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Finding Furniture You Can Fall in Love With

(ARA) - Last summer you fell in love. Now, just three short seasons later, your beloved has let you down. Time has revealed that your love affair -- not to mention the object of your affection - wasn't nearly as timeless or as durable as you thought.

How did this happen, you wonder. How could you have so badly misjudged the quality and style of the dining-room set you bought just one year ago?

"For most people, furniture-buying decisions are either based on emotion - 'falling in love' with a piece - or on the lowest price," says Brad Haas, a furniture expert with manufacturer Carrington Court. "Neither way is likely to lead to a happy, satisfying long-term relationship with your furniture. This is especially true of upholstered furniture, where poor construction and quality can be hidden beneath layers of fabric and padding."

   
Successful furniture shopping requires a careful balance between emotion and intellect, Haas points out. If you're planning to update your décor with some new furniture this summer, here are two important areas to examine when assessing furniture. If the piece measures up to these standards, chances are you'll still be able to love it next summer.

Frame Construction

If you're shopping in a showroom, be sure to ask the sales person about the frame under the upholstery. If you're shopping online, be sure it's with a company that can answer this basic question - what is the frame made of? Hardwood frames like oak, maple and poplar provide a strong, solid foundation for the furniture. Avoid soft woods like pine or plywood.

Wood should be kiln-dried hardwood, which imparts strength and durability. Several types of hardwood are good; Carrington Court Direct uses maple/poplar and ash. "Of course, the strongest wood in the world is no good if it's cut too thin," Haas notes. Many manufacturers use 5/4-inch lumber, Carrington Court uses 8/4-inch lumber, meaning the wood is nearly 65 percent thicker than planks commonly found in wood frames.

Fabric

If you're buying from a big-box furniture store, you'll likely have only a few fabric selections to choose from. Limited fabric choices allow manufacturers to buy their fabric in volume, keeping their costs down. If you go with a smaller company you may find yourself with more choices - or even the ability to supply your own fabric; Carrington Court offers 200 fabrics and has a "customer's own material" program. If you're having furniture made for you, the manufacturer should be willing to send you sample swatches of the fabric you choose.

When choosing a fabric type for your upholstered furniture, keep in mind that durability is a key consideration. Some materials commonly used include:

* Cotton - A natural fiber, cotton resists wear, fading and piling, but is less resistant to soiling. Blending cotton with other fabrics can address soiling issues.

* Acrylic - Originally developed as imitation wool, this synthetic fabric resists wear, wrinkling, soiling and fading.

* Nylon - One of the most resilient fabrics, nylon is rarely used alone. Most often, it is blended with other fibers, making it one of the strongest upholstery fabrics. It's highly resistant to soiling and fading.

* Olefin - Often used in blends with other fibers, olefin is a perfect choice for furniture that will get heavy use and wear.

* Polyester - Most often blended with other fibers, polyester resists wrinkles.

* Rayon - Developed as a silk alternative, this synthetic is more durable than silk but does wrinkle.

IIf you're furniture shopping in a showroom, carefully inspect the upholstery and repeat your inspection when the furniture is delivered to your home. Look for fabric that is clean, free of rips, tears or stains. Also, if the fabric is patterned, be sure the patterns line up at fabric seams.

Carrington Court Direct has sold furniture for 23 years. Its Parsons and dining-room chairs can be found in dining rooms, bedrooms and living areas of homes across the country, as well as in quality hotels, designer showrooms, restaurants and offices. To learn more, or purchase furniture online, visit www.CarringtonCourtDirect.com .

Courtesy of ARAcontent


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