How to buy a Quality Sofa II: Foams

On Wednesday night we had the pleasure of talking to the Stage 2 class at the Nanette Cameron School of Interior Design which  has been the inspiration for this 4 part post on what makes a quality piece of furniture. First off it is the frame which we talked about in our last post. However Foams are equally important for supporting your body through their structure and how they shape a piece of furniture.  Then finally Cushions are the true source of comfort in a piece of furniture and the foam that goes in them is very important.

 

Be wary of a sofa that is super soft and squishy.  If it is soft on Day One  it will be positively saggy & offer no support by Day 365.  Your knees will be up around your ears when you sit down!  Equally be wary of a sofa that is way too firm.  Hard foam is not dense, and it is the density you pay for in a foam. Poor quality furniture has very little upholstery padding and the foams are cheap, cheap, cheap, light and offer no support. Look for lots of padding across the back and arms.  Look underneath the cushions.  You should not feel any sharp edges, staples, or the wood that lies beneath.  The piping and stitching should all be straight and not crooked.  Park your bottom on the seat.  Can you feel the front rail underneath your thighs? Can you feel any part of the frame beneath the foam? No?  Good, this could be the sofa for you then as it means lots of padding has been used and the seat foam is of decent quality.

 

Look for the use of Elephant foam, it is the heaviest, densest and most resilient.  It will give you years of firmness and stability which is good in a cushion. Memory foam and Luxura foam are used quite a lot but we wouldn’t recommend it to provide you with years of service.  Memory foam is lovely and soft and squishy for your sofa, but has no structure.  It was developed fas a topping foam for mattresses, and really should not be used in furniture.

Some manufacturers make a foam sandwich with their cushions.  But think about it – If you have a cushion that is 100mm thick you will get good structure by using all Elephant foam.  However, if you then make a ‘sandwich’ with Memory or Luxura foam (using 50mm of it for comfort) you will be taking away 50mm of structure and good support for your dear self in years to come.  So, it is a compromise.

 

In our next post we will talk about the cushioning on your sofa, and how elephant foam is used there along with feathers and other goodies.  Please come back to continue reading.

If you would like help selecting a comfortable, quality piece of furniture, we’d love to hear from you!

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How to buy a Quality Sofa 1- The Frame

Most people struggle to know what is a good quality piece of furniture these days and what isn’t. Because you can’t actually see what you are getting and what lies beneath that gorgeous shape and fabric. A lot of quality has disappeared off the market due to cheap and nasty imports and quality local manufacturers have had their margins so squeezed they have been unable to survive.

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Warning! If you pay a few $1000 hard earned dollars for a matching 3 piece lounge suite from a chain store on a Saturday morning, you can almost guarantee that it will not stand the test of time. Most of them are poorly made and are just ugly- extremely bulky and have no style what so ever.These pieces are, sadly lacking and are landfill and will not provide you years of good comfortable cushioning for your derriere.

(Refer our earlier blog-https://roomserviceinteriors.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/mitchy-matchy-breaking-up/ )

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When looking for a new piece of furniture, you need to be prepared to invest some time, effort and yes,  money!  A lot of people replace their car before their sofa and spend more on their wardrobe annually, so invest because it is something that you will have for a while.  You must also love, love, love it. And your new sofa needs to be something you are truly comfortable in and for me nothing too hard edged, sleek, or funky as it is going to be around for a while so you don’t want it to look out of date next year!

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The first thing to do with a sofa or chair is to give it a little nudge with your leg.  If it moves easily, then walk away.  No, I’m not joking. A light sofa/chair is a rubbish one.  It has probably got a balsa wood frame which will break and bend under the slightest bit of duress.  Next pick it up in one corner.  If it flexes and creaks like an old house there is not a strong frame in there.  Walk away!  Also knock three times along the side of the arms.  Does it sound like a drum?  It probably has cardboard in the arms and not solid wood.  Walk away again!

So what how do you know what is quality?

THE FRAME

The frame construction is a vital key to lasting strength & durability so:

  • Internally the frames should be made of export quality eco friendly Pinus Radiata,or Beech, box sectioned to add strength. These woods are very heavy.  We make houses out of them!  It should have inserted spreader rails (front to back) to provide optimal strength.  For added  solidity all joints should be corner blocked, glued & high pressure stapled.
  • The frame sides are all routed to remove hard edges to avoid the possibility of the foam & webbing being damaged and cut.
  • The outside backs & arms are fully lined with polyester & hesssian.
  • Depending on the furniture design, Pirelli-type webbing (like split car tyres) should be used.  Not just tape.  Super heavy duty tread is the way to go.  The webbing should run both ways on the frame. Front to Back, Side to Side like a basket weave.  No gaps in the corners that you can sink down in.
  • Alternatively tension sprung seats & zigzag sprung backs are used for the seats & backs of the frames.

