What to Look for When Shopping for Furniture

If you have ever gone furniture shopping you know how daunting the job can be. With so many choices in styles and broad range of prices it’s often hard to know what to buy. Furniture is an investment. You should buy pieces that not only look good and fit your style but are also well constructed and durable. Knowing what to look for in furniture will save you money and heartache. Buying furniture that looks good in the showroom but is shoddily made will not last and will need to be replaced in a short time.  Here are some key things to look for when shopping for furniture.

1. Wood-When you are looking for wood furniture you want to select a piece that is constructed out of reasonably scratch resistant wood. It’s easy to test the surface by running your fingernail along the surface. If there is a visible dent you know the surface is not very durable.  Check the wood for knots, even on unexposed pieces; all knots are susceptible to cracks. Some woods, like pine, are ‘knottier’ than others, and therefore less desirable. Avoid particleboard, pressed wood, or fiberboard. Some furniture companies use lower grade woods with a veneer covering. The drawback to veneer is that you are limited to how many times you can refinish the piece. Other companies produce furniture with a photo finish, so you really have to be careful and examine the piece inside and out.

2. Construction– The best joints are either dovetail or mortise and tenon with reinforced block corners. Anything held together with staples or nails is shoddy construction. Drawers should have a dust panel which is a thin sheet of wood between them. Drawers should glide smoothly and have a stop to prevent accidentally pulling it out. Check to see if the piece is level and does not squeak or wobble.

3. Upholstery Frames-When it comes to upholstered furniture look for frames made of kiln-dried hardwood. In a good quality frame, joints are glued, dowelled and screwed and the corners are reinforced with wood blocks. These provide extra support. The springs used should be close together and have even resistance. Eight way hand tied coil springs, coil, sinuous and grid springs all work well. Test the feel by sitting on the piece in various spots.

4. Cushions-Check the fill in the cushions. You can easily do this by unzipping one of the cushions. They should have a Dacron, cotton or down wrapped high density foam fill and inner muslin cover. Foam only cushions are less durable and less comfortable and will also lose their shape over time. Be sure the cushions are reversible, too to get twice the wear.

5. Fabrics– When choosing fabrics for upholstery, choose an appropriate fabric for the function of the piece.  Durable fabric such as microfiber or chenille that can easily be cleaned would be a great choice for a family room sofa and chairs whereas a bedroom chair that gets little use can be made with a lighter fabric. Ask about the rub rating. Fabric strength is determined by how it rates on the double rub test, which is a back and forth motion that approximates the wear and tear that comes from someone sitting down or getting up from an upholstered seat. 3,000 double rubs equals one year’s worth of use. Heave duty is rated as 15,000 double rubs or more, medium duty is 9,000-15,000, light duty is 3,000-9,000 and delicate duty is 3,000 or less. Delicate fabrics should not be used for upholstery. Be sure the manufacturer matches patterns exactly both ways.  Less expensive manufacturers will not do this so you end up with furniture that does not match well.

When considering purchasing furnishings it’s a good idea to hire an Interior Designer who is trained in all aspects of selecting furnishings and can buy directly from quality manufacturers. The investment you make will be worth avoiding costly mistakes.

For an appointment call her at 951-956-0661 or email her at Cynthia@ranchointeriordesign.com