Home
Lifestyle Departments
Interior Design Services
Manufacturers' Showroom
Showroom Locations
Decorating Tips
Shopping Tips
About Us
History
Contact Us
Promotional Offers!
Shopping Tips:
Upholstery

When it comes to decorating, the pendulum is swinging back. Consumers once again want the enduring style of traditional furniture but they don’t want to give up the relaxed lifestyle to which they are accustomed. The result? A shift towards furniture that offers classic style and luxury fabrics but provides the casual comfort of less formal environments. The following tips will help you select fine upholstered furniture.

< Shopping Tips

A $500 Sofa Versus A $5,000 Sofa
Before spending a bundle on a new sofa, don‘t be a couch potato – get the facts about basic construction. Sofas are not all created equal.

Springs – Steel coil springs should be hand-tied (not machine clamped) in as many as eight different points around the spring’s diameter (aptly called “eight-way” hand-tied spring construction) for the greatest stability. This is what gives a sofa its bounce and is used in the base of better-quality pieces. The other primary spring construction favored by manufacturers is the “no-sag” spring. These are thick “S”-shaped wires that are fastened to the top of the front rail and run from the front to the back of the piece every few inches apart. This spring system is often used in contemporary sofas that sit lower to the ground. Be sure to ask the salesperson about the sofa’s coil spring system.

Padding/Cushions – The comfort of a sofa depends on its padding and cushions. The level of firmness, or softness, is a matter of personal preference. In better-quality sofas blendown cushions add a luxurious feel to the surface. Blendown cushions offer the softest seat, featuring a combination of down and feathers sometimes wrapped around a foam core and then encased in a muslin bag. The most common – and least expensive – seat padding consists of high-density polyurethane foam wrapped in polyester fiber. Check the manufacturer’s tag for information about the specific padding used in the sofa.

Fabrics – People want upholstered furniture in fabrics that feel as good as they look. Traditionally, the most popular fabrics were natural ones – cotton, linen, silk and wool – prized for their softness and versatility but generally more fragile than synthetic fibers. Recently, new fabrics have been developed which offer both softness and durability. Rayon chenille, for example, feels sumptuous and always looks elegant. Washing the fabric brings out the yarn’s subtle colorations and makes the fabric even more durable. This is carefree luxury: you can put your feet up on the upholstery without worry.

Upholstery TLC
Follow these easy, do-it-yourself guidelines for adding extra life to your upholstery:

Rotate and reverse cushions regularly. This will ensure even use of the seat and back cushions which receive the most wear and tear.

Vacuum often. Remove dust and food particles using your vacuum’s small-brush attachment, upholstery nozzle and crevice tool. The crevice tool is especially handy for hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.

Keep pets off the furniture. They may be part of the family, but your dog or cat’s body oil can be difficult to remove, so keep furniture a no-pet zone if possible.

Clean spots immediately. Blot, don’t scrub, spots and spills with a dry white terry cloth or paper towel before the spot can “set.” Scrubbing can irreversibly damage the fabric and spread the stain. Before attempting to remove any stain, you must first identify the fabric and correct cleaning method recommended by the manufacturer. This information is generally located on a tag affixed to the sofa.

Creating the Illusion of Space
Want a small room to make a big first impression? Here’s how to create the illusion of spaciousness:

  • Minimize contrast among furniture, floors, area rugs, upholstery and drapery fabrics. Colors that naturally blend will create the impression of greater space.
  • Select furniture colors that closely match those for walls and floors. Also, cut down on clutter by limiting the number of furniture pieces.
  • Opt for light and neutral colors (cream, beige or gray) or pastel blues, greens or purples, which will visually expand walls and make ceilings look higher. The ceiling, in fact, should always be the lightest color in the room.
  • Double the size of a room visually by adding reflective, shiny surfaces such as glass top tables, wall mirrors and chrome.

Making Large Rooms More Intimate
If your biggest decorating challenge is making an oversized room seem less overwhelming, consider the following designer techniques for creating a more intimate space:

  • Position furniture away from the wall and use taller pieces, such as an armoire or entertainment center, to define smaller spaces within a room. Screens, plants and area rugs can also be used to visually divide a large space.
  • Paint the ceiling and floors a warm tone – any color between yellow and red on the color wheel – which will draw in the walls and bring down the ceiling.
  • Light the room with incandescent rather than halogen or fluorescent lamps for a warmer glow.
  • Use rugs, printed wallpapers and patterned upholstery fabrics, alone and in various combinations, to make large spaces feel more comfortable.
© 2011, American Furniture Co. Terms and Conditions