I’ve had more and more clients lately get excited about sourcing affordable home furniture overseas. If they can save money on that part of their renovation or redesign, they think, then they can splurge somewhere else.
I get it!
But, while I’m all for saving money whenever possible, spending a bit more on furniture that was made in the U.S. is one thing that I cannot recommend highly enough.
It may sound overly simplistic, but you really do get what you pay for! And the best part is, there’s a way to design a home you absolutely love in a way that supports local businesses and our planet, all within budget.
Quality Never Does Go Out of Style
The first reason to buy American-made is to have a measure of quality control.
Ninety percent of the time, furniture that comes from overseas is mass-produced in factories. That’s because shipping is expensive! In order to be able to ship goods across the world, you have to cut costs somewhere else. Often, the trade-off is the quality of the materials and the level of skill needed to assemble.That doesn’t mean that all imported goods are of bad quality – but it does mean that it’s much easier to be assured of a piece of furniture’s quality if it comes from the U.S.
In order to choose the best possible pieces for the price, I need to know about the materials and the craftsmanship that went into making the dining room table you’ll be gathering around with your family.
When you source a domestic product, it’s much easier to get in touch with the actual people who make a product. I’m able to get detailed instructions on how to clean it and keep it looking great. There’s also likely more information available about where the company sources their materials and about their manufacturing process.
And, if anything were to go wrong, my experience is that customer service at U.S. companies highly exceeds that of international wholesalers.
Another reason I love to work with domestic, and often independent, companies is that many of them have the ability to customize finishes and upholstery to meet my clients’ specific needs. Some of them even work with me to design commissioned pieces that perfectly fit an odd-shaped nook, or an oversized wall.
In comparison, the companies that are able to ship internationally usually only have a couple of colors and finishes available, and it’s not always what would look best in my clients’ ideal room.
A smaller scale production, coupled with the ability to get a human on the phone, means I’m able to deliver furniture that perfectly fulfills my clients’ vision.
Feel Good Pieces
It takes a lot of energy – not to mention time – for a piece of furniture to travel across the globe. Shipping a sofa from China to the Mid Atlantic leaves a huge carbon footprint.
What’s more, imported goods are not subject to the same environmental regulations as domestic manufacturers, meaning that often there’s no transparency surrounding where materials are sourced or the chemicals used in the manufacturing process. In fact, a lot of imported furniture is unfortunately made from wood sourced from rapidly disappearing rainforests.
U.S. companies are held to a higher standard, which means you can be sure about the working conditions where the furniture was made, and you can find out what kind of wood was used and how it was harvested. In the long run, the higher quality of the wood means that the furniture lasts longer and delivers a better return on your investment.
For clients with kids it’s especially important to be aware of the fact that some furniture could have been made or treated with potentially toxic chemicals, often flame retardants, during the manufacturing process. To be clear, some American-made companies are just as guilty of using non-regulated chemicals in manufacturing. But an initial commitment to buying domestic makes it much easier to find reputable furniture makers.
Supporting Sustainable Communities
The last reason to buy American-made furniture is patriotic, yes, but it’s also pragmatic. Sustainability is not only about the environment, but also about our economy,
Whatever your politics, it’s undeniable that our economy could really use a boost right now.
Buying from U.S. companies helps create and secure jobs in our local and national economies.
Plus, as a small business owner myself, I try to help other small business owners whenever I can.
The Best Possible Pieces For Your Family
One last point – buying American is not as simple as finding a sticker that says “Made in the USA.” Regulations are murky, and there’s no guarantee that all of the materials were sourced here and all of the assembly was done domestically.
When I consider whether to buy American-made furniture, it all comes down to how I think I’m going to be able to source the best possible pieces for my clients. I like to know the people making the furniture personally because it’s easier for me to guarantee their quality if I know how they were made and by whom. That’s how I was able to deliver affordable home furniture for this Sustainable and Modern Home for my clients in Oakton.
If you’re shopping for affordable home furniture on your own, buying domestic doesn’t have to be difficult! For example, both Crate & Barrel and West Elm have American-made furniture collections.