Why Can't Sofas Last Forever?
Is there such a thing as well-made furniture?
For example, 10 years ago, upholstered furniture was considered high end only if it had the following characteristics:
- Solid hardwood frames
- 8 way hand tied foundations
- Built to last 20+ years.
Many high quality upholstered furniture brands no longer live up to those standards.
- Many venerable brands have switched from solid hardwood to plywood (or even engineered wood) frames.
- The cost of 5/4″ solid hardwood frames that last 50+ years has skyrocketed over the past decade.
- Top quality plywood frames cost less than half as much, partially offsetting the increased costs of foam, fiber and other components.
- Labor costs have also escalated, partially offset by increased automation and efficiency improvements.
- 8 way hand tied foundations are steadily becoming extinct as the older, highly skilled craftspeople who specialize in this work retire.
- Very few of the new trainees are willing to spend the time and effort needed to master this difficult, physically demanding and boring skill.
- Top of the line brand names no longer guarantee 20+ year lifespans.
- Motion furniture is the fastest growing segment of the furniture industry.
- Most of the high end brands have expanded into reclining and/or sleeper products.
- The mechanisms required for motion seating are not designed to last 20+ years.
- There are a limited number of motion mechanism manufacturers and models.
- Many of the mechanisms used in high end furniture are identical to those used in lower cost products selling for less than half the price.
- Reclining and sleeper mechanisms often fail in less than 10 years, regardless of how well built the rest of the furniture may be.
Is it possible to build furniture that lasts a lifetime?
One furniture company has been pursuing this goal for the past 15 years.
Simplicity Sofas furniture is designed to last forever.
The concept is simple.
- Start off with the best quality, longest lasting materials available, including solid oak frames and 2.5 density Ultracel foam.
- A patented modular design allows each individual furniture component to be easily removed and replaced if needed.
- Damaged and worn out parts can be quickly and inexpensively replaced by the homeowner in a few minutes without tools.
- Individual arms, backs, foundations, legs, cushion cores and cushion covers are easily replaceable.
- Fabrics can be replaced or recovered.
The furniture can be renewed indefinitely.
- Replacement parts can be installed by the homeowner (or a handy 12 year old) in just a few minutes. No tools are needed.
- No professional repair or assembly assistance is ever required.
Simplicity Sofas is based on a modular design concept.
- Hundreds of different furniture pieces can be created using a small number of interchangeable, replaceable common component parts.
- 24 interchangeable components (5 arms, 7 backs, 7 bases, 3 cushions, 2 legs) can be combined to make hundreds of different sofa, loveseat, chair and sectional combinations.
- The photos below show how this small number of common parts are used to create sustainable, renewable furniture.
The first picture shown below is a green modern style Lorelei full size sofa with a flared arm and cylindrical metal legs.
The sofa shown above is assembled from 7 different interchangeable, replaceable component parts including:1) Lorelei style left arm
2) Lorelei style right arm
4) Full-size foundation/base
- The component parts are shipped unassembled.
- Assembly takes 15 minutes. No tools are needed.
The simplest change can alter the appearance of this furniture. For example:
- The blue Lorelei sofa shown above substituted tapered oak legs for the cylindrical metal leg shown above.
- This one small change has changed the couch from contemporary to transitional styling. (Not a particularly impressive change.)
But see what happens when only two other component parts are substituted. The next photo shows a Simplicity Ashton full size sofa.
- Of the 7 original component parts used for the Lorelei sofa above, 3 parts have changed:
- The right and left Lorelei style arms (shown above) have been replaced by Ashton style arms. (See photo below.)
- Two of the back cushions (which are curved to fit over the wide arms) have been changed.
- The full-size foundation/base, full-size back, seat cushions and legs are all identical to the Lorelei sofas shown above.
Changing 3 interchangeable component parts and adding an optional skirt has:
- Changed the style from contemporary/transitional to thoroughly traditional.
- Increased the sofa length from 80" to 88".
Another complete transitional change is shown below.
- Adding a few new interchangeable component parts results in a highly versatile modular sectional.
- The Lorelei style arms on this sectional are exactly the same as in the green sofa pictured above.
- The cushions used on the arm and armless seats is identical with those used on both the Lorelei and Ashton sofas shown above.
- The sofa back and base component parts have been replaced by smaller sectional base and back components.
- There are three new pieces.
- Black legs have replaced the oak legs.
- The wedge corner piece uses an additional 4 component parts that were not used for the sofas.
- The bumper ottoman uses an additional 2 component parts.
Using modular components offers other design advantages.
- The sectional is ambidextrous. Armless pieces can be moved around so that either the left or right can be the longer side.
- Sectionals can have an unlimited number of seats.
- Additional seats can be added at any time.
- Styling can be inexpensively modified by substituting different legs or alternative arms.
Sustainable, renewable furniture requires component parts that can be quickly and easily replaced in the home.
- Because all styles and sizes are part of a single unitized design, no parts are ever discontinued or unavailable. (Fabrics are a special case and are addressed below.)
- This modular furniture system is designed for repeated assembly and dis-assembly.
- Hand tightened fastening hardware allows the furniture to be quickly assembled, dis-assembled and re-assembled dozens of times with no loss of strength or durability.
- Individual arms, backs, bases and legs are securely attached, but easily removable for replacement.
Cushions are replaced more frequently than any other sofa part.
- Simplicity Sofas starts with the highest quality cushions.
- 2.5 density foam and Spring Down cushions have a 10 - 15+ year lifespan for most people.
- Cushion covers and cores are designed for easy removal and replacement without professional assistance.
- Extra wide, heavy duty zippers go all the way across the cushion back and partway up the sides.
- Cushion cores are encased in a fabric ticking beneath the fabric or leather cushion cover.
Worn or damaged fabrics can be quickly and easily replaced for individual parts or entire pieces.
- Individual replacement parts can be upholstered at the factory and shipped to the customer.
- The damaged or worn part does not need to be returned. It can continue to be used until the replacement arrives.
- When fabrics are discontinued or not available, the entire piece can be recovered in a new fabric, which fits over the old fabric.
Tailored, fitted slipcovers are available for all Simplicity Sofas furniture.
- Slipcovers are designed to fit over the original upholstery.
- Worn out, stained or damaged fabrics can be completely covered over so that the furniture looks brand new again.
- Furniture lifespan can be extended by alternating two completely different looks (with and without slipcover.)
Below is one more sofa look.
- The leather sofa shown is made using the same back, base and cushion components as the other sofas pictured in this article.
- Only the arms and legs are different.