Upholstery Advice

trinimommySeptember 26, 2013

I need your advice. I recently ordered a new chair and sofa. The upholstery I selected for the sofa is subtle walnut brown herringbone pattern; the chair (in the picture) in subtle multi-colored pattern that nicely complements the sofa. The first thing I noticed is that the upholstery on the kick panel was not laid straight and is off by close to a quarter of an inch. Then, what surprised me the most was the way the upholstery was laid on the side of the chair. The rows drop off the bottom of the chair. It makes this chair look cheap let alone unattractive.

I contacted the store where I purchased the chair and stated that I did not think this was an appropriate pattern for this chair or that it was not upholstered properly. The salesperson never said anything to me that it would not be a good pattern. The store claimed that the manufacturer would have told them if it was not an appropriate pattern. The manufacturers web site I learned does not recommend striped or plaid patterns for this style chair. I think this pattern has a "striped" quality to it.

I still took issue with them. They sent an upholsterer to look at the chair. They are willing to accept the chair in return (although it seems begrudgingly to sell it in their return section) and order another chair recommending in the same material as the sofa.

I trust your good judgement (I know there are a lot of pros here) and would like your opinions. Does this seem like an appropriate pattern to you or am I just being a "fussbudget."

By the way, this is a Smith Brothers of Bern chair. I love the style and the size (fits my small frame perfectly) and aside from this issue and the kick panel, the build quality is very good.

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By just the photo taken, this is what we call a sock-on arm. The inside and the outside of the arm is one piece of fabric. With a fitted panel sewed to the front of the arm. Now if the arm height (measuring just the upholstered frame not including the legs) is exactly the same at the front as the back of the arm, then the pattern will be straight. But if their is a difference, meaning the front of the arm is higher that the back, the pattern will fall off at the back of the arm. Just like in the photo. The only way around this is to seam on both sides at the top of the arm to take in the difference in height from front to back. But that means changing the cutting patterns to match a pattern fabric. And this wont happen in normal production, it has to be done in Product Development. Basically what im saying; anyone who orders this style of arm in a horizontal pattern will have the same results.
The retailer and Smith Brothers has offered you the best solution for this, now its up to you to decide on this issue.
But for the kick panel, not sure what your referring to, as this normally refers to a Kick Pleat Skirt? Their shouldnt be any gaps between a KPS on the corners where they are sewed together at the top, but will gap open as the skirt hangs.
Unless this is a motion piece and your referring to the gap between the inside of the arm and foot rest? Again, this gap should be closed at rest.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 10:34PM
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What I'm finding everywhere, not just with furniture, is that there are no professionals, only "salespeople", who are there just to make the sale. Customers have no choice but to rely on the knowledge and expertise of the supposed "professional", and in my opinion, you absolutely should have reasonably expected your salesperson to advise you that this upholstery would not work for this chair and why.

Instead, these companies pay lousy wages to salespeople, don't teach them diddly squat about anything, probably slap some quota on them in order to keep their jobs, and so they yes you to death just to get the sale.

Then, when something like this happens (see my post about Hickory Park Furniture), they get angry at the customer, sigh and get all perturbed as if you're being a pill and bothering THEM.

It's infuriating. You're lucky your place is taking any responsibility; Hickory Park literally chuckled at me and hung up on me; CR Laine is no longer responding to me at all, despite acknowledging that the problems with my sofa originate from both the sales and manufacturing ends, NOT from mine.

No one would look at the upholstery on your chair and think that is normal and not a terrible upholstering job. I don't think you're being a fussbudget at all...but notice how you (maybe?) have been made to feel guilty?

It's absurd. This is (another) reason why retail stinks now: poorly made products; uninformed, detached salespeople...


    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 7:43AM
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I believe its most important that GW readers are not mislead from realities and facts about furniture and how its made. Thats why I posted and tried to explain what can take place when different styles of frames are covered in patterned fabrics. A square sofa will yield a straight pattern, but on a miter or round shape, please dont expect that the pattern can always follow this shape. As fabric mills dont design patterns to match a specific frame shape.
BTW the upholster, upholstered this chair exactly as their Product Development Dept. designed it to be.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 6:52PM
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Manbike, that is exactly what my retailer is telling me - the chair was upholstered exactly the way is was supposed to be. However, I am a busy professional who has little time to dedicate to extensive furniture shopping, and while I knew enough about how a good piece of furniture is constructed, I know less about the finer points of upholstery pattern selection. As a matter of fact, when this upholstery issue came up and I wanted to learn about it, I could not find anything on the net - perhaps I didn't have enough of a vocabulary to find what I was looking for. That's when I remembered about GW's furniture forum. Tibbirx point is well taken. Do customers have to have a Ph.D. in upholstering before they make a purchase? I rely on the knowledge of my salesperson to alert me to issues of pattern selection based on furniture size and shape. I had no idea this pattern would look like this on the chair I selected. I selected it to complement the sofa's upholstery and my living room's color scheme. Why this pattern is not on SB's "no no" list for this style chair is not understandable to me or on a "caution list." If I knew how terrible this pattern was going to look on this chair, I would not have selected it. This is not a question of "well, the customer insisted" - it is what the customer selected among SB's fabrics without any guidance by the "professional" sales staff about how it would look on the chair. I came to this forum for advice/opinions so I could make a reasonable response to my retailer. I do appreciate what I am learning from you.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 12:41AM
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This is where the services of a professional interior designer can help in making these key decisions on furniture styles and fabrics. Some retailers have designers on staff, always check their credentials, or better a independent interior designer will have greater depth of knowledge, experience and a much wider range of manufacturers products and customizations to choose from.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 8:51PM
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Holly- Kay

It is frustrating. This world has become a "buyer beware" society. I own a business and I rely on professional accountants but can't tell you how many times I have seen a glaring error and had to call them on it. I am paying big bucks to them but still have to be on the look out for their errors.

It is also frustrating when you as a consumer have taken your time in trying to find a reliable furniture manufacturer and then have an expensive piece look "not quite right". Have them take it back and either suggest a chair style that will work with your fabric or suggest a different fabric that will work for your chair.

I don't think you are being a fuss budget at all. You are paying for quality and should expect it. Smith Brother's is a very nice quality but your sales person should have known better. Yes, the salesperson may have not been trained but it is their responsibility to learn their trade even if it means learning on their own. No matter where my professional life has taken me I have learned by reading, researching, and picking the brain of my superiors.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2013 at 2:33PM
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Thanks, everyone, for your replies. I called my retailer and they will accept a return and order a new chair for me. I decided to have it covered in the same fabric as the sofa which is in a nice subtle herringbone pattern (brown). I'll use colorful pillows and throws to give it some punch. Considering the two pieces will be placed next to each other in a small condo, I think this is the best solution.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2013 at 11:40PM
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Or, try having it covered in a different color herringbone, a color that is IN the brown of the sofa, so that they work together, but is not the brown itself. Then add more life with pillows that similarly offset each other on each piece, ie: different pillows on the chair than on the sofa, but pillows which will work on either.

I think that would be beautiful but add some oomph and character.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 8:09AM
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