Construction Details

Simplicity Sofas' furniture construction is more of an art form than an industrial process. Our furniture is built by hand, one piece at a time, in the long tradition of fine North Carolina furniture. 

 Frames - The photo below shows our solid oak frame construction. Our frames are corner-blocked, doweled, stapled and glued. In a normal sofa frame, the weakest part is usually the arms which are typically attached to the base from the side.

Downward pressure from sitting on the arm can weaken the staples or other fasteners holding the arms to the rest of the frame from the side. Simplicity Sofas arm frames have a 2" thick solid oak board which rests directly on top of another 2" thick solid oak board attached to the base. Sitting on the arms does not place any stress on the fasteners which connect the arms to the base and the back.

In the unlikely event that our frames become damaged Simplicity Sofas can quickly replace individual arms, back or base as needed. The new parts can be easily installed by the consumer in a couple of minutes without tools.

The solid oak frame shown below is not a specially built piece just for the photo. This frame was randomly taken out of our stock and photographed without alterations.

 

Spring Support System - Our furniture uses a premium quality elasticized webbing spring system. Elasticized webbing has been used for high end hand-crafted upholstery for more than 100 years. A high quality elasticized webbing, when used with a strong, high quality frame, is typically trouble-free for the expected 20+ year lifespan of the furniture. 

Interior design blogs sometimes criticize the use of elasticized webbing. There is a reason for this. Webbing can also be found in some poor quality furniture. The difference is that a high end product will have a stronger, thicker webbing. It will have more strands of the webbing criss crossing each other. Also, those strands will be securely fastened to a very strong frame.

Lower quality furniture uses fewer strands of webbing. It also will be fastened more loosely because a strong, well-secured webbing can pull apart a weak poorly made frame.

Genuine 8-way hand-tied coil foundations have long been considered the gold standard for seating support systems. Simplicity Sofas furniture can be made with 8-way coils. They add about $600 to the cost of a sofa. However, they do not improve the strength or comfort of our furniture. 

Although 8-way hand tied coils have been the world-wide standard for high end furniture for more than 100 years, its use has been drastically reduced over the past two decades. 

There are three primary reasons for the demise of 8-way hand-tied coils.

  • Comfort -- 8-way hand-tied coils first came into popular use more than 100 years ago. At that time, they were critical to ensuring a comfortable seat. This was back when cushions were being made using down and feathers, horsehair and cotton. Eventually foam began to replace those early cushion materials, but the early foams were far less resilient than those now in use. In addition, cushions were traditionally thinner than they are today. As a result, you could actually feel the foundation beneath the cushions.
  • Today, cushions are made with far more resilient (and thicker) foams or with coil springs inside the cushion core. As a result, the foundation used beneath those cushions becomes far less important to the overall comfort. It is almost impossible, even for an expert, to tell the difference between different foundation support systems when seated on a high quality cushion.
  • Skill -- Many of the older upholsterers who were highly skilled at making 8-way hand-tied coils are dying out or retiring. Very few new upholsterers are willing to make the commitment of time necessary to master this difficult and physically demanding skill for which there is a steadily declining demand.
  • Many of the 8 way foundations sold today are actually drop-in coil units. Although they feature the 8 way knotted twine connecting the coils, that twine does not provide any real support or additional comfort. These "drop-in" units do not require the same level of skill or time consuming labor to install.
  • Cost -- An 8-way hand-tied coil foundation adds $600 to the cost of our sofas. 
  • Durability -- The 8-way hand tied coils are actually less durable than many of the cheaper foundation options.

Cushions

Simplicity Sofas offers a choice of three different cushion constructions. All of our cushions have a total height of 8.5"

All cushions are designed so that both cushion inserts and cushion covers can be easily replaced by the consumer in a few minutes if necessary. This is accomplished by using extra-wide zippers and down-proof tickings that enable the cushion inserts to slide easily in and out of the cushion covers. 

1) 2.5 density HR (High Resilience) Ultracel foam cushions. (This is our "firm" cushion option.)

Our 2.5 density Ultracel foam cushion is one of the finest quality cushions available in the furniture industry at any price. These cushions weigh 1/3 more than the standard 1.8 density foam cushions used by most mid-priced furniture manufacturers. They have an overall thickness of  8.5" with a 5.5" foam core. Surrounding the foam core is a dacron polyester fiber wrapping. The foam and fiber are then wrapped in a heavy-duty down-proof ticking.

Our super premium quality cushions should retain their shape and resilience for 10 years or more. [Resilience is the ability for a cushion to "bounce back" to its original shape and loft after someone has been sitting on it.]

Ultracel uses a special process that allows the foam cells to be closer together than with many other HR foams. This improves the lifespan and ability to bounce back after use.

Ultracel is also eco-friendly, fabricated using a soybean derivitive that reduces the need for petroleum-based ingredients by approximately 20%. 

2) Memory gel foam Cushions. (This is our "medium firm" cushion option.) 

Our Memory gel foam cushions have a 5.5" core of 2.5 density Ultracel foam with a top and bottom layer of Memory gel foam for a "softer" feel. The cushion core is encased in a down proof ticking to allow easy replacement of cushion inserts or covers if needed.

