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The last $100.

Photo from HERE.

"I think most shelter magazines are so boring... Who wants to read someone committing an act of literature about a house, when you want to know, 'What color should I paint my bedroom?'"

These are the words of Stephen Drucker, editor of House Beautiful. You can hear him HERE in this old interview AT posted.

I really like that he mentions, in the text part of that AT interview, hearing this from a designer: "It isn't the first $1000 that makes a room, it's the last $100."

This leads me to a few thoughts/questions:

I need to buy a sofa. (Old news, I know.) In fact, I need to buy a sofa and many other things for my front room. And I went to a store here in Seattle recently to look for lamps and slipper chairs and small tables and all that, and I had a great conversation from the shop owner, but it went down a path that irritates the shit out of me: someone trying to tell me I need a $7000 sofa.

Who pays that much? Only designer-y people. I don't understand how real people plan to retire when they are using after-tax income to spend $7k on a sofa. It's insulting. I am standing in this shop getting a lecture on how Pottery Barn and Restoration and Mitchell Gold are such poor quality. What does this mean? The fabric? Maybe. The construction? Really? Come on. Is a $2,500 sofa really going to fail you? Maybe in the style department. But will it literally fall apart on you? Will the joints come undone?

The annoying part of loving shelter porn and good design is the idea that you just HAVE to pay thousands of dollars for, say, a mohair sofa, or othewise risk being an idiot who doesn't understand quality. It just smells like a racket. When designers don't even ask you what your needs are before they start trying to shame you into spending more, it just sounds to me like the movie theater concession guy trying to upsell me on the large popcorn. Please.

So, maybe that's my first question:

What is NOT worth it? (Certain appliances, upgrades, furniture, a landscape or cleaning service, custom framing, the ubiquitous $3k 48 x 36 abstract oil painting, etc.?)

And the next question, (and on a happier note) let's talk about the last $100 that Mr. Drucker mentions.

Isn't that a lovely thought? That the flowers or the art or the personal item is really what can make your room. (For me, it's my Tivoli radio in the kitchen. I know I should say it's some painting or ceramic bowl or whatever, but no. It's that damn radio. It's handsome in an old-school kind of way, and I love listening to Kai Ryssdal while I chop onions. I am just radio obsessed. And I like looking at it on my kitchen counter. It seems warm and oldie-timey and it just sounds lovely.)

When did you finally spend that "last $100" and think, "Ok.... this room is finally just right." I want to hear about it.


Anonymous said...

Kai is dreamy, no? I'm an NPR whore so I respect your need for a radio in the kitchen.

Sanity Fair said...

I agree - here's why: ANY sofa will fall apart. Not literally, but in the figurative sense - the stains, the damage, that wine glass... You're just destroying something THAT much more expensive. I have nothing against super expensive anything, but I don't believe in pretending that there are no options in the Land of Taste. Not so. Spend those extra thousands on something that WON'T go bust and WILL always have value (a value that doesn't come from managing not to get ink pin all over it for at least 80 years). Art, ceramics, photography, crystal, sterling, jewelry - those will hold value. And they're so much easier to preserve/maintain.

Anonymous said...

I worked for a very famous Parisian interiors and furniture designer who shall remain nameless, his furniture is really, really, REALLY expensive and I happen to know that the mark up is massive, in fact massive doesn't even come close to how I would describe its proportions; gargantuan, colossal, humongous (you get the idea). Suffice to say that you are often paying for the name alone, not necessarily the quality or standards that you would expect such a high price to command.


i try to not spend over $100 on any one thing. not because i'm so morally high and mighty about consumerism, thats just my after tax budget.

I think it might be better to spend money on reupholstering an old sofa frame or chair (or whatever) instead of dropping $2500 on a new one. The quality is typically in the wood and construction. that old growth wood doesn't sway, tweak or sag the way some new sofa's will after a few years of heavy use. If its lasted 50 years it may be worth putting a money into restoring since you know its solid (and it may be more cost effective in the end).

i think anyone can have great style at any budget - oh, and also super terrible style. I've seen some FUGLY $10,000 sofas and $75,000 kitchens.

shelter porn can be depressing. its like comparing your body to a 17 year old super model. Its unrealistic, and that bitch is photoshopped anyway.

You either have time or money. Over time you can accumulate quality items on a budget, or you could just go drop $100,000 on 1st dibs and be done with it.

allthingsrosie said...

Really well put, I totally agree, being a good designer is about having an eye for things, not picking out classic pieces and sticking them in a room, any fool could do that. It's about putting your personality across and that doesn't have to cost money, paint, cushions, frames, unusual bookends this is what makes a room!

Lola Is Beauty said...

I have had an Ikea sofa for 7 years and I really love it. It certainly hasn't fallen apart. It needs re-upholstering as the covers shrink when you wash them and of course Ikea discontinues stuff like that (covers) hoping you'll dump the sofa in landfill and buy a new one. People think I'm a total snob (I would say I just have refined taste!) so not one person has ever guessed that my sofa is from Ikea! How could anyone really identify the price of a sofa unless they'd seen the actual piece before? I'd hate to have that thing of ticking off the designer items - I saw a house like that in Elle Deco recently and it just made me think, these people have no taste of their own. *End rant*

my favorite and my best said...

your radio is awesome. and so was this post. i too get irritated (im sure we all do) when i get the upsell. it is just the salesperson trying to make a buck and hoping you are gullible and naive. just don't be. tell them to F.O. i do.
as for the last 100, for me that would have to be in the pillows and throws. without them my living room is a bland gray, white and beige box.

Jenny said...

Hmm, very good question: what is worth spending $ on and what can be economised on? ('scuse the grammar there).
Probably depends on priorities in life, how you live, eg. whether you entertain a lot or home is your castle, whether you like to make things last or are happy to dispose of stuff regularly.
The way things are in the world at the mo', I hate the idea of chucking stuff out that still works, of not being able to repair but having to just throw away as it's cheaper to replace.
Me, I always like a bargain, but am willing to pay more for pure cotton bed linen (can't sleep on polyester mixes), kitchen appliances (cheap blenders etc just burn out, but you can be lucky, and sometimes the cheap and exy versions are made at the same factory - good independent stores who know their stuff will tell you this inside info). I usually pay a decent amount for saucepans, frying pans, things that I will use very often, but I think I've stuffed up my Scanpan classic frying pan, so maybe I should just go bargain basement.
I am also happy to buy second hand tables, chairs and have got some good stuff that way, cheap. I had a good experience with a cheap mattress (nothing fancy - the most comfy I've ever had). Then I spent up big on a new queen size and it's too hard. Sigh.

As for sofas, I've had my brother's old ones for five years, he had them for about four before me, and they were from one of those cheap shops - two for AUD $500 or somethign like that. The fabric has held up extremely well, if only my kitty would use one leg as a scratchign post, and I'd dry my hair before sitting on one of them. I could probably replace the foam cushions, but can't be bothered.

So there, USD$7000 sofa salesperson.

courtneyandco said...

Okay...I've been reading your blog for about a year now, and have never commented (nor have i commented on any blog i read...a little shy)but i feel compelled by todays questions to do so. First, i am a decorator who is back in the game after closing my retail (children's wear) shop in March. I would never tell a client that a $7000 sofa is necessary, but instead a delightful indulgence that you should go for if you've got the dough and if it will bring you an immense sense of joy, not guilt. There are plenty of great $2-3000ish sofas out there that are very well made and will not disintegrate even when dogs and kids trapse all over them (trust me i know). And Second, my fiddle leaf ficas tree!! we all need a little indoor green!

court. said...

I got decor-shamed last night. I went to visit a new girlfriend's house and saw that her apartment was decorated IMPECCABLY. Accent walls, coordinated furniture, throw pillows....I'm thinking that I've been slaving to DIY copy things I cannot afford in shelter mags and this bitch just went out and bought the Zgallerie showroom. Hers looks so much better.

My question is, when do you let go of your own frugality/pickiness/search for the perfect antique so-and-so so you don't have to pay 7k for a sofa? It's so much easier to sell out and have a nice looking living room.


mlessirard said...

17 years ago I retired and stopped doing high end interior design because I couldn't justify the high end spending.

My sofa is from Thomasville, $3,500 for two pieces (the cushions are not holding up well).

Our last sofa from Century reupholstered & slipcovered 4x's for 20 years til the springs went from kid plopping herself down. My BK&T chairs are still going strong after 20 years (I still love the style)!

Find what's comfortable, well made in a simple timeless style. See if you can find how the frame is constructed. Built here or abroad.

Buy what you love, and feels right for your tush. And for me the room is always undergoing revisioning, just as I am. *smile*

The Glamorous Housewife said...

I think a Pottery Barn couch is an excellent choice in general. They have pretty good quality, neutral colors that will look good for a long time, and the reason their prices are lower then your local furniture maker is because they mass produce.

It is kind of like buying Prada as opposed to J.Crew- At J.Crew you are going to get the same quality of sewing as you are at Prada. The fabric might not be as high end as the Prada, nor will it be one of a kind, but at J.Crew you are going to get pretty good quality fabric that looks good and should last just as long as the Prada- even longer really because the Prada will be 'dated' so much faster.

I purchase 'cheep' furniture for my kids (Ikea, etc) because I know their needs and tastes change quickly. I bought a bunkbed from Ikea for my 7 year old 5 years ago and it is still going strong. So I don't think inexpensive furniture is necessarily always low in quality.

As for what I spend money on, I spend it on electronics like a flat screen TV and items of furniture that I LOVE and might be one of a kind.

