Furniture should be both functional and reflect your personal style – but finding a balance is not always easy, especially with the abundance of types, styles, colours and materials available. If you want to buy furniture that will stand the test of time, prioritise quality and comfort. Forever furniture such as your couch and dining table, in particular, require careful consideration, as these will be some of the most-used items in your home. You could go for a custom build, but if that's not attainable you can be sure to find a piece that'll fit well enough. Whether you’re shopping for your bedroom, living room or dining area, choose pieces that work together and complement your style and existing decor, and keep an open mind about furniture arrangements. It’s a lot to take in, but the following guide should help steer you in the right direction.

Think function over form

A beautiful and unique design can easily sway your decision when buying furniture online, but an impulse buy based on good looks may not always make sense in your home. Consider your space, first and foremost, and how you will use your furnishings. Multi-purpose furniture will help save space, can be used in a variety of settings, and could save you money in the long run. Think storage that you can sit on, ottomans that can double as coffee tables, and stools that can be used as tables. If you’re shopping for items that you intend to use regularly, and are made to provide relaxation – take your sofa, for instance – don’t overlook high-quality materials and craftsmanship that will ensue comfort.

Be wary of furniture trends

Avoid spending huge amounts of money on furniture items that you will quickly tire of, and instead opt for simple designs and neutral colours when choosing large items such as storage units, sofas, beds and dining tables. These types of furnishings can be upstyled with more adventurous homewares and decor. When trendscater to your personal style, look through the eyes of your future self and then decide if it will really stand the test of time. That’s not to say, however, that furniture always has to look ‘neutral’. Want to make a statement? Choose a standout piece that has the same lines as existing furniture, or borrows from the colour palette of your scheme. Stools, side tables and coffee tables are all small, interchangeable pieces that can also add flavour to your scheme and can easily be swapped out when you want to change things up.

Know your dimensions

Measure out your room and have an idea of what will go where. You will likely have multiple options in terms of size and shape, so keep an open mind about different furniture types. In a living room, for example, you could use a combination of armchairs instead of one big couch. Draw a scaled sketch of possible arrangements, and divide the space into areas – TV and entertainment unit; seating; and coffee table. This will help you match the available space to furniture dimensions. As a starting point, identify your focal point – a fireplace, a view, or, for many of us, a TV – and orient furniture around it. Arrange the largest items first and remember to always allow room to move around the space.

For specific places like your kitchen it makes sense to hire a professional to help pick and choose the right furniture for your space.