3) Spring-down cushions. (This is our "plush" cushion option.)

Spring Down cushions are designed for a softer initial feel but to be highly supportive once compressed. To achieve this, the heart of the cushion is a pocketed coil spring unit (also known as a Marshall unit) made with 15 gauge tempered steel springs that are individually wrapped in a fabric cover and mechanically tied together to create a complete innerspring core. The spring core is then surrounded with a border of 2.5 density Ultracel foam. 

The cushion is then encased in a tightly woven channeled envelope of high quality down proof ticking, and filled with a blend of feathers and down. The final cushion provides a smooth ride as each material layer yields as the weight is distributed. The first level of comfort comes from the slow release of air from the down proof ticked envelope. The second level comes from the compression of the feather-down and fiber layer and the air stored within. Lastly, you will feel the support of the innersprings as they equally distribute your weight across the cushion. 

Fabrics 

1) Fabric Durability
 
All of our fabrics (except the Category 3 Decorative fabrics) are rated heavy-duty for residential use. The durability of a fabric is determined by Abrasion Testing. This is performed by huge machines that rub back and forth across the fabric until the fibers begin to break. The most common of these tests is the Wyzenbeek Abrasion test.  
 
According to the Wyzenbeek scale if a fabric exceeds 30,000 double rubs it is considered heavy duty for residential use. Fabrics that exceed 100,000 double rubs are heavy-duty for commercial or institutional use. [Some mills use other types of Abrasion tests using different test equipment . For those mills 15,000 double rubs may be the passing mark for a "heavy duty" rating. For a non-expert it can be difficult to tell which scale is being used.] Close to 90% of our fabrics are tested using the Wyzenbeek test scale.
 
All of our Category 2 fabrics test at 30,000 - 50,000 double rubs on the Wyzenbeek scale. 
 
Our Category 3 fabrics are natural fibers such as cotton and linen which test at anywhere from 12,000 double rubs to 30,000 double rubs.
 
Our Category 4 and 5 fabrics test at 30,000 - 100,000 double rubs. A major reason for the difference in pricing between the Category 4 and 5 fabrics is that the Category 4 fabrics are purchased direct from the mills in full 50 yard rolls while the Category 5 fabrics are special ordered through a wholesaler. Only the amount needed for each specific order is purchased for Category 5 fabrics. Fabrics that are purchased through wholesalers are typically 25% - 30% more than the price of the identical fabric purchased in full rolls from the mill.
 
2) Stain protection:
 
All of the Category 2 fabrics are 100% polyester which is a very durable and highly stain resistant fiber. Polyesters are available in a wide variety of textures and looks. Polyester fabrics can look and feel like cotton, linen, velvet, suede, wool, silk and other textures.
 
Our "kidproof" Category 4 and 5 fabrics are American made high performance fabrics that exceed "heavy duty" abrasion ratings and also have built in permanent stain prevention technology. The two brands of "performance" fabrics that we have are Crypton, which uses polyester and polyester blend fibers and STI Revolution which uses polypropylene (olefin) fibers. Crypton fabrics generally have a softer finish and better colors. The Revolution fabrics are virtually stain-proof. If necessary they can be cleaned with straight bleach. Although not all of the Crypton fabrics are completely stain-proof we have removed black permanent marker and heavy oil stains from several of the Crypton fabrics. 
 
One of the advantages of Simplicity Sofas furniture is that everything we make is designed so that if any part of our furniture becomes damaged, soiled, stained or worn out we can quickly and inexpensively replace that part. This includes individual arms, backs, bases, cushion inserts and cushion covers. (For example, typically we charge $25 for replacing a Category 2 cushion cover and $50 for replacing a Category 4 cushion cover.)
 
The added fabric protection spray option adds some protection to natural fibers like cotton and linen, but adds very minimal additional protection to the Category 2 polyester fabrics. The added fabric protection spray is not a permanent treatment and needs to be reapplied each year. 
 
The added fabric protection option is virtually useless on the Category 4 and 5 "kidproof" fabrics. Since those have their own built-in permanent stain protection the spray simply beads up and drops off without penetrating the fibers. 
When Scotchguard came out with the original fabric protection formula in 1952 it was silicon-based and highly effective. Other brand names followed with similar formulations.  
Unfortunately the silicon-based formulas were shown to be potentially carcinogenic and removed from the marketplace in 2002. Subsequently Scotchguard (and its competitors) re-introduced water-based products with the same brand names. These are probably safe, but far less effective. For more specific information on this topic check out the article on our furniture blog titled Should I get Fabric Protection for my New Sofa? 

 Leathers: 

Most of the leathers that we offer are made from European top and full grain hides that are finished in Italy. They are primarily aniline and semi-anilines. There are a few top grain leathers that are sourced in South America and finished in Italy. Leather is a very complex subject.There are literally hundreds of different types of leather being used to manufacture furniture around the world. For more detailed information please call our customer service hotline 800-813-2889.Simplicity Sofas also offers faux leathers made with 100% polyurethane materials. These are very soft and durable -  and cost several hundred dollars less than genuine leather.
Simplicity Sofas does not use "bonded" leather. There are several articles in our Furniture Blog describing this inferior and deceptive product.