Why buy British?

The world is becoming a smaller place. Products from all over the planet are readily available in our retail outlets. So we want to provide you, the consumer, with a number of key facts that will help you to make a more informed decision when you make your next purchase.

  • Years, decades and centuries of tradition, go into the manufacture of furniture in Britain. Craft skills that have been conceived, developed and perfected in this country over many, many years are still prevalent in factories up and down this great nation of ours.
  • British furniture manufacturers source and use the finest components that become the ingredients used to put into practice the innovative design and creative craft skills that produce such fabulous products.  
  • Stringent standards of environmental management and health and safety control are in place in all of our member companies factories. This will provide significant peace of mind for the “ethically and morally aware consumer”.
  • Design is a major priority for British furniture manufacturers and whether your taste is traditional, classical reproduction, cutting-edge contemporary or anything in between you can find it within the pages of this website, having been produced in Great Britain.
  • When you have made the decision to purchase a new item of furniture, understandable excitement will follow. British furniture manufacturers, in general, offer shorter delivery times meaning that your purchase can be in place in your home as quickly as possible.
  • After sales service is more reliable and more efficient when dealing with a product manufactured in Britain. British companies put their reputation to not only providing the best furniture but also the best service to you the consumer.

Inspirational design, the most traditional manufacturing methods, the most stringent environmental and health and safety standards, the shortest delivery times and the best after sales service. Whatever your budget, whatever your taste we hope you agree with our sentiments that, when it comes to furniture, British is best!

How to buy upholstery?

Questions you should ask yourself when buying upholstery. By Chris Fort, Sherborne Upholstery

  • How long do you expect your furniture to last?
  • Are you buying from a reputable, quality manufacturer?
  • Check comfort & support, including whether head support is needed or not.
  • Be aware of foam seating losing approx. 20% of its firmness in the first 3 months of use.
  • Check colour match to room - can you take home a cutting to ensure a good match?
  • Check wearability of fabric - is it good enough for your requirements?
  • Will fabric fade if subjected to direct sunlight? Some fade more than others.
  • If you choose a patterned fabric will it be pattern-matched & is this important to you or not?
  • Do you require castors or glides?
  • Will the furniture you have chosen physically fit into your house or apartment?
  • Are armcaps advised to prolong wearability of the arm fronts?
  • Would you like any other accessories, e.g. a matching stool, head cushions or scatter cushions?
  • Are you aware of the manufacturer's upholstery care guidelines & are you comfortable with these?
  • Are you aware of the need to lightly 'dress' your upholstery by hand after use to prolong its neat appearance?
  • Is the quoted delivery time acceptable to you?
  • Are there any other factors which are important to you on which you need clarification from the retailer?

How to choose a quality bed?

By Paul Jordan, Hypnos Ltd

  • We spend up to a third of our life in bed. It follows therefore that we should spend that time in a comfortable supportive bed allowing us to rest and re-charge our batteries. Sleep allows our backs to release the stress accumulated during the day and to re-absorb the nutrients they need through blood supply.
  • If you are one of the 60% of adults in this country that has to live with back pain from time to time, you will be only too aware of how vital the right bed is. If you wish to avoid back pain a reasonably active lifestyle  and a good supportive bed is a good start.
  • An old or second hand bed which has shaped to someone else’s body will almost certainly aggravate or contribute to back pain. A sagging mattress puts strain on muscles and ligaments which in turn can leave long term problems. This is not just a problem for adults, children can be similarly affected when using ‘second-hand’ or hand-me-down beds.

Here are some frequently asked questions:

How long should I keep by bed?
It is recommended to purchase a new bed after 10 years to ensure the correct support.

Who should you buy your bed from?
Look for a reputable, quality manufacturer, generally speaking, the higher the price, the better the bed.

What support should I look for?
Comfort and support are the two key factors, comfort is based on each individual and support should ensure you achieve a good “posture” in bed, support should be guided by such factors as your weight, height and build and preferred sleeping position.

Take time in choosing your new bed, slip your hand between the base of your spine and the mattress.  If you cannot easily do this the mattress may be too soft, if there is a hollow the mattress may be too firm.  Ideally your hand should be a snug fit.  After lying on the bed for several minutes, ideally the mattress should mould to the shape of your body.

Manufacturers care guidelines
All reputable manufacturers offer advice in caring for a mattress, do make yourself familiar with these.

What size bed should I buy?
Buy a big a bed as you can fit into your bedroom, the larger the bed, the more room there is to move about, so largely reducing disturbance from your partner.

Matching mattresses to bases
All types of mattress construction are now offered to go with slatted bases.  If you are not buying the two together as a complete unit, make sure that the mattress has been recommended for the type of base you want.  It is imperative that the bedstead slats are no more than 2.5 inches apart.

Allergy and asthma sufferers
Almost all beds will in time attract house dust mites.  Regular cleaning, airing and the use of protective covers will reduce the effect.  People also suffer from allergic reactions to feathers, hair and wool.  Mattresses containing synthetic fibres and foams are generally good hypoallergenic options.  Some manufacturers now have anti-dust mite treatment incorporated into the mattress ticking (cover).

