Given the overwhelming array of considerations to juggle in the search for your ideal piece, we invite you to assess with the 20-5-1 Perspective.
20’: Does it catch your eye from across the room?
Proportion Consider the relationship between the top, legs and body. Are the individual parts properly sized? Do they work together to create balance?
Lines and Allure Do you notice the curves, planes, shadows, and patterns? Let your eyes flow over the piece and absorb from every angle. Are you able to appreciate the simple beauty of the piece as a whole without distraction?
Placement and Style Where will you put it? Observe how the piece relates to other furniture and objects‚ then picture it with your own. Remember, this piece will be a part of your life for years, so consider this in terms of the style to which you aspire, not necessarily to the couch you currently own.
Grain and Color Are you drawn closer? Make an initial assessment of the wood, leather and/or fabric. Is it interesting at this distance or does the piece seem flat?
5’: Do the elements of the piece captivate you?
Wood Look carefully at the grain and the pattern. Is the grain pattern used to enhance the design? Consider the figure, does the surface have depth?
Seams, Stitching, Extras Observe the fabric details. Do you like the seams? Would you like something more? Is there welting to add to the aesthetic? Do the seams fit the piece? Consider if the nailheads or other will fit your space.
Top, Edges and Legs Is the top a showpiece or afterthought? Are there inlay or marquetry accents? Are the edges curvaceous or flat? Are the legs complimentary to the piece or purely functional?
Hardware From this distance, is the hardware an enhancement or detraction? Have the drawer and door pulls, feet or plaques been designed and finished specifically for the piece of furniture? Is the patina well-suited to the furniture color? Do the shape and form add definition and character without drawing your eye away from the whole?
1’: Close up: Details seal the deal? Integrity: Kick the tires. Sit.
Comfort This is where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. Try not to prejudge (as in, "it looks deep") and have a thoughtful sit. Everyone is a different size, and many people have a different opinion about what ‘comfortable' is. Are YOU comfortable? How will you feel three hours from now? Can you get in and out easily? For bar stools, is there built in intelligence to the swivel?
Craftsmanship Will the construction meet your performance expectations? Does the chair creak? Do the drawers have good fit and smooth glide? Are the shelves easily adjustable and able to bear weight?
The Finish The finish is a critical material as well as a process, used to prepare, color and protect the piece. Inquire as to its qualities (such as durability, scratch resistance and aging). How thoroughly has the piece been finished? Touch the surfaces. How does the piece feel?<
Careful Construction Do you have the impression that the piece was hand-built or came out of a mold? Does that matter to you? How much of a handmade look do you want? Where do variations make it interesting and add to the character, and what elements would you like to be exact and perfect?
(En)durablity Evaluate the "How-Will-It-Look-In-The-Morning" issue. Will the piece be passé by next year? By next decade? As your style evolves, will your piece keep up? Will the cushions have spring in their step in the morning or next year? Will the colors of the fabric stay true and retain their vibrancy? Is the fabric the right choice for its intended purpose, e.g. stain resistant for dining chairs, durable for high traffic areas?
Notwithstanding the preceding, the only relevant relationship is between you and the piece. So, go with your heart (with critical support from your eye at 20, 5 and 1).