Furniture in NYC
August 5, 2014 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Is there somewhere in NYC (preferably Brooklyn) that has quality furniture with prices on par with the internet? We need to buy a bed, living room seating and a dining room set. The answer to this question is not Ikea.

We'd like to buy a sturdy, quality king-size bed that will last for a while (at least 10-15 years), a microfiber couch that isn't a piece of crap, a chaise, and a dining room set that will also last. If we could walk into one or places, pick all this stuff out, have it delivered and assembled and maybe get a discount because we're buying a shitload of furniture at once, that'd be great. If not, we can deal, but this is definitely a "we both work a lot and need to furnish an empty apartment we want to move into ASAP with the basics" sort of thing and not a "we have the time and energy to go hunting for the absolutely perfect dinner table" sort of thing.

Trendiness of the furniture isn't really a big consideration as long as it looks nice and is made well. We're willing to spend Money on this assuming all the stuff we're getting will not have to be bought again for at least a decade.

Also any advice on the following welcome:
-How to evaluate furniture quality.
-Average prices for quality furniture so we can tell if we're a) getting gouged or b) buying a piece of crap.
-How much to tip furniture delivery/assembly people.
posted by griphus to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Crate and Barrel is usually the go-to for this. It's a couple steps above Ikea both quality and price-wise, but not insane.

Housing works generally has great furniture finds, often antique, if you don't mind buying pre-owned. But it's not a one-stop shop.

For really good forever-level quality, I like Pomponoosuc Mills but it's also a lot more expensive.
posted by Mchelly at 7:55 AM on August 5, 2014

Rough budget for each item?
posted by elizardbits at 7:57 AM on August 5, 2014

That's the part I'm hoping to figure out; I tried researching it myself but the prices are so spread out that I have no idea what a reasonable amount of money to spend on furniture is.
posted by griphus at 8:02 AM on August 5, 2014

Check out Room & Board. There's a showroom in SoHo on Wooster street.

I've been hunting for "step above Ikea" furniture and their selection is nice looking/well constructed (made in USA), quality seems good enough, and it's not stupid expensive (though not cheap either). You'll want to read the reviews and/or, ideally, go in person because some of the stuff is laminate.

I was also impressed with my walk through Design Within Reach this weekend, and, bonus: they're having a Living Room sale today...15% off.
posted by xiaolongbao at 8:04 AM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

So I know you said it's not the answer, but Ikea actually has furniture that isn't crap. As long as you don't go in and buy the cheapest thing they have (which is what every college student ever does, hence the reputation for short-lived crappiness), you can get quite nice pieces that will last a long time.

If you buy this bed, it might last (barely) 4yrs through college.

If you buy this bed, it will easily last your 10-15 years.

It's also nice because since they are designed to be easy to ship, it is easy to dismantle and reassemble for any potential future moves. And will actually be fine once reassembled, unlike their cheaper stuff, at least in my experience.
posted by Grither at 8:13 AM on August 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

At the very least, you can browse through ikea online and find reasonable price ranges for different furniture.
posted by Grither at 8:14 AM on August 5, 2014

Room and Board has great quality for the price. Some things (like beds in specific fabrics) might need to be shipped in 8 weeks. They have some beds with hidden under-bed drawers, which is great for NYC spaces.
posted by barnone at 8:15 AM on August 5, 2014

nthing Room and Board. We furnished a good chunk of our NYC apartment with their stuff 8 years ago and all of it is holding up incredibly well. They don't necessarily offer discounts for buying a bunch of stuff at once, but sometimes they will combine delivery fees - I think we got 5 pieces delivered for one flat fee, and that included big things like a sleeper sofa and a bed.
posted by bedhead at 8:22 AM on August 5, 2014

cb2 is probably your friend here. There's one in SoHo, and you can order everything in-store once you've checked it out in person. I consider it the "step up from Ikea" store. I've never felt gouged at cb2. I've been happy with the quality of the stuff. And I've done the "walk in and order... everything" thing.

Room & Board and Crate & Barrel are also both good suggestions, but Design Within Reach is INSANELY PRICEY for what I think you're going for. (Unless you want that real Eero Saarinen table made by Knoll. Which I really do, someday.) However, for the purposes of this comment, I'll just use links from cb2.


A good couch will probably run you between $1000 and $1800. I mean, of course you can spend $10,000 on a couch pretty easily, but who wants to do that?

Here's one.

A nice king bed frame runs about $800 bucks on the low end, IMHO. Probably same for the mattress, if you want a nice one. I've had pretty good luck buying cheaper mattresses and throwing a really nice pillow top on it.

Here's a link to both a bed frame and mattress!

Dining tables' prices can vary greatly, depending on size. You can do a small "cafe table" for like $300 - $400 bucks. If you entertain more, or just want more space, I honestly wouldn't go above $800. For dining chairs, I think about $150 sounds fair. Any less expensive and you're starting to get back to Ikea territory.

