How to buy a Quality Sofa III: The Cushions

In Part I we talked about the frame, Part II about how important the use of Elephant Foam is.  Today we’ll tell you about the cushions as the cushioning is the true source of comfort in furniture design.The cushions on their own should be heavy so pick them up.  Are they light? If you can throw them around and pick them up easily it is not good quality foam.  When considering your new piece of furniture, unzip the cushion- hopefully you will see the following things:-

 

  •  A good quality cushion will have an elephant foam core, as it is the heaviest, densest and most resilient.  It will give you years of structure, firmness and stability which is good in a cushion.
  • The dense elephant foams provides you with superior comfort.  Seat cushion foam should be wrapped in a triple wrap of dacron/tetron in its own casing. This adds a softer look &  makes the furniture design even more comfortable.  The casing is important as stops it going into balls long term.

 

  • For a more indulgent super comfy sit the foam core could rest in a zippered all cotton casing, channelled duvet which is hand stuffed with just the right blend of duck down & feathers for softness & durability.  For those of you appreciate the better things in life you can have the luxury & feel of a traditional down cushion, but without the maintenance of daily fluffing which is required with an all feather cushion.
  • All furniture design should have back & arm cushions that are a feather/fibre mixture encased in a down-proof fabric with a centre gusset to help shape & give supreme comfort.
  • The  fabrics on the cushion should be over locked and all seams on joins top-sewn for additional strength. This means seams will not fray, giving increased wear & life for your favourite piece of designer furniture.  YKK zip and auto lock sliders should be use so you don’t get the case of the ‘exploding sofa cushion’.  Am sure you have all seen that!
  • Look to see if the cushion is tailored to fit into the back of the sofa/chair.  It should not just be a straight square, so look for small curves that tuck the cushion into the corners & underneath the back of the seat, especially if it is a fixed back.  Just another way of telling quality.
Quality Furniture in a room with lots of layers and textures.

Hampton Chairs in a room with lots of layers and textures-eg. wallpapers, rugs via http://blog.damasketdentelle.com/

P.S. Designer Tip:  When selecting scatter cushions for your sofa, opt for feather filled inners, not the Dacron/Poly fill.  With feather inners your cushions sit so much better and look and feel soooo much more luxurious.  Well worth it.

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In our next post we will talk about what guarantees you should look and then we’ll talk a little about upholstery fabrics (now that you know what a quality sofa is like!)

If you would like interior design help or help in selecting a quality piece of furniture please contact Room Service Interiors.

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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!

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

Be your own Interior Design Coach

Have an empty room or two in your home that you are not sure what to do with?  Are there things that your are not sure about/ scared of that are holding you back in getting started on the rooms? How long has that room been empty and unused? Do not continue to be frozen in fear of doing something just because you spent a bit of money on it a while back and it still isn’t correct.  You’re not using the room and that is wasteful in itself.  We have Life Coaches, Sports coaching, Personal Trainers these days, but often what you need to be is an “Interior Design Coach”.  (A lot of a designer’s job is planning, then trying to get the job done and moving a project forward.) Remember, every journey starts with one step. 

So, think:  “How do I want to use the room?”  “What do I want to do in here?”  Do you want to: Watch TV? Listen to music? Read? Entertain? Play the piano? Once you have nailed this think about placement of the important things for carrying out those activities. For example- if you are wanting to watch TV where is the ideal place for the TV to go?

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After positioning the TV correctly the furniture layout will easily follow on from there.  Questioning yourself and getting the priorities of the room sorted, will lead to getting the Room Layout correct and moving forward toward your goal.  Be prepared to spend the money to get wiring and the necessaries to that perfect place.  (You’d spend it on a personal coach if you wanted to get fit right?)

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Don’t just make do and keep the TV outlet where the builder and electrician decided to place it when they were building.  It is never in the correct place, believe me. It is all doable, you just have to find the correct person to do the job and be prepared to spend the money to move a few things and maybe rejig the wiring.  If you decide not to do what deep down your heart is telling you do to do, it will be making a mistake.  Big expensive regrets.  The room will never serve the purpose you want it to, is always going to be half measure, unused and annoying you.  Did I also mention disappointing?   So, take a deep breath, make a plan and be your own Interior Design Coach and “Just Do It”.

