Is there a guide to buying highend furniture online?
I have no idea where to begin.
Laura, unless someone tells you store xxx is selling xxx bedroom set for $xx less than a store near you it is all a shot in the dark. Potential to become a "by my fourth set I really found this winner".
Go see the stuff for yourself.
This comes from a man in the furniture business who has a website.
A few years ago I was looking for a high-end couch to replace ours. I found a lot of discussions about the subject here and most were talking about outlets in one of the Carolinas. I posted a question similar to yours and got flamed for not supporting my local furniture store. I was shamed so I found a local one that had a couch that I thought was pretty high end and bought it for a lot of money. Turned out it was actually upper mid-range in quality and I think I would have been better off to chance an on-line outlet. Go back and search the recommended outlets with the search engine here and you will run into a lot of threads.
Some interesting ideas here... http://finance.yahoo.com/news/first-person-6-ways-save-50-furniture-152200028.html
Here is a link that might be useful: 6 Ways I Save Up to 50% on Furniture
A few years ago we built a new home, very different than our last home, and bought new furniture for every room except one guest bedroom.
We went to NC shopping, we also shopped local. We first picked out the items we wanted. With couches & chairs, I have to sit in them.. can't just buy from a picture. With a BR set, that was ok to buy from a picture.
I made a spreadsheet of the items we wanted, and compared prices. I own a local business, and would MUCH prefer to buy local.. but for example.. on our master BR.. which we only bought a bed(headboard & foot board), a large Armoire, and one night stand.. prices varied as much as 3K! If I had to pay a few hundred more to support a local store I would. 3K. NO. In my spreadsheet I totaled ALL costs.. taxes, if applicable, shipping, delivery.. etc and compared the bottom line. In every item we purchased.. the prices varied immensely!
I didn't always go with the cheapest.. I would check every business out before ordering. BBB, online, here on GW..
Not everything was high end, but half was.. our dining room was Marge Carson.. we actually found a floor model at Boyles in NC and bought that there, for 50%+ off retail.
We purchased quite a few items from Elite Interiors in SC, we also bought our Master BR set from Beachers in Indiana,& we bought some items local.
Find what you want, then shop price, then check out the merchant.
I think if you know what you want it's quite easy to comparison shop online.
When a manufacture builds a sofa it will cost them the same to build no matter what the fabric is, when you take the costs of fabric or leather out of their costs. Over half the costs of a sofa at the manufacturers level is in the fabric and manytimes 75% of the costs in the leather. The discounts or bargains you find is because of the discounts applied to the costs of the fabrics or leathers, usually because excessive inventory, discontinued or returns on a specific fabric or leather. This applies online or at retail.
Readers of this forum should be aware that the previous poster's statement that "over half the costs of a sofa at the manufacturer's level is in the fabric" applies only to very high end furniture with exclusive "designer" fabrics (or leather). Even then it is still an exaggeration in most cases.
It is fairly typical for even high end companies, retailing [non-leather] sofas for over $2500, to use numerous fabrics that they purchased for $5-$10 per yard (in addition to more expensive fabrics.) A typical sofa uses 12 - 18 yards of fabric.
Not to discourage new members in anyway, I just hope that when anyone that follows up on a comment that they are sure of their facts. and in this case I hope that Denise1000 has a engineering background in upholstery manufacturing.
In response to the previous comment I would like to state that one of my jobs for many years has been the purchasing of fabrics for a mid-priced ($1200 - $1500 sofa retail) upholstered furniture line. I buy many of the same fabrics that are purchased by high end manufacturers ($2500+ retail for fabric sofas).
One important detail that may be getting lost in this discussion is that the price of fabrics, when bought by the roll (usually 50 yards) is far less than the price of the same fabric purchased in smaller quantities. A retail discount fabric store typically prices its fabrics at 400% or more over the volume price of that same fabric purchased by the roll.
At the high end, when dealing with expensive designer fabrics that are bought and sold only in small quantities the discounts are not as great. That may be what you were thinking of in your comment. Even high-end upholstery manufacturers, however, buy most of their fabrics in volume.
