Price is only part of a bargain. Quality must be considered and is particularly important in such categories as furniture. Cheap furniture is not going to last. Good furniture will last several lifetimes and can be handed down from generation to generation.
I have a canopy bed made in 1824 that has been handed down for generations and was the birth site of many of my ancestors. It is an heirloom and, when you purchase quality furniture, you instantly acquire an heirloom.
When I recently visited the expanded showroom of Byrne Home Furnishings, heirloom-type pieces were everywhere. The recently completed additional 5,000 square feet of showroom floor is devoted entirely to furniture by Century and is officially "A Century Showplace."
The Henry Ford Museum has authorized Century to reproduce the desk at which Henry Ford worked in his office. The retail price on this reproduction is $2,595, but the tag at Byrne reads $1,697. The Smithsonian and the British National Trust have also authorized Century to make reproductions of some of their treasures.
The prices at Byrne are 25% to 40% off the manufacturer's suggested price, so the cost of such excellent quality is softened considerably. A new Century design line called Crystalin combines the simple elegance of neoclassic Empire and the wonderful proportions of Biedermeier. It is made of a European white ash with matched burl veneers and inlaid striping. A dining room group is stunning in this design and consists of a 78-inch double-pedestal table, a handsome china cabinet with beveled glass doors, bronzed mirror-backed panels and interior lighting, four side chairs and two armchairs. It retails for $14,600, but with Byrne's discount, it is $9,488.
As a showplace account for Century, Byrne benefits from price breaks from the manufacturer. For instance, an oversized traditional sofa with English arms comes in a choice of many fabrics and retails for $3,500; the Century special price to its showplace accounts is $2,600 and, with Byrne's percentage discount, it is $1,581. Byrne is one of four official Century showplace stores in Southern California.
You will also find other heavyweight names in the Byrne offerings. National Mt. Airy, Karges, Bernhardt, Lexington and Stanley are some of the other manufacturers represented here.
When it comes to leather furniture, my opinion is that if you can't get the best, don't get leather. Inexpensive leather furniture is often so thin and stretched so tight that one 250-pound friend can destroy it in one sitting. The Rolls-Royce of leather sofas by Hancock & Moore, top grain full hides, hand-tooled, sells elsewhere for $4,470, but with the Byrne discount, it comes in at $2,905.
Allow plenty of time here; there's so much to see. The selection of accessories is outstanding with names like Marbro, Stiffel and Waterford, and they are offered at the same 25% to 40% discount.
Byrne carries thousands of carpet, drapery and upholstery samples and has a staff of interior designers to assist you. Byrne, in conjunction with Century, is having its grand opening sale, which will last through Sept. 9.
Where and When Location: Byrne Home Furnishings, 3516 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays, Mondays and evenings by appointment. Cards: MasterCard and Visa. Call: (818) 845-0808.