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sofa guide

by Grace Bonney

as many of you know we spent a good 6 months looking for a sofa last year. the combination of our tiny doorway and narrow (v-shaped) hallway meant that practically everything we looked at was too big to get through. now that we’ve settled on one (room and board’s andre), i thought it would be fun to compile a guide to sofas made up of models i tested during our search. i’ve included groupings according to style (mid-century, classic, sleeper, etc.), designer (mitchell gold + bob williams are a favorie) as well as price (there is a roundup of sofas under $1000, too) so hopefully there will be something in there for everyone. this isn’t a definitive look at the entire market but rather groupings that i’ve personally found to be great models depending on price and style. hope you enjoy!

[image above: Ochre‘s Velvet Snooze Sofa]

[image above: When I started searching, I wanted something classic—a modern design that would never go out of style. I settled on five top designs. Isamu Noguchi’s Free Form Sofa (Center: $9,145 at DWR.com), with its undulating curves and soft upholstery satisfied the need for comfort and style. Sadly, the price was out of my range. Moving on to Eames, I liked the Case Study Day Bed (bottom middle, $1,850 at UnicaHome.com), Sofa Compact (top right: $3,145 at HighBrowFurniture.com) and the recently reissued Eames Sofa (bottom left: $6,998 at DWR.com). Only the Mogensen 2-seat sofa (bottom right) met the comfort test for movie-watching sessions, but its price ($19,205 at MossOnline.com) was a no-go. The Nelson Marshmallow sofa, top left, at Design Within Reach, on the other hand, wasn’t nap-ready as I had expected but, if you need something for party seating, this mid-century piece is perfect ($2,825 at DWR.com).]

[image above: Reeling from the price tags on the classics, I checked out budget options, confining myself to $1,000 or less. I found a few in Ikea’s collection more-than-suitable and completely liveable. Soft, white upholstery and fluffy cushions on the Ekeskog (top right, $799) make it the perfect starter sofa (though the stumpy wooden legs left something to be desired). The Kramfors (middle right, $1,158) came in a variety of colors, and though the fabric could have been a bit softer, I was won over by its clean lines. At Target, the Studio Couch (bottom right, starts at $299 at Target.com) and the Copenhagen Sofa (Bottom right: $629.99 at Target.com) were my favorites, though not as comfortable as I’d like. Despite the lack of cushioning, they’d be right for a dorm room or a child’s rooms. Last but not least, I checked out Crate & Barrel‘s “$999 and Less” section. The Prado Sofa (top right, $999) and Troy armless loveseat (Middle left: $949) were great options that didn’t sacrifice comfort for price. Their multiple fabric options were a big bonus.]

[image above: House & Garden‘s Designer’s Best website was (it’s no longer online) a great source for sofa resources. The magazine polled 20,000 designers and architects on their go-to brands, and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams were a big favorite for sofas. Their collection runs the gamut from traditional to modern, always with sophisticated flair. I’d be hard pressed to find a bad couch in their collection. If you don’t have a lot of time to shop and have $2,000 to $4,000 to spend, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is a great one-stop. Shown (Clockwise from the top left: Baxter, Chester, Jackie, Nelson, Stephon and Coleman)]

[image above: Mid-century style sofas are still one of the most requested looks, and since it’s a style I also favor, I collected a few options. Room and Board‘s Jasper Sofa (top left, $1,349-$1,399) is easily my favorite sofa on the market: comfortable, stylish, with multiple upholstery options. The Lenox Sofa (top middle, $849-$899) is an affordable mid-century look from Room and Board. Crate and Barrel‘s Rochelle Sofa (top right) has the adorable tapered legs that so many of us desire at a reasonable $1,499. The Bantam Sofa from DWR ($1,600), with its cute tapered legs and well-tailored tufted back, was a close runner-up. But my first choice was Crate and Barrel‘s beautiful Petrie. We measured, double checked, and ordered, only to find that our white Petrie would fit through our tiny door. Four flights of stairs and one removed-door later, the couch was sent back to Crate and Barrel without a home. If your door can handle this couch I highly recommend it.]