So, heavy frame + heavy cushion foam + car tyre webbing = good quality sofa. i.e. you cannot kick it around with your foot.  A good quality sofa will need a couple of burly blokes to lift it.  If you a weakling and can lift if on your own, please walk away!

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For more ideas and inspiration have a look at these Related Articles:

http://abigailahern.wordpress.com/?s=sofas+furniture&submit=Search

http://www.interiors.co.nz/Article.aspx?id=234

Dulux Colour Forecast 2014- Future Tribes

Dulux have predicted the latest international trends from around the world for 2014, which denotes travelling the world without leaving home as in being a digital nomad.  Be inspired by cultures that place emphasis on energetic colour and vibrant pattern.  Imagine being immersed in the life of an Aztec tribe or feeling the energy of a Moroccan market place.  (Personally, it would be better to feel the real thing rather than digitally through the click of a mouse don’t you think?)

Anyway, will try to explain what they are getting at – sometimes the language gets a little flowery and designery for some of us more humble earthlings.  There are 4 sections/tribes of colour which are named as below.  Rejoice- it is a return to colour and pattern big time!  Pretty sharp colour along with lots of soft pastel almond colours including flesh pinks, rusty browns, in the  aquas thrown in with some really vibrant fluoro colours too.  All of these can be placed in amongst our more neutral greys, creams, whites, browns and blacks to spice things up a little and add much needed punches of colour.

1. The Digital Nomads Palette Think Aztec prints colours and vibrancy.  Digital patterns, Geometric shapes too.  Colours are bright with smokey amethysts and metallics coming in too. Overall feel is sharp, and contemporary with an edge of softness.

http://www.dulux.com.au/specifier/colour/colour-forecast-2014/specifier-trends-digital-nomads

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2. The Retro Visionaries Palette  Here you can see energetic forward thinking with bright colours, some almost fluoro (interior colours always follow fashion), so bright yellows, cerise pinks, azure blues, mixed in with bright turquoise.  These also have a slightly retro feel to them too.  A little of this in an interior will go a long way and the trick is to pick one or two colours and play with them in different ways in each room.  Don’t try to have the whole lot in one house, otherwise it will feel like living in a kaleidoscope of colour.  Overwhelming.

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http://www.dulux.com.au/specifier/colour/colour-forecast-2014/specifier-trends-retro-visionaries

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3. The Precious Elementals Palette  This has a more masculine vibe with strong, earthy umbers, browns, and rusts mixed in with greys and soft natural woods.  This represents our awareness of what we are doing to our earth as we live here.  There is a softness about this new contemporary look, gone is the tough steel, industrial look of chrome.  Organic in feel, it has used quiet, muted, neutral colours, with nothing rustic or worn.  This palette is infinitely useable anywhere in the home and will be easy to incorporate into existing themes.  Perfect!

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http://www.dulux.com.au/specifier/colour/colour-forecast-2014/specifier-trends-precious-elementals

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4. The Romantic Spirits Palette  This has a softness and romantic warmth about this palette.  The colours show a fresh look at our heritage.  The pink/flesh may be a little feminine for some, but if you mix in with contemporary charcoal geometrics it becomes hip and vibrant.  There is a nostalgic nod to our past, which lets us incorporate these older pieces into our digital age- the return of turned legs for example.  Touches here and there are all that is required, and when mixed in with rusty browns it gives it a strong edge that is not frilly.  There is a rustic feel to this palette too as soft patinas and worn woods sit happily alongside the moody colour.  (This is my personal favourite as can be seen by the “I love Pink” pinterest board)

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http://www.dulux.com.au/specifier/colour/colour-forecast-2014/specifier-trends-romantic-spirit

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Well there you have it.  Click on the links above to find the Dulux Paint Colour suggestions.  Am pleased to say have been using Lyttleton, Opito Bay, Ohai, Franz Josef in interior design colour schemes lately.  So far no one has gone for the pink, but am slowly adding it around the all male Hutton House.  Do you think they’ll notice? Which one is your favourite?  Can you think of ways to update your existing colours schemes to incorporate these new colours?  If you would like help with this, we’d love to hear from you.

Related links:

http://www.dulux.com.au/specifier/colour/colour-forecast-2014

http://www.yellowtrace.com.au/2013/09/03/dulux-colour-forecast-2014/

Downsizing? Empty Nester?

We have had several clients recently who are downsizing from their family home to a smaller place as they are empty nesters or want something smaller for their retirement.  During this process (that is what it is!) try not to be sentimental, as it is a move fraught with some tough decision making.  You can save your all your memories but not all your stuff.  However, it can be very liberating as you have probably been living with stuff that you haven’t used for years.   You’ll be asking : ” What should come with us? What should we keep?”  Start early, and sort your belongings a little at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed and take only the items that fit your lifestyle at the moment.  e.g  If you don’t entertain any more, don’t bring all those serving platters and dinner sets to your new home.