How much to tip delivery people? I generally do 20 bucks a person for an elevator building, and more if there are complicated stairs or angles.
posted by functionequalsform at 8:31 AM on August 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Nthing Room & Board and Crate & Barrel. Weirdly, we had bad luck with CB2, even though they are basically Crate & Barrel's division for the younger, hipper set. The stuff we got from them wasn't that big a step up from Ikea, and when we had problems with it, they were unhelpful -- a part that should have been removable and replaceable broke, but they insisted they couldn't replace it without selling us an entirely new bed (!). Never had that problem with "grown-up" C&B.
posted by dorque at 8:41 AM on August 5, 2014

Mattresses are a crap-shoot. They deliberately make it difficult to compare even within brands, because they make different lines for different retailers. Also, can you THINK of anything more personal than a bed? You and your wife may have different ideas about what's comfortable.

I just paid what was asked for my Simmons Beautyrest mattress, it's a king and we paid about $2,000. I'm not sorry. It's firm as hell and showing no signs of giving up the ghost.

As for sofas, the best one I've owned was a Bauhaus sofa I bought at Kauffman's. Oddly enough, they're made by La-z-boy. I bought a couple of cheap sofa's at American Signature Furniture, they suck a lot. Subscribe to Consumer Reports it can teach you a lot about furniture and what to look for by way of quality. Although, after doing the research, we're buying an Ektorp to replace our current shitty sofas.

Case goods (wooden furniture) you may find your best buys in antique stores. I'm partial to Danish Modern and teak. I have pieces that are over 40 years old and they are SO beautiful! Check out Baxter and Liebchen to see if this sort of thing appeals to you.

Macy's has furniture. There's a gallery on Staten Island. I like Macy's, I like their sales. They also sell mattresses, and if you buy a couple of pieces from them, you can grind them to get free delivery.

It's worth it to travel when buying a few thousand dollars worth of something. Don't rush this. I get it, buying furniture is a real drag, but take books and actually sit and read on sofas for a couple of hours. You won't regret the time you spend.

Don't buy anything too trendy. You'd know an eighties dining room set instantly. My Mother's Scandinavian set still looks great (even though it's mixed with all of her Korean, custom-made crap. What is it with old Jewish ladies and Asian crap?)

My sister is a decorator, she recommends starting a Pinterest and pinning things you like. After awhile you'll notice a pattern. Shapes you like, colors you like, styles you like.

Good luck! It's a process!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:50 AM on August 5, 2014

Restoration Hardware

DWR (check out the annex/outlet in Secaucus too - we've found some awesome bargains there)

ABC Home

The area around 18th and Broadway has a lot of these stores, so it's a good place to stroll through to get an idea of selection and pricing. (Also Fishs Eddy, which is awesome for dishes).

Bloomingdales also has a great furniture section. Macy's is ok, but quality is really variable.

Room & Board is also good, as others suggested. Crate & Barrel can be decent quality, but it's more hit or miss. I'd stay away from CB2 and West Elm except for decorative accents.

If you're really interested in quality over modern style, then perhaps a trip upstate or out to PA to look at Amish/Mennonite furniture shops would be worthwhile.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:53 AM on August 5, 2014

I got my couch from Macy's during one of their various sales and it's been one of the best things I've ever purchased. Solid, comfy, utterly a delight to sit on. If you go during a sale it should be a lot cheaper and man I don't regret it.
posted by Carillon at 8:53 AM on August 5, 2014

Included here for posterity's sake: I stopped by my local furniture store, where I bought some furniture for my house sixteen years ago. It's held up REALLY well despite being used hard. Anyway, checking prices there, here's what I found:

King-sized bed: about $2500
Microfiber couch: $2k-$3k depending on size
Chaise: about $1500
Dining set: $2K for the table, $400-$700 each for the chairs

This is "the last furniture you'll ever buy" kinds of quality, and gorgeous as well as strong. (For example, the bookshelves we have bought there have been overloaded with books double-stacked for a decade and a half, and the shelves aren't even bowing.) But I'm glad I bought it sixteen years ago because I could never afford it now.
posted by KathrynT at 12:15 PM on August 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another vote for Room and Board. It's good stuff.
posted by ch1x0r at 4:47 PM on August 5, 2014

Do you definitely want new? Because good quality dining room tables can be bought for significantly less secondhand, at least where I live. They're hard to store and people need to get rid of them quickly when they move.
posted by kjs4 at 4:58 PM on August 5, 2014

ABC Carpet & Home is very high end and expensive but their outlet in the Bronx is all sale.
posted by rada at 12:43 PM on August 6, 2014

How to evaluate furniture quality

The New Fine Points of Furniture ("Good Better Best") by Albert Sack is about Early American Furniture but it is such an excellent resource for learning how to identify the best pieces of that type of furniture that I would argue what you learn about Early American will help you identify quality Mid Century Modern, Scandinavian or whatever kind you end up buying.

New York Times description of the book:

"In simple text accompanied by black-and-white [and color] photographs, he explained his ideas about proportion, form, wood selection and visual use of grain, for example, then showed how those principles were expressed in the difference between furniture that was good, and furniture that was great [and furniture that was superior and a masterpiece]."

The 1993 edition added the Superior and Masterpiece categories as well as color photographs. There is also a 2007 edition that I am not familiar with.
posted by mlis at 7:38 PM on August 6, 2014

This probably goes without saying, but should you find your dream furniture, check craigslist for a day or two before purchasing.

I got my Room and Board bed frame for 1/4 of the price from someone in Greenpoint who was selling it basically brand new.
posted by inertia at 11:16 AM on August 7, 2014

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