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Thread: Starter Sofa Brands

  1. #1

    Post Starter Sofa Brands

    Didn't want to hijack michelina's thread, as she may be looking for a different quality of brands. We're looking to buy our first sofa and are looking for advice on how to go about it, starting with what brands to look into. As recent college grads, we don't have big bucks to spend, so we're aiming for something upholstered in the $1000 to $1500 range. At the same time, we don't want something that will fall apart in six months. We realize that there's a point where you get what you pay for, but where can we get the most bang for our buck? We're actually in Alexandria, so if you have any regional suggestions they'd be really helpful. Thanks for your time and help!
    Last edited by fishion; 08-30-2009 at 03:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Southern New Hampshire
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    Depends on what you're looking for. Recliners or stationary. Lazy boy is the best built reclining sofa out there but a little more expensive than most. Berkline, Action Lane and Klausner motion are big sellers. Great warranties, cheaper in price but built w/ lesser grade lumber and steel. Rowe and Flexsteel are my favorite stationary manufacturers. Built great and great fabrics but again a little more expensive. Ashley is a great way to go if you want cheap. Largest furniture manufacturer in the states but cheap.

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the quick reply fleblanc. I believe we're looking for stationary. I've heard good things about flexsteel and rowe, but not so much about ashley. Perhaps there are just more bad ashley reviews around because of the large size of their operation. How long would you say the average ashley sofa lasts? I expect the sofa to receive daily use, so looking for something structurally sound. In comparison, how long would the flexsteel/rowe last? Thanks.
    Last edited by fishion; 08-30-2009 at 03:05 PM.

  4. #4
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    Hi. We have one Rowe sofa and one Flexsteel. They are very good mid-range sofas. I would stay away from Ashley. Our last sofa was Highland House, which was better than Rowe or Flexsteel, in my opinion. The only reason we replaced it was because the upholstery was starting to wear after about 10 years (avoid 100% cotton upholstery fabric--it wears faster than a cotton/synthetic fabric). The structure was still very sound, so a friend took it off our hands and repurposed it.

    Since you're in Alexandria, I'd counsel you to just go to Duane's shop, "The Keeping Room" in Alexandria, and he will guide you in the right direction.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Here's my little speech on upholstery <grin>;


    There's no secret to making good furniture, its not rocket science. You need two things to make a good piece of upholstery: 1) A quantity of Materials, and 2) Skilled Labor. Combine the two and you have the product, obviously. If you use the best materials, and the best workers, you have the best product - and that is generally going to cost xxxxx dollars regardless of the brand. A furniture maker will decide what market he wants to capture or play in, and then has to build the furniture to that price point.

    For example, Hancock and Moore uses the finest materials and the highest skilled work force in the industry. Result? Most their sofas are $ 3,000 (average retail price).

    Bradington-Young decides they don't want to go head-to-head with Hancock and Moore and decides their target market is the $ 2,200 sofa. Now they have to cut out either design elements of their pieces, internal construction components, or use a slightly less skilled work force to achieve that price point. And they do.

    Then you get a Company like Flexsteel that decides its market is more Midwest middle class and they want to be in the $ 1,500 sofa range. They have to cut back on the same components and work force even moreso.

    Finally you get to the bottom feeders which are brands like La-Z-Boy and Ashley - and there are tons in this category - and they want the $ 999 sofa. More cuts in material and craftsmanship to get to that price point.

    As a consumer, you have to buy within your comfort level - thats important - and you have to decide what your budget has to be. You job as a consumer is to use forums such as this to gather information as to what makes a good or not so good piece, and then decide for yourself what is your best bang for the buck within your buying comfort level. Generally speaking, the salespeople in the furniture stores wouldn't know the difference between split and top grain leather, or an 8-way hand-tied spring vs. an 8-way hand-looped spring or really care as long as they can convince you to buy from them TODAY. It's mostly 'buyer beware', hence the more homework you do on your part, the better you will be able to see for yourself what a good buy is for your money.

    I've been in this business over 25 years now. I can tell a quality piece of upholstery from fifteen feet away (not kidding!). I just have a trained eye. You can learn that as well if you invest the time. Don't rely on silly red "CLEARANCE" or "SALE" tags in the stores to show you the 'bargains'. Like I said, there is no magic in this industry - as the price comes down so does the quality.

    Here's the other part of this formula:

    "Everything looks good when its new". This further aggravates your buying decisions because its hard for most people to tell the difference between a $ 3,000 sofa and $ 1,000 one. The acid test is five years down the road. That $ 3,000 sofa is still looking great and performing near new, while the $ 1,000 one is broke down and ready for Salvation Army.

    My advice:

    1) Watch Craigslist for Premium Brands. The do come up and are usually excellent buys for those of you just starting out. Typically the used pieces sell for about .30 on the $ 1.00 of their new cost and have plenty of life left. I'd rather have a 5-year old Hancock and Moore sofa for $ 1,000 than a brand new Ashley for the same price.

    2) Go to the local stores and look for floor models they want to get rid of. Every store has them (even me!). There may be only one or two per store, but they're there. For example, I have a H&M Member Sofa in Brown Leather I want to move out...if you were to order this sofa in the exact same leather it would honestly cost you $ 3,400. I have this one unit on my floor at $ 1,995 because quite frankly I'm tired of looking at it and want to bring in a fresh piece. That's the sofa you want to find ....

    I'm going to send you to a competitor since you are in Northern Virginia. Go to Greenfront Interiors in Mannasas, VA. Huge place, and what they do is buy the High Point showrooms after each furniture market. They have the buying power to take whole showrooms unlike little stores like mine. When they do, they buy them at 30 % LESS than regular wholesale, which allows the to put smoking hot prices on their floor models. Now, a lot of the stuff they have is very funky as Decorators have had their way with the pieces for Market Showrooms, but you may find a high quality piece on their floor in your price point if you can use the style and cover it comes in. Their prices are not so great on ordering you something, so concentrate on buying something off the floor. High end brands they will have on their floor at market showroom discounts will include anything from Hancock and Moore, Southwood Furniture, Century, Hendredon and Taylor King.

    So there ya go! Hope that helps.
    Duane Collie
    Please Ask ALL Questions in the Forum
    Private Messages (PM's) are for Sample Requests and Placing Orders

  6. #6

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    But how can I go to a competitor after you've been so generous with your advice?! Thanks a lot for your time.

  7. #7
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    You come by and see me for the NEXT one <g>, after you get yourselves established in your careers and have a bit more disposable income.
    Duane Collie
    Please Ask ALL Questions in the Forum
    Private Messages (PM's) are for Sample Requests and Placing Orders

  8. #8
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    Oct 2008
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    NW Pennsylvania
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    Just found this thread sounds like you're looking to buy in the same price range I was looking to spend a couple years ago. I was looking for a good piece of quality furniture that hopefully will last awhile, American made, solid wood frame, strong warranty and of course I enjoy using it.

    I ended up spending a bit more than the target range but am happy with my purchase. The brand I chose is called Smith Brothers furniture, you may want to check them out if it's sold in your area. I thought about Flexsteel but the local dealer didn't have anything but the latitudes line which I haven't heard good things about.

    Also remember when buying furniture, most manufacturer's customer support is taken care of by the furniture dealer you purchased it from.

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