[image above: Though I didn’t need a sleeper, they are indispensible for those without a guest room. The models above all provide either a fold out bed or convert easily to a cushioned surface for overnight guests. Clockwise from top left: Winston (starting at $2,099 at RoomandBoard.com), Twilight Sleep Sofa ($1,500 at DWR.com), York Slipcovered ($1,899 at RoomandBoard.com)]

[image above: Sometimes a traditional sofa just won’t do, in which case I suggest a bold punch of color. These options from Anthropologie combine beautiful forms with bright upholstery options. The models above are lovely, but remember: you can always use a local upholsterer to re-do your own sofa in a bold fabric of your choice. Above, clockwise from top right: Ditte sofa ($3,998), Jayne Sofa ($3,498), and Piedmont Settle ($2,998)]

[image above: Jonathan Adler‘s line of upholstered furniture has clean lines and a classic look. Try adding your own custom upholstery look for a personalized touch. Shown (clockwise from top left): Bergman Sofa ($3,200), Woodhouse Sofa ($3,250), Lampert Sofa ($2,695) and the Butterfield Sofa ($3,200).]

[image above: After the heartbreak of the Petrie, I would have been happy with any of the one above: (clockwise from top left) Ditte sofa in Bottna ($3,498 at Anthropologie.com), Petrie in Cocoa ($1,499 at Crate and Barrel), Milo Sofa ($3,498 at Anthropologie.com), Snap Apt. Sofa by Todd Oldham for La-Z-Boy, Jasper Slipcovered ($1,399) and Andre in Navy ($1,499), both at RoomandBoard.com]

[image above: After the endless search, I finally settled on Room and Board‘s Andre ($1,499). The tufted back, a reasonable price and perfect dimensions sealed the deal. Perfect? Almost: I’ve decided to have it upholstered in Hable Construction‘s “Bead” fabric to jazz things up.]

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  • urban outfitters also has some really lovely mid-century sofas at very reasonable prices. though i’ve never seen one in person, not sure about the quality.

  • Thanks Grace! I have been in denial that we need a new sofa, mostly because I just didn’t know where to start looking. This was a big help and I agree, that Petrie sofa from Crate and Barrel is gorgeous. I’m curious, what color were you going to go with?

  • raya

    thanks! glad you like it :)

    we were going to- like crazy people- go with the white option. i don’t like brown so that left us with white (we didn’t want to wait for custom upholstery).

    in the end the time wouldn’t have mattered but it wouldn’t fit through our door so we were destined to go with something else. i still wish we had the petrie but the andre is doing quite nicely for now.


  • Can I ask how you’re liking a two-cushion sofa? Do more than two people ever sit on it? I’m another admirer of the Petrie, but I’m worried that I’ll have a big couch that only two people can/will sit on, since no one will want to sit in the “crack.” Thanks! -Alicia

  • alicia

    unfortunately our home didn’t allow us to get a three seater sofa but we’ve found that you can easily seat three people on the sofa. however, it’s a pretty close fit so it would need to be people you’re comfortable with ;)

    both sofas (andre and petrie) come in three seater versions that, if you can fit them in your home, are lovely. we just couldn’t manage it with our hallway height.


  • Hah! We went through so many of the same sofas, as I recently bought one myself : the Jasper, in a leather it didn’t come stocked in, for a comfy but more bachelor pad feel. My order didn’t turn out quite like I wanted it to, but Room & Board’s customer service is pretty good, so they took back the custom order and are sending me a new one. In fact, their fit call service is especially useful, as they sent over their shippers to measure my apartment doors, hallways and elevators to tell me what size sofa I could purchase from R&B. Like you, size constrictions stopped me from buying sofas I really loved too (like MG&BW’s Chester, or the Goetz sofa which wasn’t one of your choices)and it helped narrow down the selection because of what was possible for my space. Good sofa review though – I know most of them well.

