If you looking to buy a Great British "quality-made" sofa, suite or chair, you can't go far wrong than looking to buy second-hand. There are thousands of antique shops, flea markets & thrift shops not to
mention online auctions such as eBay where you can go hunting for second-hand furniture. However when you're buying furniture like this you need to be cautious, these types of stores are renowned for selling questionable items.
Here are some tips on what to look for:
1. The first and most important factor to identify is the frame, is it hardwood? If it isn't, don't buy it! To ascertain this you can use a very simple non-scientific approach, pick it up and feel the weight. When it comes to furniture there is some truth in the old saying "the heavier the better". If a piece of furniture is heavy it's probable made of hardwood and of good quality, the weight can also indicate denser stuffing and a coil-sprung foundation. You can also check under the skirt or beneath the fabric but if you're still unsure, ask!
2. Make sure you not only like the style and shape of the furniture but also that it complements the decor of the room where it will reside. While upholstering can do wonders, it can't change the basic shape or styling. Cushion sizes can be adjusted, skirts altered and sometimes channelling or tufting removed. Think of re-upholstering as a facelift, you can only improve what is already there.
3. You need to check the furniture is stable and solid! All four legs should sit evenly on the floor and there should be no wobble or back and forth movement in the frame. However if the seat is sagging or miss-shaped, don't be deterred, this can be fixed.
4. Feel around the furniture, a lot of cheap furniture is made of foam and cardboard. If the arms in particular feel squishy it could be that the foam has disintegrated and the furniture not worth re-upholstering. Anything that is only lumpy or sagging, an upholsterer can fix by retying springs, replacing stuffing and redoing cushion fillings.
5. Look out for recently manufactured furniture as it will probably have a label and remember a few of the quality manufacturers' names such as; Vale Bridgecraft, Sherbourne, Ercol, Derwent, Multiyork, Parker Knoll, Tetrad, Duresta, G-Plan, Collins & Hayes and Wesley-Barrell. If you see any furniture made by these manufacturers, no matter what the fabric looks like, there will be a quality frame underneath. Fabric can always be replaced!
6. Before you begin your treasure hunt, find an upholsterer you can send a photo to and get their opinion. They might be able to give you an approximate cost or advice on styling. We are more than happy to answer any queries or questions you may have. Why not "Ask an expert"?
7. Be prepared for the costs involved in re-upholstering, it can often be as close to buying new furniture. However, if you've inherited a family heirloom it can be hard to put a value on their worth.
8. Think about mixing and matching classic and contemporary styles and fabrics. Look for a classic frame such as a chaise longue or a chesterfield and have it re-upholstered in some contemporary styled fabrics or vice versa. Here are two examples of how Plumbs have created this look; Deco Nouveau - Turquoise, Delphina Damask - Rose. Whatever you do make it look unique, there's no point going to all this trouble just to end up with a piece of furniture you can buy on the high street.
9. Maybe before you head out to find that jewel have a look closer to home. Is there a piece of furniture that was banished to the back room because it no longer fitted in with your wallpaper or carpet. Think about the environmental impact, recycling is a far better option that throwing furniture onto landfill.