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All The Sofas I Considered For Our Living Room After Shopping For TWO FULL YEARS

Months ago I wanted to lay out the living room with a long sofa, a short sofa, and two chairs. But the room is big and I just couldn’t find my dream sofa. At one point Brian said that he actually feels sorry for our future sofa (or spoiler, sofas) because there is no way it was going to live up to the pressure I have put on it to be perfect. I’ve been shopping for this fantasy sofa for two years (probably longer) and I don’t think that what I wanted existed. And it’s not that what I want is so incredibly special, it’s the combination of elements that seems virtually impossible. I ended up landing on a different layout, negating a lot of the things I wrote in this post (started it months ago), but I like the information, and it’s a good lead-up to our final layout post!! So I wanted to bring you along my woeful process. This sofa search was intended for this layout – THE sofa facing the fireplace, flanked by a smaller sofa and two club chairs. Easy peasy.

While I am truly a huge fan of that Article sectional it’s not the right orientation for this room and it’s incredibly water damaged and stained. But that’s the layout I’m chasing.

So let’s walk you through why this long sofa is seemingly unattainable:

  1. Length – she needs to be at least 108″ long. They exist, but not very many are readymade.
  2. Comfort – we need an 8 on the comfort scale. I refuse to torture myself again – both emotionally and physically by not having an extremely comfortable sofa in our living room. But you know what? All those dope-looking sofas on the internet that are streamlined, curvy and so beautiful? So few of them can stand up to this challenge. I’m outing them all right now.
  3. Dog friendly – My kids are old enough now to not really have to worry about them, but no matter how well we wash the paws off after a winter walk, the dogs will run around and hop on the sofa afterward. It doesn’t stain, but I don’t want to look at all the dirty paw prints in between cushion washing. “So do you want a sofa that hides your dirt so you don’t have to deal with it?” Yeah. I do. This means no mohair, no boucle, no light colors – doesn’t matter if it’s performance fabric, I don’t want to spend my weekends wiping them up. Remember performance fabric doesn’t repel or hide dirt, it just wipes up easier and doesn’t stain. I’ve shopped for a patterned fabric for months and months and months and nothing is right enough to invest in long term.
  4. Ideally, it would look good with the rug + leather sofa we already have – Now, of course, I could move them to other rooms (and spoiler, I do) but initially, I really liked both of them so I didn’t want to. The rug has a million blues in it and a little of “white dashes” which has made it extremely dog friendly and cozy. And the leather sofa is super classic and pretty (and the perfect color leather). But it’s tufted, which means that whatever we choose really shouldn’t be. Again, at this point, I’m willing to move this to another room if the most perfect tufted sofa came into existence.
  5. I’d like this sofa to be more “living room,” less “tv room” – Not formal per se, but we have a big sectional in the next room so ideally it would feel more elevated than that (I’m willing to give up on this requirement at this point).
  6. Special, editorial, not something I haven’t seen every single day on the internet – not because there is ANYTHING wrong with that, only because as a designer I want to create something new. Like a chef not wanting to cook from someone else’s recipe or an advertising exec not wanting to do a similar campaign to someone else. I wanted, ideally, something that tickles my eyeballs every time I see it. This is definitely the one requirement at this point that I am most likely going to have to give up (and have).

Well, What Is Your Dream Sofa?

