As far as furniture goes, I am willing to spend some money on a quality piece of furniture. A sofa, a dining room table, I see these things as investments. I've owned enough cheap furniture to know that most of the time, you get what you pay for. I like to browse HomeGoods (and really, who doesn't). As much as I'd like to, I can't get everything there, it's too unpredictable. I also wish I could afford beautiful antique furniture, but I can't, so I shop at mainstream stores that have a good selection of mostly well-made stuff. Here's what I think so far:
HomeGoods - It's great for basically everything but luck has to be on your side and furniture often has defects. The downfall is, you can't get delivery and if you have to get multiples of something it's probably not a good choice. As long as the price sticker is on the item, you can always return it ... years later.
Crate and Barrel - It has quality furniture and a more modern style, so it's not for everyone. Their service and delivery is really great and they have sales pretty often. After I scratched a piece of my bookshelf they replaced it for me in the store.
Ikea - If you're looking for longevity, it's probably not the best since it really depends on what you get, for example dressers aren't the best but certain book shelves tend to last. You can get delivery and assembly if you pay for it, but it's not worth it unless you're getting a sofa (which is what my parents did, and it went well).
Target - It's a hit or miss when it comes to furniture, but the low prices and ability to return everything makes it easy to try things out. They have nicely designed decor but their changeover is really fast so they run out of items quickly.
Raymour and Flanigan - The large selection, great sales, and ability to finance are really attractive. The furniture is sturdy but the finishes aren't the best. You cannot return items if you are unhappy with them, which in my case is a huge deterrent. Our delivery was quick but not perfect, they had to return several times with missing pieces.
Stores I haven't bought large pieces of furniture from, but doing my research:
Room and Board
Ballard Designs (online)
Home Decorators (online)
One Kings Lane (online designer discount)
Joss & Main (online designer discount)
Here are some of the major pieces of furniture we have gotten to date:
1. West Elm headboard was on a floor sample sale. I went through a lot of trouble getting it home since it wouldn't fit in our cars. It looks short in the picture because the bed is so high.
2. Bedroom furniture from Raymour & Flanigan. I love the look, but I don't think we'll get anything from there again.
3. Office desk from Raymour and Flanigan, at the same time we got bedroom furniture. It fits the corner of our office perfectly.
4. Table from Crate and Barrel. It extends to fit twelve people! This is a forever piece, I will never get rid of it.
5. Dining room chairs from Target. They're comfortable and are made with a really nice fabric,
plus they were something like $80 a chair! That's nothing compared to all the chairs I've seen at every other store.
Aaand that's it, next up, sectional from Room and Board!