Source: Pioneer Press
Buy Right or Buy Twice
Avoid being part of the “throw away nation” mentality when it comes to home furnishings. Learn how to make good choices based on long term value when buying home furnishings and accessories. Here are some helpful guidelines.
Bed Linens and Towels
In this category, density matters. When shopping for bed linens, look for the highest thread count you can find. Dense fibers make a world of difference in softness, comfort and durability. Decide whether you like the satin feel or the crisp cotton or linen feel. Look for thread counts over 400. You’ll definitely notice the difference.
When selecting towels, feel them for softness not just color saturation. Some good quality towels have a tight, more velvet feel while others are soft due to the high density of and quality of the cotton. The department stores have a tremendous range of colors and quality. If you’re thinking of replacing or stocking up due to a recent move, look for a “white sale” as it will be worth the wait in savings if you go for the good stuff.
The same rule of thumb applies to kitchen towels and dining room linens; the better the fabric, the more durable and typically, good looking the item will be. If you use tea towels and dish towels on a regular basis, and you spend a good deal of time cooking, investing in good quality kitchen linens is a nice luxury. When they finally do give out with stains and wear, transfer them to the nicest rags you’ve ever had.
When purchasing occasional table, cocktail tables and casegood pieces, consider where in the house these items will live beforehand. For instance, for children’s and teen’s rooms, bookcases, desks and night tables local retails stores such as Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, etc. may be the way to go. For pieces in the main living spaces of the house, look for bookcases with solid wood backs, tables with solid, reinforced joinery and wood veneers and finishes that will hold up to years of use. An investment of this sort will allow a refinishing or two, when necessary, and be with you for years to come.
In this category there are two issues to keep I mind. First, the frame of any furniture piece should be a hardwood frame, kiln-dried, and 8-way hand tied, not just glued and screwed. I have seen first-hand what happens when springs are stapled into the frame without screws. It’s not pretty, but it is fixable.
The second critical element of an upholstery piece is, of course, the fabric. When you order any piece of upholstered furniture, you also select a fabric for it. Making sure that the fabric is all that you want, like durable, soft, color specific, resist soils, made from natural fibers, or whatever your criteria are, is part of your job. Do not be surprised if good quality fabric is expensive because it is. You can expect to pay $75, on the low end, to $200 per yard for fabric that will wear well for decades. This is not the place to cheap out.
After you’ve selected a fabric that you love, and one that meets your specific requirements, have it treated in order to protect it from water, oil, sun and soil. One such service is “Fabric life Services,” at 1-800-266-7023. It’s good insurance to protect your investment.
It certainly is the season to see what’s available in every shape and size and this is where, too, if you’re not careful, you can fall into the throw-away mentality. If you are looking for aluminum frame outdoor furniture, buy the best you can afford. It will last for a very long time. The catalogs that arrive on your doorstep multiple times a week make outdoor furniture look fun, festive and even romantic. Obviously, people can’t “buy up” every year or two, so choose wisely. Thought the furniture may look whimsical, the prices surely are not. Avoid chairs that spin, tip and bounce. Select a style as simple and straight forward as your style will allow; these designs are more likely to hold up over time.
The teak furniture market is different. The designs don’t vary as much but look closely at how the pieces are constructed. Be aware that teak furniture requires maintenance. Without care in our climate in particular, it will not stay the dark, rich color for long.
Outdoor cushions and pillows with terrific fabric choices are all the rage, available everywhere and a long time in coming to the retail market I might add. This is a place to change things up from time to time. These fabrics are long-wearing and while not inexpensive, still changing them after a number of years will liven up the colors for a reasonable amount. It is easy to select fabric and recover existing cushions and pillows or donate yours and start over. It’s a way to get a fresh look and still be satisfied with the furniture pieces you’ve selected.
Heirloom or Other, How to Decide
Not every piece needs to be of heirloom quality. Which will be and which will not, is for you to decide based on your lifestyle and what spaces you enjoy using most in your home. For instance, if you enjoy having dinner parties, investing in good quality dining chairs that are comfortable, well constructed and well built would make sense. Ask yourself these questions and it’s likely that the answers will be a good guide to how and where to make it makes sense to put your money.