Monday, May 16, 2011

Things to think about when choosing new furniture

Many homeowners getting money back from the state and federal government will use a portion of their tax return to pay for new home furnishings. 

Having the money to shop is a wonderful thing. The problem with large purchases such as a new sofa and loveseat or dining room table is, knowing what to buy. 

Mike Howarth, president and owner of Englishman's Fine Furnishings, which is a national company that specializes in customized furniture, said it can be a challenge choosing a piece that boasts a combination of comfort and personal style while recognizing the home's varied elements of aesthetic form. "But is attainable with some insider knowledge," Howarth said.

Having designed English and European-style reproduction furniture for many years, Howarth is able to offer the following tips:
How do you decorate a room to maximize form and function?
Begin by deciding how the room will be used by you and your family. Is your new dining room table to be used for formal dinners or casual dining? Will it be primarily used by adults or children? If it needs to be family-friendly Howarth recommends a solid wood table as these are resistant to permanent scratches. If you like antiques -- but cannot justify spending a lot of money on a piece that could be ruined by chocolate milk or finger paint -- consider a reproduction. Howarth offers a line with all the beauty and mystique of antiques, along with the benefits of new furniture.  The Mission Hills collection, offered by Art Van furniture, is another fine example of modern furniture, inspired by older designs.
With these options in mind, what constitutes a well-furnished room?
"Begin with style and design," said Howarth. "Then follow with size and placement. Rooms should have space for traffic paths with unblocked openings."
Use heavier pieces for big rooms, but before you start hauling in the big stuff, create a template of the piece with tape to visualize it on the floor.
How do you tell the difference between an antique and reproduction?
Find an expert with a trained eye to look it over. The thickness of veneers can be a sign, as well as drawer joints, screws and the finish. A lot of people who want modern but like the charm of an old piece will have the item designed with realistic markings to give it the authentic appearance of age. The arts and craft-style pieces designed by Michigan native Dan Yates' for the H.O.M.E.S. collection at Art Van has that been-around-but-still-beautiful look to it.
Should furniture match interior colors?
"This can be very much a personal choice but there are a few things to consider," Howarth said. "Warm color palettes for walls, flooring and fabrics can dictate the use of warm tones for wood finishes. Likewise a room's foundational cool tones are best paired with finishes in similar colors."
Options that provide unique appearances might include mahogany, walnut, cherry, oak, alder and maple wood.
If it's a transitional look you're after, Howarth suggests mixing it up a bit such as a mid-cherry, wood dining table, with a lighter yew wood banding. Another great look is a mahogany table with painted white or black chairs.
Does fine furniture hold its value?
Yes. "(But) value is characterized by handcrafted manufacturing that entails subtle or ornate detailing and careful attention at every stage," said Howarth. "We believe the reproductions we design today can become tomorrow's antiques."

 Bring on those gardening questions?
In the next couple of weeks I will be compiling a list of questions to be answered by a master gardener. Need help with your vegetable garden? Not sure if it's too late/early to plant your fruit trees? Send your gardening or even landscape questions to: Spring Gardening Q&A, C/O Gina Joseph, The Macomb Daily, 100 Macomb Daily Drive, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, or email them to gina.joseph@macombdaily.com.

When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a moment longer, never give up then -- for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn -- Harriet Beecher Stowe

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