Thanks doll,
The Glamorous Housewife

The Pear Tree said...

plants. not expensive, I change them up seasonally and to me they make a room. If you lived on the east coast I'd sell you a sofa for way less than 7000$, and you would probably love it (and it wouldn't be precious). Oh and I do love marketplace, and so many other wonderful talk shows that make me feel sane. radio rocks and it wasn't until I saw your tivoli that it hit me: podcasts just aren't cutting it.

Adam said...

Everyone says buy flowers once a week, which I avoided doing for a long time because I am a silly boy. But I had a come to jesus moment and now I get it. Also, just making a room smell really nice (fig candle = BFF) goes a long way.


susie q said...

I'm all for buying a $7k sofa -- if I can get it 30 years old, for $400 on Craigslist. I'm in total agreement with you. Some of the designer must-haves are total unrealistic for us reals. Big case of emperior having no clothes. Thanks for saying what all of us are thinking.

Kelly Galvin Robson said...

I totally get what you're saying.

But let me say this: my parents bought a sofa, side chair, and ottoman from Restoration Hardware about 10 years ago. Things may have changed since then, but there sofa is a POS. It IS litterally breaking down on them. It squeaks horribly when you sit down (a sign of bad joints) and the upholstry fill is TERRIBLE! Really.

Forget Restoration. That's all I'm sayin'.

Anonymous said...

This is kind of why I became a decorator. I think style is so personal, and you get really personal with the last $100. I don't really believe in $7000 sofas. Of course, I'm young, my clients are generally young and $2000 is still a LOT of money. Especially when every time you turn around you need $1000 more for the next great piece.

I say buy a sofa from Lee Industries. They have a wide range of styles at reasonable prices. The stuff is well made and even eco-friendly. Jayson Home and Garden carries a lot of their stuff, but you can probably find it locally.

Andrea V. said...

Well, of course not everyone can spend 7-10k on a sofa. However, I know people that have, and they have had those pieces for 25 years and re-upholstered them 4x, raised 6 kids and now have grandchildren bouncing on them.

I say: By no means would I push someone into making a decision, but I would definitely express to them the investment vs. throwaway angle. I go round and round with my mother about this all of the time. I think that a great Hickory Chair sofa for 4k is a great investment as well. I'm definitely not a price snob, but I am a stickler for quality and think that a sofa should last more than 5 years. Not everyone agrees with me though!

I have to say that I agree with the lady about MG+BW. I've seen 1st hand some questionable quality being sold for outrageous prices, so I dunno if I think that they are a really great investment. It's not BAD by any means, but IMO, not particularly the great quality that it claims to be.

Anonymous said...

It also seems to me that stores/designers don't take into account the other words if you live in a suburban town house or "track" house a $7K sofa or %75K kitchen do not fit the neighborhood values, etc.
Monica Kelly

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge, huge fan of re-covering a well-made piece. My M.I.L. is an interior designer, so she has taught me the virtues of repurposing extremely well. That being said, she also won't hesitate to drop a boatload of cash on fancy wallpaper or textiles. :) It's the little details. My fav piece in our living room is a tall, thin shelf that my Dad made for my dorm room 10 years ago out of scrap lumber. Still have it, still use it, still looks handmade with love. :)

Laura said...

I am looking for the finishing touches for a couple of my rooms and in each case I'm looking for art. Then I will feel like the room reflects me and isn't missing something. But I'm in no hurry, it has to be something I really like and besides, the search is part of the fun!

I have tried to buy the best quality furniture I can afford. Sometimes what I could afford has been new, sometimes it's vintage off Craigslist. But one of my priorities (and yours may be different) is to not get something disposable.

My suggestion on the sofa is to consider the warranty--there are some out there will really good ones!--and where it's made, if how far something travels is on your list of priorities.

You may also find a really solid, comfy sofa that has good lines on Craigslist and put less than $1K into a nice reupholstery job.

Good luck!

i suwannee said...

i JUST read that quote in HB last night and was marinating on it all morning.

it's hard, trying to be a designer, when you're in charge of picking out all the big pieces -- what you really want to do is be there to 'style' it all once the big pieces are in place.

i want to go around with a $100 budget per room and dress it all up.

but, that's the most intimate part of design. and i don't know if i support paying someone to do that for you...?

Alison said...

I just read this article on the quality and style of Restoration Hardware wares and thought it was interesting:

I like nice things, but I can't even seem to bring myself to buy retail. Why when there's so much great secondhand stuff to be had? Not only are you (a lot of times) getting something quality--solid wood instead of particleboard, etc., you're sort of ensuring your space doesn't look like everyone else's.

As for the last $100 or so, I'd probably spend it on music, some snacks and wine. I associate the spaces where I've lived with memories of living IN them. It really helps me warm up to a room to have some nostalgia of happy times spent in them, if that makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

"Who wants to read someone committing an act of literature about a house?"

Stephen Drucker to Elle Decor: "It's on, bitch."

Anonymous said...

Just FYI to the re-cover advocates: Depending on the length of the sofa and the fabric you pick, reupholstering a sofa can cost $2,000 or more.

I semi-disagree with the quote about the first $1,000 not making a room. Sometimes the first $1,000 (or whatever) can ruin a room.

Have you ever walked into a room with an ugly sofa? Like one of those heinous puffy leather ones with the layered back pillows? You can't fix that kind of abortion with all the cute little $100 tchotckes in the world.

Anonymous said...

Dear Decorno,
There are some basic questions you need to ask when buying upholstered pieces. One, is the frame hardwood that has been aged and kiln dried. It means the wood won't shrink and it is pretty stable. Two, are the corners of the frame doweled and blocked. Again, stability. Three, eight way hand tied coils for support, you don't want those wavy metal pieces under the deck of the sofa. Lift the cushion and feel the deck, can you feel circles or zigzags. Four, the cost of the upholstery material has nothing to do with how durable the material is. It has everything to do with how costly it was to mill and/or it is licensed to a hoity toity name. Pick a fabric that fits your lifestyle. Five, cushion quality, open up that zipper and peek inside. You should see muslin wrapped around either down, feather/down combo, a high quality synthetic or spring down insert. What you choose is all about personal preference. Check the catalog for cushion choices. Hopefully the showroom has variety of cushions for you to sample. You generally want to stick with manufacturers based in the USA, better quality and better warranties. If the manufacturer meets the above baseline quality controls, fits your budget and style sensibility, go for it. BTW, I have the same radio, in black. Set to NPR. Great minds think alike. Denise

Iheartfashion said...

My sofa is an undamaged floor model Moooi from DWR that I bought about 5 years ago for under $2000. It's incredibly well made, upholstered in charcoal wool and came with two "jackets," that button over the back for summer and winter. I would have a hard time justifying $7k for a me, that's a trip to Europe!

Anonymous said...

First, to answer your question about the last $100... Although I am never done with a room, I usually can breathe easier once I get color balance right. My eyes get so bugged if something seems off, so often the thing that makes me feel at peace with a room is a piece of art, pottery, a lamp, a pillow - just something that makes the balance of color seem right to me. Most recently it was a painting I bought for $12 at an antique store that was going out of business, placed over a small table I moved from another room. Ahhhh....

As for sofas - I do think that some sofas are poorly made and fall apart quickly. A good sofa can last a lifetime. My XH and I had a very generous relative who bought us a leather sofa that cost $3500 way back in 1986. It is almost 25 years old and really looks fantastic. Kids have jumped all over it for years and it totally held up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everything Denise says, but: if you want your sofa to have modern, crisp, rectilinear lines, you can't get those with down or feather cushions. You need foam.

jeanine said...

I have heard from quite a few people that the cushions break down in a few years on the Pottery Barn/MG+BW furniture (I believe they are made by the same company) and that is why you wouldn't want to purchase there. I also agree that $7,000 is way too much for a sofa.

Sometimes you can find a local shop with good variety of styles and if you pick through the questionable sofas you might find a well-made gem at a decent price.

I purchased a sofa at a consignment shop while in college for $250 with a camel-back, carved legs, tufting, the works! 7 years later it needs to be recovered and the cushions are dead but the frame is in great shape. If you do go the Craigslist/used route and wind up reupholstering, I would plan on spending around $2000, not including fabric, to have it done well though. That's what the upholsterers doing the best quality work in my area charge anyway.

I think that Lee and Cisco Brothers have decent, well-made pieces though if you are looking for manufacturers to consider. I think they are mid-range in price. Not Pottery Barn but not $7,000.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

My MIL has 2 down sofas that she has had for 30 years. They are slipcovered white and still very comfortable and ageless. I'm sure she paid a kings ransom for them but they still work.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of overpaying:

That radio is handsome as hell, but $150?!

Anonymous said...


When you go to fabric stores, look at the label stapled to the swatches. It is now required to say how much wear and tear the fabric can withstand. It's measured in "rubs"--a more delicate fabric might tolerate, say, 10,000 or 15,000 rubs, while a hearty synthetic blend might be able to take 100,000 rubs. (The number is usually given on the label's flip side.)

The previous commenters are right: Durability is not related to cost. A lot of the cheapest fabrics are the strongest.

Anonymous said...

I love my Bridgewater style sofa from Lee Industries...and it definitely didn't cost anything close to $7000. In fact, it was well below half that price.

Siiri said...

