Article Line Long1

Ginny’s English Roll Arm Sofa

If you tuned into the blog last week, you saw my intro post for #MakeoverTakeover (which got lots of lovely comments, so THANK YOU ALL for that!). This week, I’m delving into a bit more of the specifics and talking about, you guessed it, sofa choices!  Exciting, right? This was a big one for me because sofas are expensive, and for my indecisive self I felt the pressure to not get it wrong.  I couldn’t fumble this one.  So I took the time to consider everything I wanted in the sofa first. I started by asking myself the following questions:

1) What do you want from this sofa?

2) What kind of fabric/colour?

3) What style of sofa do you want?

4) How much do you want to spend?

Standard as these questions are, it’s the same ones I start with when consulting with clients. Everything that comes into this room after the sofa will have to work in harmony with the sofa. So the answers to these questions are as much about the ROOM as they are about that first, ever important, piece of furniture. And by dissecting these answers you can start pulling your options together.

Ginny Macdonald Living Room Inspiration

Here is what I answered:

1) Comfort: An obvious one. Let’s face it, no one ever says they want an uncomfy sofa. I was looking for a deep sofa, one that I could sink into whilst watching Parenthood (yes, I know I’m four years behind, so NO SPOILERS PLEASE!).

2) Linen or cotton (or a blend).  We have dogs and so the fabric choice was one that I had to consider very carefully. They are the sweetest little fellas alive, but one of them sheds and the other LOVES to lick. Himself, us, and the pillows. So we needed something light in colour so the shedding hair isn’t an eye sore. And a fabric that was durable, that could withstand the test of time and the sandpaper tongue of a nine-year-old chihuahua. I’m not a lover of velvet (for my space) and we had ‘Everyday Suede’ (not my choice, or my favourite) on our old sofa. Both durable materials, but likely to be ruined by one dog or the other before long. So, the thought was to go with something that has a slight woven texture (which works with my love of natural fibers!).

3) Last week, I spoke about finding my own personal style. If Emily’s book is any indication, then mine is Scandinavian/Zen (although I’m not sure my sofa choice quite fits into that bracket). Maybe the COLOUR, but certainly not the STYLE. As you can see from the opening photo, I went more traditional in the style of the English roll arm. Having never bought a sofa until now, I’d never thought about it in depth. But as I began to pin ideas (always a recommendation of mine, you’ll be blown away by the common threads you’ll find!), it became apparent that the roll arm was the way forward for me. Pinpointing that was the most challenging part, because there are so many sofa styles out there.  Even the English roll arm category has it’s own variations of styles!

4) I was looking to spend around $2000.

Once I narrowed down the style, I started to look at what options were out there in our price range. It was also important to understand the differences between what each store that offered the style of English roll arm could provide. Was it in our budget?  Did it feature the kind of dog-proof details we needed?  Asking questions was EVERYTHING!


Not long after I started looking, IKEA came out with the ‘Stocksund’ which, for the price, is pretty incredible. It wasn’t the most comfy thing to sit on, but I loved the fact that it has removable back cushions and that the feet are light wood toned. A small detail to some, but certainly fit into that Scandinavian aesthetic for me. The downside for me was that the fabric selections – there’s only about five, and even the best of them wasn’t working right in my colour scheme. So, for me, a deal breaker. Would I recommend this to a client?  Absolutely, for the right client.  For someone on a tight budget that wasn’t too fussed about the limited selections, this is a really, really great option.


Full disclosure: You can’t buy this sofa in America (UK shoppers, GO AND GET IT!!!). So why am I showing you? Because, truth be told, this was – and still is – my dream sofa. Around the time Emily got her family room sectional from, I started perusing their site, found this beauty and fell in love. But when it finally came time to pull the trigger and order it, I learned they’d closed their New York warehouse and were, effectively, now only working from their UK base. To say I was GUTTED isn’t saying enough. Why do I love it so much? The shape, the back cushions, the fabric (which is, by far, one of the best selections I’ve seen), the brass castors, the welting . . . this list goes on.  I did look to getting it shipped over, but shipping alone would have been at least double our budget, and as I’m learning: “If you SET a budget for yourself, STICK to it!” 😉


Recognize this bad boy? This is the sofa Brady is getting from Interior Define. They had not long since come out with the Rose sofa in collaboration with The Everygirl blog.  I contacted them about fabric options and, at the time, they only had the one choice: The light grey you see above.  When the swatch arrived, the texture wasn’t quite right. Now they have an array of options, so it just shows what a year of being in production can do. I cannot wait to see Brady’s sofa when it comes. We deliberated for days over which fabric he should choose, and he finally picked an amazing fabric choice from their selection. They have some incredible options now.


