July 26, 2010

Supporting Cast: TV Furniture, Pt. 1

Supporting Cast

The last few months have been huge in TV Land, what with many shows wrapping up their current seasons and some signing off for good (Goodbye, LOST, 24! We’ll miss you!). This got us thinking about a number of shows, past and present, and a very overlooked, yet defining cast member they all have in common: furniture.

There are (arguably) two main things that determine a show’s appeal and success: the main cast and the storylines written for them. The chemistry among the show’s cast, as well as each member’s individual appeal, is a key factor in winning over an audience, whereas interesting and captivating storylines are what drive a show and keep fans tuning in for more.

But those things alone do not define a show. That’s where the little things come into play; things like costumes and music and set design… And with set design invariably comes furniture. There are plenty of shows with great casts and storylines, but what sets all these shows apart is their sense of style and the image they convey.

We’ve chosen five shows where furniture is just as important as the more obvious elements, and we’re finally giving these furnishings their long-overdue credit. Keep in mind, this is just the beginning of a series of homages. There will be many more to come.



If ever a show truly lived up to its name, Friends was it. This sitcom chronicled the lives of six friends, each of whom had their own distinct personality. These personalities were reflected through the furniture and design in their respective homes. Nerdy paleontologist Ross Geller’s apartment exuded a studious, elegant vibe, with a mostly brown color scheme and lots of leather. This was in stark contrast to Monica and Rachel’s apartment with its offbeat design and mismatched furnishings which worked to create a cozy, inviting feeling. Joey and Chandler’s apartment offered a peek into their personalities as well: barebones decoration with a foosball table and the home entertainment system as the focal point. And who could forget the wipe board hanging on the back of the door? Jennifer Aniston may have started a ‘90s craze with “The Rachel” hairdo, but Friends as a whole ignited an interior design revolution for twenty- and thirty-somethings all across America.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons

The Simpsons is going on its… 127th season now? That’s just fine by us. The animated family’s surname has become commonplace throughout the world. Aside from its memorable cast of characters, the show features several hallmarks, from Bart’s ever-changing after-school lines during the opening sequence to Ralph’s oddball lines (“My cat’s breath smells like cat food!”). But probably the most recognizable hallmark of the show is the one that manages to unite the family: the couch. At the end of each opening sequence, the entire Simpson family scrambles to their beloved couch to sit and enjoy some quality time in front of the television. In addition to being the centerpiece of the Simpsons’ living room, the couch is also the foundation for a plethora of gags, ranging from subtle changes in seat positioning to huge showcase extravaganzas featuring dancers and other characters from the show.



We first met Dr. Frasier Crane at a bar where everybody knows your name. The pompous psychiatrist initially seemed out of place in the small Boston hangout, but his own tinges of neuroses soon made Dr. Crane a perfect complement to the Cheers gang. But it wasn’t until the show’s spin-off, Frasier, that the good doctor moved to Seattle and unleashed his full-blown (and lovable) pomposity. Nothing revealed Frasier’s endearing arrogance more than his posh furniture selection which he describes as “eclectic.” The centerpiece of his collection: a suede couch, which is “an exact replica of the one Coco Chanel had in her Paris atelier.” Nothing could have possibly trumped this magnificent couch… until Frasier’s father, Martin Crane, moved in, bringing his old, puke-green easy chair recliner with him. This was the source of many comical conflicts in the Crane household, but nothing was more amusing than the time Frasier accidentally destroyed his father’s beloved recliner and then paid a hefty fee to have an exact replica constructed, ironically making the easy chair recliner the most expensive piece of furniture in Frasier’s collection.



We’re big LOST fans here at El Dorado Furniture – well, at least this blog writer is. Say what you will about the show, it was arguably one of the most mind-boggling, intelligent, and engaging television dramas ever produced. LOST literally kept audiences guessing up until the very end. And while the show depicted some momentary departures from the mysterious island, the remaining survivors managed to make the best of the tools at their disposal in order to make life on the island more comfortable. From John Locke constructing a crib for Claire’s baby to the gang piecing together a stretcher for the (many) injured victims, the makeshift furniture assembled from scraps of the wreckage of Oceanic flight 815, clothing, wood, and stone served as a constant reminder of the survivors’ plight and a reminder that they were a long way from home – and for one gripping hour every week, so were we.


Kourtney & Khloé Take Miami

When most people think of Miami, two things immediately come to mind: beaches and style. The beaches speak for themselves, but Miami has spent years cultivating its world-renowned signature style. It’s for that very reason that the Kardashians decided to extend their D-A-S-H product line to the Magic City. Kourtney & Khloé Take Miami is a spin-off of the infamous reality series Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The show follows the exploits of Kim Kardashian’s sisters as they struggle to launch their new D-A-S-H store while living it up on the Miami streets. At the end of the day, however, a girl’s gotta rest, preferably in a well-furnished home. When it came time to furnish the sets, the show’s designers needed furniture that captured the essence of Miami’s unique lifestyle while exuding that unique Kardashian flair. El Dorado Furniture’s huge selection of contemporary furniture was the answer. El Dorado has provided furnishings for many of the sets on the shows first and second seasons. A recent episode even featured Kim and Kourtney browsing our very own Kendall Boulevard showroom! Man, those designers have excellent taste!

