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

Re-Style to give your Furniture New-Style

Reinventing or restyling a piece of furniture is a great way to inexpensively get a whole new look.The photo below shows how a humble cupboard, in a style we often see here in New Zealand, can be re invented by putting some funky fun colours, and more modern accessories around it.  Most of us would be inclined to paint the cupboard or change it somehow, but here it is shown that there is no need.  Just add a modern/retro touch with the cool colours and it seems quite at home.

And here is another idea for a dining area.  Repaint the chairs and place with a retro/modern styled table. Easily done to reinvent those old chairs that you might be tempted to give away!

RepaintedFurnitureBelow is a chair reupholstered in a funky pink, and yet it works with all the more up to date things around it.  Nothing expensive or trendy here, just great styling.

Below is an update on another chair- having a de-constructed look is quite a trend at the moment as is adding an industrial edge to more traditional pieces.

The Boiler Room does a fabulous job or reinventing some of our more colonial heritage pieces.  Gary and Sue have a great talent for finding the ordinary and reinventing it in a whole new way whether it be industrial or contemporary.  Very clever and talented.  Check out their website and visit their shop in New North Road.

Perhaps in our consumer, fast moving society we all just need to stop, take a breath, and think about how we can re invent a piece of Nana’s furniture so that it becomes an item of beauty.  Up-cycling, no more landfill required. What do you think?

Check out our Pinterest board for more inspirational furniture re-invention ideas.

Related Links and Further Reading:

http://leitmotiv-interiorismo.blogspot.co.nz/2013/09/buscando-el-desenfado.html

http://www.boiler-room.co.nz/blog.htm

Mixing it Up Style-Wise

Over the weekend we were lucky enough to visit a Mediterranean styled house on the shores of Lake Rotorua.  Superb views over a misty lake made us realise (yet again) what a gorgeous place New Zealand really is.  Could have actually been Lake Como in Italy which I guess is where the Mediterranean styled house came from.  Inside was luxurious and comfortable, styled with antiques, original fittings from a 1920’s house.  All good so far, but then the elephants started popping up, then the tigers on the cushions, then the leopards in the pictures, more elephants peeking around the corner of the terrace outside our room and the African animal themed sheer curtains. Somehow that didn’t work…..how does African relate to Mediterranean to New Zealand?  Short answer, It doesn’t.

What had happened here is that they had added too many themes/styles into the mix. Mediterranean styled on the exterior is very common here, and again that is all good, but inside it didn’t really relate with the African animal thing. 1920’s antiques and decoration does, as that relates to the original and hints at our past.  More appropriate would’ve been to continue the Mediterranean style and add more antiques-Mediterranean style so the place had a cohesive whole. Something like this would have been ideal:

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Small & Dark?

Hands up who has a small dark room in their house? (We don’t mean the loo under the stairs)  What have you done with it?   We think we know your answer…. but unfortunately NO cream or white paint is going to increase its size!  A Small Dark Room is always going to be small & dark.  So, transform it’s proportions with a dark colour & let it cocoon you.  This works because it distracts the eye & blurs the boundaries of where the room starts and finishes.  If you prefer bright colours that will work too, as will an amazing wallpaper.  Below is a work kitchen we had for a number of years-small, dark, and no windows. Yuk, but think we did okay by transforming it with a dark Grey ( Dulux Castlecliff) and some eye popping accessories. RoomServiceInteriorsDarkCol

In a smaller space it is always wise to use larger pieces so instead of going smaller think grander.  Get rid of those twiddly bits because somehow that just seems to emphasise that the space is small.  With curtains make them a similar colour to the walls and hang them up at the ceiling – it makes the space seem much grander.  Also take them right to the corners of the room if possible.  (We recommend doing this in any room actually because we all want our spaces to appear larger than they are don’t we?) Sure,  you may use a little more fabric, but  it will look amazing & is well worth the extra expense. To finish off  use larger accessories with an accent colour.  In small, dark bedrooms use as big a bed as you can – Queen if possible and make the headboard bigger than you would using a similar colour to the wall but maybe in a textured fabric. Use taller side tables with bigger lamps.  This does work. Last but least dress the bed by layering, layering, layering.

The wallpapered room below is by London Floral Designer Nikki Tibbles – she has transformed a small dark space with a gorgeous wallpaper and eye popping colour.  So, warm and cocooning isn’t it?  Why would you paint it cream instead?

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The bathroom below is, yes, a room under the stairs, but doesn’t it look amazing?  Somehow being in there would feel kind of glamorous huh?  Again, why would you want to use cream or white when you can have the moody blue?

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(Apologies to the maestro who created this small, dark room.  Make yourself known so we can credit you with it.)

A big “Thank You” to all those who attended our Mid Winter Design Inspiration talk last night.  Really appreciate you all turning up on such a cold night- so much appreciated.  Trust you all got warmed up today moving that furniture off the walls.

Need a Sofa that pulls it all together?

At Room Service we find Designers often use the Manhattan Sofa as it effortlessly blends styles with it’s casual ease and clean comfortable lines. Shelter arms and a sleek tailored slipcover with a single seat cushion are right at home in interiors from Classic to Modern. Side cushions add extra comfort and the back cushions are made to fit to the frame, are box edged, and at the same height as the back. Manhattan is designed and manufactured in NZ by Insight Furniture, and guaranteed for 10 years.