Leather Furniture Buying Tips

January 22nd, 2011

Once you’ve tried leather everything else seems second rate. There’s no question, leather has a look and feel all its own. You want the best leather to suit the conditions of your home.

But Leather furniture is more than just the leather that covers the piece.

Let’s take a look at the different qualities of leather furniture. (Actually, many of these points pertain to all pieces of furniture.


  • 100% Top grain leather.  8-way hand tied (or machine tied) spring unit (approx. 27 coils per sofa) (The difference between hand tied and machine tied is that machine tied coils are tied with metal rather than twine.
  • Heat tempered springs.
  • Webbing suspension may be used.
  • Cushions come in two basic types…
    • 2.0+ density polyurethane foam core with poly-down fill encased by muslin type wrap.
    • 2.0+ density polyurethane wrapped innerspring variety.
  • Solid hardwood kiln dried frames…glued, doweled and corner blocked.
  • Frames are padded heavily to keep fabric from being stressed against the wood frames.


  • Top Grain/Split hide, much like the above, only the Top grain leather where you sit, split hides where you don’t.
  • High gauge and high quantity sinuous coils, more springs per seat and tighter turns/curves in the coils.
  • Drop in spring systems are also sometimes found in this category.
  • Heat tempered springs.
  • Cushions are 1.8+ density polyurethane core with Dacron wrapping that has been encased in muslin type fabric.
  • Kiln dried hardwood used in the for the frames.
  • Light padding used on the frames to keep fabric from direct exposure to the wood of the frames.


  • Vinyl/Top Grain match, Top grain leather where you sit, vinyl where you don’t.
  • Low gauge and low quantity sinuous coil springs, fewer springs per seat and looser turns/curves in the coils.
  • Non-heat tempered springs…may sag over time.
  • 1.5+ density polyurethane foam core with unattached Dacron wrap.
  • Air dried frames (removes 70% of the woods moisture content, the process takes about 6 months).
  • The type of wood used varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and sometimes even within a line of furniture from a given manufacturer. Price and availability are the deciding factor.
  • Frames are stapled and glued for the most part.


You get what you pay for!

Furniture Buying Guide

Furniture Buying Tips

January 18th, 2011

This is the first post in a series of “DiscoverHowTo” Furniture Buying tips.

Furniture shopping…does just thinking about it make you feel tired and run down? Wood, Leather, Upholstered, style, function, lifestyle etc. Just thinking about it can wear you out! It doesn’t have to be that way. Doing your homework can take the chore out of it.

Start by spending some time studying this site…you’ll find tips and secrets that’ll help you not only save time and wear on your body…but…they’ll save your pocketbook as well!
The top Five Furniture Secrets…

1. Make a diagram of the room or location where the furniture will be used. On your diagram note the location of windows, doors, shelves, fireplace, air-ducts, TV, etc. Don’t forget to measure the hallways, doors, stairs and any other entrance that the piece must be taken through. I’ve seen more than one person miss this step and have to return a piece that was to big to get into the room.

2. Know where and how you will use this piece of furniture…make sure the piece you’re looking at will meet those requirements.

3. You’re now ready to start shopping.

Let’s get physical…sit in it, sit on it, lay on it, stand on it, etc.

Better furniture is usually more ample sized…it’s more substantial…it contains more raw material, more springs, stronger frame with more members. Generally speaking, a better piece will be heavier than the poorer quality piece.

4. Neat, well-defined corners and curves, securely attached buttons, strong unobtrusive seams, properly and evenly distributed filler material are the marks of a quality piece.

5. Turn it over…how well is it constructed? Are there loose or missing screws or bolts? Is the padding sewn correctly? Is the padding and fabric protected from the framework and hardware?

Getting Started Furniture Shopping…Make a List

Make a list…write down your needs. If your purchasing for more than one room, make a separate list for each room.

Keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish.

Are you starting from scratch or are you trying to coordinate with existing pieces? Maybe you’re replacing existing pieces.

Give your needs an honest evaluation…make a list of all your needs.

Evaluate your basic needs. Are you looking for…An office desk? Basic seating? pieces for the lounge? A place to sleep? A conference table? A large family table? Book shelving? Etc. Once you answer these questions, look at your budget and the space available.

It’s a heck of a lot easier to prioritize from a written list than to wander aimlessly through furniture store after furniture store with hardly a clue as to what you need, what will fit and what you can afford.

