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I need help purchasing living room furniture:updated with lots of info

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ok, after 3 weeks of research, we found our furniture. And here's what I know...or think I know...about buying furniture. If this helps anyone else on the hunt for furniture, awesome. Please feel free to correct or add any information missing.

Partial list of Well Made Furniture

American Leather, Beachley, Bradington Young, C R Laine, Century, Classic Leather, Councill, Distinction, Han**** and Moore, Drexel, E J Victor, Hallagan, Harden, Heritage, Henredon, Hickory Chair, Hickory White, Highland House, Huntington House, Jessica Charles, Key City, Kincaid, King Hickory, Leathercraft, Lee Industries, Massoud, Michael Thomas, Mailland-Smith, Ralph Lauren, Sam Moore, Smith Brothers, Stickley furniture, Sherrill, Southwood, Taylor King

Decent Furniture, step below the other list.

McCreary Modern, Mitchell Gold, Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn

2 most important things to ask about that you can’t see in good furniture:

8 way hand tied springs. Machine tied drop in spring systems are just about as good. Some say just as good. Avoid Perelli webbing and sinuous systems, dual flex, etc. They may feel good initially but will not hold up.

5/4” kiln dried hardwood frames. Avoid plywood at all costs.

I’m pretty sure all the furniture in the “well made furniture” list above fits this criteria. The furniture my wife and I ended up with is from Pottery Barn (made by Mitchell Gold) and it has a 5/4” hardwood frame with a machine tied drop in system. Not in league with the highest end furniture, but still very good. After weeks of searching Craigslist, we found 2 Charleston Chair and a half’s with Sage Velvet covers for $75 each.


Fabric is in good shape. When I arrived to pick up the chairs, the owner also threw in a Charleston Sofa that is missing its slipcover for free. We’ll try to upholster this one ourselves. Assuming the fabric and material to upholster the sofa costs us $200, we’ll have saved $4000 on this living room set. This took patience but because I had done so much research I knew right away that this was an excellent deal when I saw it on Craigslist and was able to jump on it before anyone else. I've since seen similar (if not as dramatic) deals on Craigslist so this is something anyone can do. More info I dug up:

Leather grades:

1. Split grain leathers. Scraps of leather pressed together. Total junk.

2. Corrected grain leather: Lowest grade leather that should be used on furniture. Leather pattern is stamped into the hide to resemble the look a high grain leather has naturally.

3. Full Grain leathers are best, Top grain leathers are good. Look for Aniline or semi-Aniline leathers. Full grain is thicker and more rugged, but both are good quality leather.

Leather Furniture Manufacturer Rankings

Each of these two sites tends to cheat a little toward products they sale so take that into consideration. If you’re going to hunt for used Leather furniture on Criagslist, only buy from the top two tiers on these list.



I didn’t do enough research on fabrics or cushion types to know much about them. It seems that cushion types have more to do with individual taste. But if you buy a well constructed piece of furniture (frame, springs), the cushion options should all be quality. As for fabrics, the higher the thread count, the more durable. That’s all I really know.

How to get the best deals on new furniture from a local furniture store:

Do not pay local furniture store prices. Go to a local mid to high end furniture store and find the furniture you’re interested in. Lift the pillows up on each item you are interested in and copy all of the information and numbers (the numbers carry the information furniture stores need). E-mail several manufactures in Highpoint, NC and ask them to send a quote based upon the numbers retrieved from the furniture. You’ll likely get price quotes much cheaper than the furniture store you went to. Take those prices back to the local furniture store and they will likely come very close to matching the quotes from Highpoint, NC. If you were to order the items from Highpoint, NC make take up to eight weeks to get your furniture and may pay a few hundred in shipping (sometimes they have deals that waive shipping) but no tax. The local store will argue that you will have to wait a while to get the North Carolina merchandise when they can deliver it in a few days. But for thousands of dollars in savings, you can wait. The furniture store doesn’t want you to walk out the door. You can do this type of negotiating at most any high-end furniture store.

Partial list of good stores (mostly from North Carolina) to get quotes/buy from:








Here are a couple of places that sell furniture clones of Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn Furniture for significantly less money. Most of these places actually make the furniture of BETTER material than the originals manufacturers which are mass produced and cut some corners. I like the top two sites best. “Comfortable Couch” and “Casco Bay” seem to be very well made, North Carolina furniture:






Custom Sofas

Discount sofas constructed to your specifications. You can find the exact piece of furniture you like at a furniture store and then call these places and give them the information or include your own tweaks to fit your style. They’ll usually come in WAY under the furniture store prices. Just be sure to specify the construction methods (springs, frames, cushions) you want in your furniture.




Custom Slipcovers, Upholstery, DIY, etc.

You can find well made furniture on Craigslist in good shape that is selling for almost nothing because the fabric is so ugly/outdated. Just plug a name off the list of fine furniture above into your search and limit it to “furniture-by owner”. You can find a manufacturer like “Henredon” on Craigslist with 8 way hand tied springs, 5/4” kiln dried hardwood frames, and excellent cushioning for $100 because its older and looks hideous in the fabric. The “bones” of these kinds of sofas never wear out. A new Henredon Sofa in a nice fabric can run you many thousands of dollars. You can buy one of these sofas on Craigslist for cheap and have it reupholstered for about $700 or get a tight fitted custom slipcover for $500. Or just buy the fabric yourself for $80-$200 and practice doing it with an upholstery DIY library book. From what I can tell, its a legitimate DIY project.

For custom fit slipcovers, go here:


Their close out fabric selections are even cheaper both for construction prices as well as fabric:


For discount fabric, go to a store like this one in Thurmont, MD


Stores like Hobby Lobby have discount fabrics and there are likely stores like the one in Thurmont somewhere near you.

If you’re going to have someone else upholster your furniture, they’ll want you to use their fabric as they make money that way. If you use your own fabric, they'll charge you a certain amount per yard to work with the fabric or a flat charge per piece. Check with each upholsterer to see how much upcharge they'll tack onto their standard rates to upholster the piece...It may still be worth it to buy your own fabric. Also, there are random upholsters working on the side out of their home that won't charge you for your own fabric. If you can find these guys through word of mouth, it will save you a bunch of money.

That’s everything I know about furniture. Hope it helps.

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