The Restoration Hardware roll arm. When I first moved to the States, I was very dubious about Restoration Hardware because all of their stuff is SO BIG and would never fit into our matchbox-sized houses back home. But I’ve begun to develop an obsession for them, mainly because of the materials they use (and their new store on Melrose is A DREAM). I went down to the RH Outlet in Long Beach to see if they had any good deals on the sofa, but their only options were cream linen (again, not very dog friendly!). What I love about this RH sofa are the feet and the choice of fabrics.  They have the best Belgian linen options, and I’m crazy about Belgian linen right now. If I had it my way, Belgian linen would adorn every surface of my house. What I didn’t love is that they feature too many seat pads.  This doesn’t work with my ‘less is more mantra’ (…Zen…?). I don’t need that many cushions!


Which one did I go for, did I hear you ask? Let me present . . . the Carlisle Grand sofa from Pottery Barn. Again, when I got here, there were certain connotations attached that led me to think Pottery Barn was a bit stuffy, something your Mum would LOVE, something a bit more ‘grown up’ about it. What I love most about the sofa is that you can get one long seat pad instead of two or three, which means you don’t have to be that person sitting with (or sliding down) the crack up your ole “you know what.” The fabric is brilliant too. It’s recycled cotton in Heather Gray: A blend of 70% cotton, 26% acrylic and 4% other (I hate when they say that, what is that other fabric???). And It can be machine washed cold (wonderful with the two sweaty, shedding, licking ratbags). Of course, like all good things, it isn’t PERFECT. I really wanted castors on the feet to give it that traditional English feel. But everything else ticked the boxes and we paid $1900 for it (which included my designer discount). In January, we’ll have had it a year and it still feels brand new. Pottery Barn might be more “grown up, ” but they know how to make one heck of a good sofa.


These photos give you a better glimpse into how the **not styled** living room looked once the new sofa got here.


I’m still deliberating over whether to get a new coffee table. This is one of PC’s last standing pieces of furniture from his life before me, and one I’m not totally opposed to. In fact, I quite like it. Except it does feel very big in the space. We’re also lacking some seating, so I’m hoping to find two small side chairs that will sit opposite each other (sort of ‘flanking’ the sofa). The rug we’re currently featuring is too light for the space, and almost blends in with the sofa colour.  So, I’m looking to upgrade that soon too (actually, if you’ve seen my Instagram, then you know I’ve found a rug that I LOVE, I’m just not quite ready to reveal that on here yet!).


Before and progress. Which one do you prefer? Please don’t answer that 🙂

See you next time,

Love Ginny xXx

***progress photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD

Craving more Makeover Takeover? You can see the beginning of Brady’s living room redo here,  Sara’s intro to her bedroom here and my intro post here.


Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

74 thoughts on “Ginny’s English Roll Arm Sofa

  1. Love the new sofa! A rug with some more interest (I’ll have to check out your instagram feed) and a ‘lighter’ coffee table, a couple of chairs. You’re on the right track for sure!!

  2. Ginny – love this post! Can you give us an honest opinion about the comfort level of the PB Carlisle sofa, and did you get down or standard fill cushions? I’ve never sat in the standard fill cushion as they are not available in showrooms so curious to see if that’s what you got. Thanks! -Meg


    1. Hey Meg
      Honest opinion- it’s so so comfy. We went to look at it in the store first and just sank into it. We went with down filled, I feel that holds its shape better than the standard fill. Our previous sofa was standard fill and the dogs sat on the back cushions a lot and they ended up getting really droopy. Needless to say, they are not allowed to sit on the back cushions now 😉

      1. Ginny,
        Every time I’ve sat on the down filled sofas in Pottery Barn, I hear & feel a crinkle directly under the fabric that’s put me off on ever actually buying any seating from them.
        Do you know what that “crinkle” is & does it go away after awhile, like after breaking in the sofa/getting it past that newness stage?


        1. I think the crinkle sound is the down perhaps. I have to say I haven’t really noticed it. I would think it would go away once it’s broken in.