Dear Decorno- I totes agree with you. As a 20something living in downtown Seattle, my whole budget for a room is only $100. So I agree with Mr. Whatshisface when he says that's what matters - it's all I have! And my opinion is that it can be done, I'm doing it! In every room in my rental! I found a great L shaped sectional on Craigslist after searching for 10 months, holding out. It was a custom made linen beauty that I got fo $85, and EVERYONE That comes over gushes over it. the rest of the room is filled with hand-me-downs, thrift store and antique finds, and gifts. And fresh flowers from our yard. you know you've spent "Too Much" when every time you look at the piece, you think, "EFF! I overpaid" or alternatively "I hope they don't spill/ruin that." If you can enjoy the piece without worrying about it, you're good to go!

Anonymous said...

You're snarky; saddle up to a wondefully gay Crate & Barrel employee in the furnishings section. He'll sniff you out because gay guys sense snarkiness. Once you've drummed up a converstaion, before you know it, he'll be telling you when the floor sample sale will be on and when to get there for the best stuff.

Next, take your pick of couches. I used this exact tactic and walked away with a well-made sofa in a fantastic fabric for $800. That was 3 years ago, and the couch hasn't so much as frayed, torn, lost "cush", etc.

I know that Pottery Barn and its ilk get panned as being "big box", but taking a piece from one store and adding it to a few vintage finds and even some well-chosen accessories from dare-I-say-Target can be a look that is uniquely yours.

Oh, and the last $ true. My favorite find after I moved in were vintage ceramics all found on eBay from different sellers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Decorno,
Other anon is right, a good quality foam (wrapped in muslin of course) cushion will definitely work for that clean modern look. Almost all foam cushions will compress over time but some of the better manufacturers will even replace that cushion (at your cost) if they still make that particular piece in the future. Look at sofas in all price ranges, even crappy ones so you know what to avoid, open the cushions, lay on the floor and look under the sofa to see well or badly finished the piece is, flop on it, really road test it, and always ask to see the manufacturers catalog. If they won't show it to you, walk out the door. That book will have all the specs, materials used, options available, etc. I forget to ask, was the cushion on the 7K sofa stuffed with about 3,000 one dollar bills? Because that is only way that pretentious bitch of a sofa could have been worth that much. Love your blog. Denise

Anonymous said...

I love Kai too and I adore your radio (and your blog)!! ~maria

Kelie said...

Oh my gosh, $7000 on a sofa? No way sister. But I will say this: you can buy a custom sofa that is hand made in the US for under $3000, including fabric. Where the hell are you shopping and getting this advice?!?

Also, related to the Pottery Barn / Restoration Hardware question, I can tell you that less than 6 months after a client of mine decided to "not invest" in a custom sofa and go for an off the shelf Pottery Barn instead, the cushions literally broke down (foam was completely flat and feathers poking out through the lining and upholstery!) and the fabric was pilled up like nothing I have ever seen before. It was insane, and yes they replaced it but still - it didn't even last a full year before having to be replaced. I will never order anything upholstered from PB again. I had the same problem with a Restoration Hardware sofa I purchased about 8 years ago for my own house and the cushions were FLAT within 6 months, velvet was all faded and was a total waste of time an money. I ended up giving it to Goodwill within 1 year.

So, the moral of the story is: find a shop or designer who has the resources and knowledge to source a custom sofa from either Cisco Brothers or similar. No Pottery Barn / Restoration Hardware!

Anonymous said...

I spent $10K on my sofa.

After 15+ years of sitting on uncomfortable (Modernica, IKEA), cheaply made (PB), pieces of shit, I smile when I walk in and see its off-white linen gorgeousness and exhale blissfully when my ass hits that Minotti is perfection.

What better place than a bed or a sofa is all im saying.

If you had it, you'd spend it.

As for the last $100 I agree. those are the things that make a room unique and keep it from looking like a Target set.

Decorno said...

(The radio was a gift. :) But worth it. As much as I listen to it, it's wonderful to have something with fantastic sound and no snap, crackle, pop.)

Anonymous said...

"If you had it, you'd spend it."

I have it. I wouldn't spend it.

I looked up Minotti sofas. They are very nice. For $10,000, you get that antiseptically-purified-of-any-character, texture-less, modular, Metropolitan Living look.

I wouldn't recommend one for anyone with children, pets, or visitors who might spill or move suddenly or come into the house with dirt particles on their clothes.

Tommy said...

What's not worth it is hype. If ikat is hot (or Greek keys or mohair or cardboard deer antlers) but someone doesn't really care for it, then totally eschew that. If something doesn't 'go' in a space, then it's so obvious and trendy, and that's sad. It sticks out like a sore thumb, and ironically, ends up looking cheap. That's my rule #1.

The last $100 should be spent at flea markets, antique shops, etsy, and possibly Lowe's for last-minute hardware or quick fixes.

And I love that you're realistic and practical. Thanks!

J.CrewPrada said...

"It is kind of like buying Prada as opposed to J.Crew- At J.Crew you are going to get the same quality of sewing as you are at Prada."

Um... how do you know that? From your extensive experience at the Prada and J.Crew factories? Did you go on purchasing and sourcing trips with the two companies? Made in Italy vs. Made in China/Phillipines, etc? I mean no sarcasm, I am really curious as to why you chose to make that the point of reference in your comment. I definitely am not claiming to know much about furniture construction quality, however, I am pretty well-versed in Italian production. I should preface that I am not a Prada employee nor have I ever been, so there isn't a personal interest here. I should also say that I do personally wear plenty of J.Crew and mean no disrespect to the brand. I understand where your point may have been coming from, but stating that Prada and J.Crew are the same is misleading and frankly, incorrect. Sorry! That's the truth.

Decorno: great post!

Anonymous said...

On the Prada/J Crew front... it's really an item-by-item discussion. J Crew sourced a glitter fabric it used for a clutch they made last year from the same factory that produces the uppers for the glitter Louboutins, so in some cases, the material is totally comparable to Italian luxury. The craftsmanship issue is also a tough call. Some J Crew is made in Italy. And in the case of shoes, not all made in China is bad. A lot of factories are stepping up their game, using imported materials (Italian and other) and manufacturing there with quality that is much improved.

It's kind of silly (maybe racist) to just blindly assume that China can't manufacture as well as Italy. It really depends on what is being manufactured, how experienced that factory is, what materials are being used, and how well trained each workforce is to understand which is producing better quality. If you can control all those factors, then you will get the same quality in either country. This is why certain luxury brands aren't afraid to start moving their production to China because they know if they control all the inputs, they will get good results.

Also, who do you think is sewing those garments in Italy? Little old Italian men? Not often. A lot of immigrant labor is in Italy sewing there to keep costs down.

The most helpful thing for every consumer who wants to buy quality is to check seams on clothes, look for nasty glue on shoes/soles, and take a look at the lining for a small allowance to account for the stretching of a jacket, etc., and then purchase what looks, materially, to be the best constructed garment within his/her budget.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so Lee Industries and Cisco Brothers have gotten compliments. Any other suggestions for good, not-expensive, not-PB/Restoration couches? Oh, and does anyone have experience with Williams Sonoma furniture? There's a sofa there that I love the look of; but if it's crappy, I'll stop dreaming.

raine turner said...

Where should you spend your money?
On what matters to you.
I am rather 'cheap' with some things- furniture is my cheap... the thought of spending a fortune on something that my dogs may 'relieve' themselves on a leg, or red 'whine' all over a white silk sofa is too much for me.
I go for artwork- original- some of it made by myself- somehow I think the artwork will get passed on down in the family and leave a legacy- and the furniture will end up in a landfill.
Having said that- I must post a pic of my sofa on my blog- you will pee yourself! Gold crushed velvet I found at Salvation Army- loved the lines. Got a quote for reupholstery and found the pink fabric I LOVE- and the cost is $5,000-- so I still have a harvest gold crushed velvet sofa and matching loveseat!
ah, the horrors. Now for fun I must post the picture.!
Decorno- you are way to funny!

Val said...

I've heard really good things about Rowe sofas. I have several friends who are still very happy with theirs after many years of use. You'll have to go through a furniture dealer (they don't sell direct), but they are very reasonably priced and seem to be quite well-made. Just Google Rowe+your fair city and see what you come across. I personally still have my first, out-of-the-dorm-room, straight-from-the-thrift-store sofa, but will upgrade eventually...

The last $100 thing is a really refreshing concept. Me like.

Anonymous said...

I remember once Consumers Report did a rating of men's overcoats. It found precisely the same coat at both Brooks Brothers and Sears. Precisely the same fabric, same styling, same stitching, same vendor.

I think the line "You get what you pay for" is only sometimes true. I think the person who came up with it was worrying that he had essentially bought a Sears overcoat and paid a Brooks Brothers price, and was feeling like an idiot.

There's a furniture maker named George Smith that uses, as a marketing gimmick, the claim that George Smith furniture is the best-made furniture on Earth. No documentation to back it up. Just the statement. Then I noticed a popular decorating blog repeating, obediently, that same claim: that George Smith sofas are the best sofas ever made. Had she ever actually seen one? Had she taken one apart to study its insides and its materials and its construction techniques? Had she toured the factory? Had she compared a George Smith sofa's construction with sofas from other makers? She offered no evidence that she'd done any of these things.

Just repeated an advertising slogan as if it were fact and that was that.

And sometimes, that's how reputations get made.

(And sometimes, you do get what you pay for.)

Richie Designs said...

My stupid Target clearance rack throw from Mizrahi in red/hot pink pattern was $15 and fully makes my front room.

matte white pottery collection - flea market finds is pretty damn fun. Nothing over $20

Misc wood type that I've collected over the years makes a great art piece all together big and little pieces give it depth and texture.

I think style evolves over time. unless you pay someone to get it all done quickly for you.