Next start thinking about the following: What do I really, really love? What could I live without? Be sure you have only what you love and need. (Prioritise) Then cut the priority list in Half. (Its a bit like you are packing a bag to take away on holiday – you don’t need it all.)  Other good questions to ask are: When was the last time I used this?  If you’ve not used it in the last year it is definitely on the disposables list.

You could get some interior design advice to help with this big move.  Designers have a good eye for how space works, and will have great ideas on how to reuse your existing pieces.  They will also have innovative storage solutions and ways to keep it simple, but interesting.  However you can go through each room in your current home and decide what you want to take.  Contrary to what many of you will think, you should take less pieces but bigger sized ones.  Smaller pieces will make the new place seem cluttered.  You will feel like you are living in a milk carton.  Bigger pieces are always grander.

Choose the big pieces that you want to take wisely.  Are they practical/beautiful?  Could they be put to a different use? Draw on a floor plan of your new home where you think the big pieces could go.  Measure them to make sure they fit and make plan of action of what goes where.  This is particularly useful on moving day when everyone will be asking you a trillion questions. Then, you can fill in the spaces with a few smaller things.

http://leitmotiv-interiorismo.blogspot.co.nz/

You’ll need to downsize the want list too!  Think outside the square and be open to new ideas and suggestions.  (Interior Designers love helping here!)  What you had in your last place may not work, or be too big for your new home. You can’t have everything and you will use your smaller space differently than where you are now.  You will not need two dishwashers.  You will not have room for a walk in pantry. ( A lot of kitchen storage has gone to drawers these days.)  You will have to make rooms do double duty so everyone has their own play space e.g the spare bedroom can double up as a study, or music room. You can see from the pictures that although the space is clean and fresh, great storage ideas have been used eg drawers under the bed, and the way that texture with the use of different woods has helped create interest without it being overwhelming.  Clear, crisp paint finishes and the absence of clutter have helped to make it an easy space to live in.

Below the kitchen space is divided from the main room with the use of a bar made of wood.  Again, nothing big and bold to block up the flow of the space.  Being able to see through helps to create the feeling of space.  The texture of the wood adds interest and note none of it is matched up as this in itself adds interest and makes the room look like it has evolved.

Once you’ve decided what pieces you are taking, then start one room at a time, sorting one cupboard at a time.  Make a Rubbish-pile, Charity/Donation-pile, Family-pile, and an I-want-to-keep-pile.  So it doesn’t seem so overwhelming, set the timer for an hour and go for it.  You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!  If you don’t know where to start and you are in downsizing, please contact us.  We’d love to help!

Have a look at our previous posts for inspiration and also look at the following links:

https://roomserviceinteriors.wordpress.com/2013/06/13/small-dark/

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/6006100/list/Your-Total-Home-Organizing-and-Decluttering-Guide

http://www.atlantahomesmag.com/article/trading-spaces

Aging Gracefully

Apologies for not posting last week- have been taking my own advice and cleaning out the garage!  While a lot went to recycling, charity, it got me thinking about why I keep old stuff like rustic boxes from my Grandpa’s work shed.  I take these pieces in and out of my own rooms to refresh them and add textural interest and layers. I love them for these reasons and because they have a history unique to me.  As we’ve talked about before, there is a beauty and sole in old things that is often overlooked in interior design.  Do you get too hung up on having it all absolutely perfect and making sure you have the exact colour and furniture arrangement?  Is it making you into an aged beauty more quickly than you would like?  Well, have a look at these pictures of an old French Farm house- can you see the beauty in revealing the history of these walls?  Better than all over pristine white paint is it not?

Stripped Back to its bare bones, this bedroom, exudes simple uncluttered aged beauty.  It still has lots of interest & layers of softness and comfort, despite being not so perfect and old.

Inside an old house you can even mix some modern pieces to create friction and even more interest as seen above.  Note the absence of perfectly painted walls.  Though they do have them in the hallway, but the floors are kept to the original and the antique simplicity of the furniture keep the whole theme going.

If you do not have old walls, but think that you may want to add a little old layers to make seem like you are aging gracefully there are many wallpapers around that will help you do the trick these days, and of course there are always paint effects.  Have a look at the Zoffany range at Textilia Fabrics, or the Andrew Martin range at Unique Fabrics. Also look at our wallpaper pinterest board.  Perhaps instead of using new wood overlay flooring, think about using recycled boards from demolition yards.  It instantly adds the age old patina you are looking for.  Added to that you are recycling 🙂

In New Zealand we could do this with some of old villas could we not?  Peel the layers back to reveal what lies underneath – gorgeous Kauri floors, scrimmed walls, old wallpaper.  There is a lot to be said for aging gracefully don’t you think?  Please feel free to comment, especially if you are a Villa owner!  

For help in letting your interior design age gracefully, please contact us.