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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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  • 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.

  • 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!

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