    2. I have this same sofa with down cushions. It looks great, but I must say that to me it’s not very comfortable. It kind of sits higher off the ground, in comparison to the RH version which is low slung. I feel like I’m sliding off. I take the back cushions off and just use pillows in order to make it feel deeper and a little more comfy. I sometimes wish I’d just spent more to buy the RH sofa, but RH’s high performance fabric options were more limited and MUCH more expensive than PB (like almost triple the price). I have performance tweed in silver taupe, and it has held up beautifully for over a year and shows no dirt or wear. On the bright side, my husband thinks the sofa is pretty comfortable.

  3. Can you share where that rug is from? I’m looking for something similar for my living room. Thanks!

  4. The Bluebell Sofa is adorable! The UK has some of the coolest furniture sources. I’m very jealous of them. I would move to London just to be able to shop at this place:

    Thanks for the detailed post, Ginny. It’s interesting to get a glimpse inside the process. Design is torture, people. Beautiful, wonderful, agonizing torture.

    1. Funny you should say that, I’m from London and probably dont appreciate what we have here enough. Being an Emily H fan can be tough for us Brits sometimes though – we don’t have Target!

  5. Maybe a tip for future sofa purchases (or for readers): the company Bemz makes really nice covers in hundreds of different fabrics for IKEA furniture (also for chair covers, bed skirts, etc…)!

  6. Off topic— but where did you get that chandelier in the dining room? Did it come with the apartment?

  7. I love the castors as well and would definitely be my preferred look. Just doing a quick search on ebay, you might be able to find wood castor feet that you can swap to.

    1. I was wondering about that too! Couldn’t a person just shop the hardware store and add castors? Would be interesting to find out!

    2. I wanted to chime in too about the caster feet – it seems like you may be able to find some new legs that were more like what you were looking for and end up with your dream sofa after all. Looks great so far, I’m terrible about pulling the trigger on big purchases and our pair of danish daybeds that we use as sofas (only!) took about three and a half years from purchase to final upholstery and install …. Cheers – CT

  8. Love your choice, especially the “one long seat cushion” option, which is really a SAFETY issue. My parents have two cushions, so there’s that crack in-between. My mother likes to save Christmas wrap, and carefully opens her gifts with a paring knife. One year, we left to get breakfast, and when we returned, the paring knife had fallen between the cushions. My mother sat down, stabbed herself in the butt, and had to go to the emergency room!

  9. Hi Ginny–loving the progress. Noticed you have the draping plants on your bookshelf like I see Emily use a lot in her styling. What type of plant are those and do thy require much light? I always love the look but wonder if those will survive an area with low light.

    1. The plant looks like “String of pearls”, a kind of succulent. While they look lovely, the downside is that they are poisonous – so be aware around kids & pets.

      1. I’m not 100% sure what the plant is, or should I say was. I had to throw it out recently as it dried out. The beads were more oval than round so I’m not sure if it was string of pearls or not. It lasted a good while though.

  10. Ginny et all,
    If you’re absolutely in love with ANY Restoration Hardware upholstered or leather furniture pieces, you don’t have to purchase directly from them & pay those astronomical prices(even on sale!)
    The secret, I stumbled across is to order directly from their personal manufacturer, Orizeal.
    I had to look long & deep, deep into the internet to find who was manufacturing their stuff(I thought they were themselves, actually.) But, I read about it in the comments sections on HOUZZ or somewhere. Orizeal is a large handmade furniture manufacturer located in China(P.S. that’s where ALL of RH is sourcing their furniture from as of several years ago,) so don’t let that discourage you. It’s the same fabric, frame, filling, options as you have online or in the store.
    They have an Alibaba store front, which is how I 1st contacted them to inquire about purchasing 1 items, as opposed to the “minimum order 50 pieces” you’ll see posted on any of their listings on Alibaba. They’ve been so helpful & accommodating, I can’t say enough good things about them. I’ve been dealing with 1 of their managers, Kyle through every step of customizing & ordering my 8′ Belgian Shelter Arm sofa(on sale at RH for $3,250 right now.) But, Kyle & Orizeal are selling me that sofa for $1,540 plus $200 in shipping from their factory to my doorstep.

    You just CAN’T beat that kinda deal!
    Hope this info helps anyone lusting after their pieces, but finding the prices a little hard to swallow 🙂

    1. Andrea,

      THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this information!! I am so excited right now!! I was wondering how you contacted Kyle? The phone number that is listed on their website my phone won’t dial…I would love to give him and Orizeal some of my business! And I would love if you would give a few more details how to start this process!


  11. I am absolutely loving these posts!

    Where did you get that upholstered side table (to the left of the sofa when you’re looking at the sofa) in the newly designed room with the gold legs??