Quatorze said...

Honey, I've been rich and I've been poor and I learned one great truth, quality counts, not price. You want that 7K sofa? Go to an auction of some recently deceased wealthy person's possessions. Figure you are going to put money into a quality reupholstery job and you will find a great, hand made sofa with lumpy cushions in an unfashionable fabric, that everyone else will hate, for pennies. You are buying THE FRAME and then having it redressed to your taste. You will end up with an item which would cost 10K for maybe 3K and it will last forever, and give you lasting pleasure because it will have part of your soul in it, as opposed to just a receipt from a shop.

In answer to your question, I have had great opportunities to buy 18th and 19th century French gilt bronze lighting at cost at a place where I once worked and I love it all, but for $10.00 each I bought, in two widely divergent places, two reproduction cast iron flambeaux and laurel wreath wall ornaments. With some gold size and 22K gold leaf, I tarted up the flame finials and the ribbon motif binding the laurel leaf wreaths and I ended up with a pair of supebly distinctive wall ornaments that set the tone for an entire room, drawing lots of admiring comments.

Quatorze said...

I realized after posting that I forgot to tell you about my sofa, since that was the main point.

I once saw in a Soho NYC shop an iron campaign style sofa for many thousands! One day, while circling the window like a hungry shark, I spotted the frame being delivered by a truck with a local iron monger's address and phone on it. I hustled over there and saw the same frame sitting in the shop. The owner said to me "you draw it and I will make it for you." I grabbed pencil, paper and ruler and quickly sketched my heart's desire. Long and short of it; I paid only $700.00 for an indestructible frame and $1500.00 for very high quality fabric on a year-end sale and down/feather and foam cushions and pillows from a local workroom, laid on a plywood base over the iron cross supports. That sofa is comfortable, elegant, timeless, indestructible and easily recovered for changes in season and mood. Think outside the box and the gods will reward you...

Anonymous said...

Room & Board.

Well made. Excellent materials. Classic designs that won't date. Lovely customer service. Decent prices.

It's adult furniture, but committing to it isn't painful.

Anonymous said...

I love my PB basic sofa w/white slipcover. I lusted after it for years. When the last kid left home I got it. I've had it for 2 years now and it looks brand new. It wasn't until I started reading design blogs that I found out it was looked upon by designers as cheap. Well I don't care what anyone says. Hardwood floors, sunlight, a white sofa and a vase a fresh flowers is all I need.

big boy said...

There is an ass for every seat. This applies to overpriced sofas, cars, motorcycles, etc.....

David said...

I think sofas are the single hardest thing to buy.

Barbara Barry designed a frame for Baker that I love and a friend owns. Tailored, well-proportioned, supremely comfortable, and covered in gunmetal silk about 13K. That's simply not possible for me.

The next time I need a sofa I'm looking for a simple 60s or 70s Hendredon from an estate sale/auction/craigslist. Then I'm spending the money on fabric and a great upholsterer.

My last 100 goes to art, pottery, and glass, usually from an auction. I disagree about custom framing though, I think it's totally worth the expense.

Suzy said...

Um, can I just say from a designer who as also worked for fabric and furniture companies, that NO, you don't NEED a $7500 sofa. BUT there is a HUGE difference. You get what you pay for. And YES it may well fall apart. So may the fabric.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I have a MG+BW sofa that's going strong. For serious. It's good shit.

Anonymous said...

@J.CrewPrada - I have been an employee of Prada and have had plenty of their clothes fall apart on me! Most Prada customers have billions of clothes and only wear a piece a few times. But when you work for the company you have to wear their clothes all the time so it's kind of like a fashion durability test. Sometimes it can be explained - such as they were experimenting with some kind of innovative fabric like when the heels of my resin heeled shoes crumbled. Also, yes it's true there was an expose in Italy that filmed luxury brands using the very same Chinese immigrant labour to make their bags etc that were manufacturing the fakes. Prada was one of the worst offenders. And I know nothing about J. Crew!


Anonymous said...

"You're snarky; saddle up to a wondefully gay Crate & Barrel employee in the furnishings section. He'll sniff you out because gay guys sense snarkiness. Once you've drummed up a converstaion, before you know it, he'll be telling you when the floor sample sale will be on and when to get there for the best stuff."

Hand to the heavens, that is pretty much how I ended up with both my family room couch and my dining room table and chairs. C&B works for mein terms of price vs. quality. In the FR, we have the 'man couch' Huntington in a slipcover. We live HARD on that sofa, (DH and Kid eat on it, play on it, sleep on it, etc.)...replaced the slipcovers once and the entire set of cushions once in about 5 years. The frame is still a thing of beauty. Love the custom sale happening right now because it also covers custom slipcovers.

Anonymous said...

Very happy with Cisco Brothers, bought two sofas from them. One company that I have always been intrigued by is John Charles Designs in Buena Park, California. I heard they make a nice product but I'm not sure of their pricing. Maybe they are comparable to Cisco?

Just read they were acquired by American Leather about a year ago, don't know what that means.

Anonymous said...

I save up for a long time to buy special pieces - like a saarinen womb chair and BDDW mirror and tripod lamp. But then I buy an inexpensive sofa and area rugs - things that will get lots of wear and tear that I would not be able to afford to replace if they were expensive items. Right now I am struggling to select items for a child friendly house. I see these mag. articles about "child friendly" homes where there are white rugs, white sofas, delicate tables and fragile items all over the place and I think how unrealistic that is for the average person who would not be able to afford to replace the item if it was damaged. So I think you have to pick and choose your moments for more expensive items. I would never pay $7,000 for a sofa - you can find much less expensive sofas that look and feel just as good. Put your money into a special item that will really make the space. I also agree that flowers really make a room come alive. Look at the cover of Elle Decor Sept. Take away those purple flowers and the room loses it's fresh appeal and focal point. Flowers are expensive too so I buy fake flowers (the best quality that I can find - they look amazingly real) and have them interspersed with real flowers.

Reggie said...

OK so I'm going to be a contrarian here. While I agree that upselling is a tedious practice when the product doesn't justify the price, I firmly believe that you "get what you pay for" in many (not all certainly, but most) cases...when buying with a knowledgeable and discerning eye. The key here is being informed about what it is you are buying. That includes the specifics of the piece, and what the market price is for such a piece. So whether it be a painting, sofa, flat-screen television, or towels, etc., etc., the key is to be a smart shopper. One of my sofas was free (a decorator friend gave it to me), probably from the 1920s, and cost me around $2k when I had it reupholstered after many years, and I love it. I also love another sofa that cost me around $7k to buy and upholster ten years ago, but it was a bargain at that price since it is a fine early 19th century Massachusetts North Shore sheraton sofa with a museum quality upholstery job...and will be a cherished sofa in someone else's house another 200 years from now. So, the issue you raise in your posting in my mind relates to over-spending when quality doesn't justify the price, which none of us wish to be guilty of I believe. The moral: buy intelligently within your budget and abilities, and eschew that which is over-priced. As to the last $100? An amusing and pretty bibleot or trinket that delights the eye but doesn't scortch the pocketbook. That and flowers...

Lisa said...

I collect antiques, and to me, machine-made upholstered furniture is just the crap you have to have for watching TV. It's never going to be as special as a one-of-a-kind, hand-made piece, and only a VERY few sofas are really "investments" -- i.e. you can re-sell them for what you paid.

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy your blog posts. However, your latest post got the blood flowing this morning. Here's the deal: If you want a couch made in Vietnam, China or wherever Ikea makes sofas there are lots of options between $500 - $2500. Some of these are more or less well made and some are not. Some use solid wood and some use particle board. Some use screws and some use traditional jointery and glue. There is such a variety of quality out there that unless you have hard information it is difficult to know how well the sofa is made. I don't believe an Ikea couch will last 30 years. A good sofa - meaning constructed the correct way with solid wood and high quality suspension will last that long or longer. Its a personal choice about your budget of course and everyone has to make that call. But in regard to your outrageous $7000 sofa, here is why, in very nuts and bolts terms: If I make a sofa custom made and in the USA, it is also going to be a green or sustainable product as well as lasting a life time. There is no way I can produce a sofa for under about $1500 including frame, suspension and upholstery labor. Add materials - about 20 yards for a good size sofa - and at a modest $40 a yard you have another $800. Now the cost of the unit is $2300. That is my manufacturing cost. Add 25- 30% for mark up and you have a wholesale number of at least $2875. You figure retail doubles at least the wholesale cost and has to add in shipping and now you have a retail cost of about $6000. Not too far off your number that you thought was outrageous. I understand that not everyone can afford a $6000 sofa, but if you want one made of the highest quality, you want it made in the US and you want it to be sustainable, that is what it costs. This is not a rip off or a scam. This is how US manufacturers have to charge in order to survive. Otherwise all of our manufacturing will be gone. You will not have a choice of anything to buy that is made in this country. This is the challenge I face every day in educating my clients. This is the challenge I face in trying to sell next to cheap imports. I pay my workers a decent wage and they get healthcare. As a consumer you have all the choices in the world.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:53 AM--I had no doubt that the $7,000 figure could be broken down into individual costs. That still doesn't make $7,000 a credible price when weighed against all the individual experience out there to the contrary: people getting great satisfaction from sofas costing half that and less. (And no, I don't believe all those people are slobs with no taste.)

(Keep waiting for couchseattle to weigh in here, by the way...)

Maura said...

My friend bought a couch from Cisco Brothers, I think like 10 years ago? And I still find it amazing. They have really chic pieces.

home before dark said...

