I think I might have a problem. I always ‘need’ new furniture and especially when it comes to highlight pieces that are going to take my room from fab to drab.
In the past I’ve gone for cheaper versions thinking I’m saving money, but what I’ve quickly learnt is that buying cheap could mean you end up spending more in the long run, having to get a replacement or have it repaired time and time again.
This time round I plan buy to something of a better quality that is going to last. I’ve got my eye on wood accent chairs but I’ve realised, possibly due to my bad choices in the past, I know very little about what makes for a durable piece of furniture that will be as practical as it will be pretty.
There are some obvious things you will notice when buying wood furniture, especially if it has been upholstered. Rips, scratches and stains are easy to see.
You can also decide quite quickly if you like the type of wood and the colour of it. But what I have realised (with a slight degree of embarrassment) is that I have no idea what type of wood is strong and durable or what is pine that’s been made to look like mahogany with a simple coat of paint.
So with tail between legs I decided to do a little bit of research. Here’s a quick overview of what I learned.
I’ve also included my best wood accent chairs that will add pizzazz to your home.
Do not laugh. I used to think hardwoods were hard and softwoods were soft. It turns out hardwood means ‘from a deciduous tree’ and softwood means ‘from a coniferous tree’, and some hardwoods (like aspen) are softer than some softwoods.
What you do want on exposed surfaces is a wood that’s reasonably scratch-resistant. You can test this easily enough by attempting to draw a thin line with your fingernail across the wood; if it makes a visible dent (use a flashlight here if necessary) you know it won’t stand up to much use
Structurally, any kind of solid wood or sturdy plywood will do the trick. If plywood, look for at least nine layers.
Check the wood for knots, even on unexposed pieces; all knots are susceptible to cracks. Some woods, like pine, are ‘knottier’ than others, and therefore less desirable.
Avoid particleboard, pressed wood, or fibreboard. I know this seems impossible if you’re ordering online but read the reviews or at least try and find the piece in a store nearby and pop in to take a look.
Veneers – a thin piece of premium wood covering a lower-quality piece of wood – are often used even in very high-quality furniture.
This is standard and as long as the base piece is solid wood or plywood it’s ok. The only disadvantage to veneer is that it limits the number of times an item can be refinished.
How a chair is joined is the main thing to look at when choosing a chair. Anything held together with staples or nails is bad.
The same goes for glue. Stay away from glue. Dowels (wooden pegs slotted into two) are good, and so are screws.
The best joints are either dovetail (interlocking squares ‘teeth)’ or mortise-and-tenon, a narrowed end of one piece inserted into a hole in the other.
Corners should have a reinforcing block attached at an angle. Check that all legs are touching the floor, press on various corners to see if the piece rocks or wobbles and sit on it to feel if it’s solid enough.
For a chair with removable cushions, check if you can unzip the seat cover and have a look inside. You should see a block of foam wrapped with dacron, cotton, or down, preferably with a protective inner cover.
Foam-only cushions are less durable and less comfortable but are perfect if you’re using it as a more decorative piece. Removable back cushions may have foam as well but are more often loose fill.
For cleaning look at the following:
‘W’ means water-based cleaners
‘S’ means solvent-based cleaners (‘dry cleaning’)
‘X’ means no liquid (vacuum only).
Are the cushions reversible? You’ll get twice the wear if they are. Flip them around and make sure any upholstery patterns match up both ways.
LumiSource Walnut/Espresso Vintage Mod Accent Chair
Whether in a set or on its own, the curved walnut seat of the LumiSource Vintage Mod Chair will make a statement.
The wood legs have a long, lean mid-century vibe that coordinates with the curved seat base and the seat itself is plush and matches the curved, upholstered back, with a flirty open low back. The upholstery is available in white and walnut or espresso.
The negative comments on Amazon have made mention of the colour of the white Vintage Mod accent chair, while my favorite, the walnut, gets a rave reviews.
Madison Park Brentwood Oval Back Exposed Wood Arm Chair
The Madison wood accent chair gets a near perfect score on Amazon. The Oval Exposed wood chair is a modern up-to-date version of the traditional and classic Brentwood style.
The graphite linen look and the reclaimed grey finish makes it a versatile chair, which can be used around the home.
Baxton Studio Jennifer Modern Lounge Chair with Dark Brown Fabric Seat
I have a small confession. I’ve wanted a Cratea and Barrel Ankara chair for a couple of years now but just haven’t been able to justify the price tag of the original.
There are no words for this wood accent chair, other than magnificent! With a combination of nature-inspired transitional and Danish modern furniture style, the Jennifer Lounge Chair from Baxton Studio is the perfect accent chair for any space in your home.
It is very well priced and the solid Malaysian Oak wood frame with the walnut style veneer will last a long time, turning a good buy into a great heirloom.