Tips for Furnishing with Floor Models

The big blue sofa I fell in love with is still taunting me from the Anthropologie on Southport. It’s just as well, since Brandon and I hadn’t even thought about moving when I was first considering the sofa. It would be foolish to buy a big piece of furniture now, not knowing for sure if we’ll get the house we’re hoping for. (Maybe that’s a good thing, and the timing will work out? We’ll see.) I have had a lot of luck in furnishing with floor models in the past though. When I mentioned waiting, and hoping for the sofa to go on sale, some of you asked if I had any tips.

Tips for Furnishing with Floor Models

I do, indeed! The media stand in our living room was a floor sample that I bought in 2006 from west elm. It had a big scratch across the top, which didn’t bother us because back then we had a big TV (photo below) that covered the whole thing. We’ve had a flat screen on top for a few years now, and even though the scratch is still there (obviously), we don’t notice it.

Making it Lovely's Living Room with Unpainted Wood Trim

The orange patterned chair you see above was a floor sample too. I spotted it at Anthropologie, inquired about it, and nicely asked if I could buy the model off the floor. I took it home that evening. Last year, I’d noticed and liked the Blythe chair in the store (clearly I have a thing for seating from Anthro). A few weeks later, I spotted a 2″ tear in the upholstery, so I asked about buying it at a discount. I got it for half-off, but made sure I could return it if I was unable to mend the tear. I patched it up, good as new, and the chair has been a happy addition to my living room. I sold the orange chair on Craigslist and made enough for it to be a nearly even swap.

New Chair

The white Petrie chair and ottoman in the library was a floor model too. I bought them for the library shortly after Brandon and I moved into our house, and they’ve been great in that space.

The Library

Sometimes it pays to be patient and wait for that item you’re coveting to come up as a floor sample. This means you have to be OK with it disappearing though, and possibly losing out on getting it at all. Other times, it’s all about spotting a good deal, knowing where it will work in your home, and pouncing on it right away. I think that’s the case more often than not, and you have to be able to make quick decisions while avoiding that terrible buyer’s remorse feeling. Furnishing with floor samples is really a lot like buying through flash sale shopping sites in that way, but with the benefit of being able to see the item in person.

Now, that’s what has worked for me, but I also called around to ask store managers about their standard policies regarding floor models. I stuck mostly to the usual suspects of nationwide stores so that the post would be helpful for more people. Here’s what they had to say…

Tips on Scoring Floor Models, from Store Managers

  • Design Within Reach (DWR) sells classics, so there isn’t a lot of turnover from season to season, but the best time to start looking is when seasons change. They’re packed with outdoor furniture right now, so they’ll sell it at the end of the season, and that’s when a lot of floor samples will go (regular items too, not just from the summer line). Late fall is another good time to check in with them. They redo their floor layout when they make changes and anything deemed a floor sample will be available at 30-50% off, with further mark downs every two weeks at 10% increments. You can call the studios and ask what they have available. They will take their name and number, but something like an Eames lounger is likely never going to be a floor sample. Don’t be too wishful in your thinking!

  • Jayson Home & Garden has a big sale twice a year. The next will likely be in July, but the biggest is in the second week of November, when they have a massive warehouse sale. It’s like the notorious Filene’s bridal sale with a mad dash for the dresses, but at Jayson’s you can expect a couple hundred design fans waiting outside for the doors to open. They sell overstock, or things that came in differently from what they were expecting. To be notified, sign up for the newsletter list and wait for the sale announcement. If you can’t make it in person, you can call to ask about what made it to the sale, but remember that most of the really good stuff is going to get scooped up in person right away.

  • Pottery Barn has seasonal floor sets, with usually two or three floor set changes per year. Major furniture changes happen going into summer, and again going into fall, so late February/March, and again in August is when they’d have the most floor models available. Customers can always inquire about a certain piece, and the stores will sometimes keep an informal list with a customer’s name and information in case they do go on sale.

  • Anthropologie has two types of floor models. The first are found OOAK objects, and those can always be sold. As for furniture, if it’s available to order online, they aren’t supposed to sell the floor model. When it’s out of stock or damaged, they can then sell theirs, usually at a discount because it’s worn. They do need approval to sell, and their furniture doesn’t go on sale often.

  • Crate & Barrel has a final sale cart with smaller floor samples (like small appliances or decor) year-round, with items that are damaged but still usable. They change their store floor plan twice a year, and January and July is when there are a lot of samples marked down due to wear and tear or being discontinued. They also clear pieces out when they are the last of their kind. Prices are non-negotiable, but furniture is deliverable or you can take it home with you. Tags will note damage, and the price will reflect it. Mark downs will continue to drop in price each week. Naperville’s outlet sells them year round, based on returns from the warehouse.

  • The Land of Nod holds on to everything to sell right before the holidays as more of an event, and to clear space for holiday decor and toys. You can also visit the outlet in Naperville, right next to Crate & Barrel, to purchase returns and overstock from the warehouse.

