Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Modern VS. Vintage, The Great Furniture Debate.

 We have had two different jobs come in this week that make me feel sad for the modern furniture buyer.  I am not talking about Ikea.  That is in a class all to itself.  I am talking about walking into one of these beautiful furniture galleries with the pretty 'living room' areas and 'bedroom' areas, where everything looks like it should be in a magazine or movie.  What a poor un-suspecting buyer does not know is that underneath that pretty exterior, the furniture is actually junk.  This was proved by both the  jobs I am showing in today's blog.  The first one we had come in was a roll top desk.  The Tambour Unit (the actual roll top piece)  had some loose slats and the customer wanted them glued back onto the cloth.  So in an effort to get an appropriate estimate for the customer we took the tambour unit off of the Desk.  What we found was that the glue was so weak on the cloth, that without the desk holding the wood in place, the wood strips fell,  I repeat FELL, right off of the canvas backing!  The glue that was used on this desk was so cheep it couldn't perform it's sole purpose, that of holding things together.
The second item of furniture we had come in that demonstrates the sad level of 'fine furniture' these days is a bed rail to a queen bed.  It belongs to a young couple, perhaps  mid to late twenties.  The bed rail is made of a very unfortunate material.  It is one of the cheapest plywoods out there, it should actually be called 'plyfiberboard'  to be more accurate.  The wood is shredding as you can see in the picture below.  It will continue to shred for the duration of it's use.  Above you can see the repair we did to try and salvage the end of the bed rail.   But you can see the wood chipping away at the top.  It is likely that the wood will continue to deteriorate at such a rate that the customer could be in here every few years to get various parts fixed when the fall apart.   

Again, this modern made furniture makes me so sad for anyone who is purchasing furniture today.  How  would a 20something couple know that when they walk into a furniture gallery that they might not be getting something that will actually last?  They probably thought they were doing a good thing by shopping for 'real' furniture, not at Ikea.  They wouldn't know to find out what kind of wood the bed rails  were made out of, or that some kinds of plywood are better than others.  And would the person who purchased the Roll top desk know to ask what kind of glue was used to attach the slats to the Tabour cloth?  Probably not.  If you walked into a Furniture Gallery, would you expect that you are getting a quality piece of furniture?  Of course you would.  Unfortunately nowadays most often woods used are from fast growing trees, which tends to be much weaker and easily broken.  Or they are not even wood at all, they are made out of MDF or Plywood MDF.  They often have bad gluing practices, or use screws instead of glue which weakens the wood further.  The finishes tend to be very hard but also very thin and almost impossible to repair once scratched.

My best advice?  Buy old furniture.  You will get such better value for your money.  Old furniture has stood the test of time, so you know it is going to last.  Older furniture can be repaired more easily if it does break, but it is also built so much better, that it is less likely to break.  Take an adventure to an Antique store and outfit your house with furniture you find.  Brows estate sales and bring home some interesting treasure that will last and last and last.  Check out an Auction, you never know what bargain priced piece of history you will be able to bring home.   But if you absolutely must buy a modern made piece of furniture, keep our business card handy because we will be ready to fix it for you.

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