People shop for best furniture brands so infrequently in their lives that it presents more confusion than most other types of purchases. The bulk of consumers’ knowledge about furniture comes from sales circulars and marketing designed to reveal discounts. Only when you get to the store and talk with a sales person may you be educated about the quality of a particular piece. This person typically has more knowledge of sales techniques than furniture and is often instructed to push certain pieces that are overstock rather than give an honest assessment of quality.
By contrast, everyone knows that a Mercedes is a better type of vehicle than a Mazda. Furniture industry is just far more segmented and stores are much smaller and so widely varied as to make comparisons difficult. Comparing furniture selections from the top stores specializing in historical reproductions with a mass-market retailer is akin to comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. Their customer base is not the same. You could say that the first type is better than the second, but that does not mean it is better for you.
Our comparison between furniture outlets and shops with well-known car brands can help you understand what furniture is a Bentley, Mercedes, Honda, Mazda or Kia. With that in mind, you will never go paying a Mercedes price for a Mazda.
This apex of the automotive world represents top luxury, best performance, ultimate comfort, and towing levels of refinement and prestige. These cars are put together by hand at a high-tech Crewe factory with precise attention to details. The actual value is as high as the price and stems from a fusion of old-world craftsmanship with new-world technology.
Baker Furniture – Extremely expensive furniture is backed up by the finest quality materials and impeccable design. For those who can afford this brand, it is highly collectible and worthy of being passed down through the generations.
EJ Victor – Specializing in fine wood and upholstered furniture selections, this brand is both high cost and high quality. If you own an EJ Victor item, you own some of the very best.
Karges Furniture – Considered one of the best for luxury wood furniture, it carries high price tags and exceptional style and quality.
Kindel – Remaining at the apex of American furniture brands, its only problem is the ever- dwindling number of purists who appreciate the understated elegance and refinement furniture.
Kittinger – Top of the line furniture has been designed and built for the White House. You find either heirloom quality furniture from Porsche Cayenne Turbo for a rugged man, or a Cayenne-S type furniture perfect for an elegant female artist.
Mercedes- Known for its elegant style, performance, reliability and luxury image, Mercedes stands for uncompromising quality. Much like Mercedes, the following furniture brands are worth paying premium.
Bernhardt – This manufacturer offers fine wooden furnishings with a variety of opaque and muted finishes.
Bradington Young – Highly regarded as the top leather furniture designer in the United States. If you are in the market for a leather recliner or comfortable home theater seating, look here first.
Century Furniture – Consider the leather and fine wood furniture from this manufacturer as some of the best in the country. Styling is impeccable and the quality top-notch.
Drexel Heritage – Similar to Century & Henredon, they offer a wide selection of quality furnishings for many price ranges.
Guy Chaddock – It specializes in a clean and simple design with a special focus on dining room tables and chairs.
Hancock & Moore – Consistent attention to quality and detail makes this leather furniture producer one of the top 10 in the U.S. Have confidence that you would love any piece purchased there, sight unseen.
Hekman – With prices similar to Drexel, this high-end furniture producer creates both traditional and transitional styled accent furniture. They also specialize in desks.
Henkel-Harris – Using walnut, cherry and mahogany wood only, the 18th Century reproductions produced here are destined to become family heirlooms.
Henredon – Upper-middle class and higher consumers can afford and appreciate the top-quality style and woodwork of their furniture pieces, which also boast beautiful finishing techniques.
Hickory Chair – While the name may seem down-home and limiting, this furniture producer creates exceptional pieces for the living room, dining rooms and bedrooms as well.
Hickory White –Another “H” and high-quality furniture producer that offers pieces built to survive generations and priced for those with large budgets.
Sherrill – The wood furniture produced here is some of the best in the country. They understand the importance of the best materials and the attention to detail that crafts the finest pieces with the greatest quality possible.
Stickley – Owned by the Audi family, it delivers probably best customer experience in the upscale furniture category. The prime mover behind the Arts & Crafts movement and still the force behind the Mission style that is very big now.
Dependability and affordability are the hallmarks of Honda, a brand explosively popular in the mainstream consumer market. If you look for built for last furniture, the following mid-range brands must be considered. They have as loyal a customer base as many of the much more expensive ones.
American Drew – Competing with Basset as one of the top affordable furniture producers, they are found in department stores and offer a wide range of styles.
Art Van – Found primarily in Chicago and Michigan areas, this company offers mid to high pricing.
Bassett – Great quality for a first home or kid’s rooms, this large US furniture producer specializes in both upholstered furniture and casegoods.