The $100 question: books. We have my husband's grandparent's sofa. It's from the 40's I think. My mother-in-law had it reupholstered in the 70s. The fabric has faded and I threw some fabric over it 10 years ago, in a loose upholstered, slip covered way and it still looks great. On the other hand, I bought two Hancock and Moore leather chairs last years for over $4000 and the seats look like I have cast impressions of my husband's and my butts. I'm now told that the better the leather, the bigger the butt impressions. They call it puddling. I call it POS!

Anonymous said...

Reggie, what does " a museum quality upholstery job" mean? Super-fancy or super-tough?

Anonymous said...

Our sofa was a lucky craiglist score. The dear woman selling it was downisizing after owning it for two years. She liked me and sold it for $200. I found her original receipt in the cushion $1700. Nothing fancy but sturdy & well made I can use slipcovers from ballards & pottery barn to fit it.
(I already had 1 set). Would I have paid $1700? No. I would have settled for ikea. But, most of my stuff is some- thing that has a little history to it. Even if I buy something new it usually looks old. I want my home to be comfortable and I don't want anyone to have to wonder about how much i spent on something.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Kai and Marketplace. And Radio. And this post (so right on re: a $7K sofa and other excessively expensive home furnishings and design).

Anonymous said...

I was decorating my house with the help of a local designer. She tried to convince me of the merits of the $7K sofa (back in 2004) by saying that my husband would need it because he was tall. Not NBA tall or anything - he's 6'1" When I told her I would rather look around at Macy's or PB etc., and could I pay her hourly for design consulting, she never called me back. I bought a beuatiful leather sofa at Macy's and spent the remaining $4,500 on good window coverings and replacing the vanity in my 1/2 bath. My only splurge was a $900 copper faucet that I still love. Take that, snobby-desinger-lady.

Lynn said...

I'm surprised no one has mentioned this yet... but you can buy a "$7,000" sofa for *much* less by doing your research and buying direct from North Carolina. I went to ABC Carpet & Home in NYC last summer, spotted the couch I love, figured out it was made by Lee Industries. In the same trip, found two leather chairs and ottoman that coincidentally were also Lee. I took pictures, did research online, and found a vendor in NC. I got all 4 pieces including shipping to CA for around $6,000. If I'd paid retail, they'd have been $10,000. This is an estimate because the couch in the store was covered in muslin (Grade A) for $3,500 and what I got was Grade GG (yes, that's a Double G) - so I can imagine that would have been at least $2,000 extra. It's almost like I paid retail for the chairs and ottoman and got the couch for free.

[Side note... I should share my lesson-learned for those of you customizing your own sofa... Don't buy the Grade GG or whatever reversible linen. It's gorgeous, but feels cool/cold to the touch all the time -- not cozy for a couch! I have to sit on a blanket instead of the couch directly. Total bummer.]

Susan said...

I have purchased a number of sofas in the last 33+ years. The BEST one was custom made--purchased about 4 years ago at a cost of approximately $3500-4000. It is one fine sofa--slip covered in linen--down cushions which are wrapped or whatever you call it. It is a wonderful piece.

Sixteen years ago we purchased a Baker sofa. It is still going strong also. Very good quality. The fabric is becoming somewhat faded, but not bad--just dated. It is a keeper.

I bought a sofa for our gameroom made by a local company--it was a disaster. I gave it after one year to our son and his wife as a stopgap for them. They kept it for two years and then dumped it. I don't blame them. The cushions were never right.

I have a slipcovered sofa from Quatrine---I've had it about 4 years. So far so good--but it's not as good as the custom made one.

$7,000 sounds way too expensive.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I'm saying that if you can afford a $7,000 sofa you either 1) have no children in your home, 2) have a formal living room and we're not talking about the sofa that you and your kids are going to plop down on with some popcorn and watch a movie or 3) you ARE willing to let your kids get within 5 feet of it and you have so much money that it really won't bother you if they ruin it and you have to pay to get it re-upholstered or buy a new one.

I fall into none of those 3 categories. I bought my sofa at a local furniture store 5 years ago. It's a La-z-boy. Do not laugh -- it is not tacky or horrible looking. Very clean lines. GREAT neutral (easy-to-clean) fabric. I am quite sure that even now that I have a baby, it will last us at least another 2-3 years. And I promise I'm not going to throw it in a landfill when I'm finished with it, so don't go and get all worked up -- I'll bring it to the Salavation Army where someone will LOVE to find it.

People keep talking about how you "pay for quality." While I'm sure that's true, my sofa cost (with tax) about $1,200. Okay, so maybe I have to buy 3 sofas over the course of 20-25 years. I figure I'm still in it for FAR less than SEVEN GRAND???!!!!!! Plus, I don't care how "classic" a piece you buy, I KNOW I will want to look at a new sofa sooner than 20 years, even if I bought one that would last that long. So there.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, if a woman wears head to toe Chanel we call her a fashion victim, but if a designer uses a full house of Nancy Corzine's furniture we put it in a magazine? Lame! Fashion and interior design have this in common: it's all about personal panache. Go for a walk in NYC and you will see so many kids on the streets who combine their H&M and Forever 21 goodies and look damn FAB. Same with interiors. Its all about how you combine things, not how much they cost.

I have had disastrous experiences working with one particular designer who was nothing short of a BITCH. He told me couches cost $20,000!!!!! Is he F-N crazy? (This is the guy who did a whole apartment from NC's showroom.) Bottom line: it's just a tad too easy to think money can buy taste and style. Looking a little bit harder is often worth it.
I wrote a whole post about this jerk on my blog

My last 100.... Stuff from Home Goods, usually vases.

JoAnn said...

I can attest to the poor quality of Pottery Barn upholstered furniture. Fabric and structure are POOR quality. My sofa and chair were only 2 years old and I had to have all of the cushion edges re-sewn. At my expense! The pieces still look like hell, but replacement is not in the current budget.

Having a good piece of furniture re-upholstered is always an option, but it is VERY EXPENSIVE!

Anonymous said...

Off topic here, but must know: do you know who did the nudes in the photo? Thanks.

Decorno said...

Francine Turk.

sarah p. said...

whoever said they were waiting for 'couchseattle' to chime in, i would also like to hear from them.

i was in their showroom a few weeks ago and the owner was telling me how they take the designs of other manufacturers sofas/chairs and have mexican laborers make them down in tijuana using the tear sheets taken from other vendors. i was shocked, and promptly left the store. their entire store is based on poaching from other companies!

i realize that a sofa is a pretty basic shape, but when you hear and see that this company directly steals designs from other manufacturers without doing any of the designs themselves, and then sells the product at a huge discount (hello, made in tijuana) it just feels dirty and wrong. and like stealing. because it is.

raine turner said...

I had to link this comment to my blog- sooo in-line with what is happening in these times and about time some of this stuff was 'exposed'.... A house is so much more interesting when there is an 'investment piece or an inherited piece' mixed with tag stores, big box and yes even Ikea.
Hope you don't mind- if you do please let me know and I will remove the link.

Anonymous said...

I was so proud of myself for not commenting on Donna -moved on to other blogs blah blah blah.

$7000 couches are for people who purchase on a payment plan or people looking to get a better blowjob than the old engagement ring hummer.

They are for people who do that 'relative percentage of spending' crap - house cost $2.5mm, so I don't want a $600 saddlebag couch as the centerpiece.

My best cheap purchase was Flor tile. The bedroom had an inoffensive beige persian rug that gave off on of those 'Silence of The Lambs tuck-in-your-junk-and-pose' vibes.

I moved the rug out, threw down some of the tiles, and they make the room just a little more butch - but not too butch. I no longer feel the urge to drape plastic ivy over the window. That was a good investment.

decoratrix said...

I'm an interiors stylist. I never buy retail but that's not because I'm overwhelmed with discounts- I still can't afford the $7000 sofa even with designer discount. But I don't mind. I just can't see the point of buying anything new when there are fabulous well-made sofas, chairs etc to be had at auctions and flea markets.
And I've never actually paid more than $1100 for anything in my house and it's been featured in several magazines and a book. It's not about money, is it?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:20 is SMART!

Also going to go "anonymous" so I don't get laughed out of's! I've bought all my couches/sofas/club chairs here. They are well made, they last forever and IF you WERE to have a problem, they would return/exchange without a problem. The things I've bought have very clean/basic lines, I didn't want the focus to be on the furniture. And also like 3:20 said, I DO NOT want to still be looking at the same damn sofa in 20 years anyways!

Ben said...

Frankly, everything is marked up. Maybe even to a proportionately similar degree. We got a sofa on sale, originally costing about $7,000, at about 75 percent off. The sofa wasn't worth its full price -- but we genuinely appreciate its quality.

Pook said...

My PB sectional is a piece of crap. It's sagging and not comfortable anymore. Not sure I'd pay $7000 next time but I would like something better quality.

smith said...

also, jeanine above recommended cisco brothers are makers of mid-range sofas - and i think she is wrong there. unless 7k is the new midrange - because the cisco sofas (some of which are lovely and all of which are quite eco friendly apparently) are about 6k-8k. i think furniture is probably a lot like clothing - you are paying a premium when you buy a 'designer' sofa not just because it is well made (which i agree can feel like a load of hype - how can you really tell which sofa is any better made than another within reason?) but you are paying for the design. everyone should obviously buy /choose what falls within his or her budget, but without the b and b italias and vitras of the world, crate and barrell and ikea wouldnt have any idea what designs to rip off! just the same way that h and m and j crew reinterpret runway trends/ designs from creative geniuses like muiccia prada or rick owens for the masses. i think that diy is amazing and great but i also think that sometimes brilliant design is worth paying for.

