What is FF&E?

A few days ago, an architectural intern asked me what FF&E is. Although the architecture firm she works for doesn’t do FF&E, their firm has done projects that require FF&E. So I was slightly surprised that she didn’t know what it was. It made me wonder how many people really know what it is. While the acronym got it’s start in the real estate business, it has been transferred over to be used in design, what we will look at today.

You may see FF&E or FF&A referred to in design. The simple answer is that FF&E stands for furniture, fixtures and equipment and FF&A stands for furniture, fixtures and accessories. You should not be concerned if one or the other is used that you won’t get equipment or accessories. FF&E just seems to be the acronym most commonly used and I’ve never known a designer to not include accessories in FF&E. Fuchsia does include accessories in FF&E and can design and procure all facets of FF&E (except equipment where specialized designers would be brought on board).

The furniture portion includes both interior and exterior pieces, residential and commercial. Chairs and tables for a lobby in an office building, a bed and side tables in a home, systems furniture in an office or weather-resistant tables and chairs for a restaurant outdoor patio are all examples of what FF&E furniture could be. The key to being furniture is that it is moveable. For example, a built in workstation, though a desk for the user, is not considered furniture.

The fixture portion is very different from what the real estate business defines it as when referring to fixtures in design, they are fully integrated into the building. Fixtures stands for light fixtures but not all light fixtures are FF&E. Light fixtures can be separated into two categories: architectural lighting and decorative lighting. The decorative lighting is what falls under the FF&E umbrella. For instance, in a home kitchen, the can lights in the ceiling and the strip lights mounted undercabinet would be architectural lighting. They are there for the sole purpose of providing light, not to act as a piece to decorate the space. The chandelier above the dining table would be a part of FF&E though. The person designing the interiors will select this piece, not the electrical engineer, who does select the architectural lighting.

Equipment is commercial kitchen equipment, medical equipment, etc. This portion of FF&E is typically done by a specialized designer who works closely with the rest of the design team. In most cases, the equipment doesn’t just interact with the architecture but also the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sometimes even the structure. The specialized designer is able to easily identify what these interactions are as they work over and over with these items. Cutting corners here by not hiring that specialized designer is not recommended and in the end, could cost you a lot of money and a big headache.

When defining accessories, much more is included than in the other categories. While the FF&E deliverable package may break some of these items apart, they all fall under the accessories umbrella. They may include bathroom accessories (soap dish, towels, etc.), general accessories (vases, table trays, etc.), lamps, rugs, window coverings, plants and artwork. What you will note about that list is they seem to be the items that truly round out your project. They soften the space and make it liveable or workable. Many times, we recommend not completing this phase of FF&E until the rest of the project is complete. While you and the designer should have in mind what will be needed, you may find that once the project is complete, you missed some items or went overboard in another aspect.

So that’s FF&E. As you see from this list, FF&E is a very important part of any project. You’ve just made a significant investment in the rest of your project and not leaving a budget to complete the space will be noticed. Be sure to keep that in mind when setting up your budget and avoid the temptation to dip out of that budget when things tighten up. As always, Fuchsia can help you with the design and / or the procurement of FF&E, just give us a call!

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