“You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” William S. Burroughs
Let’s face it: you know quality furniture when you feel it. Quality goes beyond what your furniture looks like. Sure, you can buy an inexpensive couch that fits the current trends. But in a year or two, you might find that not only has it lost its aesthetic appeal, but the basic comfort and functionality of the piece has gone down the drain as well.
For most people, buying a couch is a commitment. If you make the right choice, it should last you for years—even decades—to come. Trendsetters might be more inclined to buy a cheap couch that they know won’t last, so when it does come to the end of its life, they can just throw it away and buy a new one.
But this kind of cheap and cheerful mass-produced product is not only a bad long-term investment, but it also takes a severe toll on the environment.
An Eye for Quality
The thing is, price isn’t always an indicator of good quality. You’re just as likely to buy a sub-par sofa at a marked-up cost as a more affordable one. Sometimes, you’re just paying out the nose for a brand name without actually getting the benefits of a quality manufacturer.
So what makes for a quality sofa? What separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to sitting in style?
The frame is the foundation of every sofa. If this isn’t well-made, then your sofa is bound for failure. Manufacturers have been known to create frames from all sorts of materials, including metal, plastic, and chipboard. However, the sturdiest frames are made from wood.
Hardwood—especially the kiln-dried variety—is the best choice for sofa frames because they are denser than their counterpart, softwood. Softwood is most commonly used in timber, while hardwood is the preferred option for quality furniture. Hardwoods include alder, balsa, beech, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, teak, and walnut.
Because hardwood is denser, it is also much heavier than other kinds of wood. This is why you’ll find that many quality furniture pieces are quite heavy. In contrast, ‘fast furniture’ pieces like those sold at IKEA are super lightweight.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the sofa’s joints. Joints held in place with nails, staples, and glue are bound to have a shorter lifespan than those that use wooden dowels, metal screws, and brackets. Although nails, staples, and glue can give a little extra support, they shouldn’t be the only support.
Sofas have a few different methods of seating support and suspension. In the 1850s, the invention of the coil spring changed everything. This innovative technique was used to help balance the distribution in the seating area of many sofas at the time. Although not all modern sofas use coil springs, most top-quality ones do.
Many mid-tier sofas use polypropylene webbing, the same material that seat belts are made of. While it is certainly effective, lighter, and more affordable, it’s not as comfortable, luxurious, or durable as spring-based suspension methods.
The most common sofa support is the sinuous spring model: continuous rows of S-shaped steel coils line the inside of the couch and are fastened down to prevent shifting or sagging. However, the hero of couch handcrafting is the eight-way hand-tied spring. It’s a traditional method of European craftsmanship and is renowned for its comfort and longevity.
What’s Inside: The Filling
If you’ve ever sat down on a sofa and sunk right in, you were probably sitting on 100 percent down filling. And while this type of cushioning is considered high luxury, it’s also high-maintenance. You’ll definitely have to spend extra time fluffing and turning your couch cushions.
You may want to go for a mixture of down and feathers encased in a foam core as an easy-care option. This will give you a comfortable seat without a ton of maintenance. Other options include poly-wrapped foam and innerspring cushions.
While you want your cushions to be soft, they should also remain plump and firm when you get up. But don’t be fooled! A firmer cushion doesn’t inherently equate to a more durable cushion. It all depends on the quality and density of the foam used.
Who knew that there were so many points of consideration when shopping for a sofa! If you find yourself overwhelmed with options, McDermott’s crack team of interior design professionals is here to help you make the perfect selection. Connect with us today, and let’s get started.
Megan’s passion for design extends beyond her workplace. In her free time, Megan enjoys all types of crafts, including knitting, crocheting, and rehabbing/reupholstering furniture.