Here at HomeBit, we’re not exactly furniture snobs. We’re no strangers to IKEA, after all. We’ve combed our fair share of estate sales, garage sales and flea markets. We’ve even picked up furniture off the curb. Hey, when the right piece calls to you, a homeowner’s gotta do what a homeowner’s gotta do!
But sadly, a lot of furniture is just not made to last. After a few years of wear-and-tear—and a couple of moves, to boot—it starts looking like the kind of stuff you’d find in a frat house or a dorm. Not fit for a grownup sophisticated home like yours!
Particle board, glued joints and other furniture shortcuts significantly reduce its lifespan. In fact, it’s downright hard to buy good quality furniture at reasonable prices. When can you get by with a cheaper option, and when should you spring for something a little ritzier? What are the best furniture brands for the money?
In truth, it’s all a matter of learning about furniture construction—and being able to tell the difference between a quality piece and a slapdash factory ensemble. Here are five things to look for, for pieces you won’t have to toss in the trash a few years from now.
Cabinets and Drawers That Don’t Make Your Life Miserable
Drawers should be easy to open. That may sound overly simple, but the alignment of drawers is one of the surest tip offs that a piece of furniture is made well. When buying bureaus, cabinets or dressers, test the drawers and doors first. Drawers should open smoothly and shouldn’t slide off the rails. Doors should stay open, not snap shut after you let go of the handle. After all, you don’t have time for these kinds of little nuisances in your life!
Anything with Wood Joinery
Modern furniture manufacturers love to use staples and glue to join pieces together. Sure, this might drive down costs, but it also means those kitchen chairs aren’t destined to seat your family for years to come. Always look at the corners, especially where two pieces of wood come together. Known as joinery, this classic woodworking technique makes for a much sturdier piece—one that will survive babies, board games and Thanksgiving dinners with aplomb.
Pieces with Timeless Styles and Profiles
Remember what you thought was cool 20 years ago? (Here’s a little refresher from Vogue in case you’ve forgotten.) Amazon was just launching. Windows ’95 was the hottest computer OS around. Needless to say, things have changed—not least of all your furniture. Home decor is subject to trends just like fashion, so if you want to buy something you can keep around for a while, go for timeless, understated colors and shapes. Minimalist mid-century modern living room ensembles, classic shaker pieces—anything that’s stood the test of time for a while. And skip the bold color schemes. You can always add a few trendy pillows and throws later to give it a dash of personality!
Upholstery That Won’t Sag
We’ve all had that sinking feeling: you sit down and suddenly realize your knees are way up around your nose! Cheap upholstered furniture goes flat over time, leaving you with a serious case of sagging sofa. To fight it, look for furniture with at least a 1.8 foam density. And don’t be afraid to take it for a little test drive first. Sit down and test the spring. Feel the arms and back with your hands. You’re looking for something with a good bounce, where you don’t feel the frame when you squeeze the arms. Something that will give you a little padding for the years in front of you!
Items from Brands with Great Guarantees
Let’s face it: when it comes to furniture, some brands are just a better buy. If you really want to eschew regret, make sure to research product reviews before buying—and even catch up with the company’s reputation on Consumer Reports. And don’t feel pressured by sales or clearance events. Experts reveal that the prices in big box furniture stores aren’t fixed, meaning that you can usually negotiate a deal if you’re willing to hash it out with the sales team. Additionally, if longevity is truly your endgame, the website Buy Me Once lists brands that are known for their long lifespan or lifetime guarantees. Not having to buy all new furniture for your home every five years? Now that’s worth every minute spent researching!