Turning your mattress
Most mattresses need to be turned regularly to ensure even wear and tear.  However, mattresses can be quite heavy and you should take this into consideration.  A no-turn mattress would be ideal if you suffer from back problems or would find it difficult to turn.

Types of mattresses
There are various types of mattresses to consider.

  • Spring Mattresses: The most common type in the U.K., the number of springs used and the thickness of the metal affect the feel and determine support – the better the support.\
    Open Springs are generally found in the budget - mid price range of beds. Rows of hour glass shaped springs are connected top and bottom by a spiral wire and the edge of the unit is normally strengthened by a retaining flat or round rod edge.
    Pocket Springs are rows of smaller, lighter parallel or barrel shaped springs, each in a separate fabric pocket which slightly compresses the spring. The rows of springs are clipped, tied or glued together.  Pocket springs allow for a more flexible response, giving a higher degree of body support and are generally found in the mid – upper price bracket.
  • Non Sprung Mattresses: Most non sprung mattresses are made from latex – usually natural
    rubber – with pores in them to allow the mattress to breath. They are relatively light, however they do tend to be in the higher price brackets.

Upholstery and Ticking
Ticking is the name for the mattress outer cover which in combination with the tufts keeps the fillings together.
The most commonly used upholstery in quality tufted mattresses are wool, cotton felt and teased animal hair.  The type, quality and combination of these and other fillings will determine the quality and overall comfort of the mattress.

Looking after your bed
Always follow the care instructions, always air it at least 20 minutes before making it and turn the mattress to even out wear and tear. (not necessary for no-turn mattresses).  During the first month turn it over from side to side and top to toe.  After this turn it about every three months. Latex mattresses should not need turning. Try not to sit regularly on the same part of the mattress as this will weaken the edge.

Leather furniture care

By Nick Hanna, Andrew Muirhead

I am confused by the choice of leather that is available. How do I choose?

Your choice should be guided by your lifestyle and how you are planning to use your leather upholstery. Natural aniline leather is not advisable if you have a house-full of energetic children and pets. The most natural leathers may not be the best performing; the most durable will not be the softest. For many, the best compromise is a lightly colour-coated surface protected grain leather.

How should I clean my leather upholstery?

Cleaning is something that is given too much emphasis. Leather furniture in a normal domestic environment should require little attention and any cleaning should be done only when necessary.

It is not essential to the life of leather that it should be cleaned regularly, but an accumulation of dirt and grease over a long period is undesirable and the longer it is left the more difficult it will be to remove. Dirt is abrasive and over a period of time in extreme circumstances will cause the removal of the protective coating. Regular cleaning can be done simply by using a damp cloth, taking care not to soak the leather.

Soak a cloth in a mild soap/water solution (not detergent) and wring it out until damp. Apply the cloth to the surface of the leather in a light circular motion, turning the cloth regularly. Avoid aggressive rubbing action. Repeat with a damp cloth rinsed in clean warm water. Allow to dry and the lightly polish using a clean, dry soft cloth. Don't use cleaning fluids and preparations unless specifically directed by the tanner.

Full grain aniline leather or russet leathers cannot be cleaned with water or soap solution. Any attempt to do so could result in the leather being irreparably damaged.

Does the leather need ‘feeding'?

Don't ‘feed', modern leathers do not require ‘feeding'. Don't use wax / spray polishes – upholstery leather is not the same as shoe leather. Wax polishes and furniture spray often contain silicone which will, in time, produce an unpleasant sticky feel to the leather. There is much encouragement to use so-called hide foods, care kits, saddle soaps and waxes – avoid them all.

Environmentally sound furniture

by Alistair Bromhead, BFM Environmental, Health and Safety Consultant

Many factors contribute to the environmental burden associated with a particular item of furniture. By taking some time to think about these issues, consumers can encourage manufacturers to move towards more sustainable production, i.e. furniture which meets our needs without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Furniture raw materials and their source are of course important. Whereas traditional furniture was based on solid timber especially beech, oak and tropical hardwoods, much modern furniture uses board material such as chipboard or medium density fibreboard (MDF). Chipboard will typically be mainly composed of recycled wood fibre, such as old pallets which have come to the end of their first useful life. Therefore, the material is environmentally beneficial in that it makes use of wood waste which might otherwise be landfilled.
Increasingly timber, board products and the resulting furniture are available in a certified form. For example, a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified range of furniture is made from wooden materials derived from a forest which has met a number of sustainability criteria.

However, it is not just the source of the material which is important. Other important issues are:

How efficiently has it been used by the manufacturer? Whether they waste 20% or 50% of the incoming raw material is a major contributor to the overall environmental burden of the product

  • How long will the item last? The average longevity of domestic furniture is falling. If you have to replace a suite every 3 years instead of every 9, the environmental burden may be tripled
  • What other materials are incorporated? Does a piece of board based furniture have PVC edging material? This will affect the options which exist for making use of it at the end of its first useful life
  • Is the item designed for remanufacture? When you have finished with it, can the item be dismantled to enable the components to be reuse, returned to the manufacturer or refurbished?

BFM Ltd is currently working on a DTI sponsored feasibility study to move towards zero emissions from furniture. Further details at www.bfmenvironment.co.uk