A common statement I hear is: But I could buy that new for the same price or cheaper!
In many instances this may be true but there is more to this story!
Starting in the 1990’s furniture manufacturing took a major backslide in quality as the demand for newer and better increased. Most of the pieces manufactured in the time is made to last anywhere from 3-5 years which is great news for the furniture companies but bad news for consumers and the environment. Most of these newer pieces are made of low quality materials that are not meant to be reupholstered. This is why many will feel light in comparison to that old couch at your grandmother’s house! This low quality furniture is also contributing to some serious waste as there is very little recycling that can be done with these materials.
These photos show a piece from a popular furniture manufacturer who has built a reputation for high quality furniture. As you can see they have used low quality wood for the bases and the elastic webbing is being held on with very minimal staples to keep things together! On top of all of this we can see on the one piece that there is nothing between the webbing and the foam. This means that overtime when you sit down on this the foam will start to deteriorate in these specific areas faster due to the friction.
But vintage looks…. Old. Well it might at first glance but almost any vintage or antique piece of furniture can be modernized with new fabrics, fresh wood finished and new padding. All this on top of solid wood kiln dried frames equals a solid – made to last piece of furniture that you will be able to update as styles change. This equals less waste and in the long run cost savings when you don’t have to replace your furniture every 3-5 years or just live with something old and broken down.
How do you know if it has good bones? The biggest indicator is weight! Solid wood frames are heavy! This is your first clue to a well-made frame. If you can look under the dustcover a vintage frame will have springs supporting it. If you see foam against elastic webbing this is a sure fire way to know the overall frame quality may not be up to snuff.
When you see a vintage piece that seems “beyond repair” most times it’s not! Unless there is a structural break in the wood frame itself almost everything else can be repaired! This couch I found for free on a trading page with “broken springs” amongst some other issues. Once stripped down you can see the quality in the wood frame and what was identified as broken springs was actually just some broken clips which are easily replaced. This couch had also met its match with a paint brush. With all this stripped away she is set to be a stunning piece of furniture!