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Happy Canada Day!

Oh, Canada!

This year marks Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation – when the British North America Act was given royal assent by Queen Victoria on March 29, 1867.

This year, festivities will be taking place all over the country, so put on your best Canada Day duds and join in on the fun!

Anatomy of a Sofa

It looks straightforward. An upholstered piece of furniture is little more than fabric stapled or tacked to a padded frame, right?

In fact, there’s far more to achieving the crisp perfection and deep comfort of upholstery. That’s why purchasing a new sofa (or chair) can be so expensive, and why re-covering a well-worn heirloom is sometimes costly. That said, quality construction may be more economical than replacing a piece every 10 years or so.

Before you make the investment, it helps to understand what goes into making a well-crafted sofa. After all, the bones of an item determine its value and longevity. With sturdy materials and hand-finished details, a custom piece can last 20 years or longer with reupholstering.

Once you understand the differences between feathers, down and foam; jute and elastic webbing; and eight-way and zigzag springs, you can decide whether it’s worth the effort to restore or update a beloved piece of furniture, or whether it’s time to trade it in for a new one.

 

FRAME AND PADDING

These two components make up every upholstered piece, but their materials determine the overall quality. (1) A top-of-the-line frame, generally custom-made, uses 2-inch-thick kiln-dried wood and is secured with dowels and glue. Mass-produced pieces usually have thinner frames that are glued and stapled; lower-quality versions are often made of plywood or pressed board

Inside the frame, (2) jute webbing is woven along the seat and tacked to the frame with a pneumatic tack gun. The webbing is then threaded along the back and vertically along the arms of the sofa. (3) Eight-way springs, tied coil by coil to the webbing, offer the most support and flexibility. Other options are zigzag springs and elastic webbing.

Optional padding types (4) are horsehair (real, synthetic or a mix), foam and polyester batting. The casing is topped with (5) layers of glazed cotton (terylene), which helps grip the upholstery fabric and keep it from shifting. On a straight-backed sofa it also supplies the comfort in lieu of cushions.

 

CUSHIONS AND FABRIC

Structure aside, the cushions and (6) fabric on a sofa can also affect longevity. One way to prolong the life of upholstery is to opt for removable cushions so you can turn them over. The covers can be dry-cleaned easily, and if there is foam inside, you can see if it’s crumbling and needs replacing.

For filling cushions there is down, down-filled casing, foam and cotton batting.

 

What you Need to Know about Fabric Durabiltiy

 

As some of you may know from patronizing a house of upholstery or being one of our customers, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a fabric for your piece. One of the most frequent talking points and cornerstones of consumer education has to do with the durability of upholstery fabrics. Questions we hear from 9 out of 10 clients are: “How long will this fabric last? What is the durability of this fabric? Is this textile suitable for my household with children, dogs, and cavalier adults? What is the fiber content, and does that factor into durability?”

Taking a peek at the back of a fabric sample is very enlightening! It can tell you the fiber content of the fabric, country of origin, cleaning codes, and in most cases will provide a durability rating in the form of a Martindale or Wyzenbeek durability rating. In a nutshell, there is a number related to a mechanical abrasion test on each fabric. The higher the number the more durable the fabric (Of course, this all depends on how you treat it! We haven’t found a cat or squirrel-proof fabric to date.).

You’ll notice that the fabric above lists a 15,ooo double rub via the Wyzenbeek method.  Fabrics ranging from 9,000-20,000 are suitable for light to medium duty upholstery, and would work very well on pillows, bedding, or draperies. Low to medium impact residential applications are best for these types of textiles.

The chenille sample above lists a resistance to a whopping 150,000 double rubs! On durability alone, this strong material wins. It can stand up to almost 10 times the traffic compared to the sample above! As a general rule of thumb, 45,000 double rubs and above describe a fabric that can withstand a lot of friction, and may even be suitable for commercial interiors. The challenge when shopping is to find the cloth with a great hand feel coupled with the look and design you’re after.

 

 

Pantone – Color of the Year 2017

GREENERY

PANTONE 15-0343

A refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings.

Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew. Illustrative of flourishing foliage and the lushness of the great outdoors, the fortifying attributes of Greenery signals consumers to take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate.

Greenery is nature’s neutral. The more submerged people are in modern life, the greater their innate craving to immerse themselves in the physical beauty and inherent unity of the natural world. This shift is reflected by the proliferation of all things expressive of Greenery in daily lives through urban planning, architecture, lifestyle and design choices globally. A constant on the periphery, Greenery is now being pulled to the forefront – it is an omnipresent hue around the world.

