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Save money by purchasing quality furniture

Buying furniture can be quite an experience. Good? Bad? Well, that depends on your attitude and the attitude and integrity of your sales person or interior designer. A little bit of knowledge on your part will help a great deal. Let's start with the basics.

You get what you pay for.

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

If the deal seems too good to be true, it is.

Cliches? Yes. True? Absolutely!

Good quality furniture will be enjoyed for a long time, while poorly made pieces will always be a waste of money. So how do you know what is good and what isn't?

Sometimes it is obvious, but other times what is hidden behind the glitter is little more than sawdust.

Go shopping in comfortable clothes so you can test the quality of furniture with ease. Bend over and look at the underside of the dining table to see if the connections look sturdy. Turn a chair over to see what's revealed underneath.

Pull cushions off a sofa and feel the strength of the springs that support the cushion. Zip open the covering on the sofa cushions to see if the pillow forms are wrapped to keep the pillow in its original shape after long use.

Open drawers and slide them closed to be sure they move easily. Lie on the mattress.

You should be able to jump on the furniture without fear of breakdown. This is my niece's favorite part of a shopping trip, but, while I really shouldn't suggest that you literally do this (the owner of the store might pick you up and throw you out the door), do try jumping on it mentally.

Mentally picture yourself perched on the table. Will it hold you?

A few exceptions to the table-sitting rule would be a cocktail, end or dining table that is constructed to be aesthetically beautiful but obviously is not meant to be sat upon.

Instead, check out the thickness of the glass and the strength of its base. The quality should be obvious.

Buying furniture is an investment. You would never consider buying bad stocks from your broker. It would be equally foolish to invest in something that will lose its value, and therefore your money, in the furniture market.

If you can't afford the quality stuff all at once, buy a little at a time. In the long run, you will be glad you did.

Rosemary Sadez Friedman is a licensed interior decorator and winner of the Aurora Award for Interior Design. Send questions to her at Sadez and Son, 3375 Tamiami Trail N, Naples, Fla., 33940. Sorry, they can be answered only through this column.