With the economy on everyone’s mind, the question that gets asked the most in home interior decorating seems to be how to spend money wisely. The most expensive things to replace in any room - major furniture pieces, cabinetry, and floor coverings should be considered foundation pieces and chosen in neutral or near neutral. Choose classic pieces in unbiased colors that don’t scream any particular style, so that you can mix them with modern or traditional. I like to see decorating be in line with the architecture, and with the lifestyle of the people living there. The important thing is to buy quality and add to it over time. In essence, you’ll only be spending your money once, and choosing well made items. Go thrifty on accessories, pillows, and accent lighting so that you can change them later without the guilt.
Consider what is on the inside when you look for new upholstery. This is one area where you will get what you pay for if you scrimp. Better upholstered pieces will be made of hardwood on the inside – oak or maple primarily – NOT plywood or MDF. The wood can be joined with dowels, glue, nails, or staples. Springs should be eight-way hand tied and not a drop-in unit.
Cushions play a tremendous part of the upholstered piece, and always upgrade to the best you can afford. I prefer a spring-down cushion, which is a spring core encased in foam, and wrapped in down. It keeps its shape for many years to come, and requires no fluffing.
The fabric you choose will also play a big part, and consider something durable that will also have longevity in look. A well made sofa can last 12-15 years before you may need to recover it. If the sofa is hearty to begin with, then you’ll be able to recover the frame a couple more times and pass it on. What if you get tired of the look? A good upholstery person can always help you adjust the style.
The same can be said for the more prominent tables and casegood pieces in your home. A storage piece that gets used all the time needs a more durable finish and well made drawers that have wood sides and backs. A dining table should have a robust finish that can stand up to your rowdiest friends if you throw dinner parties - the dining chairs need to be able to take it just as well.
The principal thing to look for is a sturdy hardwood frame and it can have a veneer over it. Veneer is not a dirty word, and don’t let your grandmother tell you otherwise. Veneers are thin pieces of wood glued together and applied over the flat surface of a piece. They actually create a more stable surface that expands and contracts with temperature change. Veneers also add value and beauty to a piece that features wood grain matching and intricate details.
In essence, buy the best you can afford so you can make it a one-time purchase. You’ll feel better over the long term without having buyer’s remorse, and creating a lasting home environment. Have a professional designer help you make these decisions as well, so that you don’t make costly mistakes.