There comes a time in every renovator’s story where they start to look around and realize, holy cow… my house is really starting to look like a home. After more than seven years of getting my hands (and feet) very, very dirty, I am getting more of an opportunity to sit back and actually enjoy this space I’ve worked so hard at. This doesn’t mean that my house has reached completion (and in truth, probably never will), but there are times when I sit down and drink my morning coffee and instead of thinking about how I need to finish sanding that last coat of joint compound on the walls, I look around and think: how the heck have I managed to have this small of a couch in the living room?
The answer, of course, is that it’s mostly just been me and Charlie in this house for more than half a decade. And even though I don’t exactly encourage her to sit on the couch with me, there has always been just enough room for the two of us. Plus, sitting down as a renovator isn’t a thing you get to do, uninterrupted, for very long either. ???? So as far as priorities go, this wasn’t one of them. It didn’t seem to bother the furball, either.
But over time, that changed a little. I have more time for cooking myself a meal in my renovated kitchen, running a load of laundry… normal homeowner things. That’s how I found myself getting rid of the things I’ve owned since I lived in an apartment (in 2009!), like my old coffee and side tables. And how I finally bought a rug the right size for the room. Recently, there have been two more bodies added to the mix, which left us with a very crowded — and hilarious — Sunday morning routine.
Lately, I’ve been trying to save up for some things that have long been planned for, but I haven’t had the resources to do yet. Among those are things like an actual vacation (when you’re self-employed, “getting away” is more like working with nicer scenery nearby, so I’m trying to plan a little better this time), the master bathroom renovation, and some exterior upgrades. And one more thing: my new living room sectional!
My living room now has seating for more than one person and her shouldn’t-be-allowed-on-the-couch pup! I gave a sneak peek on IG Stories not long ago, but we’ve had just over a week to get used to it (still moving furniture around and getting everything arranged… thus the lack of styled room shots).
I got it from a local supplier called Exclusive Furnishings (for those of you who are in the Atlanta area, I’m sorry but I couldn’t find a website! Please reach out to me if you need the address.). Of course, Charlie immediately made herself comfortable and has established ownership on the side that also lets her monitor things out of the front windows:
Now there are no more longing looks from her when two people and one 10-lb dog are sitting snugly with no room left.
This also solves a somewhat awkward crowding issue I had for my birthday this year when there was nowhere else for my friends to sit together except the dining room. I swear I’m an adult.
But now, I have a very beautiful gray sectional and not a beige couch from my old apartment days that clashes with every other piece of furniture. I haven’t sold it yet on Craigslist though, so it’s taking up space in my dining room as if I’ve got theater seating:
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoy being able to sit down without fighting for space in my own house. It was a big purchase and I spent a long time looking for the right piece, but it wound up being harder to find something comfortable (something I could nap on) versus something I could both afford and fit into the room. Plus, I did something a little fun: I haggled my way into saving more than $300 off the original cost! I learned some good tips from my negotiating class back in grad school, and they came in handy once again:
Tips on Haggling for Discount Furniture
1. Do your research
We all knew that as a person who studies reviews like they’re gospel, I was going to give you this advice first! But I firmly believe that no arsenal is better than a wealth of knowledge to draw from. I like to look at reviews of stores on Yelp or Google to see if the place is known for negotiating prices. I also get a sense of how much they’re willing to come down on those prices from those same reviews, how nice their service is, and what is or is not expected to be included, such as delivery (more on delivery specifically below), how much follow up is required if you place an order (more on that, too).
It will also teach you some surprising details. For instance, did you know that some big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes will bargain? I have a post about my own experience on that here.
2. Set your budget and stick to it.
Once you’ve done some research online, you’ll have an idea of how much “cheap” furniture pieces are going for as well as what the luxury brands are charging. Some things are just immediately apparent, such as trends in colors and which ones are going for more (just on color or fabric alone, some pieces will be more expensive due to demand… which is usually an easy place to start negotiating by asking for the same price). In my case, I knew that I wanted a sectional and set my budget to try to find a sectional for less than $1,000, ideally for around $800-900 — difficult, but not impossible.
3. Get comfortable asking for a better deal.
Ask! Ask! Ask! Plenty of people willing to negotiate on price aren’t going to just tell you they are (some will start right away depending on the industry, some won’t). You will often only know once you ask. It will feel embarrassing at first, but it will start to feel less forced with a little practice. In certain industries (like discount furniture), it’s anticipated. Consider too your approach: instead of asking “Can I get a discount?” which may come off haughty, ask “Is this the best price I can get on this?” or “Would you take X?” Or, suggest what your budget is and ask if they can help you meet it. This is definitely a catch more flies with honey than vinegar situation. Talk to the other person as respectfully as you can and listen to their justifications if they give them (because sometimes acknowledging that you’ve heard them is part of it) — not as an opponent.
4. Be prepared to justify your reasoning and be ready to walk away.
If you know that company X is selling a competitively-priced item, if you found a flaw, or if you know that the couch comes in another color or finish at a different price, etc., you can use that to justify why you think your offer is fair instead of sounding like you plucked it out of thin air. Grabbing onto actual reasons makes your offer sound a little more fortified, even if it’s a minor detail from your perspective for why you want it (you can still suggest it’s something you’re willing to take off of the seller’s hands despite its imperfections, right?).
Be prepared to let your own physical presence — or lack thereof — do part of your negotiating, too. Walking you to a different part of the store (such as to the sales desk), involving a manager (“passing the buck”), or other actions are well-known tactics that sellers might use to make you feel like you’re less in control. You can use that same tactic for your own advantage and start walking toward the door. Many times they’ll start throwing out numbers after two or three steps.
