The Frame

  • Here at Barnes, our furniture begins as high-quality NC Kiln-dried maple. It is the most effective wood selection for furniture making because of the drying process it undergoes. Check out our upcoming in-depth article about this process and the advantages of different lumber species.
  • The framework is the most integral factor to the quality and longevity of upholstered furniture. That’s why when it comes to hand-crafting our frames, we use a combination of different joinery methods. This includes mortise and tenon joints, dowels, screws, and staples, It is the most secure way to join wood together, and it’s how we’ve been making our furniture for the past forty-plus years. We can guarantee that this is something you won’t find at low-cost “to-go” retail stores. Most of their frames are constructed using plywood and chip core glued together under high pressure. While low cost and quick to assemble, this method sacrifices longevity and rigidity.
  • Finishing is a vital step as it seals our kiln-dried wood from dirt, debris, and moisture. Aside from being a protective layer, it also gives the wood richness and depth. Our most popular finishes include nutmeg, dark knight, rich tobacco, and espresso.


The Spring Up

  • The next step is in our furniture construction is spring up. There are two main types of spring up systems we use in our shop. Rubber web suspension is the simplest and most inexpensive. It’s comprised of woven rubber strips that are stretched over the frame. The elasticity from the rubber allows flexibility and movement but is also more prone to sagging. For this reason, it isn’t an effective spring up system for large surfaces. Therefore, in our shop, it’s reserved solely for smaller pieces like ottomans and dining chairs.
  • The second and arguably, the oldest, method of spring-up systems to date is the eight-way hand-tied method. It consists of hourglass-shaped steel coils that are affixed to the seat base. Differing sizes and gauges of coils are inserted across the seat cavity, then they are tied by hand in eight different directions: front to back, side to side, and diagonally. You should consider this the box spring beneath the mattress (aka seat cushions). Hand tying makes it labor-intensive, but it ensures that the coils are locked into place. This tied tension can also be adjusted depending on your desired support need. This meticulous process makes this the ultimate suspension choice for our sofas and guarantees to prevent sagging, bottoming out and soft spots from occurring with high use. Eight-way is superior to sinuous coils and rubber webbing because the coils equalize pressure across the width and depth of the piece, rather than the pressure being concentrated on high use areas. This ensures that the furniture will wear in evenly.


The Cover

  • Following the spring up is the cover cutting and sewing. Your choice of cover determines how much is needed and the way it’s cut. For example, a material with a busy pattern such as paisley or plaids will require more fabric yardage than a plain solid color. This is because the fabric’s repeated design may necessitate it being cut down in order to align with another piece when sewn. If not, it can look visually awkward when it goes to be upholstered, as if it’s chopped off. This technique of aligning the fabric when it is upholstered is known as pattern matching. To ensure that you purchase an adequate amount of fabric, we provide you with quoting for fabric yardage. Our quote will be for plain fabric, be certain to include additional yardage for large repeats or when using leather.


The Cushioning

  • Prior to placing cushions on a sofa or chair, an inner lining of padding is added to protect from the frame’s hardwood and springs. The most common padding is comprised of layers of fabric and foam. It also gives the cushions a better foundation to sit on. Explore our upcoming article “Seating Anthropometrics & Ergonomics” that highlights how cushion and frame construction impacts physical health. Many low-cost manufacturers will skip this step altogether, leaving arm and back cavities empty, thus allowing you to feel the frame telegraphing through the cover and risk tearing.
  • Cushion construction is the ultimate factor in determining how the comfortable level of a sitting piece of furniture. That’s why when it comes to our sofas and chairs, our standard cushion selection is our Spring Blendown Cushion, the most premium option we offer. It first starts with a down-proof ticking bag. This will ultimately encase the entire cushion unit together inside the cushion cover. It is comprised of three pockets in which the top and bottom two are where the filling is placed. Blendown filling is a mixture of polyester fibers, feathers, and down. The ticking bag has sewn channels to prevent the filling from clumping.
  • Next, the foam unit is constructed using our Marshall Spring Unit that is made of individually wrapped coils. It is then encased with high-density polyurethane foam to make a firm but a comfortable support system. The unit is then inserted in the ticking bag’s middle pocket where it will finally be placed into the cushion cover.
  • We fabricate all of these cushions in the house, and can customize to make them firmer or softer, as well as eliminate the springs or down/feather mixture. That’s why we’re called custom! Our article “How to Choose the Right Cushion for your Upholstered Sofa” lists other viable options.


The Upholstery

  • The final step of our construction process is the application of fabric or leather known as upholstery. This is where the magic happens, and different sofa styles can be achieved depending on the application. Luckily, our upholsters are experts when it comes to the trade. Therefore, we’re able to offer you various options of skirts, trims, and tufting. Tufting is perhaps one of the most distinctive techniques for creating “dips” into a sofa’s back pillow or cushion. This is a popular style selection on our headboards.
  • Another factor to consider is the upholstery technique or choosing the type of seam and welts, or decorative trim. Although subtle, it can affect how well it holds up and thus, its quality. For more details on the variety of upholstery techniques keep a look out for a nearing article.

Interested in more informative articles like this one? Be sure to explore our Furniture University section of our page!