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Cardboard in My Furniture? Get Smart About What's Inside

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

It's a Saturday afternoon and you pop into the furniture store to see what’s on display. As you wander around the store, a sweet arm chair catches your eye. It looks so stylish. It looks so modern. It looks just about perfect… And, oh!, the price is decent, too.

Stop. Before you rush into a new purchase, I want you to become educated. Even fancy furniture stores offer items at value price points to entice you to buy something that is actually a waste of your investment dollars.

Cheap furniture is not really cheap when you have to replace it often. That’s expensive!

Do You Know How Your Furniture is Built?

I was shopping one day at a mid-tier furniture store, and there was this cut-away display showing off the inner construction of a side chair. Feeling like Agent 99, I surreptitiously snapped a photo to share with you - because this is exactly the kind of furniture you need to avoid putting in your own home (scroll down to see my sneaky pic).

Sleuth looking into the construction of furniture
Smart sleuthing pays off! Learn about what's INSIDE your snazzy new sofa.

I couldn't believe this was on display for all to see. The thing is, we buy this stuff all the time, not knowing what we are getting. Not all inexpensive furniture is built this way, and I am not saying you should only buy high-end product.

However, when furniture is treated like fast-fashion, we actively contribute to disposable society, even if unknowingly. I want you to be aware.

Chair made from cardboard, wood and foam
Always question how the chair is built. Do you know what's hidden underneath the fabric?

See the rolled arm of the chair in the photo? That’s C A R D B O A R D. Cardboard!

All it takes is one pre-teen launching themselves off the arm of the chair to permanently dent it. One carelessly spilled beer soaking in and forever ruining the cardboard. One inattentive mover pushing too hard and accidentally crushing it.

Then what do you have? Landfill.

When you work with an interior designer, you’ve already solved half the battle. Designers do the research so you don’t have to.

As a designer, I’ve toured quality furniture factories, done countless “sit tests”, and have regularly stuck my hands inside (feeling like a proctologist) the guts of a sofa. I want to know what's inside.

As a consumer, you have options. Everything has specification information readily available, you just have to ask about it. Or Google it. Become educated.

I choose to work with higher quality products because I care about longevity and performance in combination with appearance. Working with an interior designer doesn't mean you'll never have to replace anything ever again, everything has a life cycle, but it does mean you'll be making smart choices that last.

No matter how pretty it looks on the outside, make sure it’s worthy of your investment. Resist the temptation to buy “three-year furniture”. For more information on furniture construction, read this story about sagging springs.


I will always have a fondness for Agent 99 - I got to be her in the high school play!

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