If you would like help and free yourself from fear of making a mistake please contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Related Articles:

http://abigailahern.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/on-line-design-class-starts-tomorrow/

http://justdecorate.wordpress.com/2013/09/26/are-you-color-hue-blind-try-this-website-tool/

Making an Entrance

Have you been invited to some ones house, you get dressed up, by some flowers, take a bottle of wine and when you get there it is well, a bit of a let down, as it is a little disappointing? Think you have got the wrong house as it is not what you expected?  Or even worse cannot find the front door?  Do you think Goldilocks would have visited the 3 Bears if she couldn’t find the front door?

So…How is your Front Door or Entrance looking then?  Does it look like you have gone to an effort? Does it set the scene? No?  Well, you better get busy with the broom and/or water blaster.  Make sure the area is clean, dust, litter, cobweb and leaf free.  Remove the smelly old trackies. Nothing worse than it looking like a rubbish dump- that says: “You came around but I couldn’t be bothered cleaning up for you”

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Next, make the front door an Entrance,  so that you create excitement when someone arrives.  They need to think: “Wow, this is the front door!  Wonder who lives here?”

The front door needs to be highlighted. Paint it a show stopping colour – Red, or Blue, Liquorice Black or anything that is not Beige!  Place a couple of pots in the same colour either side and put some cool structural plants or coloured ones in them.  Try to match your scheme and/or style of house.  A good idea is to bring the hallway colour or accent colour you use inside out onto the front door.  Often the door opens into a hall, and so it sets the scene for what is going on inside your abode.

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I think I want to live here.

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Come On In

Also think about updating the door mat often – the ‘Welcome’ really is not necessary if you have done all the above as you will have Made an Entrance.

Doing Double Duty

We are always short on space and rooms aren’t we?  (Though if you have been cleaning up and sorting, you may have a bit more by now!) However, have you thought about have a room being dual purpose?  For example, a guest room could be turned into a home office or a sewing/craft room in between times.  A Dining Room, could perhaps do double duty as an office or a library.  Both of these rooms need to be warm and cocooning, not to mention interesting, so the decorating scheme would fit either way.  It is also possible to put a corner of a room to a different use – for instance a desk area in the corner of a lounge, or in a hallway.  Bookshelves can make a hallway really interesting.

Here is another interior by Ilse Crawford, in which a ‘kitchen’ wall has been put to great use as a bookshelf.  The table then does double duty as a desk. How clever.

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And what a great idea pictured below where a pull out bed actually looks like a display cabinet. Clever again.

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Then there is this innovative idea that you could use for a home office-bedroom double duty…or maybe for the room at the bottom of the garden!  How simple is this?  So, you can have more guests to stay and get more space for yourself at the same time.  Perfect!

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Dining Room Dramas

Are you lucky enough to have a separate Dining Room? Does it have Drama? If it doesn’t you need to create it. A lot seem to follow the same menu (excuse the pun): Table, Matching Chairs, Pendant hanging over middle of Table. Finished.
Hmm, does it feel welcoming and cocooning? Does it make you just want to sit there and enjoy drinking vin rouge or can you not wait to get out of there because it is all so unwelcoming, uninteresting and cold?

Please make an effort and place some flowers in the centre of the table to start with.  Turn the heater on if it is winter. Make it warm and snug.To create the drama the easiest, cheapest and best thing to start with would be Colour – paint it a dark red, sludgy grey or perhaps use an amazing wallpaper. Think dark and moody, cocooning. Next look at the lighting – is it soft, and cocooning? No?  Well then, get the central pendant put on a dimmer switch. Consider using other light sources – fairy lights over the mantle piece, candles on the table, on the mantle. A lamp light in the corner on the buffet – you get the picture. Soft, ambient light is what you are after to get everyone relaxed and in the mood.  The table and chairs -they don’t need to be mitchy matchy, again it is more relaxing but the chairs do need to be comfortable.   If you create the Drama elsewhere in the Dining Room who is going to notice that they are not necessarily the latest thing?

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Above is a Dining Room by Ilse Crawford-we just  love the same chairs and the mix of vintage with modern.  Definitely Dining Room Drama. Looking for inspiration on Dining Rooms?  Just think about an amazing restaurant you have been to and how it felt to be there…..try to create that drama and magic in yours.