by Andrew Hume
Stickley is well-known for encouraging customers to literally look beneath the surface when evaluating furniture, for beneath the immediate attractions of shape and colour, etc., lie the hard truths of construction and materials. Until you turn that dresser drawer upside down you’ll never see the thick-walled centre guide rail, the generous blocking, or the precise top-grade dovetail joints front and back. Until you turn over that bench seat and actually examine the pegged mortise-and-tenon corners, heavy-duty seat frame and over-strong seat webbing, they will simply go on providing stability and comfort for decades to come, but unseen. And, unless you drop to the carpet and crawl beneath that magnificent dining table, you will never fully appreciate how the solid-steel box girder runners smoothly allow for multiple extension leaves to be inserted or removed should your dinner guests decide to tango on the table top at the same time. Stickley will not let them down. Stickley has the inner beauty to back up its outer beauty.
But what about Stickley fine upholstery — those gorgeous chairs, sofas and sectionals? The outer beauty is obvious, but the inner beauty of materials and construction is usually completely hidden from view, even from underneath. Take those Stickley seat and back cushions for example. The many years of comfort and support they provide are a result of the brand-name top-quality components inside: extra-durable, stable and consistent Ultracell foam; industry-standard duck down and poly-fibre combinations carefully “channelled” and layered; the best tight-weave down-proof ticking, etc. Without this kind of invisible integrity the finest fabric or leather money can buy is ultimately money wasted. All too soon the cushions are misshapen or flat or uncomfortable, and your favourite seat is now no one’s favourite seat.
In fact, good quality coverings require good quality fillings to look their best and last their longest. Insufficient loft, firmness or density and/or too much travel and slack will upset appearance and comfort in no time. Cushions can be unzipped, and will be for cleaning or repair. Examine the ticking. Admire the stitching and thread count. Note the minimal fatique, if any, and the absence of discolouration. Look for drying or “dusting”, or crumbling. You won’t find any unless your home has been underwater.
Then there is the frame of that sofa or chair; it is the foundation upon which everything rests, or better still the skeleton that must support the body. It needs to be rigid and durable — rigid enough to firmly anchor in place the attached substructure of springs and internal padding, durable enough to remain tight and intact after years of abuse from strong-arm furniture movers, narrow doorways, uneven flooring and countless “flop-downs” into that one faithful seat. And so Stickley gives their frames the attention they deserve, beginning with 5/4 kiln-dried hardwoods (usually maple) and hardwood laminates of even greater strength. No MDF or particle-board (still widely used, even in “premium” brands). Joints are double-doweled, with all rail joints being corner blocked, glued and screwed into position for maximum strength. The steel webbing base used on most Stickley pieces is a spring in itself and will not sag. This strong corrugated and resin-coated steel is perforated for the permanent interlocking of the coil springs. It is noise-proof and rust-proof.
What about those all-important coil springs? Stickley uses only the finest quality, rust-resistant high carbon steel. These are eight-way hand knotted (not simply “looped”) with the strongest polyester twine, using extra ties across the front for exceptional security. This “deck” is covered with polypropylene and then well insulated with a felted polyester fibre batting, ensuring an even distribution of resiliency. Individual coil spring Marshall Units are used in most tight back designs.
And then there’s the skirts, which are all fully-mitred and fully-lined, a hallmark of only the finest upholstery tailoring.
(Of course these you can see for yourself if you look. Did I mention the hardwood frames?)
Confident styling and the best construction. Superlative comfort and real beauty that lasts.