    Ah, if only that Borge Mogensen one was larger and,…well, cheaper…!


  • Just curious–how wide was your actual door frame? I’ve been couch shopping for a while and am worried about one fitting through my doorway. Do you have any tips for measuring? I actually read somewhere, maybe your blog, that Room and Board will even do a fit consultation for you for $30. I wonder if other stores will do the same.

  • Love the Andre!
    I ordered the urban outfitters sofa sight-unseen and it is being delivered today (!). I’ll update on the comfort, etc. But for $480 its already a steal.

  • our doorway is 29 inches wide, but the tough part was that we’re only like 35 or 40 inches from our neighbor’s door so it’s touch to tip the sofa to lift it and get it in. that’s what happened with the petrie- it was too long. we needed a sofa that was both short and narrow (the andre worked well bc the legs came off)


  • I think I’m in love with the first sofa pictured. Thanks for a great guide!

  • Traci, I’ve seen the Urban Outfitters sofas in person, and honestly, the quality of the construction, fabrics and finishes is really disappointing. I suppose that given the prices that’s to be expected, but I in my opinion, the look of the pieces is just too poor at any price. They do look nice in photos, though!

    – – –
    My mother has the R&B Jasper, and it’s unbelievably comfy. I’m not a fan of the microsuede it’s stocked in, but I’m considering getting one for my house with a slipcover made in their Danish linen fabric in white. It’s a longer wait for the custom R&B fabrics, but they really do have a LOT of options. The jury is still out on long-term durability, but considering I’ll be replacing a 5-year-old IKEA sofa (which would probably still be in good shape if we hadn’t subjected it to 5 moves in that time period!), I’m not too worried about it being an improvement. :)

  • Hi, I checked out your guide, but I noticed that the brand/details of the sofa I liked were not mentioned. May I ask what is the brand of the sofa shown on the fifth slide on the bottom left? Thanks.

  • opera glass

    so sorry! i must have missed one when i uploaded everything. looking for it now…will update it asap.


  • Hey Grace: You might want to run through your text again and do some editing to make sure it matches up with the images. I was confused by several mislabelings. On the 3rd slide, for example, you say ‘top right’ twice and ‘bottom right’ twice (“At Target, the Studio Couch (bottom right, starts at $299 at Target.com) and the Copenhagen Sofa (Bottom right: $629.99 at Target.com)”) On the 9th slide, you say ‘clockwise from top left’ but you actually start top right. Otherwise, great couch guide!

  • The Petrie comes in a 3-cushion version?? I’m ordering that sofa in Sept during their custom upholstery sale, but I didn’t know it came in a larger size. Are you sure?? I asked them when I looked at it originally and they told me it only came in the 86″ version.

  • quincy

    my apologies, i meant 3-seater, not three-cushioned. it only has two cushions but easily (really easily) seats three people.


  • So we stopped by Design Within Reach and Crate and Barrel last night to sit on some couches. Without spotting the names at first, I totally fell in love with the Petrie and Rochelle! I think we’re going to get the Petrie. I can’t decide if I want the dark brown or dark blue. Both will allow me to change my mind on decor colors.. but hmm. We have a lighter brown couch right now. Maybe it’s time for blue?

  • This is a great list! We also looked at the Petrie sofa in white and were almost there, until we saw it in person and the cushions really sagged and didn’t take wear too well- argh! We ended up going with the Bantam from DWR- perfect for apartment living and super reasonable for a well-made piece (although, we are wishing for a little more baby-friendly sofa now, oh well!!!)

  • Hey — I live in a vintage condo with tiny stairwells and doorjams… We bought the 89 inch long Hepburn sofa from Room and Board a couple of years ago. Room and Board (in Chicago/Oak Brook) works with a company that will remove the back of the sofa and reassemble it in your living room for $200. Comsidering there is a 10% restocking fee if it won’t fit (that would have been $150 for our $1500 sofa), it is totally worth it. We were a little dubious about the whole thing, but it turned out great. Can’t even tell that they touched it.

