How to Select Quality Furniture Built to Last

With the shift to online shopping and many of our local brick and mortar shops closing, it’s more important now than ever to know what to look for when shopping for quality furniture.

There are a few key elements to look for that will help you select pieces that will stand the test of time…and handle day to day life with kids and pets!

high quality chairs upholstered what to look for long lasting durable materials smart investment
Quality meets comfort meets stunning pattern in these Waterford Gallery Hall chairs.

1. Look for High-Quality Materials

The first thing we suggest is looking at the specifications of the piece to see what it’s made of.

Basic retail pieces will nearly always be made with particle board and cheap materials (think of that Ikea Kallax unit—that’s particle board), which is why the price point is often so low. We see this often on mid-range retail pieces as well, even at places like Pottery Barn. Know what you are paying for. Particle board will never last forever.

So, what makes quality furniture more expensive? Often it’s the craftsmanship that goes into the frame and the materials that make the piece.

For quality you can count on, we look for solid wood as often as possible. If you are considering a sofa, look for the term “kiln-dried wood frame.” The process results in far superior quality, making it an investment that pays off long down the road.

quality furniture long lasting sofa what to look for kiln dried wood frame 8 way hand tied springs
These beauties have a long, happy life ahead of them! From the Waterford Gallery Hall

2. Prioritize Quality Cushions & Suspension

A good sofa is an investment, and nothing is as important as how a sofa feels when you sit on it. We love to educate our clients on the different ways sofa cushions are constructed because this detail makes the most difference, both in feel and the longevity of the piece.

An inexpensive sofa will likely have foam seat and back cushions.

A mid-range sofa will often have down or poly-wrapped foam cushions, and some may offer an upgrade to include steel spring seat cushions, wrapped in another material.

Our very favorite sit is always a “Spring Down” cushion, which offers the best of all worlds — supportive springs, wrapped in cushiony down.

This graphic from Sherrill Furniture shows the difference in cushion construction.

types of upholstery seat cushions which is best highest quality for furniture

Suspension is also important — the last thing you want is a seat that sags after a year or two. The two constructions we see most often are Sinuous Suspension and my personal favorite: Eight-Way Hand-Tied. This article dives into the differences between the two. Both have their time and place and will ensure your piece lasts long into the future.

Lastly, feel the around the arms and inspect the legs. Can you feel wood on any part of the arm or is it properly cushioned? How solid are the legs? The sturdier, the better.

what to look for quality furniture frame cushion support upholstered chair
In high quality chairs, you shouldn’t be able to feel the wood through arms. (From the Primera Sun Room)

3. Quality Upholstery & Fabric Options

Performance fabric technology has come such a long way in recent years. It’s softer and more stain-resistant than ever. Your kids’ markers, red wine, and dirty paw prints don’t stand a chance. Some standard fabrics can be treated for stain-resistance, but we prefer to source quality performance grade fabrics whenever possible.

Our personal favorite is Crypton, and it is truly magical. You can literally rub marinara into it, and it will wash right off! That’s a fabric that makes for quality furniture you can count on lasting.

Note: Remember that you can have a low quality sofa wrapped in performance fabric, but the cushions and frame may wear out before the fabric ever does. Be mindful of ALL of the components, not just the one!

Other important elements to consider… Are the seams straight? Does the pattern line up for a proper repeat? Is there any puckering? If a piece is skirted, is the skirt evenly hemmed?

These may sound like subtle details, but anything out of place can hint at poor manufacturing. If you’re going to invest in a quality piece, it should be perfect!

leather chair quality construction traits to look for kiln dried wood frame
Quality leather chairs are capable of standing up to long-term play in the Primera Project Game Room.

Understanding what makes quality furniture can be tricky, until you know just what to look for, from frame to support to fabric. Opt for pieces with solid wood, spring cushions, and performance fabric upholstered in a detailed way. Tick these three boxes in your search for a long-lasting upholstered furniture, and it will not lead you astray.

And in case you missed it, be sure to check out my post on the 5 Reasons to Shop at a Designer Showroom… one of which is access to high-quality, designer-only pieces we know and trust!


Styleberry Creative Interiors specializes in fresh, relaxed design crafted in a meaningful way. With a team and process you can trust, we’ll help you create soul-soothing spaces that inspire you to unwind, connect, and finally… exhale.

Styleberry Creative Interiors is based in downtown San Antonio, Texas. We serve clients in the Alamo Heights, Olmos Park, greater San Antonio Metropolitan area and Nationwide.

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5 Steps to Selecting the Perfect Sofa

From style to comfort, quality to size, finding the right sofa takes a trained eye and some strategy! Get our step-by-step guide to discovering your perfect match.