Anonymous said...

wow I couldn't agree more. i wish i was home early enough to hear kai while i chop anything. advertising sucks in this way. also i always imagined him hot. wish I hadn't clicked on that darn link! ;)

terre said...

sorry boo, but this is about my love for kai...i have A HUGE CRUSH on him. when he mentioned that he was married my world shattered...oh well. so it goes.

compulsively compiled said...

I honestly hate to tell you all this for risk of being made fun of but, I have to. I have a white Ikea Ektorp sofa that is 5 years old. It can be purchased for $799 right now with the "new lower prices". I have 4 children and a husband. While we(well the kids anyway) don't eat on the couch, we aren't gentle with it at all. We sit on the arms, we plop down & sprawl out. It's our main piece. Other than the fact that the slipcover shrunk when I washed it and chose not to follow the care instructions, it is still fan-freakin-tastic. I plan to buy another soon for our loft. Call me crazy, if you want but I have too many other things on my wish/want/need list to spend lots on a sofa when this one is doing so well.

Anonymous said...

You got me at mohair. Just love it.

I have antique and vintage sofas and chairs, and after I got a bid from an upholsterer I figured I could learn how for the price of the labor. I took classes at the VocTech, bought mohair on eBay and DIY.

A good upholstery job is worth every penny.


Reggie said...

Anon 8:52 -- In the case of my sofa, a "museum quality upholstery job" means neither "super fancy" or "super tough", rather that the upholstery job is period-accurate to the sofa (i.e., horse-hair stuffing, tacks vs. staples, etc.) and very well done. Ten years later it is holding up very well indeed.

So here's another take on this topic: If spending $7,000 on a sofa is offensive to you, for whatever reason, then don't buy a $7,000 sofa. But don't excoriate those who do. Its like buying a car: on one level its only transportation and therefore why buy anything other than a used Kia that can get you where you need to go? Does that mean only an idiot would buy a new Mercedes? Sometimes buying a better car than a used Kia might give the driver pleasure. If that driver can afford it, what's the crime? What's the crime in a $7,000 sofa, I ask?

Julia said...

13 years ago I bought a velvet covered sofa and chair from Pottery Barn, they are still in one of my rooms and doing great. They were actually made by Bernhardt and sold through PB.

They've been through three kids and two dogs with every day use. I do have to say at this point I want to recover them, but otherwise they're great.

My last $100, that's a tough one. My rooms are always evolving, I don't know if they are really ever finished except for rooms we don't use much like the guest room. I'm always moving furniture and repurposing things in the house.

My last $100 purchase that I was most pleased with was a small Jennifer Shears oil painting from Etsy.

slag said...

re the last $100:
My used chandelier that I put up in the bedroom. Found it at a low-end antique store for $100 on sale, and when I put it up, magic happened.

That $100 chandelier really tied the room together.

(...I hope no one pees on it.)

Patience said...

Last 100 bucks? A light fixture or lampshade. Rejuvenation Lighting (NOT to be confused with that "hardware" store with a similar name)has some incredible fixtures and glass shades and the quality is outstanding. Everything is custom made to order re: finish, length. I've been putting their fixtures in my house one by one since we started renovating 7 years ago and I have no problem with bare wires hanging from the ceiling while each room waits its turn.

Anonymous said...

Reggie wote: "Does that mean only an idiot would buy a new Mercedes?"

No. But only an idiot would buy a Hummer.

So if you're trying to argue that there's no such thing as overspending, or that all big-ticket items are worth it, I disagree.

In any case, the question is about NEW $7,000 sofas, not antiques, which have their own, very different valuation criteria, that have nothing to do with things like ability to stand up to children and pets, etc. No one disses an antique for being fragile.

Anonymous said...

"This company directly steals designs from other manufacturers without doing any of the designs themselves, and then sells the product at a huge discount (hello, made in tijuana) it just feels dirty and wrong. and like stealing."

I guess. But then I wonder if those ripped-off designs from Renovation Hardware and Crate & Barrel, etc. are really "original" and not themselves ripoffs of older designs.

Very, very little is wholly original when it comes to furniture design. I see so many Room & Board chairs and sofas that look almost identical to mid-century pieces by Dunbar, for example.

Iheartfashion said...

As for the last $100: art, books or flowers. I'd pick up a small drawing, painting or etching at an art school sale and have it framed for under $100, or buy a beautiful book like Iris Apfel's Rare Bird of Fashion that I'll look at again and again, along with a big bunch of flowers from Whole Foods plunked in a plain glass vase or jar.

Anonymous said...

" inoffensive beige persian rug that gave off on of those 'Silence of The Lambs tuck-in-your-junk-and-pose' vibes."

That is some 'inoffensive beige rug'!!!

Up Mama's Wall said...

I just need to give you a huge hallelujah on dissing the very notion of the $7k couch. And, no, the $2k one is not going to fall apart on you. No way. No how.

I spent the last $100 on bright pink Moroccan glasses with gold designs on them. They are on my lawyers bookshelf holding flowers and bringing out the color of the pouf. They make me exceedingly happy.

akimbo said...

I bought a loveseat from a thrift store for $10.00. It was missing a leg and a seat cushion. I let it sit (on end) in a storage unit for another 3-4 years (during which time time it got torqued and twisted) and then took it to my now favorite upholsterer. I supplied the fabric ($60.00 worth) and he worked his magic, straightening it out, making new seat cushions, and upholstering it. $300 worth of his time and materials later and I had a fabulous loveseat that I kept for 8 years, and has still been going strong in a friend's daughter's room for the last three years. If I had room for it I would still have it. I strongly recommend finding a good piece (good frame and shape you like) at a thrift/consignment store and redoing it. You will get a custom piece with good bones for a much better price, and it will reflect your style and taste.

Good luck and have fun making something unique for yourself!

sarah p. said...

anon @ 12:53: you're right, most designs are inspired by designs that have come before them, especially when it comes to a basic form like a sofa frame.

the rub with companies who blatantly steal designs from other companies and then profit from it is simple: it is wrong (and illegal) to copy someone else's design exactly and use it for your own profit. yes, be inspired by other designs, use elements and ideas that work well - but at least have the gumption to create your own design if you are manufacturing a product.

the guy who owns couchseattle has zero background in furniture manufacturing or design, he simply saw a market for inexpensive furniture with good design and jumped on it. he is very open about the fact that his designs are based on other companies products and none are original to his company.

also, i wonder if he will be around in 2 years when all of his cheaply made knock-offs will begin to fall apart.

Anonymous said...

Dear Decorno,

I can tell you this - my daughter bought a sofa and two chairs, quite traditional, and the brand was Lee and 20 years later they are still amazing! The construction has totally held up and I don't think they were any more than that time's equivalent of $2000 to $2500 -

However, that said, would I want a George Smith sofa if I could afford one? Well, maybe...

Said with a smile.

Suzanne on St. Simons

Anonymous said...


I hear you.

I just wonder about that very common assumption that all knockoffs and reproductions are inferior in workmanship and materials. How do we know this?

sarah p. said...

i think we can assume that these companies who steal from others to create a business for themselves are not overly concerned with quality craftsmanship, quality materials, or ultimately a product that will stand the test of time. a company who is invested in creating a good product will not steal from others to profit from the work/design/research that others have done.

i am posing this as a blanket statement because i believe that if a manufacturer has the balls to steal designs outright from another company, they are most likely not the most reputable company to be dealing with.

Anonymous said...

Last $100 consistently is spent on throw pillows. Example: I have had the same color (dark brown) slipcovered sofa in my FR for over 5 years (C&B Huntley..not Huntington, as I mispoke, aka 'the man couch' here again). Whenever the room needs new punch, it is off to the store for some new throw pillows. The look has gone from cottage, to transitional to casual sophisticate...all on 3-5 throw pillows at a time.

Anonymous said...

It's not that clear-cut. DWR makes the authorized, Herman Miller version of the George Nelson bench, for example, but for years, DWR also sold of Barcelona chair reproductions for thousands less than the authorized $5,000 Knoll versions.

Or look at Modernica. They make Eames chair knockoffs, but they also make the official George Nelson bubble lamps, in accordance with "the original specifications using the original Howard Miller tooling." So Modernica makes both authorized and unauthorized versions of designs. Is the company "disreputable" or "reputable"? Maybe "partly reputable"?

Widdicomb has made unauthorized versions of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture. Widdicomb was also one of the oldest and very best furniture manufacturers in the country.

Blanket statements aren't going to cover this complex situation. If you want to take a moral stand against knockoffs, go for it. But saying that all knockoffs are inferior in quality is wishful thinking.

Kwana said...

I've been away for a while but this post made me smile so much. Thanks D for keeping it real. No shame in that.

sarah p. said...

anon 10:13

if couchseattle turns out to be the next DWR, Modernica, or Widdicomb i will eat my words. we shall see. said...

Sarah P. You're full of shit and haven't been in the store. If you had you'd know my sofas are 100% LOS FUCKING ANGELES production. Legal workforce- living wage- and pleasant, high ceilinged, well ventilated plants I've been to myself. I'm using equal frame construction and MORE expensive leathers and high resiliency foam than CB and Pottery barn and have been in business over a year without a single return. My marketing is aggressive. I do in fact borrow designs from all over the place, (which is absolutely par for the course in furniture land) but my build quality is FUCKING great and if you actually came in the store and sat on sofas instead of flat making shit up you'd see that. Tijuana????? where the fuck did you even get that? said...