Thanks for asking. If I could snap my fingers what would I own? You know it because I’ve said this for YEARS. It’s from BDDW and it’s incredible – the perfect combination of cool, comfy, edgy, and classic. It’s also close to $30k. And the thing is that I’m kinda glad it is – it’s a work of art by a company that I’m obsessed with and admire so much. I don’t want it knocked off. I don’t want it ubiquitous. I look on 1stDibs all the time for a used one (nothing, ever). I have of course, in the past reached out to see about any press or marketing opportunity (it will be in a magazine! I’m a blogger! I’m also from Oregon!) and haven’t heard back. At this point, YOU BET I would partner up with them, drain the kid’s college savings, take a discount, and make payments. And hell, had I kept track and calculated the hours, weeks, months, and years I’ve tried to find an affordable version of this sofa and multiplied it by my hourly rate it would probably be over $30k at this point!!! But I can’t do it. The last time I was in New York, I went into BDDW and sat on it, we had a moment and what I realized is that it’s a bit too deep. I was relieved momentarily, thinking maybe my unicorn sofa is just a really awesome horse. But it’s not. I would put more pillows or customize it 2″ shallower. Anyway, the dream is dead and we are moving on (full disclosure if they reach out after this post I will have no scruples – I’d do what I could to lock down a discount for marketing/PR/photography usage purposes). And you know what? I think its unattainability, like a piece of art, is a huge factor in why it’s so valuable and why I’ve loved it for so many years. If you are rolling your eyes at the price, I get it – anybody able to spend that amount of money on a sofa is probably enjoying capitalism more than 99.9% of the rest of the country and if you let yourself think about it too long you will feel gross. But it’s similar to the Devil Wears Prada monologue about Cereleum blue. BDDW is (in my opinion) the tip-top of creativity + quality + art + style in the furniture/design world for decades now. Major retailers have been trying to knock them off for years, but nothing touches the real thing. Nothing. Have you seen the modern Delft tile? The art they curate? The tables and wingbacks? Everything they do is edgy, classic, AND totally timeless. HOW???????? I think the high quality and unattainability are what make it timeless – it’s not everywhere. You don’t get sick of looking at it and wanting it. I implore major retailers to stop trying to knock them off, please. Let’s collectively let some things be worth just admiring as art, shall we?

A Classic English Roll Arm

I LOVE this sofa. It only comes 84″ but we could have customized it (had I ordered it in time). But also I already had the rug and was worried that it wouldn’t match or clash or just be wrong. I think if I could go back in time I’d order two of these facing each other, but I didn’t have that thought until about a month ago and it was just too late. It’s a stunner, though.

Almost It – A Restored Antique

Last year I found this white sofa (above) on 1stDibs and immediately said, “That’s it. That’s our statement sofa”. I put it on my *very* working mood board and my whole future fell into place. It was at a vintage store in LA, a totally restored antique from France circa 1830, and yet those modern lines were so simple and special. And it was long enough!!! The problems were A. It was $18k and newly reupholstered. B. It was in white boucle so we’d have to reupholster it (nope, not for that price), and C. It didn’t look sink-in able. I could tell that it would be more bouncy and firm. And that’s fine for other people, but not us. I want to USE our living room and after making this mistake in the past I will not again let an uncomfortable sofa haunt me. Our sofa will be inviting and comfortable, not something people avoid sitting on.

So I reached out to Rosa Beltran, with her company Clad Home (I’m a huge fan of hers, btw) and we talked about custom designing something similar – adding a cushion on top. I trusted her eye for proportions and her expertise in ergonomics. But I just kept dropping the ball, so busy with everything else going on that by the time I reached out again to get it done it wouldn’t have gotten here in time. SAD!

Vintage + Reupholster????

Getting closer to the shoot I started having two options – Vintage (nearby) and reupholster or big box. I looked on 1stDibs, FB marketplace, Craigslist, and Chairish almost every day. I found many others that have made me excited, but none of them check all those boxes above. Besides, not being able to sit on them and actually test them out is a real problem when they would all be a fortune and the almost singular function of a sofa is to be sat on. But I go through and favorite anything I’m attracted to so that if I were to customize something I can look through what I like and get some insight.

This made me start to rethink the entire layout and opened a few doors – sofa-wise.

What About A Curved Sofa? A Semi-Circle?

I even considered moving out everything we have so that we could bring in one big curved sofa, but Caitlin reminded me that you can’t lay down on curved sofas. I hadn’t even thought about that! As I write this I’m stretched out on the chaise part of our Article sectional and don’t want to only be able to sit on the sofa – I want to have a loungeable option.

What About The Camaleonda? It’s Cool And Comfortable?

Ha. Jokes on all of us that this sofa is famously uncomfortable, not to mention unbelievably expensive. Yes, it’s knocked off now (all the more reason for me not to invest in the original), but I just wanted to quickly break that story – that this sofa is a wonderful hotel lobby sofa, a beautiful formal living room sofa for guests, but no, it’s not a family sofa. She is bouncy and you can’t really lie back. Trust me, “modular” is NOT always a good thing.

