Every great room is not just a product of its layout, or colour; its style rests in the furniture and how these pieces function daily. Living and family rooms really put their upholstered pieces to the test as they are always in heavy use. Sofas and chairs, especially, need to last when they are used constantly for every type of activity.
Up to about twenty five years ago, fabric covered sofas and chairs were still largely made in
North America so it was assumed that the quality was good. But with globalization came pressure on local manufacturers to take furniture-making off-shore in search of cheaper labor and materials. Today, we have paid the price for this as consumers are less educated about what makes a quality sofa and why it’s important to purchase key pieces from Canadian manufacturers.
As it turns out, Canadian wood is excellent for producing not only goods like tables and bed frames, but it is also amazingly strong for building the interior structure of upholstered pieces. In addition, the craftsmanship and knowledge of furniture builders here is substantial. For instance, corner blocks, added for strength, dovetail joints and hardwood frames are all commonplace among good quality furniture makers in Canada. These are very important to the long term stability of upholstery that is used regularly.
So how do you know if a sofa is good quality? There are several key things to look for: a solid hardwood frame is paramount to the strength of a sofa or chair. Particle board is not hardwood! High grade foam (which costs a lot more than the cheap stuff) is really important to the long term shape and ‘spring’ of seat pillows. Padding added to the sides of the arms and to the back of the sofa to ‘fill it out’ also helps with its look and overall comfort (cheap sofas don’t have this…its feels like cardboard when you knock the side of the sofa). Webbing and springs also make a difference to how well a sofa will last.
When we purchase ‘made in Canada’, not only do we have a lot more choice of sizes and materials, we often get better furniture than items imported at a lower cost. Although it may seem like less money for a specific piece, it has incurred transportation costs, duty costs, and sometimes more people have been paid than the cost of the actual materials put into the item in the first place. A piece made in North America means more is spent specifically on materials and labor directly affecting the item made. Basically you are getting more “furniture” for the money!
Also, furniture made here employs Canadians and keeps our economy running. We may pay more for goods produced here but in the long run it comes back to us as workers in the forestry and timber businesses largely in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec see their materials sold to a local market not just overseas. And goods made here employ skilled labor to construct and even involve the retail sector. Even though some components of furniture pieces may come from other areas of the world, assembling them here in Canada keeps a lot of people busy and that’s just so good for so many.
Lastly, it may interest Canadians to know that our designs, styles and materials are often desired by other nations around the globe. Somehow we seem to think that if it’s made here, it’s just not as good as elsewhere in the world. Although we don’t have a long history like England, France or Italy of furniture design, building and production, many of the people who work in these fields carry the knowledge of previous generations who have immigrated here. Not only is Canada a great place to live we make great furniture, desired by many! Let’s start to spend some loonies at home!