A life-affirming shade, Greenery is also emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality

The Cost of a Sofa – Part 2

Last week we started a discussion on the reasons for the vast differences in the price of furniture.  The first two points were about wood frame quality and spring quality.  Lets continue and see what other factors affect the cost……

  • What is between you and the springs is important as well.  The fill of the cushions in a quality sofa will be made of high density foam covered in polyester or down padding. Down is the most luxurious choice and can be the most expensive.  A combination of down and high density foam is a good option. Higher density foam will have a heavier feel and provide a long lasting, quality seat that won’t break down as quickly.  A low cost sofa will reveal the use of a lighter weight or less dense and often unwrapped foam.  The cushions will be much lighter and unfortunately lose their shape, sooner rather than later.
  • The upholstery fabric you choose is a very big factor in the price you pay for your sofa. You will find quality furniture pieces covered in beautiful, durable, tightly woven fabrics with a high abrasion factor, 15,000 double rubs or more. Leather, in this case, will be top grain and dyed all the way through, as compared to a cheap sofa covered in low cost bonded leather made from the scraps of hides.  A more expensive sofa will usually offer you many more fabric and custom options.

Higher end furniture (Let’s say $7500 and upwards) will provide you with comfort, fabulous style, impeccable craftsmanship, longevity and a very, very, high price tag. Mid-range furniture ($2500-$6000 for a sofa) will also provide you comfort, style, attention to detail and materials and save you the shock of the price.  Low end furniture ($2000 or less for a sofa) may offer style, function, and economy but could cost us all more in the end.  Affordable at the moment, poorly made furniture will end up in the land fill after filling your living room.

As consumers we do have a choice in where we put our dollars and most of the time you usually do get what you pay for.  Occasionally a high price does not always mean superior quality, or a good brand is fouled by poor store service.  If you do your homework or have a trusty friend who knows furniture, pointing out what to look for before you buy, you’ll be sitting pretty on furniture that you can feel good about.

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The Cost of a Sofa – Part 1

Have you ever wondered what reasons are behind the vast difference in the price of furniture?

The majority of us have a budget and what we want and what we can afford are sometimes worlds apart.  However, most sofas these days are not created equal.

How do you find a happy marriage of both quality and price?  How do you know if it’s quality at all?

It all comes down to craftsmanship and materials.

The difference between well made and poorly constructed furniture……

When a sofa and chair is priced low, there is likely a reason. It usually indicates lower quality materials and craftsmanship.  The quantity of the items produced during manufacturing will also have an effect on the price. It is cheaper to mass produce a product, but this often reduces the quality and will not truly reflect the real cost of a single production. Some furniture manufacturers use an inexpensive wood base covered by several thin layers of better-quality wood veneer. The use of furniture-grade plywood, which is many layers thicker than regular plywood, has become popular over the last ten years.

  • The cheapest type of wood furniture is often made from particle board, thin plywood, press board or fiberboard. These composite materials are made from a combination of wood pulp, plastics, and resin.  You will often get nice styling for the moment, but don’t expect it to last for decades.  Frames made from plywood or particleboard might even be held together with staples, with additional layers of plywood reinforcement.  Being able to wiggle the arms or twist the sofa is not a good sign.
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a NEW sofa in our shop for repairs

  • What’s inside the frame comes next.  A higher quality frame means you can use higher quality, heavier springs like eight-way hand-tied springs, where each spring is connected and secured by very strong twine and will spread out weight evenly.  Less expensive sofas and chairs will have a cheaper spring version and be constructed with just elasticized webbing instead of webbing with springs, or a springy metal coil, thus making the sofa more prone to losing its form and could begin to sag.

We will continue our lesson in “the cost of a sofa” next week!

Morris Chair Restoration

We’ve completed a beautiful restoration of a morris chair in the shop which has gone home to some very happy customers!

Morris chair - before

Morris chair – before

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Morris chair – before

Morris chair - after

Morris chair – after

Morris chair - after

Morris chair – after

Morris chair - after

Morris chair – after

 

10 Reasons Not to Complain About Handmade Prices

Made Urban recently posted an article called “10 reasons not to complain about handmade prices” that covers the reason you should not make remarks about a vendor’s prices being higher than you would like.  It rings true and very accurate for handmade vendors, artists, and yes, small businesses.

http://www.madeurban.com/News/10_reasons_not_to_complain_about_handmade_prices/4220

Since they’ve done all the leg work, let the copy and pasting begin!

“First, let’s thank the millions of people out there who do understand the value of handmade and support those small businesses; you have no idea how much you are appreciated!  Without you, handmade vendors, artists and small businesses couldn’t do what they do and the world would be full of mass produced products.

The people who don’t value handmade or understand why the prices are higher are few and far between, but let’s be honest, almost all of us have come across one of these shoppers at some point. Whether it be a snarky comment at a craft show, an anonymous email through your website or a post on social media, little comments about your prices being too high, aren’t so fun to hear.

