I could hear it in her voice, total disappointment... My good friend, Anna had planned out and budgeted for her small living room makeover for months. She created Pinterest boards and visited showrooms for 3 Saturdays in a row. She moved all her old furniture into the adjacent dining room and painted the living room walls and trim. There was no going back now, the new paint colors didn’t go with the old furniture and so to keep things moving, Anna purchased her furniture and was thrilled that she was going to realize her makeover plans in a few short weeks. She bought the 92” long, deep seat sofa, with blend down cushions that she had been wanting for years and she couldn’t wait to curl up in it for movie night! In the meantime, she purchased area rugs, art and accessories, matching everything to swatches she had borrowed from the furniture store. She was so excited to literally see her Pinterest dreams coming to life.
When her furniture arrived, Anna’s makeover took an unintended twist. The new furniture wouldn’t fit through the front door and she had to refuse the delivery. Anna was heartbroken. She thought that she had every detail figured out. Everything was right on point, except she forgot to consider how the furniture was going to make it inside…
When Anna called me, she was desperately seeking a solution and needed a replacement sofa that had the same look and feel as the one that wouldn’t fit. This is a tough spot to be in because she was so far along having matched everything else to the sofa she fell in love with. I could tell that she just didn’t want to make another mistake. Luckily, we were able to find a great option that enabled her to complete her makeover.
Consider this a cautionary tale: one that can help you avoid the same fate that Anna had endured. You can make all the plans for the perfect makeover but, if you don’t know the size of your space, including all doorways into the space, you may just be setting yourself up for heartbreak.
Don’t make this expensive common mistake in your small space. Let’s explore a few other things to consider when planning for a room makeover.
Furniture won’t fit in entry way
Let’s stay with my friend Anna’s space for a minute. Even if the team was able to get the sofa through her front door, Anna has a small coat closet that boxes in her entryway. This is common in small ranch houses. It’s also a difficult obstacle to maneuver past. You must know how much space there is opposite the door in order to pivot large pieces into the room.
Anna also has a ceiling fixture that hangs down slightly in the entry way. If you have something similar, you’ll want to know how far that hangs down as well so you can avoid having to take it down when moving larger pieces in. It’s not the end of the world if it has to be moved but, most delivery teams are not going to remove it for you. It’s best to anticipate that before scheduling your delivery.
Furniture too big or too small:
Let’s say that you’re able to get the new furniture into your new space but you didn’t measure the wall you want to place your new sofa on. You looked at it and thought, it’s pretty long, I think it will fit. Here’s something to think about:
Say you have a wall that is 192” long, or 16 feet. As it happens, this wall is the longest wall in the family room, the ideal spot for a new large sofa. However, you have two doorways on that 192” wall measuring 36” each, and just 12” of wall on both sides past the two doorways. Now, the opposite wall has a fireplace and built-in shelves, so that won’t work for placing this new sofa. This graphic above is what that wall looks like in a bird’s eye view floor plan…
What if you bought that amazing large sofa? I mean, it was love at first sight, right? It was also 90” wide, outside arm to outside arm. The trouble is that you have just 96” of wall space to place it. So, that means you have 3” on each side of the sofa for your tables. Not to mention, the sofa sticks out in front of the door trim.
If you return the sofa you’ll possibly get hit with a restocking fee or return shipping costs and that’s an expensive bummer. The solution is you must measure all entry doors and wall segments so you know the actual size of your space before you make any furniture purchasing decisions.
Furniture too tall for space
Another place that can be tricky is ceiling height. Before you purchase that amazing etagere, make sure you have the ceiling height to accommodate it. Having a tall shelf or cabinet wedged up to the ceiling can make a room look shorter than it is. Space above a tall piece feels open and gives the illusion height. It goes without saying an 8’ tall shelf won’t stand in a room with 7’5” ceilings. Its best to know this before you press submit on your order form or head out to the furniture store.
Furniture won’t fit in elevator
A lot of my customers have beautiful small condos. Some have patio style homes where all the units are on the ground level and some have units that rise high in the air overlooking city views or ocean vistas.
Aside from measuring doorways and floor space inside the units, I always want to know how big the elevator is. Some places have service elevators that make it easy to receive furniture deliveries. Other places have main elevators that can hold a few people but can be impossible for large furniture pieces.
Measure the elevator opening as well as the space inside including how tall it is to make sure you can fit your furniture in it. This is important in case the delivery team needs to stand a sofa upright in order to fit it inside the elevator.
Furniture won’t fit in staircase
This one is a common occurrence: Say you have an enclosed staircase: You’ll want to know the width, and ceiling height in order to avoid a no fit. Make sure you have all the measurements including any angles or wall obstructions impeding your way up or down.
There’s nothing worse than getting a dresser or sofa jammed into a staircase. If you damage the new furniture, you may have to pay damage fees on top of restocking fees once you return it, if the store will take it back at all. Not to mention, the potential damage to your staircase walls when you wedge the stuck piece loose.
There you have it, a couple of things to help you avoid expensive mistakes .
When you plan for all the possible things that could affect your furniture delivery, you can head off a bunch of unfortunate hassles and expensive mistakes. Measuring all the walls, doorways, entrances and obstacles to your space will ensure a smooth delivery of your furniture pieces.
If you need help measuring your space, I have a brand new super short and helpful measuring guide to help you plan out your next makeover. You can get a copy of Small Space Big Style: How to Measure Your Space in 8 Simple Steps, by clicking on the button right below this post if you’re on mobile or on my side bar to the right of this post, if you’re on any other device. By singing up for the guide today, I’ll send you future alerts when my blogs posts go live every Friday. You’ll be the first to know and to get the latest advice I only share here!
Thank you so much for spending your time with me today. I appreciate you so much and I hope you found this post helpful. If you did, please feel free to share it out and give it a like at the bottom. I’d love to hear any other tips you might have or stories of deliveries gone wrong or great. Leave a comment below to let me know. Until next week, stay amazing and keep your dreams big for your small space!
I’m chief banana at Michael Helwig Interiors in beautiful Buffalo, New York. I happily share my experience in the world of home decorating and design to help folks avoid expensive mistakes and decorating disappointments. I’m pretty crafty with simple diy projects and I love to teach others how to create beautiful and functional decor for their homes. My motto is “every decorating challenge is figure-out-able.”