Many, if not most, of the high end fabric sofas produced have fabric costs of $500 or less.
You have to know that the actual costs of manufacturers to carry fabrics, is not just the upfront costs of a roll of fabric, whether purchased from a distributor or a mill. Their is transport costs, inventory costs and EOL costs.
Even if the fabric costs is $400 for a typical sofa, the actual costs of the manufacturer to build this sofa: from start to finish is still normally 50% of this costs.
Of course a manufacturers fabric buyer wouldnt have knowledge of this or need to know, as this is not part of their job.
I see that this thread has restarted after many months. I wish someone would describe the dealers online for the original poster or someone else interested. At one time someone listed their favorite high end manufacturers and I wrote that down. The list included H&M (Hancock&Moore), Stickley, Hickory Chair, and even Lee. But there are dealers online that sell those if you know what model and fabric you want. I started that route before I decided to buy locally. Don't recall the dealers now, but they were named at this forum at the time (about 3-4 years ago)
High end manufacturers fall into several camps. They should all boast hand-made construction that will last 20 years or more. Then there are the upper end designer labels, followed by the more generic (or lesser designer labels), then the high end of the mid-range (some of which may not be bench-made goods).
Here are some loosely ranked:
Upper end designer
- Henredon (Barbara Barry - before moving back to Baker)
Mid-Upper (generic and designer)
- Hickory Chair
- Hancock & Moore
These are mostly for upholstery. Other choices are good for case goods. Personally, I think Councill and Century are two of the better choices for such a list.
Baker is outrageously priced. High design and exclusive designer fabrics help them give the lush look.
I would never design entirely in high-end, but careful mixing and matching would be required.
We just picked up two Barbara Barry Grace chairs discounted to $2500 CDN each. We will probably pair them with a locally manufactured sofa with COM fabric (Mitchell Gold) to get a matching look.
Mitchell Gold is actually high-style, but quite cheaply constructed furniture.
I can only speak from my personal experience. I have bought mid to high end furniture over the years at substantial savings over local furniture stores. I bought from businesses that sold for 10-20% over their cost. They were recommended by trusted friend or family member, or in one case, a designer that I knew personally. My most recent experience was looking for fabric to recover a 30 yr. old high end chair. Our local furniture store that sells mid to high end furniture gave me a price on the fabric I selected. I then called the furniture manufacturer to see if they would sell their fabric to me. They said they can only sell to a wholesaler or furniture store. I asked for a recomendation of a trusted local furniture dealer. They gave me the name of a furniture store. I bought the fabric a 50% less than my local store. I'm sure the store where I purchased the fabric made a profit, as well they should. I thought the local furniture store in my area was making an excessive charge to me. What would you have done?
There are a lot of "horror" stories about buying on line. Many I'm sure are true. The best advice I could give is to do your research on the companies and individuals you want to do business with.
It is important to comparison shop when shopping for quality high end furniture. Online comparison shopping is an easy and fast way to find the best deals on furniture.A reputable high end furniture dealer will be able to help you to make the best selections.It is important to make sure you find out if delivery is included in the price of the furniture. There are many online furniture stores offering low prices on high-end furniture that includes the price of delivery.
I've lived in the Baltimore area my whole life and would love to know where to go to shop for mid to high end furniture. All the stores I know sell crap. No interest in driving to DC area. I don't like to buy online sight unseen.
What exactly constitutes high end? I am looking at furniture from a local furniture store. I am looking at leather armchairs in the 2,200 to 2,500 price range. Sofa in the same range, and upholstered tub chairs slightly over 1,000. This furniture is made by Smith Brothers of Berne. The sofa that I want is the one pictured in red leather on their home page. Fortunately the local furniture store carries this line. The furniture is very comfortable and the finishing touches are really nice as are the fabrics used. This is the price point I am comfortable with and I love the furniture for aesthetics and comfort. The absolute best part is it is made in the USA!!!
