Home Decor

The art of buying quality furniture

There’s a period in your life when buying Swedish inspired furniture is all very well. It is stylish even if only because it is everywhere, and no one can fault your taste.

But there comes a point in everyone’s life where they have the opportunity to take things up a little. When it comes to buying quality furniture few of us know where to start or what to look for.

There are pitfalls too. What if you bought an antique corner-thing only to find it is riddled with woodworm and is going to fall apart in about twenty minutes?

How do you even begin to know quality?

There are a number of starting points and things you can look for. Starting with how does our Swedish imports do it? Now look for the opposite.

For example, things held together with staples, glue or nails are not craftsman work. There are multiple levels of craftsman so don’t assume just because it doesn’t have staples it is, therefore, craftsman and should cost a fortune.

If we use a dining room armoire or sideboard to show what to look for we might look for the following:


There are two types of joint; dovetail and mortise and tenon. In dovetail, the wood is cut with teeth-like shapes which fit together like a jigsaw. The alternative has a narrowed end on one side fit into a hold on the other.

These joins are often strong enough to hold a piece naturally but are often glued for added strength. But if you can see the glue – it is not a craft piece.

Drawers and doors

Drawers should open smoothly and have a stop at the back to prevent it coming out too far. Here’s a tip for the very best drawers, the bottom floats in a groove rather than being attached. It allows for the wood to breathe naturally, expanding and contracting with the season.

Doors should hang straight. The wood around them should not show a sort of arc mark where the door has rubbed when opened and closed. When it is closed it should stay shut without forcing it.

Other things to look for

How is the back attached? What is it made of? If it is plywood, then it’s a no-no. It does not need to be a thick piece of timber, but it does need to reflect the furniture as a whole. The unit could be made of hard or softwood, which is just the tree it comes from. But it should be resistant to bumps and bruising. Can you see any when you look at the surface with the light from your phone?

Any item has the same clues

All furniture has some clues like this to look for. Is a table properly jointed and does it sit properly on the floor without a wobble? A little research is necessary but with that in your pocket, you can take your furniture one step up.