Developing ability in choosing of furniture depends not only on knowledge but on consciously sharpening your aptitude for seeing and evaluating differences. Compare and contrast furnishings in stores, catalogs, books and magazines and carefully note the good points and weaknesses of each piece. Some chairs and sofas look neat and trim and well scaled for a typical room, but they may not be as comfortable as they look and the price may be too high.
As you continue to look, think and compare, you become able to size up all aspects of a piece of furniture and evaluate it as a whole. In this way you will build a sensible scale of values and be able to make a choice of furnishings that combine value, quality, beauty and comfort.
When selecting furniture never take it on its face value. Test a table or cabinet by pressing on diagonally opposite corners. If it sways backwards and forwards, it’s to be avoided as use will make this more pronounced and it will become rickety.
Always inspect the inside of cupboards, wardrobes and chests and the underneath of chairs and sofas. Such faults as projecting nails, split wood, unplaned surfaces, untidy gluing and staining will indicate poor quality.
Always take drawers out and look at the backs and sides. If the back is ragged and fixed with nails or tacks it is not good enough. Drawers should not stick or wobble, but move easily and sit firmly in their runners.
Ensure that any furniture, such as dining chairs, that will be seen from the back looks good from all angles.
Finally, when selecting furniture consider locally designed and made products to support local designers and manufacturers. For a completely individual result you could even commission a local furniture designer to custom make pieces specifically for your home. There are many talented furniture designers in Egypt and commissioning their skills can cost less than high-end imported products.
Also the local furniture designers and importers are up against rip-off merchants who copy their original designs and have them made up cheaply. Watch out for this and always go for the better quality originals.
We spend a third of our lives in bed so it is important to select the very best bed and mattress you can possibly afford with excellent lumbar support (especially important for growing children) and maximum comfort for a good night’s sleep. Most specialist bedding showrooms can offer expert advice to select the right bed for your height and weight, allergy or asthma prevention needs etc. Make sure that you lie on the bed and test it before final purchase is made.
The variety of sofas available is legion: straight, curved, angled to fit a room, with or without arms, traditional or contemporary in style. Here are some points to look for when selecting a sofa:
- It should be long enough for you to stretch out on.
- Low and deep enough for relaxation but high and firm enough that it is easy to get up from.
- Arms for comfort if you will use the sofa for reading or television viewing.
- Convertible into a bed if extra guest accommodation is required.
- Modular if you enjoy flexibility and rearranging furniture.
- Upholstery should combine beauty and durability.
With chairs, comfort results when weight and pressure are spread and tension is eased if:
- The height of the seat is somewhat less than the length of the sitter’s lower legs, so that the feet rest on the floor and the legs are relaxed.
- The depth of the seat is somewhat less than the length of the sitter’s upper leg so there is no pressure point under the knee.
- The width of the seat is ample enough to permit some movement.
- The seat is shaped so as to be resilient so that pressure is not concentrated on the small, weight-bearing edge of the pelvis.
- Both seat and back are tilted backward slightly to buttress the sitter’s weight.
- The angle between the seat and back should be 95 degrees or more.
- The chair back should support the small of the sitter’s back.
- In some cases it is desirable to have the position of the seat and back adjustable for different persons or for different ways of relaxing.
- Lightweight side chairs strong enough to allow frequent moving permit flexibility in furniture arrangement and ease of floor cleaning.
When selecting a table look for:
- Necessary strength and stability.
- Supports that are out of the way of feet and legs.
- The right height, size and shape for their intended use.
- Made of durable materials.
Sit down meals require a table that is stable enough not to be rocked by children bumping into it or someone carving a roast on it. The top should be large enough to give each person 60cm of elbow room and high enough to give leg room between chair and lower surface. Supports should be out of the way of sitters’ feet and knees.
A table that can be extended in size is also worth considering. As tablecloths are rarely used these days, it pays to look closely at the durability, ease of maintenance and beauty of the top surface.
Most dining tables are rectangular, as they are harmonious with rectangular rooms, can be pushed against a wall or into a corner and are slightly less costly to make. In the right setting, however, a round or oval table will give a friendly, convivial group feeling.
Always check dining chairs and table together because often their legs interfere with each other, the heights of the two are not coordinated or the space between chair and table is insufficient for the sitters’ comfort.
Many coffee tables have no storage space for the little things that are part of a living room such as magazines, TV guide and remote controls, are too low to be reached comfortably from the sofa and to give foot room, and, if in scale with the sofa, they usually block traffic. The most useful coffee tables are about 40cm high and have some storage space incorporated. Their top surface is durable and supports are strong but slender.
Convenience in a living area demands a table, however small, within easy reach of every chair. So you generally find a table at each end of a sofa and for each group of chairs. Ideally these tables should be very lightweight but sturdy for flexible arrangement when entertaining. Unlike coffee tables, these end or occasional tables seldom interfere with feet and often provide shelves or drawers for supplementary storage.
They look better if they are the same height as the arms of upholstered sofas or armchairs but are more convenient and less prone to spillage of drinks if they are a little higher or lower.
Often these tables are used for supporting table lamps. Nests of tables greatly simplify entertaining.