The 10 Best Sofas | What you Need to Know Before Buying

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

lee-sofa-room-scene-10-best-sofasLee Industries 3643-32 sofa

Designed by Bobby McAlpine

 What makes a sofa “the best?” Much has already been written about it. You’ll hear phrases being thrown around like

  • eight-way hand-tied springs
  • kiln-dried hardwood frames
  • double doweled corner blocked
  • made in the USA

And then there are the seat cushions.

  • Down
  • Down and Feather
  • Synthetic | Poly-dacron
  • Foam Core Down
  • Spring Down
  • Natural | Soy-based

Tight Back vs.Loose Back [they’re both good]

Arms?

skirt/no skirt?

And then there’s style. Maybe it’s the style that makes it the best sofa.

Finally, there’s price.

Occasionally, someone asks me:

“What is the difference between a $10,000 sofa and a $2,000 sofa or even a $1,000 sofa?”

Well, the latter is definitely massed-produced. However, the difference between the 10k and 2k usually has a lot to do with the name more than what’s inside it. This is true for a lot of things we buy. right?

I can’t tell you how many sofas and chairs I’ve sold in my career. All I know is that it’s hundreds. Most people buy maybe at most a dozen sofas in their entire lifetime, and some only one or two.

The sofa is the most expensive piece of upholstered furniture in the living room and it’s also the largest, of course. Therefore, careful consideration should be paid, but please don’t drive yourself crazy. Quite frankly, if you stick to the manufacturers with good reps and quality, they’re all pretty nice.

Here are some more things to consider before buying the best sofa for you.

What room is it for? Is it for watching TV and lounging? Will people be eating on it? Or is it for a more formal space like the “dead room” that no one ever goes into, but you want it to look nice because you pass by it all the time?

Or maybe it’s the main living space that includes a TV and more formal entertaining.

What dimensions do you need? Sofas generally come in lengths between about 60″ and 90″. The most common size is a three-seat sofa which is usually +/- 84″. However, and this is a really important point. If the sofa is being used primarily for conversation and relaxing, there will never be more than two people on it, so it is vitally important to get a sofa that’s the right length.

Depth. This really depends. Sofas generally come in depths from 34″-43.” The latter is like a stretch limo. You need a BIG room for one of those babies. They also have a very deep seat.

How deep? Well, the average seat depth of most sofas is from 22-24″ deep. However, I have had clients who want what I call a bed that is 25-26″ deep. It’s always the husband and he always has a wife who’s five feet tall. This is why God invented throw pillows. ;]

How tall should the back be? Again, this varies quite a bit. A modern sofa might only be a squat 28″ and these days, I’m seeing pieces with a back of 43.”  My favorite height for a traditional sofa is 34-35.”

How high should the seat be? The average seat height is 18″-20.” Although there are styles that might have a seat as low as 15″ or as high as 21.” It’s a bit difficult to get an exact measurement because none of these are straight lines.

Arm height. Well, that’s a function of style, but for an average sofa, that’s usually from about 23″-25.” However, a Chesterfield style [the arms and back are the same height] could be as high as 36.”

There’s another really important element to talk about when choosing the best sofa.

It’s the decking.

If you don’t already know…

It’s the part that the seat cushion sits on and includes the front of the sofa that the legs  attach to. That needs to be nice and firm. Sofas with flabby decking will not be comfortable.

Skirt? No Skirt? That depends on the style and preference. One of my pet peeves is when someone calls a sofa with a skirt, “traditional.”  There is nothing at all traditional about a sofa with a skirt.

800px-A_Sofa_En_Suite

If we are talking “traditional” we need to go back to the time of Louis XVI in France and that’s circa 1780 or below in England to the furniture maker Thomas Chippendale. These are “traditional” sofas

chippendale-hepplewhite-sofaThis is what a traditional sofa looks like. I don’t see a skirt! This beauty is a Chippendale into a transitional Hepplewhite sofa. And that would be circa 1800. As a matter of fact, before that, there weren’t any sofas at all! People sat in chairs like this.

chippendale-chair

No sofas usually, just the chairs. Many years ago, I went on a field trip with my son Cale to John Jay Homestead in Katonah.  This was the home of John Jay the first supreme court justice. Mr. Jay lived in this home in the late 1700s. Today, it is a faithfully preserved specimen of that era. There are two parlors in the home. Each is set up with two small tables and around each one are three chairs. That is all. And this was a wealthy dude!