      1. Do you have the link for the upholstered side table? I’m having trouble finding it on the Target website. Thanks!

  12. Can you tell me where the side table with the tufted upholstered top is from? I love it and have been scouring the countryside for a similar look to use as a coffee table!

  13. Ginny, once again loving the write up. You can add castor to the legs yourself, (shouldn’t be that difficult). Yeah change the coffee table, ‘’ have some fab stuff to check out.
    Looking forward to the next episode. Xx

  14. My favorite thing about Pottery Barn is that they SELL REPLACEMENT CUSHIONS! As a fellow dog owner (along with prolific cat lady and child wrangler) this is HUGE! I haven’t pulled the trigger on our new sofa just yet (waiting on that Christmas bonus) but as far as I’m concerned, that alone is worth the increase in price.

  15. Ginny- awesome post! I finally tapped one of the blog links PC posted; one, because I love design, and two because the C-family are pretty amazing folks. That being said, I love your choices so far! I’m a huge fan of the castors, I just always worried they wouldn’t hold up well with the ‘plopping’ down on the couch that seems to happen over time. And I say keep the coffee table until something truly speaks to you!

  16. Wow! Can’t believe how the right sofa can change the look of everything. I would have scrapped the coffee table at the start but now I really like it. Love how the room is coming together.

    I find I get really excited as my page loads and the headline is Makeover Takeover! Love these posts 🙂

  17. Oh, I’ve loved the PB Carlisle sofa for the longest time! They used to show it in dark blue ticking stripe, which would have been amazing at our house! No, wait. 2 black dogs. Anyway, I love your in-progress living room! Ours is, too!

  18. Perfect timing! Been researching exactly the same options. I couldn’t seem to find the option on Pottery Barn’s website for the Heather Gray you used. Do they still offer it? I do like the swatches I received from Interior Define. I think I am headed that route unless I can consider the same fabric you used on the Carlisle. Thanks for your help!!!

  19. Thanks for another great post! I will say, as much as I love drooling over perfectly styled final rooms, I also love seeing partially-theres, especially with furniture you’ve inherited from someone else. I just moved into my first solo apartment, so I have a fair amount of inherited pieces from family (as well as some things forced upon my apartment, weep) so it’s nice to see a designer’s house in transition, though it still looks beautiful.

    I would also love to one day see some “difficult rental rooms made at least tolerable,” which is what I’m dealing with kitchen/bathroom wise. I think Emily mentioned some in her Commonwealth home? Basically just bear your designer souls to me, kthanks.

  20. Dear Ginny, Emily, and commentors: I am obsessed with English roll-arm sofas too, so I can tell you with confidence that the correct spelling for their feet is “casters.” “Castor” is the spelling for castor oil, an association I’m sure no one intended.

  21. The Stocksund sofa from IKEA you featured here is a VERY GOOD choice that I might end up getting next year for my new home. Although currently I have shortlisted a $3000 chesterfield sofa with a modern look (it has fabric/velvet + chrome legs).

    If eventually, my $3000 sofa becomes out of budget, I WILL definitely turn to Stocksund! It works on so many style and it’s really not easy to find a comfortable sofa that is also affordable and beautiful.

  22. New Swedish reader, living in France, and I just want to tell you, if you don’t already know, that Bemz has many soffa covers for all IKEA sofas and chairs!
    I like your new sofa and the table, but it feels a bit too robust for the sofa?
    Mme Fellini

    1. I called PB and they no longer offer the Heather Gray in Recycled Cotton. I just ordered the Interior Define Rose sofa in the Cinder. I am so excited! I am going to pair it with the West Elm Hamilton Loveseat. Hoping it turns out well. 🙂 Thanks for all the info here! It was very helpful. BTW Interior Define had great customer service and their return policy is fabulous!

  23. Are we the same person?? My name is Ginny and I am also obsessed with my PB Carlisle grand sofa! I went with the performance basketweave, sand color and the single bench-style cushion. I’ve had it about 7 months and it’s held up great. I’m pleased to see that your extensive research brought you to my sofa!!

  24. Hi Ginny, Love the sofa & looking forward to seeing the rug.
    Can you paint the coffee table with PC’s ok, of course. Maybe two shades of of grey.
    Thanks for the inspiration,

  25. Ginny, Congratulations on this fantastic sofa! I was eager to read because we’re going to be buying one rather soon–have a dog, have very tall men in the house, and want it to be rad. Tough! Yours is darling. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. Your posts are a joy to read. Great job! XOXO

Comments are closed.