Vaughan-Bassett – Casegoods offered here are modestly priced but of good quality for the mass market.
Broyhill – Offers both Regular and Premium furniture in many price ranges. Across the board, their pieces are well made and a good value with considerable style for the cost.
Catnapper – One of the oldest manufacturing names of reclining chairs and sofas, it is in direct competition with La-Z-Boy and Benchcraft.
Design Within Reach – This highbrow contemporary furniture retailer focuses on mid-range products with high-end prices.
Ethan Allen – I would recommend Ethan Allen to everyone. It offers quality furniture like some of the more expensive brands at lower prices. You could compare it to the Honda Accord for the actual value of its pieces.
Flexsteel – They produce upholstered furniture in everything from country chic to traditional styles in both stationary and motion varieties. Value is great, the prices are affordable and the furniture is long-wearing and sturdy.
Haynes Furniture – As the largest furniture retailer in Virginia, it offers both mid-range pieces and low-cost promotional deals. It covers both Haynes and The Dump store names.
Hooker Furniture – High quality yet medium priced entertainment centers, bedroom & occasional furniture. They will exceed your expectations without emptying your wallet. Give them a good look.
La-Z-Boy – Regardless of being an iconic American furniture brand, it is not seen as a top-quality producer, because a La-Z-Boy sofa may not be nearly as comfortable as an 8-way hand tied spring sofa. But in fairness, many of its recliners are superb with a great value for their price point.
Lee Industries – Many interior designers frequently suggest furniture pieces from this company due to their elegant style and quality.
Lexington – Considered an industry leader in style offerings, it does not compete with a Mercedes, but probably offers best value.
Massoud Furniture – It combines accessible price points with higher-quality upholstered furniture.
Mitchell Gold – Primarily producing upholstered furniture for sale at Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn, it is known for mid-level prices and quality.
Pearson – Specializes in upholstered furniture in both modern and traditional style with first-rate construction.
Rockaway Bedding – Boasting 53 stores in New York, 60 in New Jersey and 31 in Pennsylvania, this specialty store offers high-quality bedding.
Room & Board –No fancy stuff but at reasonable prices with decent quality. A step up from Crate & Barrel and West Elm. They pride themselves on personable salespeople who do not work on commission and thus do not engage in high pressure sales tactics.
Stanley Furniture – With prices below Lexington and exciting style offerings, it is a no-brainer choice to buy for your first home without sacrificing quality.
Simmons – One of the three largest mattress makers in this country. Arguably, Simmons Beautyrest is slightly more advanced in design than Sealy Posturepedic, although both are considered to have quality construction and affordability.
Taylor King – Although lower in price than many higher end brands, the pieces offered here can easily last for decades.
Thomasville –One step up from Broyhill, this quality furniture maker competes with Ethan Allen, Drexel and Lexington’s upper-end lines.
Vanguard – Considered by many to produce decent, quality furniture at reasonable prices.
Vaughan-Bassett – Designs for the average consumer, this company crafts casegoods comparable to those by Universal and Bassett.
Natuzzi – For the price, it would be difficult to find better leather furniture available anywhere. This quality is not top-of-the-line, but the styling is excellent.
Williams-Sonoma – It owns Pottery Barn. Both sell traditional style with Williams-Sonoma being one step up. The company also owns West Elm, which markets to younger demographic.
Z Gallerie – Comparable to Room & Board.
According to KBB, Mazda owners enjoy the lowest ownership costs of any other brand. While the reliability may not be as high as Honda, they offer an attractive option that is highly fuel efficient at a lower price, which is ideal for thrifty consumers. We put the following at the Mazda level.
Craftmaster – Lower-end furniture perfect for occasionally-used vacation property.
Franklin Furniture – Affordable upholstered furniture available in the Houston area.
Haverty’s – The quality of the furniture has dwindled in recent years. Still not bad for first-time furniture buyers who will enjoy the low pressure sale environment and amiable customer service.
Lane Furniture – Comparable to the lower end lines of Lexington, this manufacturer specializes in upholstered pieces.
Pennsylvania House – This company took a hit to quality, dropping it to a Mazda from Honda levels, after its manufacturing was moved offshore to China. It offers traditionally styled wooden pieces.
Pottery Barn – Makes mid-grade furniture, but it seems subpar to the furniture at Ethan Allan considering their prices especially for the casegoods. Still worth checking out at a Pottery Barn Outlet for its well-designed leather furniture.
Restoration Hardware – Manufactured by Mitchell Gold and Williams-Sonoma, many of their furniture are beautiful and elegant. However, prices can be in excess of what the pieces are worth. Pottery Barn is a direct competitor to this chain store with over 100 furniture outlets.