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

Have a comment or topic suggestion for the author? Shoot him an e-mail at vcapo@eldoradofurniture.com.

July 13, 2010

Furniture Facts: Leather, Pt. 2


Now that you know all about the history of leather, you’ve got a hankerin’ to go and get some leather for yourself. Great! Before you head out, though, you may want to take a moment to familiarize yourself with the different types of leather.

A common misconception is that all leather is the same. The fact is that the quality of leather varies based on two important factors:

  1. The animal from which it came
  2. The tanning process used

These factors not only determine the quality of the leather, but its feel and durability as well. That means that certain types of leather are better suited than others for use in particular products. We’re not going to cover every type leather here, but we’ll go over the most common ones to give you an idea of what you’ll be looking at.

Full/Top Grain Leather – Easily the highest quality leather on the market. In the leather world, the term “grain” refers to the pattern visible on the outer surface of the skin once the hair has been removed. This pattern typically consists of pores and any other unique markings or injuries the animal’s skin may have, including mosquito bites, scratches, branding, wrinkles, and more. Full/Top grain leather is one of the purest forms of leather in that the outer surface of the skin has not been buffed or treated for uniformity. In other words, what you see is what you get; all those pores and bites and scratches the animal has on its skin? They’re not going anywhere.


Ironically, many people buy a beautiful piece of full/top grain leather furniture only to find one of these natural markings on it. They immediately perceive the marking as a defect and demand an exchange or a refund. However, these markings are part of what make full/top grain leather so unique and valuable. Has someone ever put a dent in your car and tried to play it down by telling you the dent “adds character?” They’re usually just looking for a way out of having to pay for repairs, but in the case of leather, these markings really do add character.

Full/Top grain leather tends to be more durable than other leather types since the top grain has not been altered. It’s also more breathable, so your skin won’t stick to it after prolonged contact. You’ll usually find full/top grain leather in furniture like couches, sofas, and recliners.

Corrected Grain Leather – This is exactly what it sounds like. Whereas full/top grain leather has opted to go au naturale, resisting any cosmetic procedures, corrected grain, embarrassed by her spots and blemishes, wants to have them removed. As such, corrected grain leather is leather whose grain has been buffed or treated to remove imperfections. Buffing alone isn’t enough, however; the procedure changes the fundamental pattern of the Collected-Grain-Leather-HF338-grain itself, leaving a very noticeable smooth spot that differs from the rest of the grain. This is “corrected” by applying a finish (or paint) that closely matches the original grain pattern. The result? A completely spotless and uniform piece of leather that looks great! (But we all know she’s had some work done.)

TLEL09Split Leather – When the top grain of a hide has been removed, you are left with the layer beneath; split leather is made using this layer. Split leather tends to be more fragile than full/top grain leather and can be easily damaged if not properly cared for. It has a soft, fuzzy feel and is not naturally waterproof like full/top grain leather. Split leather is cheaper than full/top grain leather and is commonly used to make suede.

Coated/Bycast Leather– This leather is made by applying a layer of polyurethane to the surface of split leather. This results in increased durability. Coated/Bycast leather was once used exclusively in shoes, but its low price led to its use in upholstery as well. Many public places with seating (such as bars and restaurants) use coated/bycast leather on their furniture.

Bonded Leather – Bonded leather is a mostly synthetic material made up of Bonded-Leather-ST-007-varying degrees of genuine leather combined with other materials (usually polyurethane or vinyl) to give the appearance of leather. This is the least expensive type of leather (aside from synthetic leather) on the market. Bonded leather is typically found on Bibles, diaries, art books, and desk accessories.

Once the grain has been “cut,” it’s time to apply a finish. The finish is essentially a protective coating that enhances the leather’s durability and longevity, but can also give the leather a specific texture or color if so desired. Again, there are many more finishes than those listed here, but these are the most common.

Aniline Finish – Aniline leather is leather that has been treated with a completely transparent finish. In other words, the original grain is completely visible with the naked eye.

Semi-Aniline Finish – This leather has been treated with a semi-transparent finish, giving off a slight hint of color, but still not obstructing the original grain.

Pigmented Finish – Pigmented leather has been treated with a completely opaque finish. Essentially, this is like painting or coloring the leather. The original grain in this leather is not visible.

When shopping for leather, most products will clearly state the type of leather used. If you can’t find this information, just ask a sales associate. The important thing is that you are well informed about the type of leather you’re investing in. Get a head start on your leather quest by checking out our huge selection of leather furniture at www.ElDoradoFurniture.com!