I’ve come across comments like this one before and my stomach always sinks for the artist. It’s seemingly a small comment but to the people whose business is being commented on, it feels like a large slap to the face. An amazing vendor had shared their work on a Facebook group, which was a place for handmade vendors to post their work and buyers to browse, ask questions, etc. After one buyer had gone to check out the vendor’s work and saw the prices, they decided to come back and say something. Remarks like “yikes!” “no thanks!” or “ouch” when referencing prices of handmade goods really aren’t necessary…..and here’s why:

1) The business owner will read that comment 

This isn’t a large corporation where people are hired to post on Facebook, answer emails or reply to tweets. That comment you’re making is going to be read by the very person who makes these items. They read every comment. Because they care, they want to improve and in hopes people are saying good things about them.

2) Maybe that’s the intention but realize they’re a person with feelings

If the intention is to comment where they’re sure to read it, realize they have put their heart and soul into their work. They’re working really hard to make their products and get the word out about them so let’s not crush their dreams or cut them, their products or their prices down. Let’s build each other up instead of instilling self-doubt.

3) It’s saying their work’s not good enough for that price

“Wow, I’m not paying that!” after showing interest tells the vendor that you like their work but not enough to pay what they’re charging. You know what they’ll hear? “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”. If it’s something you love but is out of your budget, ask if there are any options in your price range. The artist may be able to make you a smaller version or something similar using different materials; handmade business owners are almost always extremely accommodating.

4) Remember you’ve chosen to shop handmade 

These vendors aren’t posting their work on a “Lowest Prices, Not One of a Kind” group or selling at a Discount Craft Sale, they’re advertising or selling through a handmade forum. We wouldn’t walk into Versace and yell “$500 for a T-shirt?! No way!” (hopefully not anyways). We’ve made the decision to shop at Versace, knowing they charge more than we would normally pay for a T-shirt. So even if we think their prices are ridiculous, commenting on it ends up making us look like the silly one since we came to them, not the other way around.

5) They’re doing the work of an army

They’re most likely one single person doing the work a large company would have multiple departments and a team of people for. They are their own:

  • graphic designer/branding department
  • web developer
  • social media manager
  • product designer
  • pattern drafter
  • manufacturer
  • label and packaging department
  • shipping department
  • marketer
  • sales person
  • accountant
  • etc.

6) They likely already have their own self doubts 

Putting your work out there can be extremely intimidating. They’ve most likely already questioned; whether their work is good enough, if people will like it and if they do, be willing to pay for it, if their business going to make it, etc. So additional comments from a stranger that aren’t uplifting, only adds to the doubt. Nobody needs more stress and doubt in their lives.

7) They’re not trying to take advantage of anyone 

They haven’t slapped something together and said “Man I’m going to bait a lot of suckers into buying this piece of junk for more money than it’s worth.” They’re putting their best work out there in hopes to make enough money to be able to wake up and do it again tomorrow.

8) They’re also not getting rich 

Maybe they do have goals to grow their company and one day make millions of dollars but at this point in the game, they’re working hard to make each sale which, if they’ve priced their products properly, will cover their costs and make a small profit.

9) Not all handmade items are created equally 

Handmade vendors also have varying ways of conducting business so just because one person is selling handmade earrings at $25 doesn’t mean every vendor will sell them for $25. Some may use different materials, be more skilled, use a different process or have built up a brand that allows them to charge more.

10) The choice is yours 

At the end of the day, you absolutely don’t have to agree with what handmade vendors are charging but you also don’t have to buy from them. We hope that potentially hurtful comments can either be made constructively or not at all. The best part about handmade businesses is getting to know the owner. Ask them about their company and you’ll probably get an amazing story behind what goes into their products, how each one is made or where they source their materials. From that, you may grow an understanding as to why they price their products the way they do.”

Well said, Made Urban.  Thank you!

 

The 19th Annual Trevor Brown BBQ

There are so many wonderful things about working for a small family business but the main one has to be that they treat all employees like family.  And Trevor Brown is a family that likes to have fun!

Shop Talk

Shop Talk

The water fight hits new levels

The water fight hits new levels

For 19 years the owners of Trevor Brown have thrown a summer celebration and BBQ for the staff, their family and close friends.  It’s always an amazing time with bocce ball and horseshoe tournaments, epic water fights, delicious food and plenty of laughs.

The chef hard at work

The chef hard at work

Richard & Jury hug it out

Richard & Jury hug it out

We celebrated our 19th BBQ at the end of June and it was a smashing success – as usual!

Keep the change ya filthy animal

Keep the change ya filthy animal

Chow down

Chow down

Murray, one of our favorites

Murray, one of our favorites

Before and After

The most unique and comfortable looking chair graced our shop recently for a recovery and leg repair.  She’s now solid, updated and ready for 20+ more years of service.

Before

Before

After

After