Frame of Reference

When it comes to buying furniture, are you guilty of judging a chair by its fabric? Kansas City Homes & Gardens recently published a great article on how choosing quality furniture keeps more green in your pocket in the long term–and leaves fewer items for the landfill.

First things first: Try not to succumb to guerrilla sales tactics. Do your research and ask questions. Avoid impulse purchases like the plague.  “If something isn’t exactly what you want, but you’re willing to settle because of price or immediate availability regardless of quality, it will probably become an albatross down the road,” says Dennis N. Myers, manager of KDR Designer Showrooms, a premier to-the-trade resource, in the article.

According to “Frame of Reference,” here are four important things you should look for in a quality piece of furniture:

Frame — “Kiln-dried is desirable, which means the wood’s moisture content is gone, and the frame is solid and won’t warp or distort,” Myers says. “Sustainable forest woods such as maple and alder are good choices.”

Spring — Eight-way hand-tied springs are best, and pieces incorporating them fetch top dollar. Quality and comfort are still attainable with S-shaped springs that are cut and tied to the frame and cost a bit less. Both Madden and Myers say to avoid one-piece units that are made separately and put into several different pieces —  initially they may feel good but probably won’t stand the test of time. Joints should be solid, such as dovetail joints or wooden dowels.

Cushions — Look for quality fill, such as high-density Dacron, that will hold its shape for years. Feather and down cushions give unquestionable luxurious softness but make sure they’re ticked.  Davis suggests unzipping a cushion. “If it’s just foam without a liner, it’s going to wear pretty quickly,” she says.

Fabric — It should match your taste and be colorfast and durable. “A proactive designer offers options to customize a piece to your style,” Myers says.

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