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

Have a comment or topic suggestion for the author? Shoot him an e-mail at vcapo@eldoradofurniture.com.


“Natural Characteristics of Leather” Leather Resource Website, http://www.leatherresource.com/naturalcharacteristics.html (accessed June 29, 2010).

“Terms” Leather Resource Website, http://www.leatherresource.com/terms.html (accessed July 5, 2010).

“What are the different types of leather?” Wisegeek Website, http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-different-types-of-leather.htm (access July 5, 2010).

“Different Types of Leather” Buzzle Website, http://www.buzzle.com/articles/different-types-of-leather.html (accessed July 5, 2010).

“Leather” Wikipedia Website, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leather (accessed July 5, 2010).

“The Various Types of Leather Used in Leather Furniture” Home Furniture From North Carolina Website, http://northcarolinahomefurnitureblog.com/?p=116 (accessed July 5, 2010).

“Definitions” Leather Resource Laboratory, http://www.leatherusa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3285 (accessed July 5, 2010).

July 5, 2010

Furniture Facts: Leather, Pt. 1

leather swatchIn today’s fast-moving world, tomorrow’s technology is yesterday’s news. That state-of-the-art, brand-spanikin’ new computer you bought last week? It’s already obsolete. That groundbreaking phone you waited three days in line to get on launch day? They just announced a newer, even more groundbreaking version of it due out next month.

We are living in a time when technology is expanding at a mind-blowing rate, and it’s hard to keep up with the latest trends. That’s why it’s nice to know there are some things that can stand the test of time without ever really changing. One of those things is leather.

When it comes to luxury, few things are more well known than leather. You see it everywhere: Handbags, shoes, coats, wallets, and, yes, furniture. Today, leather is as much a status symbol as it is a quality material. In this respect, leather defies the logic of current trends; instead of depreciating, leather has managed to become more valuable and prestigious over time. Pretty ironic considering the material’s humble roots…

125226541_b9781e7aea_oThe first use of leather practically dates back to the origin of man himself. Animal skins gathered from hunting were commonly used to make clothing and shelter. However, these raw skins weren’t very reliable, becoming stiff in cold temperatures, and rotting in hot temperatures. Unless something could be done to make these skins more durable, the survival of mankind was uncertain at best.

Luckily, our ancestors were ingenious enough to stumble upon tanning, the process of converting skins and hides into leather (hence the intimidating cowboy portent, “I’m going to tan your hide!”). Leather proved to be more flexible and durable than raw skin, and it lasted longer, too.

Several tanning methods were developed throughout the ages. The oldest, most rudimentary method involved rubbing oils and animal fats onto the skin to make it more flexible. Another was smoking, which was simply the burning of branches and green leaves. Drying skin by using salt or exposing it to the sun proved effective in stopping its decay, leading to huge advancements in tanning methods. Refinements to these techniques allowed for more versatile uses of leather. Ancient texts reveal that leather was used in everything from shoes and dresses to shields and harnesses. One account even describes a working system of leather-made water pipes!

leather1By the 14th century, most cultures were using leather in everyday craftsmanship. The popular material was used to make chests, cases, book bindings, and more. It was around this time that craftsmen began implementing leather into furniture. Not only did this make for more comfortable, durable furniture, it added a decorative effect as well.

Despite these innovations, the tanning process still took a long time to complete – typically eight months to a year! The discovery of the tanning properties of chrome salts drastically reduced the tanning process to just a few days.

leather 2

A typical tanning process consists of four basic steps:

  1. Before tanning, the hides and skins are thoroughly cleaned. Special techniques are used to remove hairs, fat cells, and other elements that are not suitable for the manufacturing of leather.

  2. The hides and skins are tanned. Modern tanning methods utilize either chromium or vegetable oil extracts for efficiency and quality retention.

  3. A “wet finish” is applied to the leather. This process determines several leather properties, including softness, color, and malleability.

  4. The final leather finish is applied. This finish determines the leather’s final appearance such as glossiness and feel.

The fascinating thing about modern-day leather-making is that, aside from a handful of tools and chemicals, the fundamental process of transforming raw skin into leather has remained unchanged since its inception thousands of years ago.

Tune in next week for an in-depth look at the different types of leather and what they mean to you. In the meantime, be sure to check out www.ElDoradoFurniture.com to browse our huge selection of leather products!

Narratives are for entertainment purposes only and frequently employ literary point of view; the narratives do not necessarily reflect the opinions of El Dorado Furniture, its officers, or employees.

Have a comment or topic suggestion for the author? Shoot him an e-mail at vcapo@eldoradofurniture.com.


“History of Leather” Leather Resource Website, http://www.leatherresource.com/history.html (accessed June 29, 2010).

“Characteristics of Leather” LANXESS Leather Website, http://www.lanxessleather.com/lea/en/basics/raw_hides_and_skins/characteristics_of_leather/ (accessed June 29, 2010).