Before you trot off to the store it’s a good idea to browse magazines, catalogs, websites, etc., to get an idea as to what’s available and what styles you like. This will help you narrow your search and target in on what you need without wasting hours trudging through showrooms.
Furniture Style

Most furniture falls into one of two style categories…

* Formal
* Informal or casual

Here are some examples of Formal Furniture

* Louis XIV
* Chippendale
* Queen Anne

And here are some examples of the Informal Style

* Provincial
* Early American
* French Country
* Shaker
* Amish
* Etc.

These styles originated in the rural countryside and were first designed by local cabinetmakers. Each of these styles can be further divided into traditional or contemporary.

Traditional styles can be identified by the Cabriole legs, claw and ball feet, lyre shaped backs and carved details. Woods tend to be walnut, cherry or teak and fabrics usually include brocades, damask, and silk. Oversized sofas and chairs with deep, fluffy cushions and durable easy to maintain fabrics exemplify casual.

Contemporary styles include Scandinavian, Modern and Oriental, with wood or laminate. They are identifiable by their sleek overall design elements.

Style is also defined by shape, color, texture and is reflected in accessories, floor and window coverings.

Home furnishings should make a statement about your attitude and lifestyle. No one style is perfect for every room or for everyone.


Buy furniture that you like, whatever your style may be!

Some designers may try to talk you out of recliners. They consider them the ugly duckling of the furniture world. This is outdated advice…recliners are better than ever and they are in style.

Today, more than ever, upholstered furniture is available in a wide range of styles and fabrics. To be a good buy for you, upholstery must be…priced right…colored right…sit right…right for the room…right for you.

Leather is another option you should consider.

Leather is a natural product. Good leather will rarely wear out…but it will change in appearance over time…maybe as frequently as week to week.

Many people love natural coverings, like leather, that change with wear and tear. But, you better be clear in your mind with what you can live with when it comes to today’s leather.

New methods of tanning and manufacturing have brought leather into an affordable range for many pocketbooks.

By now you should know what piece or pieces you want and have pinpointed some basic styles that feel “Right” for you.

It’s time to target a budget and begin to shop. As I’m sure you’re aware, prices vary widely and are often tied to the quality of the piece. finding good furniture that works for you involves understanding how pieces are made and then deciding if the quality of the piece will stand-up in day to day use. Know your needs and your budget…buy the best quality you can afford without going over your budget. Even the best made chair will not be comfortable if you can’t afford it.

Furniture Buying Guide

Learning to draw – Proportion

January 17th, 2011

Easy Steps to Measuring and Proportions in Figure Drawing!

Proportion is a word often associated with another word for artists, stress.

But I’m here to share with you that it doesn’t have to be a stressful word.  Can this really be true?  Is there a simple way to warp speed techniques when measuring proportion?

Yes, I’m here to say that it is true.

Proportion…How big should the head be?  How long should the legs be?  How long should I draw this line?  These are questions, we as artists, face everyday.

It doesn’t matter what kind of artist you are…getting the most out of figure drawing with accurate proportions  will explode your art to new levels.   Without correct proportions, your figure will be inaccurate and lacking at best.

There are several tools and methods to help artists with proportions.

There are certain proportion formulas, such as the figure being a certain many heads tall, or the head of the figure being so many eyes wide.

I like to know these formulas and use them as a guide.

The human form being so individual you can never go strictly off of these formulas alone.

As an artist, it’s important to know these formulas and to be able to recognize the deviations from the formulas in the model/subject you are drawing.

Measuring is a little bit different for every artist.  Don’t overlook it as a tool for proportions.

Just as someone aiming a poolstick or firing a gun does it differently than the next person, so goes it for the artist.  Some artists, while measuring, will shut the left eye and some the right, while others will keep both eyes open (just never keep both shut LOL).   You’ll need to see what’s right for you.

Then, hold your pencil between your thumb and fingers with your fingers wrapped around the pencil.  Measure from the top of your thumb to the end of your pencil.

You can hold your pencil vertical or horizontal for this technique, keeping it at shoulder high.

Your measurement from your thumb to the end of your pencil may only be ½ inch, but on your drawing it could be an inch or more.

All of your measurements are comparative.  For example, if an artist wants to know how long a leg is, she can compare it’s length with the length of the subjects head.  Using the measurement method we discussed with the pencil, it’s easy to compare.

These simple methods, once applied, will soar your drawings, paintings or whatever you are working on.  The advice practice, practice, practice, coupled with masterful technique will help you advance your art quickly and masterfully more than anything else.

This is a very brief overview on proportions and measuring.

For more information on proportions, measurements, drawing people or faces, and much more check out this website…