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 kiln dried solid oak frame construction. Our frames are corner-blocked, doweled, stapled and glued. 

  • In traditional frame construction the arms are a particular weak point. Arms are typically fastened to the frame from the side. Downward pressure from sitting on an arm can bend and weaken the fasteners attaching the side supported arms to the frame.
  • Simplicity Sofas arms are not fastened from the sides. Arm frame components have a 2" thick solid oak support board which rests directly on top of another 2" thick solid oak board attached to the top of the base. The hardware connecting the arms to the base attaches from top to bottom, not from the sides. Sitting on the arms does not place any stress on these fasteners. 
  • In the highly unlikely event that our frames become damaged, Simplicity Sofas can quickly replace individual arms, back or base as needed. The new parts (shipped fully upholstered) can be easily installed by our customers 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. 

  • We use kiln dried FAS Select grade oak lumber, the highest grade available.

  • Select grade lumber has almost no imperfections such as splits, cracks, knotholes or warpage.

  • This grade of lumber is normally seen only on exposed furniture surfaces. No other furniture manufacturer uses select grade solid oak lumber for internal sofa frames that cannot be seen. 

 

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, will be trouble-free for the 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 will be fastened more loosely, because a strong, well-secured webbing can pull apart a weak, poorly made frame.
  • In the entire history of Simplicity Sofas, there has not been a single problem with any of our foundations or frames.

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. However, they are extremely expensive and 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, their 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 150 years ago. At that time, they were critical to ensuring a comfortable seat. This was back when cushions were made using down and feathers, horsehair, cotton or straw. 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 sitting on a high quality seat 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 $800 to the cost of our sofas. 

  • Durability -- The 8-way hand tied coils are less durable than our elasticized webbing. The twine used in the 8 way hand tie is susceptible to breaking after about 10 years.

Simplicity Sofas does not use sinuous wire (zig zag) springs in our foundationsSinuous wire is the least expensive type of spring. It is particularly cost effective in mass produced upholstery. Although sinuous wire is very durable when properly fastened, small shops specializing in hand made custom furniture have traditionally used webbing.

Cushions

Simplicity Sofas offers a choice of three different cushion constructions

  • All of our cushions are designed so that both cushion inserts and cushion covers can be easily replaced by our customers in just a few minutes, without professional assistance. 
  • We use heavy-duty extra-wide, hidden zippers that run all the way across the back of the cover and halfway down the sides. Down proof fabric jackets are sewn over the cushion cores. 
  • (Mass produced cushion covers and cores can only be replaced by professional upholsterers. Replacement is expensive.) 

1) 2.5 density HR (High Resilience) Ultracel foam cushions. (This is our "extra 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. The cushions have an overall thickness of  8.5". Surrounding the foam core is a dacron polyester fiber wrapping.
  • The fiber wrapped foam cores are then enclosed in a heavy-duty down-proof fabric ticking. Enclosing cushion cores in a fabric ticking is rarely done for foam cushions. We do it because it helps maintain the cushion's shape better over the lifetime of the cushion. It also enables our customers to easily replace cushion cores and covers without professional assistance. 
  • Our super premium quality cushions should retain their shape and resilience for 10 years or more for average size people and average use. (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 (High Resiliency) 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 the same 2.5 density Ultracel foam core with an added top and bottom layer of Memory gel foam. This gives the cushions a "softer" feel. You sink down through the memory gel foam topper before reaching the firm 2.5 density foam core. The cushion core is then encased in a down proof ticking to allow the cores to slide in and out of the cover easily in the event that covers or cores ever need replacement.

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

  • Our Spring Down cushions are still "firm" but designed for a softer initial feel than the first two cushion options. They are 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. (Note - Most cushion fabricators use a 1.8 density foam border surrounding the coil springs. Since this border does not receive the bulk of a sitter's weight, the less dense foam is considered "sufficient" by even high end manufacturers.) 
  • 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 layer and the air stored within. Lastly, you will feel the support of the fabric wrapped innersprings as they equally distribute your weight across the cushion.
  • Historical note - The Marshall unit coil springs, used in our spring down cushions, were first developed in 1901 for use in the mattresses of luxury ocean liners. At that time these coil spring mattresses were considered the most luxurious and comfortable in the world. In the 1930s the Simmons Mattress company discovered a method of automating the manufacturing process for the Marshall unit springs. This became the basis for their Beautyrest mattress line, which is still being produced 90 years later.

Fabrics 

1) Fabric Durability

  • Most of our 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. 
  • Our Category 4 and 5 fabrics are all "high performance" which 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.

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. 50 years ago polyester fabrics were prone to "pilling" and other problems. There have been amazing technological improvements, particularly in the past 10 years. Today, 100% polyester and polyester blends are among the most durable and stain resistant fabrics available. These polyesters can look and feel like cotton, linen, velvet, suede, leather, 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 stock 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. 
  • 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. 
  • The added fabric protection spray option offers 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. (Also you can purchase similar fabric protection sprays such as Scotchguard for less than $10 at your local hardware store.)
  • 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. 
Historical note about added fabric protection:
  • When Scotchguard® came out with the original fabric protection formula in 1952 it was silicon-based and highly effective. Other brands 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.