The following post contains a paid advertising feature for Oak Furnitureland.
Unlike those impulse accessory purchases for our home, buying a piece of good quality-furniture is nearly always an investment. For many of us, we may have had to take time to save up for a larger purchase of a bed, a dining table and chairs or a hard-working piece of storage furniture like a wardrobe or a sideboard. With this investment in both our time and our finances, we want to make sure we are buying the best our money can afford and that the pieces we choose will last.
In our younger years, we may have excitedly purchased that inexpensive flatpack piece that did just fine in the short term but if you read my post on the 10 decorating lessons you learn in your 30s, you’ll know that as time goes on, these pieces will nearly always need to be replaced in time and you may just want to graduate to something that lasts a little longer than a year or two.
As a freelancer, I often write about interiors for brands. One of my longest-standing clients is one you might already know – Oak Furnitureland. I’ve been working with them and contributing to their blog consistently for around 7 years now which for me, is probably the longest I’ve ever worked for any company! In that time, I’ve gotten to know their product line and their ethos incredibly well. I always knew that they stood for quality furniture and so they were the ones I turned to when we were updating my Mother-in-Law’s flat a couple of years ago.
I genuinely couldn’t have been more impressed with the furniture they supplied for the makeover. It’s beautifully made – sturdy, strong and every detail considered. So when we discussed creating this post, I knew they’d be my perfect partners. Not only have I witnessed first-hand the quality of each piece, I have watched as they’ve released new ranges over the years and you may just be surprised to see how beautiful so many of their pieces really are.
So I thought I would share with you how to make sure you are getting good quality when you do decide to buy a piece of wood furniture. I’m not saying you can’t have inexpensive pieces in your home, of course, or that every single item you choose needs to be high quality but if you are spending your money and making an investment, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re buying so you can make an informed decision.
Why Use Hardwood Furniture
So one of the first things when making a buying decision in terms of your furniture is whether its made from hardwood. Yes, you can get imitation wood products out there but the beautiful natural grains and patterns of hardwood is second-to-none and I would always recommend using natural products if you can in your home where possible.
The thing is, it may seem you’re getting a bargain with cheaper MDF or laminate pieces or items made from chipboard or using veneer. The problems with these are they are all much more susceptible to staining, dents, chips, marks or bowing. So these kinds of pieces simply won’t last as long, requiring replacement and may end up being a false economy.
The Brindle range features solid oak used throughout (including drawer sides and backs) with dovetail joins in a soft sage-grey painted finish. See all the chests of drawers in Oak Furnitureland’s range here.
Even pine furniture, a softwood, is more likely to require a bit of extra care to keep it looking good because it dents and marks easily. It also tends to have more knots in the wood which are more susceptible to cracking and weaken the piece.
A piece of furniture which is built using a hardwood veneer (normally a thin slice of hardwood bonded to composite board or plywood) may look the part but the quality of the piece will still be compromised as it will still limit the number of times it can be refinished, meaning the lifetime of the product is much shorter.
Hardwood is so much more resilient and in terms of making a sustainable purchase, is your best choice. It doesn’t take much to keep it looking good beyond a clean and polish and its much less likely to show any signs of wear, bowing or damage over a long period of time, even an entire lifetime, allowing you to pass these pieces to future generations. And if, for whatever reason, it does get some damage? You can restore it with a good sand down – simply re-oil it, stain it or paint it to give it a new lease of life.
How to Identify High-Quality Wood Furniture
The Oscar dining table set has a lighter, Scandinavian-inspired look with slender legs but is still made with solid oak throughout which means it’s built to last. You can view all of Oak Furnitureland’s dining room furniture here.
First things first, look at the joins. A good piece of high-quality furniture will have joints that are screwed or doweled (wooden pegs slotted into opposing holes) but the best ones will have dovetail joins (recognisable by square teeth shapes that fit perfectly together) and mortise-and-tenon joins (where the narrowed end of one piece is inserted into a hole in the opposing piece). You’ll also see reinforcement by way of blocks attached at an angle used in corners.
If you see joins that are nailed, stapled or have visible glue showing, these are signs the furniture hasn’t been put together that well.
It should also sit solidly on the floor without moving and you should be able to lift the piece up and not hear a creak. A cheaper piece will wobble, and when leaned on or lifted, it will twist or you’ll hear a creaking noise.
What are the drawers backed with or the back of the furniture made from? If the piece uses wood in areas that you won’t normally see, rather than MDF or plywood, it adds to the stability, improving the structure and rigidity of the entire piece of furniture.
The Hercules range is solid oak throughout and the large chest of drawers includes dovetail joins. You can also see how consistent the darker stain finish is, enhancing the grain rather than hiding it. See the entire range of Bedroom furniture here.
How to tell if something is hardwood? In a discreet area, run your fingernail across the wood. If it makes a visible dent, then it’s not hardwood and likely won’t stand up to heavy or long-term use.
The finish plays a role in the quality as well. Look out for a uniform finish, one that enhances rather than obscures the natural grain of the wood. If you see patches of muddy stain or defects in the surface like chips, dents, raw edges or scratches, then this will normally indicate a lower-quality piece.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you if you’re in the market to invest in wood furniture and huge thanks to Oak Furnitureland who helped guide me in what to look out for when making a purchase. Have you made any wood furniture purchases lately and if so, what did you choose? Did you know about the markers of good quality and will you be using them next time? Let me know in the comments!
Disclaimer: Aside from the images of Marjorie’s living room makeover, all other images are all copyright Oak Furnitureland and have been used with kind permission. This post has been sponsored by Oak Furnitureland but as always, I only work with brands I love and think you will too. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Swoon Worthy.