Great furniture is all in the details, so concentrate on these key areas.

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Here’s to our upholstered furniture, the comfy pieces that make our down time so gratifying. After a long day, we can’t wait to flop down on that comfy sofa in our living room, the enveloping reading chair by the fire, or the dining chairs that make you reluctant to get up from the table.

As if supreme comfort wasn’t enough to demand from our furniture, we also expect every piece to be beautiful and show-ready when it’s time to entertain.

The secret to having it all? It’s in the details. Start by focusing on these areas.


Start by investing in the highest-quality furniture your budget will allow. If you are trying to stretch your decorating dollars, it can be tempting to go for the cheap stuff. But while poorly constructed furniture may look OK on the showroom floor, it will likely fall apart in a few years, if not sooner.

Picking fabric for your furniture is a lot of fun, but it can also be stressful. This is a big investment, so you want something you’ll like for years.

Start by asking yourself, “How will I use this piece of furniture?” If it’s a dining room chair, you will need something durable and easy to clean, for example. Then ask, “What colors and patterns will I love today AND tomorrow?”

I like to cover sofas in safer fabrics like solids or very muted patterns. Then, have a little fun with the smaller pieces, like chairs and ottomans, opting for fabric with more color or pattern.

(Mary Carol Garrity by TNS)
(Mary Carol Garrity by TNS)


Legs help set the style of a piece of furniture, whether classic or contemporary. For years, I’ve been over the moon about turned legs on castors. Love that English look. But I’m also falling for today’s funky legs — they are so much fun!

(Mary Carol Garrity by TNS)
(Mary Carol Garrity by TNS)


Don’t want exposed legs? Finish your furniture with a skirt.

Traditionally, skirted furniture looks either formal or romantic. But check out other interpretations, such as horizontal bands of color, that can add a fun bit of flair. One note of caution: If you have pets that like to rest against your skirted chair or sofa, it will get dirty and require cleaning from time to time.

Contrasting welt

My style has evolved and changed through the years, but there are a few things I have loved for decades, and always will. Among them is furniture finished in a contrasting welt, which outlines a sofa, chair or ottoman with seams. For a high contrast, try a welt that’s a different fabric than the furniture is upholstered in. Or use a pattern or color that makes an appearance in another spot in the room, such as your window coverings or accent pillows.

(Mary Carol Garrity by TNS)
(Mary Carol Garrity by TNS)

Nailhead trim

Nailhead trim has been making a strong showing in the world of interior design for years, and it looks like it’s here to stay. Finishing a sofa, chair or ottoman with these little dots of metallic sheen gives it a clean, contemporary edge.