You never know until you have furniture in place how it will wear but I think what I chose is lovely just not sure if I should do the sofa in leather or the lineny fabric that I originally chose. This will most likely be the last furniture that I purchase so I want it to be of good quality. I honestly don't care if it is considered mid or high end because that is all relative depending on what point you are at in your life.
Smith Brothers makes a very good product. You might want to ask the store some details of how the set is constructed as far as the frame, spring and cushions.
Thank you freethinker. I was on their website looking and I am impressed. The frames are kiln dried maple hardwood and it says the legs are built into the frame. I have no idea how that is done or why it's better but I guess it is sturdier. They do three types of testing on the fabrics that they use to check for wearability. I loved the furniture that I saw. It looked very well made and nicely finished. The sales gal was a bit of an air head so I figured it would be best to do my own homework. After spending about an hour on their site I was sold. Thanks again for the thumbs up.
I live in central New Jersey in a fairly nice upper middle class neighborhood.
I don't know how it is in the rest of the country, but around here there are not many nice local furniture stores anymore. Most have been chased away by Raymour & Flanagan, which are almost as ubiquitous as Home Depot, which similarly dispossessed all the local hardware stores.
There are only a few of the original stores left, if you don't mind a long drive, but if they don't carry something you like you're out of luck.
I had a very bad experience with an online company. I had been seeing their ads in decorating magazines for years, you know the ones in North Carolina from years ago that were all atwitter about how much you could save by buying through them. Well I sent them 50 percent and never received the furniture. I kept calling and calling and was finally told the company went out of business and to get in line if I ever wanted to see a dime of my money. It was devastating. There was a class action lawsuit for which I received a pittance back eventually. But some people lost tens of thousands of dollars. I lost about a thousand which is a lot of money for newlyweds ~at the time. I would advise against it and always, always put on your American Express or some other card where you can get your money back if possible.
We purchased two Hancock and Moore recliners last year from Annies Fine Furniture for delivery in Texas. Great price and excellent result. We recently ordered two Marge Carson tables from Elite Interiors. Not due for delivery for a few months but really happy with the service provided by Shiela Parker.
I disagree with this person's complete list I would put Hancock and Moore along with Century, Sherrill's and Wesley Hall THE BEST QUALITY.
FOR MIDDLE CLASS I would put Classic Leather and Bradington Young
FOR THE BOTTOM Baker, Henredon, Hickory Chair, Lee
THE NO NO's VANGUARD, LEATHERCRAFT, THOMASVILLE and BERNHARDT!
how does rowe fall in here
Vanguard and LeatherCraft both make an excellent product.
I am really tired of reading comments online in which the posters have some sort of ax to grind and seem to take pleasure in bashing companies in anonymity, for who knows why.
I am not saying so in your case but in many cases the disparagers are obviously competitors with their own agendas.
Leathercraft for example uses a 5/4 solid maple frame, a true 8 way hand tied spring and high end leathers and has excellent tailoring. How can you possibly say they are a no no..
Tell me what is it you don't like about Leathecraft? What is the basis for your comment. And I have noted that you have made these before about this company.
Please provide us with specifics. And I do know this product, I have many years of experience, so I will be ready to analyize your comments.
Quite frankly there are only a handful of companies building furniture to their standard.
Rowe by the way is not a bad product. They have a plywood frame and generally use a no sag spring. They may have some sofas with drop in units. I would say they are pretty nice for a sofa in a moderate price range.
I used the link to lifeinteriors and found it was a site in Dubai where the furniture looked pretty junky to me. No manufacturer until you click on an item and then it was one I never heard of.
I would add Taylor King as a very good USA manufactured line. Most all of their fabrics are USA as well. They have a beautiful e-catalog online.
Nerdyshopper, that's just spam and I flagged the post. You shouldn't just click on links, some are nasty. At least install WOT (Web of Trust) and see if the website linked is truly bad or merely unknown. This one is completely unrated, and may or may not be even related to a semi-legit business.
But the basic rule of safe surfing is to not just click on every link you come across.
Why would anyone post a site in Dubai for a USA market?