Rowe – Hovering slightly below Mitchell Gold quality, this low to mid-price company has both positive and negative customer reviews.
Crate & Barrel – Owned by the same company as Pottery Barn, this shop offers traditional styles of furniture with some modern accents. Designers seem to like this brand, but we find the prices too high for the value you receive. They do offer 10% off coupons for people who move house.
CB2 – As C&B’s younger, hipper cousin, it targets a young audience with focus on modern and contemporary furniture. You may find some nice occasional items and neat decorative accessories at lower prices than its main store. If IKEA is for people with a first-time apartment, CB2 is for people with their first condo or townhouse.
Affordability combines with some unique style in the Kia brand, but it is not known for high quality or long-lasting value. While affordable for budget consumers, resale value on a 10-year old Kia could be minimal.
American Furniture Warehouse – Colorado-based chain offers mid-priced furniture in a variety of styles. The quality and life-expectancy of each piece is unfortunately low.
Ashley – Most of Ashley furniture has little, if any, solid wood. Some of it is quite stylish and could be considered for light use as accent pieces. The prices are very affordable, but may not be a great value due to the short-lived use of the furniture.
American Signature Furniture – The quality of its items is slightly higher than those at the affiliated retail shop: Value City.
Bob’s discount furniture – Inconsistent quality can be found at their New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts’ stores. If you buy here to save money, check the drawers out first.
Coaster – This inexpensive and lower quality furniture can be useful for cheap rentals, dorm rooms or home staging purposes.
Furniture Factory Outlet – Furniture shoppers in Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas enjoy this large home furniture outlet. Quality depends on the individual piece since they sell overstock, closeouts and cancelled orders from furniture dealers. The prices are incredibly low.
IKEA – Many people consider IKEA a starter furniture store and then graduate to others. Some people do appreciate the style and affordability of the Swedish furniture. Their storage solutions are creative and utilitarian without sacrificing appearance.
Mattress Discounters – In direct competition with Sleepy’s, this company offers bedding and mattresses with promotional and mid-level prices.
Raymour & Flanigan – This popular Northeast furniture store receives both positive and negative reviews of the quality of their pieces. Ashley is one competitor.
Rooms To Go – Despite the A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, we consider this shop to provide inexpensive starter furniture, but nothing of great quality. They are comparable to Pottery Barn’s lower end items.
The Room Store – The low budget friendly furniture offered here is ideal for quickly furnishing rental property where long-lasting pieces with great style are not needed.
JC Penney –It can be useful if you move frequently. While some people compare this furniture outlet’s pieces to Pottery Barn, we’ve never found anything as stylish there: very ornate, carved in unappealing ways, and totally unlike Pottery Barn.
Marlo – Despite being one of the 100 largest furniture stores in the U.S., it also claims the title of having the most complaints from customers in the Beltway region.
Pier 1 Imports – This shop has many fans of its eclectic and uniquely styled home décor, gifts and small furnishings.
Universal Furniture – With prices matching or beating Stanley Furniture, this off-shore manufacturer offers surprisingly stylish pieces for less.
West Elm – A place where a more expensive price tag does not always indicate better quality. This trendy shop may have many fans, but the furniture’s quality is questionable. Much of it is not solid wood but veneer and requires assembly at home. Some of the pieces (dining room chairs, for example) are as expensive as higher end brands!
Ignoring the macho feel of this over-sized vehicle, the general impression is one of horrible fuel-efficiency and waste. Their reliability is low and they are impractical for long-term, every-day use.
Value City – Unlike Hummer, furniture from here is supremely affordable at the start. People on low budgets may find this attractive, but the furniture will not last long before it becomes garbage. Not environmentally friendly and can create the need to include new furniture in your budget sooner rather than later. IKEA edges this close competitor out in terms of style.
Obviously there is no “best” furniture for everyone. Whatever is best for you should fall in line with your home needs, personal tastes and how much you want to spend. Heirloom furniture that you would love to pass on to your children and grandchildren should represent a higher initial investment in true, long-lasting quality. Simply need to fill a rental property? Reduce the budget and still get furniture that can stand up to regular use.
If price is a constraint, you can always find similar or even same furniture offered at less prestigious furniture outlets with considerable discounts. The correct furniture choices for your lifestyle and décor tastes transform your house into a refuge and sanctuary from the stress of the world outside. Comfortable and attractive furnishings can invigorate you for a long day at work and relax you in warmth and security when you return home once more.