Two Vintage Sectionals I Was This Close To Buying

This one is so long and beautiful. But ultimately so expensive and felt too deep for everyday conversations. And now I don’t remember how much it was or where it was, but I’m sure it wasn’t cheap nor close to Portland.

This is a vintage Milo Baughman that once recovered could be cool (and was right size/scale) but the amount of work/time and money I’d have to pitch in with no guarantees that I’d nail it was too risky with my deadlines and all my other work. I got the quote to reupholster it, which was $5k not including fabric (nor the cost of the sofa and shipping). So we are talking over $10k for something I’m unsure about????

Lawson Fenning + Nicki Kehoe + Amber Interiors

Four months out, I also stalked some of my favorite brands. I love any and all things from these three brands. While they are all expensive (around $8k+ for sofas, probably closer to $12k) I trust their quality and timelessness. Unfortunately, even if I did want to spend that it was too late when I started shopping and we wouldn’t get the sofa in time to shoot. Way to go dummy.

Crate & Barrel – The Athena Sofa

This whole collection was a huge mouth and mic drop. I ordered the dining chairs and have been so extremely happy with them. And this sectional is incredible too. I have to think it’s heavily inspired by the ’70s designer that designed the mountain house sectional (the exact same lines) but y’all this one doesn’t fall apart!!!! Brian was still hesitant that it wouldn’t be that comfortable (tight seat and tight-backed sofas tend to not have as much give) but I could have gone for it. Crate & Barrel makes comfortable high-quality furniture, surely they designed this one to be super comfy? But without one to sit on we were hesitant. My other hesitations were that the green color that I loved was the same fabric as the dining chairs. Can you see them at the same time? Yes. Is that bad? I DON’T KNOW!!!! Part of me thinks maybe it’s just cohesive?? Unfortunately at this point, it’s ALSO too late, and wouldn’t get here til July.

The Other Athena Sofa

When I went to Crate to see the first one, I sat on this above sectional and it was EXCELLENT. Super long, beautiful, and extremely comfortable. But it only comes in white or a burnt orange (I happily gave my feedback about needing more color options haha).

Both of those couldn’t get here in time, so now we are down to custom making (I found a company here that could turn it around in three weeks should I design it quickly) or quick ship from a big box. This is also when I started opening up all layout options – sectional, two facing sofas, etc. I wouldn’t say I felt desperate, but yes, my options were dwindling by the day. So I started considering…

Article Sectional

Last year I got this sectional to replace the vintage one at the mountain house (because it fell apart all day every day) and I literally couldn’t have been more happy. We then used it (because I forced Kaitlin) for Kaitlin’s basement makeover and once again I was like, “MY GOD THIS IS GOOD”. But was a big corduroy sectional the right vibe for our living room? Again, we have a sectional in the room over, and is that fine? Maybe??!! And with Article, I could have gotten it in time, but Brian was like, “This just feels more like a family room sofa, not our living room sofa” and I knew he was right.

CB2 Sofa

We are clearly out of farmhouse territory now, I know. But I love this one and felt that two of these facing each other could be so simple and pretty, and let my art/accessories shine. I went to the store to sit on it and the wheat one was in stock but I didn’t love the color (but they are comfortable and have lovely lines) and the blue one was backordered til June. While it might have made it here in time, at this point I have to design the rest of the room around the sofa I choose, so it’s a domino effect. I couldn’t wait til a week before the shoot to get the sofa as it affected so many other decisions.

Maiden Home Sofa

I love this sofa for its simplicity and that pretty curve in the back. But I fear that I sofa this simple needs to be in mohair or something special, and after staring at their mohair samples for weeks (they are so pretty) I read the usage recommendations on the back and I fear that it’s too fragile for our pups paws and puke. Mohair isn’t as forgiving as velvet (not by a long shot), so that felt unwise.

Lulu And Georgia Sofa(s)

I love all things Lulu and Georgia and trust them a lot re quality and comfort. I LOVE Ginny’s sofa and Jess has it and vouches for it. I have also loved the more classic English sofa for years – it’s very pretty, simple, timeless, and looks so comfortable. They didn’t have a long version, but this is when I realized that maybe two facing sofas were the way to go. Or maybe I didn’t need as long as I think and I could bring the conversation area in a bit? So I stalked Chris Loves Julia as they have it and I looked at all the photos of them sitting on it. I honestly stared at how they sunk into it, leaned back on it, crowded on it with multiple kids and dogs, and felt confident that the comfort and ergonomic box was being checked. I ordered samples of both colors (a mossy green and a darker blue) and two months out from the shoot I placed the order (they do give me a press discount, but not fully traded).

