How to Choose Upholstered Seating
When choosing upholstered seating, the three most important things to consider are the fabric and materials, the construction techniques used to make the piece, and the details that set it apart.
Fabric & MaterialsChoosing the right fabric or leather for a piece of furniture is an important decision. Whether dark or light, striped or flowered, fabrics offer a seemingly infinite range of choices. To help you select the right material, remember a few simple things: All fabrics are not suitable for upholstery; only those with tight weaves will be deemed by the manufacturer as appropriate for upholstery. If you're considering a light-colored fabric, make sure it is treated with a stain-repellent process. Slipcovers provide versatility and allow rooms to adapt to changing needs or even the seasons. The most practical slipcovers are made of washable fabrics, but avoid cottons that could shrink, and make sure the slipcovers can be easily removed for laundering.
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Construction TechniquesHigh-quality pieces have a frame of kiln-dried wood that is free of knots. Maple is the wood most commonly used in the United States, while beechwood is popular in Europe. Joints that are double-doweled with screwed corner blocks contribute to a stable frame. Legs should be an integral part of the frame rather than added on later. Center support legs on larger pieces provide better weight distribution. Inner spring construction should be considered when buying a piece of furniture. Eight-way, hand-tied coils provide an even foundation and result in no single spring bearing a disproportionate amount of weight. Although not as desirable, other systems such as drop-in, pre-assembled coil units and sinuous wire fastened from front to back help provide a soft seat.
DetailsDetails such as welting, fringe, and pleats help define a piece and set a tone. Bullion fringe adds drama. Self-welting contributes to a tailored and refined look, while the use of pleats creates a light, airy feel. Keep the look you are trying to create in mind when you compare different pieces.
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