  • This is a GREAT, SO useful article! The identifications are a bit maddening though as I’ve fallen in love with one of the sleepers and it does not seem to be identified at all. In Slide 6, what is the beige soft-looking one in the top right corner? Help!

  • just saw that hive carries the eames two-seat lounger for $700 less than design within reach.

    oh yeah.

  • I’m looking at the CB2 movie sofa you pictured. (For style – not for cost). Have you sat in it? Is it comfortable?

  • Hmmm. Where can I find that great sofa in the main picture — its black, with the high back…

  • Hi, Can you post the guide to sofas somewhere else since H&G isn’t available any longer? Thanks and Happy New Year!

  • Hello. I was wondering whether the sofa guide will become available in full soon. I am struggling with a decision and could use some guidance. Many thanks!

  • This is a place that has modern sofas that are nice and most important affordable. They are located in Miami. Alot of styles and colors to choose from Loft Sofa Miami

  • I just ordered the Corona sofa from Macy’s. It’s a steal at $629.10 – through 4/1/08 only. then it’s around $700 after that. I sat on it in person and it’s well made. The whole collection is nice, and the pear and cafe noir colors are great. I recommend this line for incredibly reasonably-priced mid-century modern furniture. The other cool thing is that you can get a protection plan for cheap where they will come clean or fix your furniture for you for 7 years. That’s key with kids around.

  • Great guide! Does anyone know how the fabric treatment on Petrie actually holds up? It’s my favorite but I worry that the white stock fabric would get dirty easily, but the sale staff swears the fabric treatment works really well and handles stains better than other sofas in a dark fabric. Thanks!

  • Thanks so much for this – after much agonizing, I went with the Room and Board Loring 89 inch couch in view ebony (black microvelvet) – hard choice between the Andre and the Loring, but I had already bought an Adesso chair in black microvelvet from amazon.com (for an absolute bargain – $450 reduced to $140 on the day I bought it), so wanted to roughly match. Plus the Loring was $600 cheaper… I found the R&B selection really extensive, although their website is not so user friendly, ie you can’t search by price or size etc. I’m slightly concerned about the sofa fitting through my door/up the stairs, and about whether my apartment will look like a vampires lair (too much black velvet?? hopefully some funky bright cushions will help) – but thanks again for the guide, it was super useful.

  • This is so helpful! We were considering Jasper or Petrie. I love Hable Construction Fabrics. I know Pottery Barn Kids offer their fabrics for custom upholstered. Did you have R & B custom upholstered the HB beads fabric on your beautifully chosen Andre? I couldn’t see HB swatch online on R&B website. How did you go about doing so? Much thanks!

  • Grace,

    This list is wonderful, I am obsessed with the Petrie, but can not justify spending that much money at this time. What is the soft to the right of the petrie?

  • the urban outfitters couches are cheap for a reason – very poor quality foam that starts to make bum-shaped potholes in the couch ten minutes into your first sit… we got one for our kid’s room – it’s fine for storytime, but wouldn’t survive in the living room. it’s a shame, they are a nice design and super-cheap. ya gets what ya pay for, i guess.

  • In the sixth group down, what is the white sleeper sofa on the top right? It looks like only the three on the left are identified? I didn’t see them in the comments, sorry.

  • Hi there. Just wondering, is Room and Board upholstering the Andre for you in the “Bead” fabric from Hable Construction–or are you doing it on your own?

  • julia

    it was about 2 years ago that we had this done (it’s since been sadly destroyed by our cats), but we had an upholsterer do it. but i think you can have room and board do it if you send them the fabric.


