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Designing Dilemma Extra!

How to Buy Upholstery

What can a mother learn about buying furniture from two active, growing boys? Plenty ó especially if the mom is an interior designer with the "family friendly", real life design firm Designing Solutions. "Catching my kids jump on the furniture and sneak snacks on the sofa has taught me a lot about upholstery construction and fabric weight." Choosing well-made upholstery and heavy weight, cleanable fabric is critical in designing rooms with lasting style and comfort. "You canít raise your family in a museum, so design your home for the way you really live if you want your furniture investment to last AND you want peace of mind." Hereís what interior designer Deborah Wiener, and her two boys, suggest:

  • Start with quality construction in your sofas and chairs from reputable manufacturers. Choose hardwood frames, glued, screwed and blocked at the corners with hand-tied spring support under the seat cushions.


  • Avoid sofa styles with multi-pillow backs. They require a lot of maintenance ó fluffing and arranging ó and they make too tempting a weapon for pillow fights between siblings (and some spouses).


  • Upgrade your back and seat cushions ó itís worth the extra cost. Consider spring down seat cushions (a spring unit wrapped in foam and a down blend) for great support and shape retention. Blend down seat backs (polyester combined with a down blend) give a luxuriously soft feel but hold their shape over time.


  • Use heavy weight, tightly woven fabrics on your upholstery ó theyíll withstand friction from use much better than lighter weight fabrics. And if youíre worried about staining, ask your designer to have stain protection applied BEFORE the fabric is sewn on to the piece of upholstery. Most fabric sources will provide this service for a nominal charge. Better yet, look at commercially rated and outdoor-use fabrics ó both are designed to resist fading, repel stains and hold up to heavy use.


  • Be realistic about your color choices. A white family room sofa just canít stay white in an active household. Choose something with color, pattern and cleaning ease instead. Save white or lighter colors for small accent pieces that donít get a lot of use or can easily be recovered at a small expense.


  • Consider styles with an exposed leg instead of a skirt. Skirts collect pet hairs and stain easily when your kids use the skirt to wipe the backs of dirty shoes. Most sofa and chair manufacturers offer you the option of a skirt or exposed leg. And you can match the leg color to other room furnishings or to the fabric.


  • If you donít want your kids sitting on the arms of your sofa, donít choose styles with oversized arms! The arm of the sofa is often the first place where fabric thins out and shows wear. And with abuse, the soft padding wears down and the hard frame can be felt right under the fabric. Smaller arms also give a little extra seating space.


  • Rotate the cushions. Youíll extend the life of the seat and back cushions and the fabric covering them. While youíre at it, give the cushions and seat bench a good vacuum. Youíll probably find the missing legos and Pokemon cards that your kids were searching for when they destroyed the rest of the house! "Catching my kids jump on the furniture and sneak snacks on the sofa has taught me a lot about upholstery construction and fabric weight."


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Designing Solutions Debbie Wiener Designing Solutions - Offices in Annapolis, Chestertown and Silver Spring, MD. 1.888.444.5593
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