Shopping for furniture can be fun, especially if you know what to look for. Otherwise most people become overwhelmed with by the task.

sun/bob whitakerArm style, feet, cushions, fabric and color are only a few of the choices involved in shopping for sofas and chairs, says designer Debbe
sun/bob whitaker Arm style, feet, cushions, fabric and color are only a few of the choices involved in shopping for sofas and chairs, says designer Debbe Daley.

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There are so many different things to know and so much information to digest. Let's go on a little furniture fact-shopping tour.

Upholstered furniture has a multitude of features to choose from. When considering a sofa, the decision to choose a fabric upholstered piece over leather is a tough one. Fabric is always a warmer choice, especially in the winter. Leather, on the other hand, has a rich look and natural feel. It may be a bit cooler to the touch in the winter months but that will also depend on the grade and finish chosen for leather.

The cushion style is another feature to be chosen. On a sofa, the choices will be boxed, knife edge, attached or detached. Arm styles available may be sock, pleated or track, all choices you'll have to make if you're buying something from a more custom line. Selection of cushion fill could be blend down, poly fill or 50/50. All of these options will add to the cost of the piece.

The choice of foot or leg style is also a decision to be made. Different styles available would be a wedge, tapered or bun foot. Skirted or no skirt is another option. All of these decisions will be based on the style of sofa you are looking for.

Typically, a track arm, boxed cushion and wedge or tapered leg all tend toward the more modern-style sofa or chair. These features will add very clean and sleek lines to the piece of furniture. The sock or rolled arm with a knife-edge back cushion and bun foot or skirt is a more traditional look for the piece.

Other options could include the choice of a nail head, wood finish or stain color. When purchasing custom furniture you may have different options included with different pieces. The benefits of having choices for fabrics and options will depend on the brand of furniture you are purchasing. Not all companies will offer all options.

When making final decisions on the type of furniture that's right for you, don't forget to take into consideration the wear and tear the furniture may have to endure. Family activities and pets should be considered when selecting fabrics. Fabric strength is determined by how it rates on the double rub test, which is a back-and-forth motion that approximates the wear and tear that comes from someone sitting down or getting up from an upholstered seat. Three thousand double rubs equals one year's worth of use. Acrylic-backed fabrics will offer more durability than a non-acrylic backed fabrics. If the piece is for a room that doesn't get much daily use, then a less durable fabric with less rubs would work fine.

Debbe Daley, owner of Debbe Daley Designs, is an interior designer with more than 25 years of experience as a professional interior redesigner, stylist, stager, trainer and project manager. Follow her blog at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/ daleydecor.