*********

Alright, enough of the history lesson, Laurel. We want to see the best sofas already, damn it!

Okay. Calm down. They’re coming. The preamble history lesson is for anyone who is interested. Everyone else can scroll down to the good stuff. But first.

What are my criteria for the best sofas?
  • classic styling
  • beautiful proportions
  • comfort
  • quality
  • good value

As for seat cushions— 99% of the time, we use spring down seating. It is both soft and supportive and retains the shape of the cushion better than any other.

 

I specify almost all of my upholstered furniture from three companies.

They have the best sofas

 

CR Laine  (as of January 2017, we can no longer recommend this company because they deleted my account due to “inactivity.” Therefore, the link has been removed.)

Lee Industries

TCS Designs

The latter is one of those trade secrets that I’m not supposed to tell anyone about because they don’t show at High Point and they don’t have a website and they never will, I’ve been told fairly recently.

We’ll see… It might be alright now… but…

Wait? You’re telling us your sources?

Sure? Why not? It’s not a secret. I mean, when you walk into your local Overpriced-R-us retail furniture store, don’t they usually have the manufacturer info on the label?

These are all terrific companies with medium high-end prices and excellent quality.

Here’s the list for the best sofas

 

cr-laine-chichester-sofa-laurel-bern-interiors - best sofas

 

Number 1 is well, the number one sofa which you can read about in the link.

lee-industries-roll-arm-10-best-sofasThis one is by Lee Industries, although the one we did from CR Laine last year is very similar.

laurel-bern-interiors-cr-laine-10-best-sofas

The Russel Sofa

This is known as a Bridgewater Sofa or an English roll arm sofa

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This is a sleek track arm sofa from Lee Industries

TCS-Designs-10-best-sofas

TCS Designs makes my favorite settee. It is quite compact and yet just as comfortable as a full-sized sofa, so I’ve used it many times, when space is tight.

 

lee-7733--10-best-sofasThis is a Tuxedo Arm sofa from Lee Industries which we did below for the Bronxville sun room with a skirt

bronxville-sunroom-10-best-sofas

 

3643-32-1012-10-best-sofas-lee-industries

The Lawson arm sofa is probably the most common basic style. In the 80’s the arms were really BIG sometimes. This version from Lee is updated yet still classic. The so-called “traditional sofa” is usually a version of this arm with a 7″ skirt.

 

cr-laine-huntley-10-best-sofas

A newer frame from CR Laine, the Huntley evokes a kind of Hollywood of the 1930s-type glamor to me.

lee-3006-03-0509-10-best-sofas

This sofa from Lee is not only very beautiful, but feels totally luxurious and enveloping to sit in.

leather-chesterfield-10-best-sofas

A classic leather Chesterfield. This became popular in men’s club houses in the early part of the 20th century. It’s distinctive large round arm is the same height as the back. It is usually tufted.

interior-decorators-scarsdale-ny-chesterfield-sofa-10-best-sofas

This is a custom-made Chesterfield I had made for a client in Scarsdale, NY 2 years ago.

lee-1296-33-0209-10-best-sofas

The wedge sofa is a newer style. This version from Lee is a winner. There are other versions of this style which are also great, but I included the wedge, because I think that it’s kinda cool and would be great for watching TV.

1131_1012-10-best-sofas-cr-laine-chichesterCR Laine’s Chichester sofa is a new take on the classic Chesterfield sofa.

Bronxville Living Room-best-sofas-cr-laine-chichester

And here it is in the Bronxville living room

Did you see any of your favorite sofa styles? Did you discover a new one? Which one is your favorite? Are there any glaring omissions?

This by no means are all of the sofas I like. But, the idea is to give you ten of the best.

But this is the number one sofa that’s most often specified.

