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

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.

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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

Letting go of Perfection Part II

Just saw these photos in Veranda Magazine that clearly illustrate the point of yesterdays post, dare-I-say- it, “to perfection”.  For some of you, the quirky accessories and contrasts in scale may be a little OTT (Over The Top). The fact that the unexpected has been added is what makes this room interesting, different and exciting and takes it to another level.

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Scott Shrader Design via Veranda Magazine

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Scott Shrader Design via Veranda Magazine.

Very eclectic and simple, has lots to look at – wonderful textural contrasts, pattern play and they have brought the outside, inside.   You can now have a perfect weekend not worrying about having everything perfect.  You can be happy with what you have. Enjoy!

Letting go of Perfection

Today included a visit to a client’s house which had the most beautiful rugs, colour scheme, perfect paintwork, satin drapes, gorgeous dark glossy floor, designer  furniture- you’re getting the picture?  It was just perfect!   There wasn’t a hair out of place – well, anything out of place.  No scuff marks on the walls. Wasn’t quite sure why we were there really, but then it clicked why. It was too perfect, and the client knew it.  It felt like a fancy hotel room that had just been super cleaned. It was formal, shiny, stilted and stiff.  It was hard to feel at ease within the rooms-there was no personality, no soul. And these poor people (well not so poor, actually) had spent a small fortune to get this imperfect perfection.   Hmmm.  There is a fine line between “dressing”  a room  and making it so perfect that it is uncomfortable to be in.

Perfect rooms are as irritating as perfect people.  The best interior designers create rooms that look interesting and relaxed; used, lived in. There should be an element of surprise or quirkiness, something somewhere that is a bit risque.  It just takes the room to another level and makes you think – “Huh, why have they done that?”  You don’t want to decorate in a mad or crazy way, but just add a piece that is a little out of context. Add a chair in a crazy colour, a quirky lamp base.

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For example the bed should look neat and smoothed, cushions plump and arranged, but with a look of nonchalance.  The bed should also look deeply comfortable and welcoming. Not stiff and upright and uptight. To be successful your bedroom needs to be a little uncontrived and never too pristine to put your feet up.  (But not on the pearly white cover with shoes on). You can see the difference between the photographs of the bedrooms in this post.  They all beautiful, but one is a little more stiff and upright, and not so relaxed as the others. Can you work out which bedroom is not so relaxing? (Hint – everything is mitchy-matchy, Laura Ashley)

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So, let go of having every last thing absolutely perfect and everything in its exact place.  Relax a little, scrunch your hair do up a bit, (or let it down.) Use texture,add another cushion that doesn’t quite match, un-straighten the rug and even leave the towel on the floor.  Make it look like you actually enjoy living there.  Relax! Let go of being perfect. That way you’ll sleep better. 

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If you would like help letting go of Interior perfection we’d love to help.  You will find us here.

Clean up the Laundry

Laundries, if you are lucky enough to have a separate one, are often the most neglected room in the house. They become general dumping grounds for smelly dirty clothes, mismatched socks, and of course a damp and  mildew breeding ground.  Why not open the window and add some fragrant washing powders?

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The key to a good laundry, is organisation. Baskets, baskets, baskets, and containers are essential for the dirty clothes, storage of detergents and cleaners. A bucket is handy for soaking things, as is another  for scrubbing brushes, mops, dusters, rags.  Shoe cleaning equipment can be stored in yet another basket.  A huge room is not required if you are organised.  Today, the English are inspirational in making the laundry as part of the kitchen, often hidden under benches or in cupboards, cleverly using available space.  So, consider what your requirements are- do you want somewhere to iron, or hang up clothes to dry?  Can you organise the drier over the top of the washer to save space?  Have you room for a sink? Do you really need a bench top or can it all go in a cupboard? Often a sink can double up as a scullery- you can dump the big dirty platters and pots in here when entertaining to clean up later after guests have gone.

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Re the decoration.  Have you considered using an awesome colour, giving it the va va voom, domestic goddess look?  The photo below is from My Luscious Life -isn’t this just so much more interesting than plain cream walls, a naked bulb in the centre, dirty clothes and trackies all over the floor?

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Why would you not like to do your laundry in here?  You are only in here slogging away for a few minutes a day, so why not make it enjoyable?  Wouldn’t it make you think “Yay, every day is Laundry day!” ( which of course it is). So, choose an awesome colour, an interesting rug, hang up a curtain, some hooks and pictures and away you go.  Note the storage in an above-appliance cupboard. No sink or bench top required.

In the next photo there is fantastic use of shelving rather than cupboards.  Open shelving is great for using the baskets and containers and are much more accessible and easy to use than a cupboard. Note the continuation of the bright blue colour.  Simple and effective.  Added bonus of shelving is you won’t hit your head as you finish loading the washing machine, if you have left it open! Owww!

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When sorting, washing, drying, folding does it not make sense to do it with style?

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Check out our Pinterest board for more inspirational laundry ideas.

Looking for Baskets?  Try http://www.frenchcountry.co.nz/collections/garden/baskets.aspx

Related Links and Further Reading:

http://cocoandcashmere.me/2013/08/20/laundry-room-the-new-heart-of-the-home/

http://vizualityworks.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/laundry-rooms-are-the-new-walk-in-closet/

http://bobbybclean.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/organize-your-laundry-room/

http://www.nutscene.com/store/category.vc?categoryId=1

Magic, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

How do you make my house the fairest of all? Mirrors are the best accessory you could spend your money on. Why? They bounce light into dark corners, they give depth to a room, seemingly increase the space, blur the boundaries of where your room starts and finishes, adds an interesting layer….

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Light and reflection in a dark corner of a room.

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Visual trickery -The mirror above is reflected in the mirror above.

…Yes all of the above – and they sparkle and twinkle and catch your eye when looking around a space as seen in the image below. 

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They are also useful to carry on a theme or style that you have going in your space. And as we said in our last post, if you use an old, old, one ($ca-ching, $ca-ching) they will give your room soul. Or perhaps, if you have a modern theme, then search something out that is clean lined and sleek. Oversized and over-scaled, a mirror placed strategically behind the console in your entranceway will add grandeur.

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The Mirror Frame was the inspiration for the wallpaper.

Mirrors add visual trickery – placed between two windows a mirror can seem like another window. If you place a mirror at right angles to a window your eye will get confused as to what is window and what is mirror. Upon reflection (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!) they are so, so useful in so many ways. 

So, find some mirrors, in opp shops, your favourite design store or in the attic and use them to create your own magic. Often cheaper than art and pictures, they will take your room to new heights. The Magic Mirror, as the Queen in Snow white found out, can make life in a room very, very interesting. 

For more ideas and inspiration have a look at this Related Article: http://design-vox.com/?s=mirrors

Some mirror magic inspirations are on our Pinterest board.
If you would like help adding mirror magic to your home we’d love to hear from you.
Please also like us on Facebook. Thank you Readers.