Former Brentwood mayor Barbara Guise sold furniture for decades under the name Brentwood Furniture. “Just about all of the furniture you can buy today comes from China,” Guise said. “There are hardly any (furniture) manufacturers left in this country. Look at the items you’re about to purchase very carefully.”
She believes solid wood items provide the best overall value because they stand up well to traffic and can be refinished if scratched or damaged. Inferior pieces are typically boxy and made with veneers that tend to peel. Wood graining can wear off, raised or stained when exposed to hot liquids.
According to Nancy Nguyen of Home Furnishings, 2410 Sand Creek Road, “The key to good quality is to buy products made by manufacturers like Simmons, who are known for their good reputation.” She helps operate Home Furnishings, one of the largest furniture galleries in the area that also pledges low prices.
Mark Colburn is a manufacturer’s rep who has spent 20 years in the furniture business. He agrees with Guise that most furniture and fabrics now originate in China. “There isn’t anything like the fabric selection we used to have when upholstered furniture was made in the states,” he said.
According to Colburn, 50 to 70 percent of fabrics used to cover today’s furniture is “micro-fiber” made from man-made materials such as nylon or rayon. “These fabrics are easy to clean with just soap and water,” he said. Heavy corduroy fabrics have become popular for couches and overstuffed chairs.
Leather furniture offers excellent wear properties, is easily cleaned and can be purchased in colors to coordinate with wood pieces. Make sure the leather feels thick but nice and flexible to the touch. Guise suggests you sit on a piece of upholstered furniture for several minutes to make sure the foundation remains firm and won’t slump under your weight. Furniture should be rigid – shake it in a couple of directions to make sure it’s well constructed.
Colburn said you should do business with a reputable dealer who has been around for a while and is willing to work with you in case a problem develops. It’s also a good idea to do business with a dealer who advertises quick turn-around on one-year warranty replacements.
Shopping around for a piece you’ve seen at one dealer can lead to savings. Guise suggests you compare prices for quality items at several locations. By letting businesses know you are shopping their competitors, you might find one who’ll offer you a bargain you can’t refuse.