And a favorite post about sofas and upholstered furniture

Oh, and one more!

xo,

laurel

 

  • adrianne hunt - June 4, 2017 - 1:43 AM

    Laurel: In one of the posts about 8-way hand tied springs you say you work with 2 custom upholstery makers. Can you tell who they are? I’ve been having a ridiculously hard time finding a sofa/couch with the dimensions I need. Everyone out there that says you can “customize” really only gives a choice from an assortment of legs or arms, which isn’t really customizing. Can’t find a company that actually customizes – you tell them the style and dimensions, they make it. Is there a place you can recommend that does that?ReplyCancel

    • Hank - June 6, 2017 - 10:44 PM

      We just ordered from Perch Furniture in Portland, Oregon and they do custom orders to the best of my knowledge.ReplyCancel

      • Laurel Bern - June 6, 2017 - 11:43 PM

        Hi Hank,

        I took a look at them and they do customize, but I think Adrianne is looking for someone who can create a unique piece and possibly a more traditional style. I’m not sure, but Perch looks like they are only doing contemporary/modern styles.ReplyCancel

    • Kathy K - June 4, 2017 - 7:18 AM

      Years ago we bought from Classic Sofa in NYC and they did customize to any size. The sofas were beautifully made. Now they’re under new ownership but still get good reviews.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 4, 2017 - 2:27 AM

      Hi Adrianne,

      I’m sorry but by custom, I meant fabrics, stains, skirt, no skirt, etc. I don’t have any recs for you.ReplyCancel

  • Hank - May 27, 2017 - 5:55 PM

    Just ran across this site and had a question about cushion durability and sag over time. The last 2 couch’s we’ve had, have divots where we sit and I’m wondering if that’s just going to happen over time regardless of the cushion material and are there types/styles of cushions that are less prone to that? Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - May 27, 2017 - 6:02 PM

      I recommend a spring down cushion. It’s the only thing I’ve ever specified for my clients– at least 98% of the time.ReplyCancel

  • Calli - April 6, 2017 - 9:21 AM

    I’m shopping for a family room sofa next to my kitchen. I have three teenagers so I’m looking for wearability and cleaniblility 😉. I’ve narrowed my search down to a Lee 1563-03 but I have questions about the fabrics… I’d like a neutral light color, like a natural linen look, or even a warm grey. Lee has the sunbrella fabrics… or is the rub count more important? Do you have a favorite fabric(s) from Lee for families?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 6, 2017 - 9:27 AM

      No, I don’t. I suggest that you consult with your designer or sales person for all selections.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - March 25, 2017 - 11:16 AM

    I do think the quality of Lee Industries is not what it used to be. The sofa frame used to be 100% wood and this was highly touted in their catalog. Now it is partially engineered wood. Engineered wood consists of pieces of thin wood glued together. No way engineered wood is stronger or better than solid wood.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 25, 2017 - 2:09 PM

      Hi Mary,

      I disagree with that assertion. Engineered wood is exceedingly strong. ReplyCancel

  • Leigh Ann - March 19, 2017 - 11:19 AM

    Hi,

    Thanks for all the great information on your blog! I’m about to order a Lee sofa and am wondering if you specify spring down on seat cushions only or do you usually do the spring down package which has an all down back cushion plus the spring down seat cushion.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - March 19, 2017 - 4:37 PM

      Hi Leigh,

      For a sectional with a separate cushion i usually do a combo blend-down because it has a little more body. All down is constant fluffing. But definitely speak to your sales person/designer about that first to see what they recommend.ReplyCancel

  • Sheri - February 21, 2017 - 6:13 PM

    I’m about to purchase a Lee sofa and I was wondering what your favorite neutral fabric is. I have had several Lee’s in the past and have been more then pleased. They retain their value so well.

    The last sofa I bought from them…I did not like the fabric. It was so thin.

