Furniture choices reveal personality traits


A fairly recent study undertaken by Mississippi State University reveals some fascinating viewpoints about furniture by a cross-section of ordinary folks all across the country, across all age, race, and economic groups. The study is complex and lengthy, and the quotes are really incidental to the intent, but they fascinated us. (If you'd like to see the article in its entirety, here's the link: www.ffi.msstate.edu/pdf/consumer_attitudes.pdf)

For example, 72% of folks said "the design of my furniture reflects my personality." 67% agreed that "A lot can be said about a person from the furniture they own." Not jawdropping responses, but something to think about.

Here are a few pithy quotes from the cross section of types. You may see yourself in here. Or not.

  • 40 year old Caucasian male in Wisconsin: "Home furniture makes the house feel like a home. It represents a person's style and personality. It makes the rooms more comfortable and relaxing and inviting to family and guests."
  • 38 year old African-American female in Texas: "Furniture is a reflection of me and I work hard to ensure that the spaces in my home do so, and are comfortable and usable, both casually and for entertaining, of which I do a lot."
  • 37 year old Hispanic male in New York: "Home furniture makes you feel good about spending time in the room and it can put you in a good mood when you are having a rough day."
  • 66 year old Caucasian male in Pennsylvania: "Furniture is a reflection on my style, taste in decorating, and my success in life."
  • 69 year old Caucasian female in Ohio: "I am very proud of my furniture and also my art work. It reflects who I am and what I believe in. I like who I am!"
  • 51 year old Filipino female in New York: "Furniture is an extension of me. It has to be functional but classically designed and high quality. Color is an important way to express my personality in my furnishings."
  • 55 year old Caucasian female in Michigan: "Furniture is one of the things that make you feel at home. It reflects your personality."
  • 31 year old African-American male in Maryland: "Home furniture is simply magical. It pays to invest a lot in home furniture as it has a way of livening up one's mood. If it's good, it could make a good day great, and if it's bad, it could make a bad day worse."
  • 52 year old African-American male in Louisiana: "Furniture makes a home a home and it tells your story. When you select it for your home, your family should be in on the selection as a whole. With their thoughts, it will make a difference."
  • 21 year old Caucasian female in Arkansas: "I like furniture - it makes a home a home and reflects a sense of comfort."
  • When asked about their favorite room in the house, a 70-year-old female said "The living room. It is where my friends and family gather to relax and enjoy one another." A 41 year old woman said "The family room, because we spend a lot of time in there together. We have a sectional that is one of my favorite pieces because we can all be on it together." A 61-year-old woman likes the dining room best, because "it's where everyone congregates and shares good times and good memories." A 26-year-old woman's favorite piece of furniture is the dining room table because "it's where we eat together as a family and where we do family activities like carving pumpkins and school projects."

    28% liked the bedroom best. As one 69-year-old man put it, "Because it has beautiful oak furniture. It was our first purchase when we got married. It cost a lot and is very beautiful and sturdy. Very beautiful and is a very nice room to sleep in. The furniture definitely makes it my favorite." Notice he used the word "beautiful" three times in just 43 words.

    How often do we replace our furniture? 35% said "every few years," while 18% said "to keep up with design trends." We want it to last, too. As a 61-year-old lady reminded us "You are the one who is going to live with it, like a husband you want it to last a long time!" Is it a personal decision? For some, not. As one 41-year-old woman said, "Your furniture has to be where your family feels comfortable and able to relax. With the world so stressful, having a place just to relax is very important."

    Surprisingly, we're not really that loyal to brand names. 78% disagreed with the statements "I am very loyal to specific brands of furniture" and "I stick with just a couple of brands of furniture that I know I like." Some favorite brands mentioned most often were Ashley (quality and price), La-Z-Boy (comfort), Broyhill (quality and style), and Thomasville (trust).

    How do we get our information about furniture and stores? TV ads, home decorating TV programs, magazine ads, lifestyle/home magazines, and catalogs are the most important sources. But about 70% of us research brands, products, stores, and prices on the internet before we make a purchase. As you might suspect, the younger we are, the more we use the internet before we make a purchase.

    Finally, how secure are we in our choices? Pretty secure. Only about 3% said they ask others about the furniture in their homes, and only 2.5% said they mainly rely on family or friends to give them advice on what to buy.

    Bottom line: 1) the furniture we buy is a reflection of our personality, 2) we generally buy furniture only when we need it, 3) we're pretty well informed before we buy, and 4) we're pretty independent in our choices.

    Now, what specifically do we look for when we buy furniture? That's a juicy topic for another day.