As co-owner, with his wife Cori, of Country Willow, a 13-year- old home-furnishings store in Bedford Hills, Roy Estrow is particularly knowledgeable about furniture and design. Here, he chats with us about choosing a chair, taking care of a table, and saving on a sofa.
Q: What’s the best way to stay within a budget when choosing new furnishings?
A: Pay attention to managing your fabrics more closely; you can easily choose a less expensive fabric without sacrificing quality or wearability. For example, you can have a sofa for five hundred dollars that’s the same construction and quality as a sixteen-hundred-dollar one, the only difference being the cost of the fabric. Maybe one’s imported from Italy but the lower-priced one can be just as durable and sturdy.
Q: How can the average consumer tell the difference between good-quality and inferior-quality furniture?
A: Make sure your furniture comes with a guarantee; sofa frames should have lifetime guarantees and their cushions should be protected for seven years. Also, ask if a piece is made of solid wood. Labeling can be deceptive—for instance, ‘one-hundred-percent wood’ actually can mean a cardboard-like fiberboard in which wood fibers are glued together. And take a look at the wood finish; it should look rich and not murky or cloudy, a sign of poor workmanship. Finally, ‘kick the tires’ a bit—check to see that drawers slide open smoothly, sit on a sofa to make sure you feel supported but comfortable, and give a table a little shake to see if it’s stable.
Q: What are some important things customers should be doing to ensure that their furniture lasts?
A: Consider buying a furniture-protection plan; two hundred dollars can protect ten thousand dollars worth of your furniture from you—say you spill a cup of coffee on a sofa or your kid uses markers on a table—for up to five years. With few exceptions, if the company can’t repair the item, they’ll replace it.
Q: Any ‘best bang for your buck’ suggestions for freshening up a tired-looking room?
A: The most cost-effective thing to do is to put a new color on the wall or accessorize your space with new window treatments, lighting, wall art, or accent tables.
Q: What piece of furniture are you selling a lot of these days?
A: Sectional couches are off-the-chart popular; everyone wants to plop down on one of them with the family and watch the sixty-inch-TV together.