You want the furniture piece to feel solid and heavy. Avoid particleboard and light aluminum frames and stick with solid wood construction. Solid wood frames will generally last much longer and is the standard for fine furniture. However, make sure that the price is consistent with your expectations for how long the piece is going to last. The cushion is also an important point to consider when looking at construction. Before purchasing anything, give it the sit test. No matter how beautiful your new upholstery piece is you won't enjoy it if it's not comfortable.
Is the general shape of the piece trendy or will it stand the test of time? A piece of furniture is an investment in your home and says a lot about you. Choose a silhouette that you will love now and in the future. This doesn't mean, however, that you should choose something shapeless or without style. Whether your preferences are contemporary or traditional, there are many updated designs with the designers.
If your piece of furniture has any exposed wood, the stain or finish color is an important point to consider. Many pieces can be altered dramatically by the color of the finish. You can easily take a chair from traditional to contemporary by changing a cherry stain to a black paint. Likewise, a mahogany piece painted white will instantly appear more feminine.
Lighter colored fabrics can be appropriate for a formal living room, foyer, or bedroom. However, if this is a piece of furniture that will be used frequently, it is suggested to choose a slightly darker fabric.
Look for furniture that has an element of the unexpected or has some personality. The overall shape of the piece could be a little unconventional, or maybe there's some interesting tufting, or nail head detail. Either way, your personal style should be reflected in the piece of furniture that you choose.