  • sorry to hear about the cats! hope you’ve been happy with the andre, otherwise. just fyi, called room and board to ask about having one of their sofa frames upholstered in a fabric they don’t stock. no cigar. you’d have to buy a sofa in one of their fabrics, and then they could deliver it to your upholsterer if you wanted to make a change. but there’s no way to just purchase the frame.

  • I am in need of a sofa and I have a baby on the way in just 9 weeks! I have up to $1500 to spend, but I wonder if spending that much is a waste, with the damage my son might cause.

    I am almost settled on the IKEA Karlstad. Not my favorte, but reaosnably midcentury looking with easily changed covers. But, I can’t seem to be at ease with having something this cheap next to my nice Herman Miller/Knoll stuff. Plus, the ones in the store look like they didn’t spend any time trying to get the covers really straight. DOes anyone have one? Do they wear ok, and do the covers stay cleanly lined up?

    I really want the Jasper, and can afford it. Do they offer stain resistant fabrics? I think the seat and back cushions can be flipped… is this true?

    What would you do in my situation? Get a cheapo to be replaced, or get the Jasper, scotchguard it, order with a decent stain resistant fabric (if they have it).

    BTW – We don’t want microsuede. Is there an upcharge for other fabrics?

  • We’ve been looking for a sofa and Crate and Barrel’s Petrie and Room and Board’s Andre have emerged as top contenders. We liked the look of the Petrie with it’s grid of seat-back tufted buttons (versus Andre’s single row of buttons) and the Petrie’s tapered legs. However, upon seeing both in person, I got the impression that the Andre’s stock fabric (a tan-ish weave) was far superior to the Petrie’s solid seemingly cheaper fabric and more likely to hold up to wear-and-tear. Can anyone out there verify this? While the Petrie looks better in pictures, I’m likely to go with the Andre based on how I think it’ll hold up. Also, the Petrie’s seat-back cushions come off and seem more likely to sag with time.

  • Also, check out Younger furniture – they have several midcentury styles. You can look for retailers near you.

  • How do you like your Andre? I live in St. Louis, and am thinking of ordering one without sitting on it–it’s honestly my favorite out of several weeks of searching. How has it held up for you?

  • Wow this is awesome! Exactly the ones I have been going through. I am agonizing over the Petrie, Bantam, and Andre. I am worried about the Petrie sagging and the Bantam bunching from the bench seat (seen it in some pictures) so I am also leaning towards the Andre. Help! Any comments would be appreciated! Thanks!

  • This is awesome! I have been agonizing over couches (it’s my 1st house) and have narrowed it down to the Petrie, Bantam, and Andre. I think I am leaning towards the Andre because like others mentioned the Petrie seems to sag a bit and I have seen pictures where the bench on the Bantam starts to bunch from the wear. If anyone can share experiences/opinions that’d be great. Thanks!

  • grace-do you know if the legs are removable on the petri sofa? we too have a very small place and i want to check if its possible to fit it. thank you

  • Hi, I recently ran across your wonderful sofa guide. We have been researching sofas for several months now and have finally agreed on the Andre sofa @ Room & Board. I called them yesterday for advice on picking a good fabric because we have kids and pets. The sale person I spoke with said he didn’t recommend the Andre’ for main family room use. He said it’s low back makes it a “not very comfortable couch to sit in for long periods. I appreciate his insight and honesty but am not deeply disappointed as it has taken us a very long time to agree on this couch. We do not live any where close to a Room and Board store so we would be unable to make our own assessment of this. You wrote in your blog that you purchased this sofa, would you say it is comfortable and would be a good couch for every day use for a family of 5? I would really appreciate your honest opinion. Thank you!

    • hi lori

      i think it’s perfectly comfortable to sit in for a long time! i can take a nap on it, so it’s great for me. it’s not a super cushy jump on sort of sofa, but it’s pretty great. i don’t think your family would have any problem with it. but do keep in mind it’s on the firm side. for a cute designy sofa it’s the most comfy we’ve ever had.


