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  • Writer's pictureHeather Holcombe

Four tips for buying good quality furniture:

Photo courtesy of Century Furniture

There comes a time in our lives when we outgrow college-quality, first-apartment-quality furniture. You're old enough - and have the income -  to consider better quality furniture. But, how do you recognize quality furniture? Is it the price tag? No, not always. Is it the brand? Sometimes. Is it the store where it's sold? Not always.  Here are four tips for buying quality furniture. 1. Take a close look: Open drawers, cabinets, look at the back and, if possible, look underneath. Are there gaps or unevenness in the joints? Frayed wood? Do drawers pull all the way out (as they wood in quality-built pieces)? Do they close evenly and adequately? Does the piece "feel" substantial or does it feel or look cheap? Quality furniture should be defined by how well it's finished, not by its price tag. Take a close look at a piece before buying it. Look for joints with wood joined at ends and corners. Avoid glued or nailed in joints because they are less sturdy and can handle less weight. Furniture legs should be substantial, wood or brass or some other solid, quality material, and jointed to the frame of the sofa or chair, not nailed. The heft of the legs should be substantial enough to handle the weight of the furniture piece. On heavier sofas, look for a fifth leg in the middle to add additional support. You won't typically see that on cheaper sofas. 2. Type of wood: What is the piece made of? There are three general wood types: solid wood, veneers, and particle board. They are not equal in quality or expected lifespan. This is an area where price might reflect quality. - Solid wood is typically the best quality and most expensive of the three wood types. Although it's prone to damage, it can be refinished. - Veneers typically have a higher-quality wood layer or layers on its exterior/facade and cheaper wood underneath. They are cheaper than real wood. - Particleboard and composite wood pieces are made of combined wood pulp, plastics, and even resin. It amounts to a hodgepodge of these materials. It is the cheapest type of wood furniture and typical of what you'd find in your first-apartment inexpensive furniture. It usually doesn't last. 3. Materials: Consider your lifestyle before you buy any new furniture. Where will it be used in your home, how much, and by whom? Typically, the better the quality fabrics or materials, the more use it will handle and the better it will wear through the years. Consider tougher, longer-lasting fabrics like linens, canvas, or tweed for high-use furniture. Tug on fabric and look closely at the weave. Is it a tight, solid weave? That's typically an indicator of better quality fabric. Cushions should be firm, even when they're down-filled. The fabric should wrap around the cushion on all sides. Less expensive furniture will only cover the top and sides of a cushion using an inexpensive liner fabric on the bottom side.

4. Consider colors: If you're going to drop $2,500+ on a sofa, I recommend sticking to neutral colors. Buying a trendy color or your favorite must-have color could become a problem. In a few years, the color will be outdated, or you've grown tired of it. Then you're out several thousand dollars. If you want to add color, I suggest doing it with soft furnishings such as throws, pillows, or curtains.

When you're ready to purchase new furnishings, please reach out. As an interior designer, I have accounts with many, quality furniture brands. It would be my pleasure to guide you through the process.


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