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Versatility is the name of the game when shopping for new furniture. Military families know their days are numbered in their latest home as soon as the movers unpack the household goods. Forecasting for a living space down the line is tricky, but there are ways to make the most of furniture and rug purchases even if a PCS is likely in two to four years.

Buyers should browse options and configurations online to learn nuances of styles and hunt for inspiration. After becoming familiar, and with measurements in hand, visit showrooms and review how the professionals have staged their collections.

Here’s a few tips to avoid disappointment and costly mistakes:

  • Measure, measure again, and take pictures.
  • Width, length, height, and depth are all crucial.
  • Calculate square footage. Go a step further and map out a crude floor plan depicting angles, doorways, and windows.

A simple way to visually plan the room is to use painters tape and a tape measure to mark the furniture dimensions on the floor.

Seating Options

Large furniture becomes expensive quickly, and choosing wisely is difficult while trying to buy the most bang for your buck.

A typical living area will have an area for at least two to three of the following options. Larger homes will likely accommodate all three and perhaps a second chair. Remember this simple three piece guideline when shopping.

  1. Couch
  2. Loveseat
  3. Chair

*Lean toward furniture with removable/washable covers or invest in a piece with slipcovers. Slipcovers allow for color and pattern changes, which can compliment future living arrangements.

Buying abnormally large or overstuffed seating limits use in potential houses. Stick with average sizes if at all possible.

  • A standard couch is 86 inches wide. Or, in lying down terms, long.
  • A love seat is normally 64 inches wide.
  • Chair sizes vary greatly. From slipper to club, chairs must be measured exactly to logically fit into the room.

*Although very popular, a sectional couch is a huge gamble knowing a military move is pending. The likely hood of a sectional working in your current space and in an unknown future living area is very low.


Many of the seating measurement techniques also apply to purchasing large size rugs. In fact if you are certain a rug will be necessary, it’s ideal to also lay its measurements out in painters tape while setting the dimensions for the new furniture.

Quality rugs are a big investment. For maximum use in the future, stick with neutral colors that will work with a multitude of paint colors and trendy accessories. Neutral doesn’t necessary mean a shade of brown. Navy, greens, and greys are neutrals that work with loads of colors and patterns.

*Do not buy furniture or rugs until you’ve had the opportunity to set the measurements in the intended room.

When shopping, don’t forget to ask for help. Vendors like Pottery Barn and Ethan Allen offer free in home design advice. Designers will come to your home and discuss dimensions and options for your living spaces and help anticipate how the furniture can be used in forthcoming houses.

Looking for more home improvement advice? Check out our other DIY blogs.



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