Furniture manufacturing question

I moved into a new place, and I am in need of some new furniture.

I’ve been google-fuing some things up to get some ideas of what kind of look I want. My daughter’s headboard/footboard and bedside table we painted a long time ago with a pink with a gold resist underlay.

(We spray painted it gold, then smeared Vaseline on it in random streaks, then spray painted it pink and wiped away the pink that was over the Vaseline to reveal to the gold. Great technique, FYI. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it. I figured it’d outdate as she got older but it seems very current feeling still.)

I liked how it looks in her room and like the idea of gold or silver sparkle as a main theme for the furniture. I don’t want to go so overboard with it, but I’ve liked the idea of it a lot. Seems glamorous and fits with modern feeling of my apartment, while also being timeless enough to use in a new place.

So, as I’m noodling around, I see a gold metal bed on Amazon, and someone in the comments mentions that this is the bed being sold direct by the manufacturer and it is being sold online by various resellers.

At first, I’m like, no, this can’t be, as I am seeing this same bed at all kinds of price ranges. But then I see these mirrored pieces of furniture that I know sell at Pier 1 under the Hayworth line at Hooker furniture. If you are not familiar with Hooker, they are serious high dollar stuff - usually very heavy, substantial pieces, which, I admit, I have a thing for really huge furniture.

I do know from when I lived in NC and talked to a buyer while on a plane trip home that all the furniture is made in China now (with the exception of Ashley - they actually even turn the wood in their factory - I heard this from one of our sales people who works directly with them and has been on their factory floor.)

So, let’s compare some pics.

Sold by Evans Transitional here for $504.

Here it is under the Hooker name for $1069. It’s the exact same photo - maybe slightly different legs?

I’m thinking, no, this can’t be that they are the same piece of furniture exactly. Perhaps they are all being made at the same factory, but being manufactured for different companies - this is how it is done at the Estee Lauder factory which makes for a wide range of brands. I’ve been there and sampled lots of similar products sold under their various brands and they are definitely not the same formulation even if they look a lot alike.

But then I found this review of one of the mirrored nightstands (not the exact same one above, but one I suspect is by the same manufacturer on the official Hooker site.

Received the Montage side tables and they were broken upon delivery. The middle of the leg that broke off looked like it was made of cardboard, very cheap. Surprise and extremely disappointed.

Anyway, if it is true that it is all the same stuff, I’ll order either through Amazon or whatever is the least expensive reputable company that I can find for whatever furniture I want to buy.

Curious if anyone has an inside scoop on the furniture industry?


Here’s another one (sort of negates my comment about Ashley):

Home Depot’s Home Decorator’s Chennai white wash platform bed

And Ashley’s Bantorini bed:



I’d say unless you find an actual woodworker or metalworker, most furniture these days is Chinese junk. Even Ashley.

I know this much because I wanted a hide-a-bed couch a few years back, and didn’t like the Ashley price, so I did a deep dive into the internet. I finally came up with one on Amazon for about $750, but had to pay shipping. All told, it was about $1000. Better than Ashley by at least 500 bucks, but still not much better than the various offers on Amazon.
In addition, the truck driver did not have to bring the crate to my door, but was willing to help me push it over to my apartment on the furniture scooters I had, and I had to uncrate and haul it inside myself.


That is my impression, too. When I look at reviews, no matter how good of a reputation the company has, most of the reviews are really spotty. One person will say this is the greatest bed the ever owned. The next will say bolts were missing and parts did not match up and it was a nightmare to assemble. Just seems like the higher end companies offer more customer service.


I found this website that has a list of American manufactured furniture.

A lot of the links are outdated, but there is some stuff in there. A lot of it is pretty pricey.

I have to admit I’m crushing on this one company - even founded by a former Tulane teacher/Kaitrina refugree:


I don’t know where you’re located, but in the Midwest we have stores where Amish and Mennonite craftsmen will sell their work. You can get custom work, stock work from a catalog but maybe you change something like an extra shelf or different knobs, etc., or just buy from what’s on the showroom floor. Reasonably priced for what you’re getting, as you can imagine.

Here’s a place I’ve gotten quite a few pieces from over the years. Excellent craftsmenship!


If you’re looking for a platform bed, those are typically the easiest pieces for a novice to make themselves, if you’re good with an upholstered headboard. If I lived anywhere near you, I’d help you myself.

(Not to mention I’m dying to help someone with something creative.)


Another q…

Does anyone know of anyone who sells a chaise that is a) padded and comfy, b) has at least one arm section and c) is slightly curved for the legs, like an anti-gravity chair?

Because I can find plenty that are cushoined and curved but with no arm to curl into, plenty that are curved with arms but no cushioning (if I wanted a lawn chair in my living room I would simply get one), plenty with arms and cushioning, but sit flat, like a mattress or couch sectional.

All I want is absolute cozy luxury. How hard is that to deliver?


I’m in Chattanooga now. I’m not too far from the NC showrooms - about 5 hours. Thinking of going there for a day and noodling around. There are a couple of makers advertising on Craigslist that I am considering working with - particularly one person advertising they can make floating shelves at a really good cost, which solves my bookshelf issue, and another who makes what looks like some beautiful mid-century modern pieces. I’m also exploring a couple of pieces I’m considering purchasing from what appear to be manufacturers. DHP has some nice looking metal beds that get pretty good reviews. And then Pier 1 seems to be selling the mirrored pieces I like for a good price and I think that all the manufacturers are importing that stuff from the same Chinese resellers, so might as well go cheap with that.

This one is available on eBay for $180 for a Queen and has great reviews - I feel like, can’t beat that price and is very glam looking.



For our last purchases, we just went local. We figured if everything was cheap crap, at least the retailer offers pick-up.