5. After asking for what you want, keep quiet and observe.
Silence is a very powerful bargaining tool. Nervous chatter or talking like you think you’re slick (from you or the seller) is easy to pick up on. When you go mum, sellers will sometimes try to fill that void with details or puff up their pitch (perhaps assuming it will interrupt your objections). If they interpret your silence for unhappiness, they might repackage their offer while including something else thrown in, such as free delivery or $100 off. If they repackage it more than once, you will be able to take a mental tally of the kinds of things they’re willing to throw in for free, and can even ask for all of those things ($100 off AND free delivery, for example) as part of agreeing to buy.
6. Be willing to wait or to pick up yourself.
Smaller furniture stores have limited inventory. Some have to place an order for every piece they sell on their floor, while some have stock right in the back and you’re looking at the floor model. You can use either angle, such as buying the floor model for a discount (since technically it’s used with who knows how many people have already put their gross butts on it) or offering to wait 4-6 weeks for the order to come in and asking for a discount because of the wait time. And if you have a truck (or a handsome bearded dude with a truck, coughcough), offer to pick up directly and nix the delivery cost. This isn’t necessarily bargaining advice, but a protect-your-investment advice: third party delivery companies can be kind of shady — refusing to take back the item if it’s damaged, refusing to take it back if it’s the wrong item, etc. The dispute can lead to some really happy customers (especially on reviews! remember that when looking at them), so keep it in mind.
7. Offer cash.
Cash still rules in terms of lacking transaction fees, netting a little bit more to the seller’s bottom line. It’s enough of a bargaining chip to ask for, but I don’t recommend this if you’re at all worried about the store delivering on their word (such as if you have to make a special order and it won’t be available for pickup for weeks, if it’s not a chain, if all sales are final and you get the used-car vibe, etc.). Take pictures of your receipts and call them frequently!
My own haggling story
Just because I find these things useful as a real-world example, I’ll offer my own. I live in a part of town that has lots of outlets, discount suppliers, and fabricators not too far away, so friends and family will often try to come up this way when they want to find showrooms or get an idea on their next room renovation cost. Back in June, I went out with my mom and sister to do some shopping, not really thinking that I would actually have a new sectional purchased by the end of the day, but I’d already done a lot of research (so I was interested, but in no rush… ready to walk away). When we got done with our errands, I went to a few more stores by myself and used the same explanation with each one: told them exactly what I was looking for and what my budget was (medium gray sectional, $800-900). With nothing yet promising, I finally walked into what I expected to be my second-to-last or third-to-last furniture store of the day, and immediately saw a sectional I liked:
It was comfy. It wasn’t too dark or too light (Charlie’s fur! Stella’s fur!). It wasn’t microfiber (to each their own but I’m not a fan). The cushions were washable. I wanted it. But the tag said that it was originally $2200 and now discounted at $1100 (50% off). It would be easy to assume that this was as low as they would go. Or, perhaps, the $2200 was totally made up and $1100 was their normal asking price meant to psychologically make me think I was already getting a bargain (given that everything in the store had a discount tag, that’s a likely scenario).
Immediately after sitting down, I was approached by a salesman who I told the same details: I wanted a gray sectional but my budget was $800-900. He shook his head while showing me a different gray sectional that was cheaper but so uncomfortable that I immediately got right back up. I thanked him and asked if he had anything similar to the first sectional (the one I wanted) in my price range. He insisted no, but showed me a gray sofa (which was also no, because I wanted something with more seating). He kept talking (very fast) and lowered the price on the first piece I looked at to $1000. I again thanked him but said if he couldn’t meet my budget, I’d have to just keep looking; I didn’t mind and wasn’t in a rush (casually, not sternly). I took a few steps to the door before he said “hold on” and walked over to his manager. He told him I wanted the sectional, but my budget was $800 (silently making a note that since he said $800, $900 was now not something I would bring up again). The manager shook his head and then took me back over to the first sectional, lifted up the cushions and made a big, elaborate explanation for its quality; I silently smiled and shook my head in agreement acknowledging that yes, I understood it was well-made. But I repeated that I wasn’t in a hurry so no big deal, I would just keep looking until I found one that fit my budget, thank you, as I walked toward the exit again.
Then he offered: if I was willing to wait for a new one to come in, he’d let me have the new one (not the floor model) for $800 due to the wait time to get it in. Sold. But since this wasn’t a chain and I didn’t know much about past customers, I made copies of the receipt, took pictures of the item with my phone (so that I could easily say if the fabric order was wrong), etc. I paid with my card just for the sake of disputing the charge if there was an issue (I was just super paranoid since I was getting that this-could-be-a-ripoff vibe). And while it took a little longer to get it to arrive than estimated (it was supposed to be 4 weeks, but there was also the 4th of July holiday), I picked up my new sectional and it’s absolutely perfect! Including taxes, I saved a total of $318 off the sticker price, and substantially more if their original price was at all truthful (doubtful, but my $800 sectional is plenty of a bargain for me anyway).
I’ll have more photos of the rearranged living room soon, but I am still really happy with the result! It fits around the new DIY coffee table nicely (okay, truth be told, I planned for that) and everyone seems pretty content with the pick.
I know finding this one locally doesn’t help those of you who are looking but not in the Atlanta area, so I’ve picked out some options below for you too! Just scroll through the links below.
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Online Picks for Gray Sectionals
Have you made any furniture purchases lately? Have any of your own bargaining tips that you found especially effective?