  • Room & Board has one catalog that comes out every January, and that collection is in the stores through the whole year. Prices are held steady and they do not have sales, but on December 26, they always have a big clearance event. Discontinued furniture is available online and in stores, and floor models in the store are marked down further than the online because they were sat on or walked on (rugs). Each year the percentage changes — sometimes up to 60%, but more often in the 30-50% off range. They don’t keep a list of customers interested in floor samples, so you need to be ready to check in yourself to see what’s available. Scope out the store and know where the things you like are located, so you can make a beeline for the items you’re interested in.

Good luck to those of you on the hunt! Any other tips that have worked for you? I’d love to hear ‘em. I’ll be right here, patiently waiting for both the blue sofa and the right house to put it in.

18 Responses to “Tips for Furnishing with Floor Models”

  1. lacey June 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    Such great advice! I would have never thought to ask about the furniture in Anthropologie! I hope you get that couch!

  2. Lyndsey June 12, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    love your blog! i noticed in one of your pics that you had a pictures hanging from a picture frame rail. The house i just bought has picture frame rails, do you have suggestions for where to buy the wire and hardware??

  3. Jackie June 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Such great tips! Just wanted to add, Room & Board has a weekend outlet year round in Minneapolis (Golden Valley). It is where all their returns and scratch/dent go. Prices are 30-50% off and you can find custom upholstered pieces. The outlet is right by their distribution center so they offer nationwide shipping from the outlet. We have furnished most of our house from the Room & Board outlet…including an Eames molded plastic armchair! Go first thing Saturday morning for the best stuff. Things that stick around more than a week get marked down again.

  4. Sarah C. June 12, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    This is great! I’m usually too shy to ask about floor models. But once we were in IKEA and there was one floor model of a dresser I really really wanted. It wasn’t in stock and the clerk said there was nothing in the computer system about when or even IF they would be getting more. Curtis was with me and was very polite and direct about wanting the floor model – because hey, if they weren’t getting more, what do they need the model for? It was a great point and the clerk and his manager agreed we should be able to buy it! And we did! The very best part was – we didn’t have to assemble it!

  5. Elka June 12, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Thanks for the great advice! We bought our David Trubridge light as a floor sample at DWR, and it was half off *and* already assembled, which was a great advantage for us.

  6. Marlo June 12, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Jonathan Adler stores are another great resource for floor models. They will take your name down on any and every piece you’re interested in, and call you as soon as it gets marked down (usually at least 40% and up to 60% off). We bought our couches at 60% off because we were lucky enough to come in during one of these floor model sales, and they were actually still wrapped in plastic in the storage room – never touched.

  7. Danielle June 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    We bought our sectional sofa from crate and barrel. It was a floor sample originally $3,000. We got it for $1,300. It is awesome and exactly what we were looking for! No marks or tears. It pays to look for those sales.

  8. A June 12, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

    Fall comes early in retail– usually July. I work at a major decor retailer, and we are in the midst of selling off floor models.

    Best tip for scoring a good deal– BE NICE. You’re more likely to be remembered and called about a floor model, or given a deeper discount if it’s possible. The nicest customers are always the ones I call first!

  9. michele June 13, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    i have a really long, depressing floor sample story. short answer: if you buy a table, make sure the leaves are included before you finish the deal. if you want the long version, here: http://micheleomega.typepad.com/work_in_progress/2011/12/adventures-with-snowflake-day-14-15.html

  10. jane June 13, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Great tips! The rug in my son’s room is a floor sample from West Elm. I had stopped in there on a whim for some inspiration and accidentally found the perfect rug that matched the color scheme and style of the room. It was $500 originally, but I got it for $75. Big time score!

  11. cd June 13, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Ikea as-is section! Between that and craigslist – we pretty much furnished our home.

    I never buy anything (Especially Ikea stuff) without checking craiglist first. You’d be surprised how many name-brand, relatively new stuff people tire of and send back into the stream.

  12. bfn June 14, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    I would never buy full price furniture from Antrhopologie, it almost always goes on sale online and I’ve scored almost all of my purchases from them for around 50% off, and they’re brand new (though you have to pay shipping where if you bought a floor model that wouldn’t apply). In fact, the settee version of this big blue sofa is on sale on line now, though it is the pink patterned version.

    • Making it Lovely June 16, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      I noticed that in the sale section! I keep checking, periodically, to see if the blue option even makes it online. My friend noticed the sofa at another local Anthro in blue, so I suppose that’s two possible floor samples around here at some point.

  13. Cottage Katie June 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    I LOVE the orange chair with the large bloom fabric! It is so charming, and orange is such a gregarious color it is hard to dislike! I hope the chair went to a good home….

  14. jen deyoung September 1, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Good ideas, i’m currently re-decorating my apartment and these tips are so helpful on picking up good finds. I’ve never thought of asking about the floor sample before but now I will. Thank you!

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