  • So funny, we’ve been looking at both the R&B Andre’ and the C&B Petrie. We are almost tempted to “splurge” for leather because we have a baby on the way and pets. Wondering if this is worth the splurge? If we do decide to splurge it’s between the Wells (R&B) or the Steele (C&B). Any insight or advice would be wonderful!

  • we own the Petrie – have had it for 1 year. After a couple of months the seat cushions started sagging. You can now feel the frame everytime you sit in it. Lucky for us (not) it is our only sofa. Its pretty sucky. It looks great – truly – but it sucks for comfort. We are basically only watching tv in bed now. I am so upset and am working with C&B now, although they dont appear very helpful in remedying the situation. The Petrie sofa is of questionable quality!

  • I am considering the purchase of the Jackson sofa from R&B which no-one here has mentioned yet. Has anyone sat in it and if so – also any thoughts on the quality of the stocked fabric?Lucky for me the charcoal grey is the stock choice – which looks perfect for my house. Any other sofa suggestions that look similar to the Jackson but are a tad less expensive would be welcome!

  • I am also in the market for a new sofa and I am trying to decide between the Andre and the Jasper. My concern with the Andre is the structured low back. Do you have issues with this at all? This would be the sofa that is used to lounge and watch TV, so comfort is important. Is yours still holding up? Also has anyone purchased the Jasper? Do the cushions hold-up well, and is the sofa comfortable? I unfortunately do not live where I am able to test either out, and ruled out the Petrie for all the reasons proviously mentioned as well. Thank you for your help!!

  • I’ve been researching all these models, too, but wondered if anyone has experience with the R&B Hutton, in velvet. I think (?) my cat would be less interested in destroying that fabric. I also wanted to recommend a sofa not pictured or mentioned: the Paramount, by Blu Dot. We have it downstairs, or I’d get another for upstairs. It’s unbelievably comfy, considering how nice it looks (I find usually those don’t go together), though it’s not deep unless you take off the back cushions, which is easy to do, and makes it a guest bed as the seating part is a single cushion.

  • Hi.

    I am hoping someone can give me the name and retail store where I can find the gray sleeper sofa on the top right (in the sleeper sofa section). Only the three on the left are mentioned.

  • I am thinking about getting the Andre sofa at Room and Board but the inside seat dimension is 22″, which is narrower than I am used to. I normally sit with my legs curled up on the sofa. Has anyone found the 22″ seat too narrow for comfort?

  • Anyone know what the top right sofa is in the Sleeper Sofa section above? It isn’t credited, but I want it!!

  • I know this is an old post but I just wanted to chime in about the Petrie. I have had one for a little over 3 years and it looks pretty bad now. The seat cushions have completely flattened. I tried to get C&B to do something about it, but they said that was normal and even said that three years was about what they would expect before seeing a lot of flattening. I am so disappointed.

  • Jasmine,
    Are the cushions zipped? Maybe you can insert some foam, to help with the flattening problem.

  • I wished I would have read this blog before buying the Petrie sofa….A brand new sofa looking two years old after a week is not acceptable ….

  • What/where is the top right sleeper sofa from? I saw two other people have asked about it but no answers. I love it and wish I could find it!!

  • Ditto on the top right sleeper. I got it second hand about 2 years ago and all the tags are removed I would love to know where it is from?

  • I haven’t seen any traditional sofas like taylor king ,century ,sherrill
    what do you think of these manufacturer’s?

  • Hi,

    I am super late seeing this but am in the market for a couch now! I have a small budget and a small apartment but picky taste! I am choosing between a Jasper couch in grey that I found on craigslist, under a year old, in good shape, at about 74″ long and the Karlstad new from Ikea, each for about $600. The Karlstad is about 6″ longer but same depth, 36″. My apartment is pretty small but I want a cozy/comfy couch. my instinct is that lightly used Room and Board is better than new Ikea for comfort and durability. Thoughts?? Also how short is too short?? thanks!