Furthermore NOT REMOTELY all my designs are replicas. If a customer wants a model from CB in a size they don't make or a fabric they don't offer- the answer is yes, I'll do it. However there's 150 designs in my catalog that are 100% COUCH exclusive that can't be had at one other store in the city. And of the 17 floor models I've got is exactly ONE replica. So Sarah P-- question for you. Are you a competitor who is getting knocked over the head with my LA built hardwood frames?? said...

This'll be my last hundred bucks on the topic but I'm feeling fantastically furious that I've been presented as a guy selling plastic wallets emblazoned with an LV. This Labor day weekend I sold six pieces-- and here's how they break down.

1) Wonderfully friendly couple from Crown Hill come in and need a sectional that's EXACTLY 105"x85". They like the look of the Seabury from Pottery and the Avanti from Ethan-- which are remarkably similar sofas except the Seabury is a two over two and the Avanti is a three cushion. On a transitional frame like this it's customary to have a pitch,or angle, to the outside back- which is why the Seabury is 41" deep and the Avanti is 40" deep. This friendly couple REALLY needed to minimize the depth of the sofa so it wouldn't come too close to the fireplace on the long side. So I suggested we remove the pitch to the outside back while maintaining an angle inside the back, and that way we could do the frame at only 38" deep. Shaved a couple inches from the outside dimension while maintaining close to the same butt-room as a deeper sofa. This takes a little bit of knowledge to sell and a FAIR bit of know-how on the shop floor to fabricate properly- especially for a one off. So far as I know I'm the only store outside the design center that would have touched the project. And chances are anyone in there who would take it on would charge the cost of a civic.

2) On my floor is a chair with a Moustache top upholstered in a rich butterscotch top grain leather. It's a COUCH original and can't be had at another retailer anywhere in the country. The friendly woman who bought the sectional said it "was like a chair she saw in her dreams" Sold. Original design- american build, Italian leather.

3) Another customer came in and needed a sofa and two chairs. The sofa she picked was my Damiano model. Damiano is most comparable to CB's popular mid century inspired Petrie model. Except Damiano has 4" wide arms instead of Petrie's 3"- which I think are too skinny to lay your arm on. And Damiano doesn't have a tufted seat like the Petrie. And Damiano has a rather complex wood base that goes all the way around the sofa which updates the mid century profile tremendously.
4)The same woman also liked my moustache top chair- but thought the parisian arms on it were too bulbous. So I went through 1st dibs with her and found sleeker, but period appropriate arms. Cost for a FULL custom chair like this-- $1180. Again, I don't know another retailer at REMOTELY my pricepoint who will offer that level of custom work and stand behind it.
5)The same woman needed a second chair. We settled on a piece (again original) with exposed wood arms and decided to go with a pattern for this one. Luckily the woman had her paint colors with her so we spent roughly 90 minutes going through different fabrics with the Pratt educated interior designer I brought on to make sure the sofa, chairs, and paint would all look good together.
6) Woman from Magnolia lives in one of those townhouses where the builder was lazy and made the ceiling too low on the stairs. No way we could fit a sofa any longer than 76" up the stairs- and she wanted a sofa she could lay on which you can't at that length. The solution was to build her a sofa in two 46" pieces that connect in the middle using a stainless steel mechanism. Who else offers that???

So exactly zero of the sofas I sold this weekend were knock-offs- The sectional, the split sofa, and the custom arm moustache top chair are things NOONE else at a mass market pricepoint can touch. The reason I'm surviving while the rest of Western ave seems to be fizzling out is because I know more about sofa design and construction and can offer more custom solutions than any other store in the city and stay open longer hours than any store in my street. I run an above board business all the way (notice the curious lack of bad reviews for these supposedly inferior sofas online) and can give anyone who asks 100 references they can feel free to call at random.

jeanine said...

@ smith. The Cisco Bros furniture could be priced differently depending on the style and size and perhaps even who is selling/marking them up but about 2 years ago I saw some love seats selling for about $1800 to $2000 in a shop in New England. I think it was a sale but based upon those prices for a love seat I figured about $3500 for a sofa.

If you are looking at showroom or ABC pricing they will certainly be more expensive. I saw them in a little antique/design shop on a side street in Portsmouth, NH that seemed to have generally great prices (like mid-century sideboards in excellent condition for around $400 that would sell for probably 4 times that in Boston).

Anonymous said...

"if couchseattle turns out to be the next DWR, Modernica, or Widdicomb i will eat my words. we shall see."

But you could say that about ANY new company. "We shall see"? It's such a lazy way to defame a company while offering no evidence to back up the implied slur.

And what about period reproductions? Jonathan Adler's Chinese Chippendale chairs are PRECISE replicas of vintage Chinese Chippendale chairs that have been around for decades. What about Louis XV chairs, or Queen Anne chairs? Good manufacturers PRIDE themselves on measuring originals and using all the originals' proportions. Are they "disreputable"?

Anonymous said...

This guy's language alone is a turn off.

Anonymous said...


If you go to ANY upholsterer and hand him a photograph of, say, a Pottery Barn sofa with all the dimensions written on it, I guarantee that he won't hesitate to fabricate an exact reproduction for you.

ita darling. said...

I know that re-upholstery prices have to range from region to region in the country.. a lot of people decry the excessive cost in re-upholstery- but here's my thoughts..

I just got a sofa re-upholstered. I made a simple project sheet with a photo, dimensions and a list of things I wanted done to it (convert it from a 3 up/3 down to a 2 up/ 1 down, new foam etc.) I put a posting up on Facebook asking for recommendations, got about 6... then looked up some reviews on yelp, citisearch etc, and then went and "shopped" my project around getting quotes- even going so far as to find the wholesale foam distributor and getting my OWN quote on new foam so I knew exactly what I was getting quoted on.

It was amazing the range of prices I got from going to 6 shops. I live in Houston, Texas so it is very fair to say that we have a large immigrant work force- I was expecting some deals from some workshops in uh.. less retail parts of town, it really didn't end up mattering- I got quoted from $350 to $1800.

I wasn't asking for "museum quality" trapunte embroidery, down cushions or muslin wrapped- I did get boxed cushions with a baseball stitch, new decking and wrapped foam.

I ended up choosing a family business in the middle of the price spectrum because they're workshop was very clean, he knew furniture and builds custom frames and I had great referrals from friends. I got my sofa redone for $585 including pick up and delivery. It's Gorgeous.

I bought all 13 yards of fabric for $100 at a discount fabric store in town. It's an interior grade Sunbrella fabric that looks like solid charcoal suiting fabric. My cat already puked on it and it wiped off with a sponge! YAY.

It can be done for less- it's just like anything- you have to do your due diligence and you can get a deal!

ALSO, I had to wait to sell my mid-century sofa in order to get my old/new craigslist sofa re-done. In my wait - a friend suggested that I put a craigslist ad up to TRADE my old piece to a re upholsterer in exchange for the labor on my new piece. I did get about 4 responses, and as it turned out no one just weren't interested in my MCM sofa as a resale/spec piece. BUT if you DO have a quality frame that you are looking to get rid of and simultaneously need labor- that could be an option for you!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that guy's got real passion for his shop. Must admit that $1200 for a full custom chair sounds good. Just wonder what he's like in real life, after this rant... Although he sounds like your kind of guy, Decorno.

Anonymous said...

Just wonder what he's like in real life, after this rant...

Don't you wonder what sarah p. is like in real life, having smearing this guy's business with falsehoods and baseless implications?

Sacheverelle said...

I have also heard that most upholstered furniture is basically constructed the same way, just the costlier stuff has more expensive fabric & a much higher price tag.
I agree with Sanity Fair, why buy something that pricy just so it can get wrecked from kids, pets, parties, etc.? Or buy something so precious it gets put it in some room you never use or only use occasionally for company?
I spent about $3k for a couch/chaise combo by Klaussner before I had my 2 kids & since then it has endured all varieties of abuse-been scratched on by cats, peed on by kids and animals, had all kind of food & drink strewn & spilled onto it, & withstood hours of repetitive toddler jumping. After 5 years of pretty rough use we had to put a piece of plywood under the chaise cushion because the kids jumping on it caused the fabric underneath to rip exposing the springs inside. I've also had to rip open & restuff 2 of the back cushions with new polyfill because my one son peed all over them in his sleep. The covers are supposedly not washable, yet I've been tossing them in the washing machine at least once a month for 5 years now. The couch has been used & abused but it still holding up nicely..way surpassing my expectations for a cheap $3k couch & hopefully it will last until these kids are older & not peeing & jumping on stuff. On the other hand, if I'd paid $8 or $9k for the couch and it had not withstood the abuse, I would be highly teed off. I guess it comes down to the reality that rich people can afford to use, abuse and toss out much nicer stuff, so their homes always look all tasteful & chic. All of us on this list probably have excellent taste but not all of us are unable to showcase it properly..

Kari said...

wouldn't you change your mind/ style before a sofa falls apart?

Decorno said...

