Starting in the 90s, furniture has been steadily going downhill in terms of quality in production, and UP in the amount of toxic chemicals used in the building of frames.
Whereas vintage furniture was made with solid, kiln-dried hardwood, new furniture is increasingly made with inferior materials such as chipboard, MDF and soft wood.
Why does this matter?
First of all, MDF, chipboard and soft wood (pine) are not strong enough to support a proper spring system, so you will find that the seats will now be “sprung” with elastic webbing instead of metal springs. Elastic webbing is an inferior support system, especially when spaced so far apart!
Frames made with cheap materials will break down within 3 – 5 years, meaning you will have to replace your furniture, (or live with broken, unsupportive furniture) every 3 – 5 years. That’s great news for furniture stores!
Padding in new furniture is generally all low-grade foam. The cheap foam breaks down fairly quickly, so your new furniture will become uncomfortable and packed down within 3 – 5 years. For cushions, this is ok, since the covers can easily be removed and the foam replaced (not inexpensively). But on the frame, it’s a problem because the whole piece will need to be replaced or padded over, which is very costly. Yes, you may as well buy a new sofa instead of getting your 3 year old sofa recovered. (Consider Vintage as your next replacement!)
The Quality of Vintage
The difference is crystal clear from the upholsterer’s perspective. Once the fabric is removed, the quality of vintage becomes very evident.
Wood can be repaired, chipboard cannot. Once your ‘new’ furniture is broken, it’s time for the curb. Vintage and antique furniture can always be restored, and will last forever.
In vintage and antique furniture, the paddings are most commonly multiple layers of packed cotton on top of springs (in the back) and wood constructed arms. Cotton padding is still used in quality upholstery shops, and in the reupholstery process it’s added as a layer on top of the old, which means less waste, and no harmful chemicals to off-gas.
Absolutely! And that’s the reason Aimee specializes in updating furniture to suit the current design trends. Outdated cushions are easy to make boxy and contemporary.
You know what never goes out of style? Quality construction and antique furniture.
Where do I find vintage furniture?
Your neighbour’s curb, your Grandma’s attic, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Value Village, Flea Markets, Auctions, Garage Sales….it’s everywhere (and that’s because it was made to last!)