So what did I choose???????? Well, come back tomorrow for one more HUGE living room piece to discuss, then we’ll get to all things layout:)

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Kaitlin Green | From: My Journey To FINALLY Choose A Wall Color For Our Living Room (And How I Feel Now That It’s Painted)

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LouAnn
10 months ago

A sofa cliff hanger? Seriously? I can’t believe we have to wait a day. Lol.

I feel your sofa pain. I made three poor sofa choices (the 1st was cheaply made, the second was too much pattern, and the third was too deep for my living room) before I lucked into the one I have now and love. It really is SO hard to buy a sofa that is both stylish and comfortable and fits the available space and isn’t too deep or two wide and … and … and …

I did like that leather sofa in the living room. Visually it kind of mirrored the kitchen island. So I’ll be back tomorrow to see how the story ends. 😉

Allison
10 months ago

“Cerulean blue?”

sona
10 months ago
Reply to  Kat

thanks for that link!!! I loved that movie. What a great scene.

sam
10 months ago
Reply to  Allison

‘Cerulean’ and ‘cerulean blue’ are both correct!

A S
10 months ago
Reply to  sam

That scene made me laugh all those years ago (and now!) Because its how my sister described the flow of design to her style challenged younger, annoyingly smug sibling!

anotheremily
10 months ago

gurl, I have been telling you to shrink that conversation area for MONTHS! yessssssss do it.

big rooms need defined zones, not bigger furniture.

Lisa
10 months ago
Reply to  anotheremily

So much this.

Mandy
10 months ago

Super excited to see the choice! You already know but I second the durability of velvet fabric. I was hesitant to order a velvet couch for the living room at our weekend farmhouse – but absolutely no regrets. Velvet is so good for children and dogs!!! Everything just wipes off. PS. I think the classic English sofa would be gorgeous in your living room.

Emily
10 months ago

My husband and I spent a year shopping and looking for a couch and we are not designers, so I can only imagine the pressure you have felt. We finally settled on the crate and barrel ‘Lounge’ as that fits out needs and have been happy with it but it isn’t a particular statement piece.

Meredith
10 months ago
Reply to  Emily

Oh, I just ordered the Lounge in linen to be a supporting player to a statement coffee table–the Sassolino, also at C&B, designed by Athena Calderone.

Erin Dae
10 months ago

Wow, I am way too invested in how this turns out – the cliffhanger is going to have me counting the minutes until tomorrow! Thanks for taking us on the journey – it’s like the old design agony posts and I can’t wait to see what the happy ending is.

Josh
10 months ago

You should check out Cococo Home also. Their sofas are awesome and custom handbuilt in North Carolina. I love my sofa and chair that I got from them. Leather is Italian. My velvet chair is JB Martin velvet from SC. Great quality and super comfy. 🙂

Nora
10 months ago
Reply to  Josh

Yup, seconding the rec for Cococo Home! Have a great sofa from them.

RachieT
10 months ago

We spent 5 years saving/sofa shopping only to make a huge mistake and regret the choice. It’s such a BUMMER to buy the wrong sofa. Ugh 🙁
I definitely feel your pain and when we pulled the trigger, I knew I was compromising but I had grown so impatient with the whole process- Oh well.
I have a similar desire for a 110 inch long, 24-25 inch seat depth, comfy rolled arm but not overstuffed. Classic and comfortable. I’m not sure if my dream sofa exists! And yeah, I definitely didn’t have 10k+ to spend… more like 3-4k range.
I had a used c&b lounge (deep version) prior to our purchase. It was comfy but 27” seat was way too deep and it looked ridiculous in our long/narrow living room. We settled on the Monroe from Apt2b which is too shallow for my husband. While it fits the room a bit better than the lounge, the corner sectional doesn’t really work either. The curved corner is awkward too. But it’s great if you just need something pretty you don’t need to lounge around on …

Stephanie
10 months ago
Reply to  RachieT

Man, I’m sorry to hear that RachieT. That sucks. I’ve done that more times than I care to count with rugs and side chairs. It’s really hard with so much being exclusively online these days, too. Thanks for sharing your experience. We can all commiserate together!

