How to Choose Upholstered Furniture

How to Choose Upholstered Furniture

Are you in the market for upholstered furniture? Whether you’re furnishing a new home, updating a room, or replacing a single piece, there are many factors to consider before you begin. Here are seven questions to ask to help you start the furniture buying process like a pro!

  1. Will it fit? Measure the length and width of your room, including windows, alcoves, doorways, and fireplace hearths. Then create a floor plan on paper with the measurements to scale. Sketch in the dimensions of furniture you like. Finally, recreate your plan on the floor, marking the spaces for each piece with tape (use painter’s tape to be sure it won’t damage the floor). Add any ottomans and end or coffee tables. Does the arrangement work in your room?
  2. What’s your style? This is the fun part of furniture shopping. Knowing the style of furniture you like best and that fits in with your décor will help you choose a furniture source that offers the most choices for you. Magazines and design look-books are a good place to start and platforms such as Pinterest and Houzz are also terrific for honing your style. It’s easy to window-shop online today, but visiting local stores and seeing the wide array of choices in person can also help. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of design consultations — virtual or in home — offered by many furniture stores.
  3. Will it clean up and wear well? Ask your salesperson how the fabric will age over time and how to clean it. Is it stain-resistant? Will its color fade from sunlight streaming through a nearby window? Fabrics are subjected to a “rub test” to rate their durability. A fabric should be at least 15,000 rubs for heavily trafficked areas, such as living and family rooms. Medium duty (9,000-15,000 rubs) may be adequate for less-used areas. Some fabrics are rated for family and pet friendliness! It’s also a good idea to ask for a sample swatch and experiment at home with how the sample cleans up after a coffee or wine spill. You might be surprised how strong and stain-resistant many performance fabrics are made today.
  4. Is there long-term value in investing in better quality and paying more? High-quality, better-made pieces generally cost more because they are built with materials that are designed to last longer. A small percentage more in cost now could translate to a sofa, for instance, that maintains its shape and comfort for much longer.
  5. Is flexibility in configuration important? If you plan to stay in your present home for many years, it may not matter if the furniture you buy can adapt to other uses. But if you plan to move, or simply like to rearrange furniture periodically, today’s modular styles create endless arrangement possibilities and eliminate permanent left or right alignments. You can reconfigure furniture sections anytime the whim strikes — make one large sofa into two smaller ones, rearrange the L-shapes, swap out arms for a table, and more.
  6. What’s inside? People are increasingly concerned about the materials they bring into their homes that might affect indoor air quality. For assurance that the foam inside the sofa has met the high standards of the CertiPUR-US® certification, a program administered by a nonprofit organization which certifies foam that has been analyzed by independent, accredited laboratories and meets their rigorous standards for foam content, emissions and durability. Certified foams are screened for relevant chemicals, including flame retardants, that are classified as carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins and are harmful to human health. Certified foams are made without formaldehyde; ozone depleters; mercury, lead and other heavy metals; or phthalates regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It also means the foam has low VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions for indoor air quality (less than 0.5 parts per million). Visit our directory of manufacturers and retailers offering pillows, mattresses and upholstered furniture using certified foam before you make a purchase.
  7. When will it be delivered? If you’re shopping with a deadline in mind and need that new recliner before a major event like a holiday, plan ahead. Because of supply chain issues or if you choose custom upholstery, there may be months between the time you order and delivery.

Now you’re off to a great start! Enjoy the shopping process — and treasure your new investment for years to come.

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