You know, given how CouchSeattle did such a good job detailing how he spend the weekend solving his customers' problems, I would bet he'd do everything he could to ship you a sofa. I mean, if he's shipping them from LA to Seattle, he can get them over to you. Worth asking, anyway.

sarah p. said...

sara here. i just read couchseattle's response, and i have to say that he seems to have learned a lot in the past year - good for him.

i'm standing by my comment that we will see about his quality/longevity in 2 years. none of his customers have had any of his furniture for more than a year, so it's a bit early to be so bold. or so it seems to me.

regardless, he obviously has a passion for what he does. i would also like to say that i described my experience in his store to a T, so if things have changed then good for him, but when i visited this was my experience. i was put off by his glib attitude then, and am equally put off by his insane rant here.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Reggie. Choosing a sofa and how much he is willing to pay for it is a subjective matter.
After using our re upholstered sofa for almost 20 years, DH (dear husband) decided that it is time to get a new one. We went to several shops, from low end, mid range and high end shops and DH would always do this: Look at the design, check the construction and the materials used, and literally, plop down and check if it is comfortable. The price and brand would only come up if a certain piece piques his interest. In the end, we bought a 2 seater and 3 seater Wally Giorgetti sofas for the price of $27,000. Maybe for some, we are being stupid or ostentatious. But as long as it is legal, then no one has a right to tell us how we should spend our hard earned money. Are those sofas worth it? Everytime I see DH lounging with our dog (yes, we have one), looking quite happy and comfortable, then it is definitely worth it.

John Strauss said...

I find the discussion about cost of a sofa very interesting, since I make them here in Ohio, built to last generations and also a sustainable product. I was the "anonymous" writer who broke down the costs and came up with a retail number of about $6000 for a custom sofa (at the lower end I might add). My point was you could find a lower price on a new sofa here that is well made, but it is likely to have been made overseas. I don't think a domestically made- well made frame and material can be much less than $2000- $3000 in cost, so it is all a game of how much mark up there is for the sale to retail. But we are all here to do a business, and I don't sell retail. I sell to showrooms, stores and designers. They also have to make a living. The main point was that this is not a scam. It is the cost of producing a good quality product. Couch Seattle - what is your retail/wholesale cost?

Lolo said...

Sara P.

Okay, it's a he said/you said sitch and as you say, time will tell. The weight is still on his side though because he's the one who has a) customers who appear to be satisfied and happy enough to extol his product and his demeanor and b) other business people who state that he appears to be exactly what he says he is. A business owner who busts hump to deliver, literally, the product that his customers have a hand in designing, down to the inch. He's also employing other people, in this country and takes what seems to be justified pride in not being the owner of a sweatshop.

You have .... a presence on the internet, in the comment section of someone else's blog.

That he was as concise and well mannered as he was in the face of your snark is all I need to vote you off the island. It's hardly insane to defend himself against a slur. Even if only you are the one to make it.

Anonymous said...

Sarah P, that's a slimy response.

You staked your arguments on three fundamental claims:

1. He has his furniture made in Tijuana

2. All his pieces are knockoffs

3. He knows nothing about furniture construction or design

He has proved all three to be wrong.

So now you've changed your complaint to his being "glib."

You don't have the decency to apologize for or retract your falsehoods.

How shabby, Sara. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Jane said...

Sarah - How is it insane to defend himself against your slander?? I hope he gets good business out of this, seems like he will.

Anonymous said...

Sarah P:

You tried to damage his reputation. He's angry, not "insane."

R said...

Methinks Couch Seattle needs a stiff drink...or something.

Jenny said...

Wow. I'd like to buy a couch (sofa, settee?) from mr couch seattle - sounds like he knows his stuff.

I commented earlier, and have reflected. I reckon if you can assess a quality built piece, you know what makes good fabric etc, then given how much a couch is used, it's worth spending a bit on. Think of it as cost per sit.

Anonymous said...

If I had 7k to spend on a sofa I'd buy the Scroll from Montauk. But since I don't I bought one from Rowe instead and I'm very happy with it. I went with feather cushions because they are supposedly the best quality but I actually wish I'd gone for a feather in foam mix because I'm finding the cushions are too firm. But the frame is solid and quite heavy.. I can always have the cushions replaced or restuffed.
Bonus: Rowe is made in the USA. (I'm Canadian btw.)

Anonymous said...

My favourite find didn't even cost me $100. I was out test riding a bike one day and found a vintage 50s chandelier on the curb. The look on my man's face when I returned to the bike shop with a chandelier dangling from the handlebars was priceless.

Anonymous said...

I got a Windsor Art 4' x 5' mirror with a six-inch wide antiqued gold frame at a neighbors tag sale. The poor woman went to a nursing home and her family were selling off her stuff. They asked $100 and accepted my offer of $70. It's gorgeous.

Peter Howlett said...

I was interested in the comments of “Anonymous” on September 3rd who very wrongly points out that a company called George Smith uses a marketing gimmick of declaring that they make the very best furniture on earth. I am the person who heads the George Smith advertising campaign and for many years our advertising has only been image based with no slogan at all. Recently we have incorporated the words “Transcending Classification” which is a nod to the ability of our furniture to exist in a myriad of interior settings as it has an integrity in both design and craftsmanship. There has never been a mention of the furniture being the best on earth.

I would be interested where anonymous came up with this information as it has no association with George Smith Furniture at all. The fact of the matter is that there are wonderful sofas made at all price points and each satisfies a particular market. I have never and would never pass judgment on any other manufacturer and at George Smith we concentrate on making sure that the product that we manufacture is the ultimate in sustainable furniture and something that can be passed down from generation to generation.

Please feel free to contact me ( if you would like more information on our products.

paola said...

I've just bought a sofa from Couch Seattle. Ameer was a PLEASURE to deal with throughout and immensely knowledgeable about anything sofa.

I ended up with a ivory leather couch with custom cone legs (instead of the box base on the showroom model). The build quality is spectacular and the sofa was delivered the day before our deadline (parents in law arriving in town) though he'd only had 7 weeks to get the whole thing built and shipped. And $2.700 for a custom built, top quality, leather sofa seems pretty good to me.

Pictures of the sofa in situ are here

A blog post I wrote detailing his amazingly thoughtful response to my initial thoughts and questions is here

I truly have very rarely encountered such excellent customer service, and no,e's not paying me and has no idea I'm writing this.

erin@designcrisis said...

I'm poorish, so I can't even fathom spending 7k on a sofa -- I could get a car for that price! But that doesn't mean I don't appreciate quality or style; I paid $300 for an 80's Ethan Allen tufted leather chesterfield and it's the most comfortable, sturdy piece of furniture I own. Paid 1k for a couch and club chair set by Elite leather via Ebay, also very well made.
Of course, if I were rolling in dough, you can bet your sweet ass I would spend 7k or more on a great couch. Done and done.

Sacheverelle said...

So what's the consensus? Is an expensive sofa better quality than a moderately priced one $3-$4k one?

Stacy said...

I'm always confused by the fact that when it comes to furniture, most people view the expensive stuff as never worth it. Houses, cars, clothes...they'll blow $300 (not that expensive for shoes, I know) on a pair of heels that they'll wear once, and blame it on a shoe fetish. And yet, $300 is too much for a lamp that you'll look at every day, and won't wear out.

What makes the "expensive" furniture worth it?

Well, let's put it into an example more people may understand: clothing. You try on a beautiful, say, Lanvin dress at Barney's. It makes you look like a million bucks--nothing puckers, bunches or sags. You're just not excited about the price tag. So, later in the season, you run across a lookalike from a discount store. You try it on. Sure, the material is a little thinner, the sewing is coming out in one place ("but it's in a place nobody will notice!..."), it doesn't have the same magic as the original, but for the purpose of impressing your friends, it does the job for a lot cheaper. So you buy said discount dress, and continue to fill your closet with junk that you'll hate the second you get home. If you've ever uttered the phrase: "I have nothing to wear," then you may have this problem. At the end of the day, what will you have to show for your "bargains?"

Is everything that is expensive, good, just by virtue of its price? No. Are there good looking things out there that are inexpensive? Absolutely. But think about what you're really surrounding yourself with, and take pride in yourself and in your home.

Anna said...

Since I am actively couch shopping in Seattle, I stumbled upon this blog with interest and read every word.
I have two leather club chairs from restoration hardware- 10 years old and doing great. I have a Pottery Barn Greenwich sofa. I like it fine, although it was made a few years ago and now PB "makes their own" as I was told by a salesperson last week, and I don't think the quality is near as good as mine.
I have a Baker table and sideboard I picked out at Masins and then found a vendor in South Carolina and got them for about a third of the price. Sorry Masins.
I have two sofas from the Bon Marche that are about 10 years old and although I've outgrown the style they are just too great to not keep around. (Yes, I have a big house).
So now I need two sofas for my family room and was told by a designer to look at Baker sofas (too expensive for kids and dogs) and at Lee Industries.
Does anyone know where in Seattle (besides Crate and Barrel) I can see and sit on Lee INdustries sofas?
And as a side, I am curious about couchseattle and will check them out, but seriously mr. couchseattle, find a more sophisticated way to rant than using the f- bomb. NOT classy.

Anonymous said...

I was an interior designer for almost 2 decades and expensive furniture is sometimes worth it, sometimes not. Cheap upholstery looks cheap when you get it and after about a year it's a sagging, cheap looking mess. Expensive upholstery not only is better underneath but also on top. The seams, the tailoring, the finish on any exposed wood. The matching of the fabric and of course the fabric itself (this is what can really make a sofa reach the stratosphere. But there is a solution. You can get that $7,000.00 for $2,500.00. Just buy a used one on Craigslist (get to know your brands, that's why you subscribe to shelter porn) then educate yourself about fabrics and go shopping. Most bigger cities have good fabric outlets that carry high quality fabrics that come straight from the mills at a big discount. Often times a reupholstered piece can be even better than a factory built piece. The upholster has more control and their reputation is face to face with you. Of course you can do similar with all pieces, case goods, etc. I am amazed at what I see people putting up on Craigslist.

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