Sahaja
10 months ago

I can’t wait to see what you decided! I totally get the agony – it’s not like you invest in a new sofa all the time. It’s gotta feel good and hold up to all the things in your life. What is worse, esp for designer like you – is getting a couch thats “ok” “fits the bill” or isn’t offensive really and realizing you just don’t love it at all. Hope you find something you truly love!

Meg
10 months ago

Out of curiosity, did you consider getting a Cisco sofa? I remember them being super comfy in store but I don’t know what the feedback is from actual use and wear and tear. https://ciscohome.net/collections/all-sofas

Karen
10 months ago

For anyone that needs to know, you can also train dogs to stay off furniture. Many like a couch snuggle but I think it’s okay to have a no dog zone, even if it’s just one particular piece of furniture. You can set boundaries for kids (no red drinks in the carpeted room) and pets alike.
Can’t wait to see what you have picked!

EK
10 months ago
Reply to  Karen

Agree with this! I recently kicked the dog off the couch and I am shocked how much cleaner it stays. No more covering the couch in blankets to protect it and constantly washing said blankets.

Suze
10 months ago

Does this mean there is hope that the living room rug is going away?

MKP
10 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I agree you should get rid of it. And SEND IT TO ME! I think it is amazing and it would be so perfect in my house!!!

Suze
10 months ago
Reply to  Emily

I would love to see more warm, earthy tones to warm up this room and switching out the rug could be that game changer. I also think a smaller rug would define a cozier space around the fireplace and echo others’ suggestions to create more than one defined zone in such a large room. The existing rug may be beautiful but it feels wrong for this space. Nothing adds soul and warmth like a kilim or Persian, IMHO!

Heather
10 months ago
Reply to  Suze

The rug is a beautiful rug, but I think something more earthy would warm up the space so much. We replaced a patterned rug with the Heather Chenille jute rug from Pottery Barn in our living room. It’s 10 x 14, soft underfoot, and cleans up easily. It made all the difference, and we love it so much.

Tamara
10 months ago

Local Portland designer here – I would recommend local furniture shop, Perch Furniture. They can custom make any sofa to your specs with a ton of fabric options or customers own material. Prices are very reasonable & lead time just got way better (2-3 months, instead of 8 months a year ago pandemic era). Sounds like Emily may have already decided on a sofa, but that’s definitely what I’d recommend!

Jennifer
10 months ago
Reply to  Tamara

I came here to recommend Perch as well! We bought the Lowe sectional more than 7 years ago. The folks at Perch were delightful to work with–we visited their store in the Pearl so we could test out different sofas. We had custom measurements and selected a beautiful dark gray/chocolate leather which is hands-down the best, most practical option if you have dogs. (We just wipe down with a leather-cleaning wipe once or twice a week.) Our sectional was definitely an investment piece and the quality shows. Over these 7 years, it still looks and feels like new (no squeaky springs, no sagging cushions, somehow the leather doesn’t show paw scratches–our 85 pound furbaby jumps up on it all day). It is solid and a showstopper in our loft area/family room.

sharon
10 months ago

You obviously did not look at Restoration Hardware. They have the largest furniture.

Denise Schneider
10 months ago

I recently replaced my aging sofa with a new one from Roger+Chris ( rogerandchris.com ) and have been very happy with it. They have many styles with all kinds of custom options and a huge fabric/leather selection including JB Martin Velvets. It pretty close to custom without the custom price. Quality seems excellent.

Alice
10 months ago

I’ve had my leather Roger & Chris sofa in a place we rent out and it has held up like a champ for both comfort and looks. Highly recommend them.

Erin
10 months ago
Reply to  Alice

Alice- Can you share the sofa and leather you chose? I’ve been agonizing over decisions on a Roger & Chris leather sofa for months.

