Spring Home Improvement 2013

Park it here

By From page SHI3 | April 17, 2013

Your dream sofa should have the right functionality and personality

After a hard day at work where do you go? When you need a quick nap where do you rest your head? It’s time for the game. Where do you sit with that bowl of chips perched on top of your legs?

The sofa: It’s sat on, jumped on, plopped on, spilt on … all this activity makes it arguably the most important piece of furniture in the house. Don’t settle for the blue one that matches the drapes or, worse yet, the one left on the curb with a “free” sign.

Put some thought into your sofa selection.

Not your grandmother’s sofa
Early in the last century purchasing a sofa simply meant going to the store, pointing at your pick, taking it home and sitting on it … forever.

“Buying a sofa isn’t what it used to be,” explained Bridgett Hartshorn, owner of Affordable Furniture and Blinds in Placerville. “(Back then) you bought it once.” And while the sofas (American made) lasted a long time, the selection was less than overwhelming; shoppers chose from a Chesterfield, Davenport or other brand in a limited number of colors and sizes. They were stuck with what they bought “whether it was really comfortable or not,” Hartshorn said.

Then the imports came in and with the plummeting sofa price came a quality downgrade. The average sofa now lasts about seven years, according to Hartshorn.

Any way you want it
Though quality isn’t what it used to be, Hartshorn said smart shoppers can still find a high quality sofa and, best of all, they can purchase one that perfectly fits their needs and style.

Start with quality. Shoppers will see two nearly identical sofas side by side: one for $350 and the other $850.

While the cheaper sofa may seem good at first glance, Hartshorn said, it will wear down faster. Some cheap sofas don’t have removable cushions, which means wear spots will appear in no time. Secondly, she said, the foam inside isn’t as dense and will quickly flatten. Also, cheaper sofas usually come in fewer colors and have short warranties.

Shoppers should expect to spend between $700 to $1,200 for a quality sofa. Affordable Furniture and Blinds sells sofas made by Broyhill Furniture, Lane Home Furnishings and other American companies. They come with rotatable cushions filled with high-density foam, customizable fabrics, a lifetime warranty on the frame and a one- to three-year warranty on the cushions.

Whether shoppers go with the popular neutral colors — browns, moss greens — or pick a bear pattern for their sofa, quality fabric will hold their purchases together longer. “We don’t buy fabrics that are not heavy-duty rated,” Hartshorn said.

Size matters
“So many people buy a chair (or sofa) that’s too large for them,” Hartshorn said. An experienced salesperson will help customers find a sofa with the right height and depth. Customers gravitate toward the colors and style they like, she explained; once a salesperson has that dialed in, they’ll point the shoppers in the right direction.

Fan favorites
Leather was, is and will always be popular, Hartshorn predicted. But the price for leather might deter some shoppers from buying what they really want.

At Affordable Furniture and Blinds, leather look-a-likes made from a polyester fabric get a lot of attention. “It breathes and it’s less expensive than leather,” Hartshorn explained. Less expensive doesn’t mean less luxurious; the look and feel of this fabric will likely fool guests and, because it breathes, the material doesn’t get too hot or cold like some leathers can.

The other perk to this fabric is its durability. “It’s really forgiving … if the cat scratches it or the kids spill on it,” Hartshorn explained.

Futons have also become very popular as their quality has improved over the years. “The sleeper sofa has been replaced,” Hartshorn said. Today’s futons offer a great night sleep on an innerspring mattress, they look and feel comfortable as a sofa or bed, are significantly less expensive than sofa sleepers and are much easier to move.

Local trends
El Dorado County shoppers tend to gravitate toward more traditional sofas, according to Hartshorn. Rolled arms and nail-head trim gel local shoppers’ thumbs up. Affordable Furniture and Blinds also has a good selection of cottage style and shabby-chic styles that sell well.

Hartshorn encourages shoppers to do their homework and suggests shopping at small stores where the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and where shoppers can make the right decision the first time. No one should get stuck with a sofa they hate. Hartshorn said she wouldn’t let that happen at her store, pledging, “If you absolutely hated it I wouldn’t make you keep it.”

Want to know more?
Affordable Furniture & Blinds is located at 55 Fair Lane in Placerville. For more information call 530-621-9566 or visit

Noel Stack

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