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The best advice for couch buying success

The best advice for couch buying success

We asked Alex Marie, Christchurch interior designer and owner of design boutique Kit & Caboodle, for some pointers when buying something to park your patootie on. 

Here's seven bits of expert advice on getting the best bang for your buck.

We talked to Stuff about some pointers when buying something to park your patootie on.

Here's seven bits of expert advice on getting the best bang for your buck.

Are all sofa or couch frames created equal? How much thought should we give to the skeleton before making a purchase?

Absolutely not all frames are created equal. When investing in a new sofa it is most important to consider the construction and materials at hand. Always ask what the main carcass timber is, and stay away from frames made of any particleboards, metals or plastic. The best frames are those made from beech, but pine is totally acceptable even though it is a bit softer.

Imported sofas are often repaired on landing in this country to be fit for the New Zealand market and although the prices can be tempting, cheap as chips couches should be avoided as the construction methods are often compromised. Never buy a sofa that is held together by staples, nails or glue alone. A frame connected by dowels, corner blocks, screws and brackets is essential if you want your furniture to last. Weight is really important when considering your purchase. If the sofa is light, it is generally considered to be of inadequate construction.

Do you have any tips on textiles which are hard wearing and perhaps more forgiving of the messes little people can make?

The first thing to consider before all else is how much traffic the sofa will get, and then secondly what your budget is. The amount of fabric used is fixed but the price of fabrics per metre varies hugely as does the longevity of fabrics. Leather is obviously going to last longer than anything else but it can cost up to three times as much as fabric. Choose fabrics with 'high Martindale rub counts' anything over 20000 is preferable. Good fabrics should have a UV rating, this is really important to consider for furniture placement as the NZ sun is harsh and not only fades the fabric quickly but rots it too.

Patterned fabric, or plain?

Pattern is a personal choice and depends on the shape of the sofa and the overall style of the room it is going in.. A neutral coloured sofa is a great option as it gives you flexibility to change your cushions and wall colours periodically, allowing a relatively inexpensive makeover on a whim.

Feathers or foam as a filling? Which is best, and why?

The choice between feathers and foam is totally subjective to the feel, the look and personal comfort. A very contemporary sofa style may be compromised aesthetically with feather inners but the comfort level may be preferable to the client. The benefits of having a sofa made locally is the ability to tailor make to your own specifications which is a service not available on imported products, hence a compromise has to be made. But of course tailor made options come with a higher price.

Is it just us or are couches cheaper to come by than ever? Do you get what you pay for?

Cheap furniture is good in certain situations. It suits a certain market that is price driven. Yes the market is flooded with cheap imports but it is demand driven. Like anything, how you treat your furniture will determine how long your furniture lasts, using it with care and respect will extend its lifetime. Kids jumping up and down is not a good idea.. Sofas and couches are not constructed like a trampoline.

Are all springs created equal?

On low budget items typically there are no springs at all. The frames are all elastic webbed with foam overlay. Springs come in two types, Coil springs and zigzag springs. Coils springs are more expensive to construct with but they will last longer. Webbed sofas are acceptable when working within a specific price bracket.

Are sectionals here to stay?

Definitely! They are fabulous solutions for family living and can double as extra sleeping for apartment living. Sectionals are here to stay, just like furniture made 200 years ago that is still suitable for homes today.

What's the best way to achieve a truly comfy couch?

Always consider personal feeling. Everyone has a different idea about comfort. I recommend that you try before you buy. Bespoke furniture allows the purchaser the ability to consider the comfort levels of all the users as you can govern the making process and choose components that give a desirable outcome for the whole household. It's the best way to achieve the optimum sofa.

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