Anne Davis
10 months ago

I’ve been shopping for the right sofa for months and months. I won’t buy one unless I can sit on it first so that eliminates a lot of vendors. I have a list of things I require as well. 8 way hand tied springs is a must as well as the joinery and the firmness of the seat. I’m this close to buying the Carlton sofa from WSH even though it’s not EXACTLY the style I want. I keep going back to the Fabienne Sofa (even though they only have a Sinuous spring system) but, even though several stores carry it none have it on the floor. I’m a designer and live in NYC and even I am having the hardest time finding the right sofa. Anxious to see what you picked.

julie
10 months ago

I finally purchased “the one” that made my heart jump the moment I saw it. I even did a stopover in LA where I could sit on the sofa and had that Goldilocks feeling when it sat perfectly in every way. The Maxalto Dives Leather Sofa is a modern chesterfield that fits me to a tee. Expensive even for me, but I’m not trying to replace something that feels awful anymore. Can’t wait to see what you did!

pam
10 months ago
Reply to  julie

That’s a beautiful sofa and I can tell it’s comfortable just by looking at it. Thanks for the info!

EK
10 months ago

The Sixpenny Elias sectional is 108″ wide and SUPER comfy. Have a slipcover made in a bold, editorial pattern (my dream is a Svenskt Tenn Josef Frank fabric slipcover or Schumacher fabric) and I think that’s a good answer! Brb stealing this for my own living room.

Harmony
10 months ago

Very interested to see how this turns out – but I’m surprised that it appears to take so long to go custom. I have a weirdly long thin living room so needed a very long sofa that was not a sectional. I just went to the local sofa shop and they made exactly what I wanted and it took less than 6 weeks. It was probably a few hundred dollars more then if I’d bought a similar size/quality “off the rack”.and fits perfectly.

Heather A
10 months ago

Come back tomorrow!!!??? You’re killing me woman! 😉

Tarynkay
10 months ago

I just want to extend my sympathies to Brian. My husband is a designer and we spent the first ten years of our marriage with NO sofa bc he could not find (or afford!) his ideal dream sofa. Finally I convinced him that we didn’t have to hold out for our Forever Sofa. We bought a couch on Craigslist that was boring and functional and eventually replaced it with a slightly better used couch. I promised him that if ever does find the Actual Unicorn Sofa we will replace this one immediately.

sam
10 months ago

I suspect that the $30k sofa company knows your readership cannot offer that sort of price tag!!

Brittany
10 months ago

Am I the only one who reads the sales post? The sofa you chose was spoiled in that! 🙂

Sarah L
10 months ago

I’m building a new house and had to settle on living room furniture early because it determined where floor outlets would be placed (concrete slab situation so those have to be set with the foundation!!). Our space is decidedly informal so we felt fine going modular sectional but man oh man I don’t want to think about how much time I spent pinning sofas. Luckily we have a Joybird showroom near us so one day we went and sat on all the sofas, and decided on one that had only been partially on my radar- sit test for the win! (Bryant Modular BTW)

It makes you realize how much work still needs to be done with online shopping- you shouldn’t have to scour blogs to find pics of people sitting on sofas- that should be part of the on-site experience! If clothing retailers can invest in people modeling the clothes, and appliance makers can fill their fridges with vegetables and cakes, then furniture makers can certainly add a few models and maybe some pets to their images.

Cheryl
10 months ago

We had a glorious roll arm sofa from restoration hardware for ten years that was wide and squashy and so comfortable but lacked style. So when the time came I chose the Coco sofa from Mitchell Gold to replace it. Coco is the opposite of the last sofa but it sure ain’t comfortable either. We got it in super durable fabric and it’s holding up beautifully but sometimes I find I’m sitting against it on a floor cushion watching TV instead. It is so hard to find that combination of comfort and durability and style in one.

Patti
10 months ago

This column is so telling. Why is it so difficult to find a sofa/sectional that’s both stylish and movie-watching/cuddling cozy? I’m willing to pay well for a sectional that’s living room attractive, nap-friendly and kid proof! Last one I bought online was custom, expensive & Crypton but 2.5 years in it’s not deep enough for napping, has stains and it’s pilling like crazy. I don’t want leather, I don’t want a low back where my neck has to be propped on pillows and I want it kid/dog friendly. Surely this isn’t an impossible task for furniture makers? But just look at Emily’s lengthy list of no-go’s! And PS: never again will I buy a sofa without lying on it!