Sometimes a client will ask me what is the best sofa to buy?
Great question. I can fully understand how confusing it can be.
So, what is the number one sofa style?
Please forgive me, I have to interrupt myself. sorry. I just have to post this old photo. I am going to be starting to do this more and more. These are photos that I’ve saved over the years. (some of them better preserved than others). What I love about all of these images is that you cannot tell that they are old (in terms of the content, not quality of the magazine photo) and that is when I know that it is truly “timeless” as we say.
Okay… I’m not really a “yellow person” although I seem to post a lot of yellow, don’t I? Well… then, maybe I am after-all. I love absolutely everything about this room and I’m totally giving away the “best sofa.” (I bet you had guessed it already, anyway.)
It’s this one:
It goes by different names. It’s usually called an English roll arm sofa or sometimes Bridgewater sofa. It was started by this company, George Smith and they call it a Standard Arm Signature Sofa. Although, they have several variations of this. Usually, it has a turned leg, but maybe this is their way of updating it. I am grateful to Mr. Smith for creating this divine beauty to sit on, but forgive me. I will never order one from them.
1) they are charging waaaaay too much
2) they aren’t all that comfortable. (at least not any that I’ve ever sat on.)
Take heart, though… there are many manufacturers including my favorite, Lee Industries and CR Laine, (who I used to recommend, but no longer can) who make beautiful replicas of this sofa and for far less money and they are verrry comfortable. Now, there are several different iterations of the roll arm sofa and this is only a partial list.
This is very close to the original, maybe a little plumper with slighter fatter turned legs, from Lee Industries
There’s this beauty with the straight tapered legs and I have to say that over-all, it gets my vote for favorite. A LOT of my clients do not like the fussier turned leg and a lot of them absolutely HATE casters, so this is a great alternative. Sofa by Lee Industries.
Here’s one with a loose pillow back, also by Lee
This is one with a turned leg is from CR Laine and it has no caster and a different kind of loose pillow back. Some of you may have remembered this piece from the laurel home shop, that unfortunately died a quick, but painless death. (for the shop, that is) I however, mourned the loss for days and still do…
Alas, it had a wordpress stroke and there was no way to pull it back to life without spending mucho bucks and since no one bought anything anyway, I decided to let it rest in peace. So be it.
Here’s one with a slip-cover from Lee. Slip covers should be chic, not shabby, IMO. They’ll get shabby soon enough on their own! My thoughts on slip covers? I have always loved the look. They automatically say “casual.” However, they are a bitch to put on. There, I said it. That means that you’re less likely to take them off—– however, someone (doesn’t matter the age) decide to eat a sloppy PBJ with grape J and then proceed to smear it all over the fabric, you will be happy to be able to completely remove the cover to get it cleaned. right?
And finally, all of the above come in a love seat, or sometimes called apartment size, two-seater. This is something that I tell all of my clients. IF the sofa is being used primarily for conversation, I do not care if it is 5 feet long or 10 feet long, there will only be two people sitting on it and therefore, most of the time you do not need a three seater. (many come with a single cushion which is a nice compromise). This is why it is so important if you have to go to a store, to measure, measure before you go so that you won’t be talked into getting a piece that is just too big for the space!
Alright, sorry for all of the digression, but I guess I cannot talk about the best sofa to buy without talking about some other important sofa issues.
Oh wait… I almost forgot! I have another old image from Jonas Upholstery in NY City. Don’t even think of walking in there unless you are prepared to shell out at least 15 big ones. That’s right, one of these babies is going to cost you. Is it worth it? Sure, if you’re in the top 1%. (or maybe top .01%) :]
Have to say that I think that this is an incredible beauty and I love the slight scroll back. Yes, they put real horsehair in the filling yes, it’s sublime, but you can have pretty close to that for a lot less. A LOT less!
Here are some beautiful rooms which have featured this style of sofa. It’s classic. It will not go out of style 10-20-30 years from now and you will not hate yourself for going… “what was I thinking!!!”
Oh wait… here is a “what was I thinking???” And guess what? It’s a roll arm sofa… ‘cept someone forgot to put her dress on (and underwear too, apparently.)
You can purchase one of these uglies at Restoration Hardware, but you pay MORE for less. (eyes rolling) It’s a lot like the peanut butter that’s made without salt and it costs more for what’s not in it. Or maybe it’s just that RH is a ripoff. (they really are. trust me, they are.)
“Deconstructed,” they call it. hahahaha!!! It looks bloody uncomfortable too! And these things are MASSIVE. Huge masses of ugly. Please, do not be seduced into actually believing that they are cool. They aren’t and you will hate yourself if you get one and it won’t take you ten years either. Actually, the wonderful, wonderful interior designer/blogger, Joni Webb of the Cote de Texas blog wrote a brilliant expose about this entire travesty. you can read it here; it’s long, but it’s very interesting and very well-written!
Okay, I’ll shut up now! ;]
Here are the pretty rooms!
Shut the door! Can you handle it? The little dressmaker details? The colors, mouldings and GRISAILLE wallpaper! By the ever-amazing Windsor Smith!
Here is another variation of the English roll arm sofa with chunkier legs and a pretty damask fabric, from One King’s Lane.
A glorious room in South, Hampton by interior designer, Joseph Kremer.
Another George Sherlock design in the home of fashionista, Ann Mashburn– style to burn! She even painted her fireplace to match the dog! Very Holly Golightly!
Trend-setter, Sofia Coppola on her George Sherlock sofa with rounded deck. I want that sofa! Funny thing is, her trend is actually an enduring classic!
Another old photo scanned from a magazine. Room by Victoria Hagan
An elegant traditional living room with a classic English roll arm sofa with a stylish dressmaker skirt by Atlanta designer, Patricia Maclean for the Atlanta Symphony Decorators show house.
A gorgeous bedroom by one of my fave designers, Suzanne Kasler with a small roll arm sofa instead of the customary bench.
Are there other cool sofas? Well, of course there are! But, if you want one of the coolest and most classic, you can’t go wrong with an English roll arm sofa!
for more help in selecting the perfect sofa click here.