Buying Upholstery Is A Lot Like Buying Underwear (Part Two)

Buying Upholstery Is A Lot Like Buying Underwear

Buying Upholstery Is A Lot like Buying Underwear (Part Two)

There are a lot of little choices to make when it comes to choosing both upholstery and underwear, most not covered by either HGTV or Victoria’s Secret… so here are  a few other tips on what to consider in evaluating fit and feel for the former.  

If you’re good on  proportions and the pitch, let’s move onto the arms.

  • If  you’ll be reading, working on the laptop, or crossword puzzles in your new upholstery-bring said products to the store. Spend a few minutes using them… are your elbows and shoulders both relaxed and supported at a natural height? If your shoulders are hunched up-arms are too high; if you are forcing your shoulders down, arms are too low.
  • Will you be laying down on the sofa at all?  Make sure you are wearing good socks, clear it with your salesperson, and stretch out. This comes up under ‘arms’ because a low, gently rolled arm is MUCH better to lay your head on-to wedge a pillow against– that a wide flat track arm.

Filling materials 

Natural materials-latex foam, down feather, and (ok, many years ago) horsehair were all common upholstery materials. Latex fell out of favor a few decades ago-it’d dry out and ossify; then urethane foam became uber-pricey overnight,  post-Katrina, when the  refineries were wiped out (it’s a petroleum-based product). Down and horsehair have little body and no resiliency, but it’s what Nanna knows to ask for.

For a nice blend of support and cush, The Refreshed Home likes cushions with a spring embedded in the dense foam core, then wrapped with Dacron fiberfill to make them pretty and full. But one word: ALLERGIES. If anyone in your household-or regular circle of visitors-has allergies, ask a lot of questions about all the construction materials.


This post came about because Aunt Lucy was asking my advice about surprising her son with a recliner for Christmas. My advice-DON’T. Lucy is about 4’9, and likes to see dainty, pretty things. My cousin Joe is about 5’10, all arms and very very leggy.

  • In addition to all the above, if the footrest on a piece of motion furniture is too short, the weight of your unsupported foot will stretch the tendons and ligaments in the ankle. 
  • Similarly, it’s the weight of the upper body that allows the sitter to open, close, and keep the recliner steady.  And when you lean back,  the head and neck  need to be supported so you can read, watch TV, etc without undue strain-all things only the sittee can determine.

Not sure what Aunt Lucy is going to, but here’s what I suggested:  As lovely as it might be to see the actual something in the house on Christmas morning, you’ve got a good chance of guessing wrong…and that can be a pricey proposition.  Instead, stop by the hobby shop, and buy the doll house version instead.  You’ve got thoughtfulness, surprise and good intent all in a nice small package; chances are you’ll get some nice January sale prices as well as exactly the right piece!