Finding the perfect chair or sofa for your room isn’t always a simple quest. Gone are the days of the three-piece suite, with every piece matching. Today’s living rooms are an expression of you and you will want to fi nd the ideal size, shape, colour and comfort level to suit your body and those of your family. Getting out to showrooms and sitting in the furniture is the best way to fi nd something that works for you — even if you then have it custom-made in the fabric, colour and size of your choice. Some furniture manufacturers can even make a sofa or armchair to suit your specifi c dimensions. When buying furniture, look beneath the upholstered covering at the three most important elements: the frame, the springs and the padding. It is the combination of these elements that will determine the comfort (or lack of ) of the piece you buy.
A kiln-dried hardwood frame is a must in ensuring durability in your upholstered furniture. Oak, maple and ash are the woods most commonly used in upholstered furniture. A good frame is joined using dowels as well as corner blocks glued and screwed together. The legs should be an integral part of the frame and centre legs should be used for additional support.
There is a wide variety of fi bres used in the manufacturing of upholstered fabrics, each with its own unique attributes that must be considered when making a selection based on the planned usage of the upholstered furniture.
When choosing the right fabric for your upholstered piece, remember the tighter the weave, the more durable it will be. There is a system for determining the abrasion resistance of a fabric, called The Martindale Test. The fabric to be tested is mounted in a special holder and is rubbed against a fl at piece of standard worsted wool cloth. The abrasion resistance is indicated by the number of cycles required to produce two broken threads on a woven fabric and one thread on a knitted fabric, or any unacceptable change in appearance of the fabric during the test. Your upholsterer will advise you on the most suitable fabrics to use but a general rule of thumb would be to choose fabrics that have a woven design (ie Jacquard weave) rather than a printed one. There is a wide variety of fi bres used in the manufacturing of upholstered fabrics, each with its own unique attributes that must be considered when making a selection based on the planned usage of the upholstered furniture. In addition to their look and feel, factors to consider are wearability, cleanability and sensitivity to direct sunlight.