell large quantities of DIY assembly pieces can ensure better quality furniture.
5. STAY WITHIN BUDGET BY SHOPPING SMART
Finding quality furniture can be a challenge within budget. Buying used church furniture is not the only option, nor do you have to settle for cheap furniture. There are multiple ‘off price’ retailers that sell quality items. The key to using an ‘off price’ retailer that has acquired furniture from other manufacturers is consistently checking for product changes. Furniture prices fluctuate every day based on inventory, and when the price drops, items sell out fast. Most of these retailers are online so you don’t ever have to step into a discount furniture store.
6. ANTICIPATE THE LOGISTICS: DELIVERY, STORAGE, AND INSTALLATION
When you order large amounts of furniture from different retailers, you will find items arriving at different times. Make sure you have people to receive and inspect each piece, then store the items before installation. Many manufacturers are great about refunds if a piece is damaged, but a large amount of time can be spent on repacking and sending that item back. It is wise to account for this in your initial budget. Have a designated place to keep the furniture in case the project construction runs long or if damaged pieces are waiting to be sent back.
If you don’t have a space to store items, there are furniture receiving and storage companies. These companies can receive, log, inspect, assemble, store, and install when your space is ready.
7. KNOW WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP
Many non-profits are employing their own staff to make furniture design and procurement decisions because hiring a professional comes with a price tag. But, most businesses tend to underestimate the time it takes to procure furniture. Hiring a designer can actually save a business money while providing better furniture for the facility. Designers have trade accounts that allow them to get lower prices on products.
A good designer will also walk you through the process of deciding what furniture is needed to fit the purpose and mission of your organization. They will help you procure all furniture from the manufacturers, thus taking away the stress of juggling multiple orders and hundreds of pieces of furniture.
With a designer you have a built-in professional assessment of your space throughout the entire process, helping you avoid costly mistakes . Their professional eye will can help you decide what to re-purpose or what to eliminate in a remodel. Designers are trained to enhance the quality of life in a space, and see the overall picture throughout the process. Having someone whose expertise is in design can help make your dream space a reality.