Most of our furniture is second hand, as you might expect.


FWIW, I’ve heard that the market for really good used furniture has collapsed, due to lack of demand and oversupply.


Oh, you know, speaking of NC, if you head over to Asheville, and in that general area, there tends to be lots of wood workers, folk artists, etc. Price is gonna vary, but you might be able to find some good flea markets and antique shops around that part of the state.


I have a bunch of friends that way so I can ask. They are in the artsy scene.


There is tons of that in Asheville, to be sure. We went up there not too long ago, and I swear to god there is a like a million art galleries down town now… we didn’t even go to the art river district, we just stayed down town mostly.


I recently moved and am (sort-of) financially able to not rely completely on Ikea for furniture now (Ikea is fine, but not my favorite design-wise). We’re slowly furnishing the house.

I bought a few things from West Elm. The quality is good, but not exquisite. There are exact knock-offs you can find online of some of the West Elm mid-century-modern styles and if you look at the reviews for the knock-offs and then look at the original, you can tell where the extra money goes - to fit and finish. I’m iffy on the quality of the wood used, but at least there’s no cardboard. It’s just hard to look at my real mid-century teak desk I got at a thrift store (for a steal because it needed some simple repairs) next to the mid-century-style West Elm desk I got for my girlfriend and be really happy with the quality of the wood in the West Elm one. But it’s all finished really nicely.

Anyway, my point is that West Elm and Crate & Barrel have nice stuff, but it’s overpriced. They price as if the stuff is heirloom quality, and it simply isn’t. Also a big part of what you’re paying for is design and finish, which is of course important, but you just know their mark-up is huge.

Also, I bought a bunch of stuff from West Elm because they had what was promoted as a huge sale, on the last day of the sale. Then the very next day, the exact items I bought were part of a different sale, discounted significantly more. I politely asked for a price adjustment and I got unbelievably jerked around (I had to point out that their excuses for not doing it seemed to be in response to somebody else’s complaint e-mail and it didn’t seem like they even read mine) and never got one. Do not expect good customer service from these kinds of places, and only buy if the item you want is specifically discounted in a sale (don’t just use a percentage-off coupon code).


Did you ever read the tear down of the Pottery Barn furniture? I’ll see if I can find it. The TLDR is, it’s crap.

And here’s a piece on Restoration Hardware:


We used to get one of those catalogs every five minutes. Guess they’ve gone up down in the world.


Interesting post. You could do something similar for West Elm - as I mentioned, you can find almost-identical furniture on other sites for a fraction of the cost. But as someone pointed out in the comments on that blog post, it’s a little disingenuous without comparing the two versions in person.

I got a mid-century-style bookshelf with a drawer on the bottom from West Elm. You can buy an absolutely identical-looking one on a couple other sites. But the reviews of the knockoff mention visible screws where there aren’t any screws on the real one - the construction is fundamentally different (I guess more elegant construction is possible with the real one because it arrives assembled - the knockoff you assemble yourself). The reviews also almost all say the drawer is slightly crooked, which isn’t the case on the real one. I can’t compare anything else about it without seeing a knockoff in person but those are pretty major.

Does that make it worth a couple hundred dollars more…? Well, that’s difficult too. I’m inclined to say no, because I suspect the actual wood (and other materials) is identical between the real and the knockoff. I would care about visible screws in the knockoff, but many people wouldn’t even notice.

That isn’t the case for some of the Restoration Hardware stuff in that blog post though - specifically, there’s a chandelier made from vintage French wine barrels, and obviously the knockoff that costs 1/10 the price is not using vintage French wine barrels.

When it comes to Restoration Hardware, though, I’m obviously going to say it’s not worth it, because everything they make is ridiculous, ugly, and outrageously priced. I don’t think the cheap versions are actually the same thing coming out of the same Chinese factory, though.

As for Pottery Barn - one simply needs to look in one of their stores to realize what it is, as nice as it may look online or in a catalog (it’s not my style, but it looks nice). It’s disposable, fast-fashion furnishings for rich white ladies, the way Target furnishings are for normal people (though the non-furniture stuff at PB is not particularly expensive). Of course it needs to be pointed out that Pottery Barn and West Elm are both owned by Williams-Sonoma so they are the same company.

The point underlying this whole thread is that it’s really hard to buy furniture, at least in the US right now. You have a lot of inexpensive choices with Amazon and other sites, but quality is all over the place and mostly bad. The lower-priced local stores are fine for most people but the design quality is awful. Ikea is kind of the common middle ground - quality directly correlates with price and they have good design, but it’s not the kind of design most people want their entire home to look like. Then you have West Elm and Crate & Barrel and the like, where most of what you’re paying for is design. Then you have true-quality places, like local craftsmen and other made-in-USA type places - but the designs are typically not that good, and the prices are out of reach for most people, so it’s still a compromise. Then you have curated vintage furniture sellers and places like that, but prices are sky-high for the stuff people actually want.

The best bet? It’s clearly local antique stores, thrift stores, flea markets, and the like. But finding exactly what you want is next to impossible, even if you go all the time.

The way to do that is to buy everything you need to live your life at Ikea and then slowly - months and years even if you go regularly - replace things when you find just the right thing. Since that isn’t really all that practical you have to compromise and buy overpriced stuff if you’re tired of everything being from Ikea.

tl;dr - I don’t know why I wrote so much. Just go to some antique stores.


Agreed, but that’s kind of scary (speaking as the grand-daughter of a finishing carpenter). That means there is no reliable, affordable furniture market.

BTW, if the West Elm piece is put together by someone who knows what they’re doing, it’s totally worth the higher price. The only problem is affording it.