“It’s better to buy well, than often.” Jim Caughman, Baker Furniture


The ‘Ride’                                                          

We’ve all had the experience of sinking into what appeared to be a comfy chair, only to find ourselves sinking further than intended.

Beyond what might be considered reasonably comfortable.

Of course, everyone has different expectations of how we’d like a favorite sofa or chair to feel.

While some prefer soft cushions, others prefer firm support.

It’s all a matter of preference.

At the same time, we are usually keenly aware when something doesn’t feel right.

Ask yourself this question:  “How does the seat receive you?”

In other words, with good upholstery, it should be a gradual settling in. Cushy, with lots of padding, especially at the sides.

It’s also important to listen.

Yes, that’s right – while you’re being super attentive, listen up. Odd crinkly noises, or the sound of air escaping are never a good sign.


Choosing A Fabric

The sky’s the limit here, although fabric quality varies widely.

Choices range from sturdy and functional, to high-end opulence, and plenty in-between – including sustainable textiles that have been manufactured without the use of harmful chemicals.

Selecting fabric is a little like being a kid in a candy store, there is just so much to choose from.

The best guideline is to purchase a textile that is appropriate for upholstery as opposed to, say – window treatments. The latter is designed to drape elegantly at a window, while the former needs to hold up to everyday wear and tear.

There is a world of difference between the two.

If you go to a big box store, you will likely have a selection of fabrics that have been pre-selected for that particular chair or sofa.

Likewise, any high-end showroom or interior design firm would provide the same service, making certain that your fabric choices are appropriate.

Bottom line:  you want fabric that will hold up well under repeated use, and won’t stretch out of shape or pucker at the seams.

Pay attention, also, to the texture of the fabric, and how it feels against your skin.


The Finishing Touches

Do you prefer a tailored look with a tight seat and back?

Or do you prefer something more relaxed & laid-back – like the style known as Shabby Chic?

Once you’re clear on the style of seating, you can move on to the finishes.

If the finish appears tacky or poorly applied that signals a lack of attention to detail. Chances are the chair you’ve set your sights on is of inferior quality that will not hold up well over time.

Details such as buttons & fringe are often reserved for the seat back (buttons) or throw pillows (buttons and/or fringe). Another common decorative touch – what’s referred to as ‘welting’ – adds a narrow band of the same or contrasting fabric along the edge, giving a crisp, tailored appearance.

Nail heads are another great option for adding a small decorative touch to the final look, especially in traditional designs – although you are by no means limited.

Yes, these details might cost a bit more, yet they are usually a drop in the bucket compared to the overall expense of your new sofa.

Remember to think long-term – buying well means you are investing for the future. It is not a quick fix.

Sometimes it’s worth paying a bit more for the level of quality and comfort you truly desire.



The Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) has just opened a new exhibit of contemporary works by Chinese artist Wang Huaiqing.

Not being familiar with this artist, I had no idea what to expect when I first stepped into the galleries last week, yet I was completely captivated by what I saw.

Almost all of Wang Huaiqing’s paintings have a central theme of furnishings and architectural features.

The interior designer in me was fascinated and very pleased. I was seeing a whole new take on furniture!

This particular artist views furniture as a microcosm of Chinese architecture and society. It comes as no surprise, then, that in some of the paintings there is a very fine line between the two.

Hence a painting of architectural columns, or pillars, seems to morph into something else.