    Looking for some insight.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 21, 2017 - 6:19 PM

      Hi Sheri,

      I recommend working with your sale’s associate or purchasing Lee from a source where you can do the COM (Customer’s Own Material) option. That way, you’re not locked into their fabrics. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Slifer - February 16, 2017 - 10:16 PM

    Hi Laurel! I’m actually getting ready to open with CR Laine (at least I was before I read this blog post while looking for info about their quality). I’d really like to know what they’ve done to change your mind about them? Thanks for your insights!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 17, 2017 - 2:19 AM

      Hi Stephanie,

      As succinctly as possible, I’ve become a full-time blogger with a hefty 5 figure subscription list and well over 500,000 page views a month and 250,000 unique visitors. Through the links that were on the blog, I’ve sent over tens of thousands of people to the CR Laine website and hundreds of thousands of people have landed on my furniture posts because they were searching for “best sofa” or something like that.

      About a month ago, out of the blue, I got notification that my account was closed due to inactivity.

      I wrote the dude who sent me the letter. He had no idea. Of course, it is a form letter. Sucks.

      But that is how it is with bloggers sometimes. Some vendors get it and appreciate what we do and even offer sponsorships and others not only don’t realize when they have a good thing, but spit in its eye.

      I figure a company who doesn’t appreciate the free advertising they’ve been enjoying the last two or three years, isn’t one I want to recommend. That’s why.ReplyCancel

  • shelley - February 14, 2017 - 9:24 PM

    Hi Laurel, Thank you for this article. Do you have any recommendations for a track arm sofa with t cushions and tapered leg? I love the Lee #1 you posted, and Lee has one similar with a track arm…but is only 39′ deep! I was hoping for 40″ at least and don’t want to pay 30% up charge for 1 inch of depth….am pairing with the Jules swivel w’dressmaker skirt…it seems like a square track arm would look good with this transitional swivel..will order the english arm if I have to but……
    HELP!!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 14, 2017 - 9:29 PM

      Hi Shelley,

      Sorry, but no, I don’t have any other recommendations. It’s not the depth of the sofa, it’s the depth of the seat, the seat height, the pitch. You could have a 36″ deep sofa and it could have a very deep seat! ReplyCancel

  • Jen - February 12, 2017 - 11:28 AM

    I bought the Lee english rolled arm sofa above in a white linen/cotton blend. Left Home Bank in Lahaska Pennsylvania sells all Lee furniture at 30 percent off retail, and if you don’t live in the area then you also don’t pay sales tax. It is a great resource, and the people there were really helpful. The couch is absolutely gorgeous.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 12, 2017 - 12:11 PM

      Hi Jen,

      Lee is now my vendor of choice. Long story, but lets just say that CR Laine doesn’t deserve the benefit of my free advertising.

      30% off of retail is the discount that most furniture stores give. (eyes rolling.) But good to know that you had a good experience with that store!ReplyCancel

      • Kathy K - February 15, 2017 - 12:00 PM

        With President’s Day sales coming up, how can I determine if I’m getting a “good price” — given what you said about 30% off retail being standard?ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - February 15, 2017 - 1:59 PM

          Hi Kathy,

          I recommend that you research and only purchase from reputable dealers. ReplyCancel

          • Kathy K - February 18, 2017 - 2:16 PM

            Hi Laurel,

            I noticed that the Lee Industries versions of this piece (3278-XX sofa, apt sofa and loveseat) are consistently 42″ deep, varying only in terms of length. If customizing, can one adjust the depth without destroying the look? (36″ would be a better fit in our room.) I’d very much appreciate your thoughts.

            And would you be able to recommend a reputable dealer in Westchester County, NY?

            Thank you again for this incredible blog. I found you looking for sofa info, but have proceeded to read everything you’ve written since. For someone like me who’s outside of the design world, you’ve offered a fascinating glimpse into this mysterious and yet essential artform.

          • Laurel Bern - February 19, 2017 - 12:20 AM

            Hi Kathy,

            Not sure I can be of much help, but I’ll try. As for reputable dealers. Most of them are in Westchester or they wouldn’t be in business.

            Just stay away from Country Willow. Hate them. Yes, hate.

            Oh, and for a more shallow English Roll arm sofa, please go to Yellow Monkey, in Cross River. Really beautiful shop with antiques too. They carry the TCS line and the depth is 38″. You will not find a 36″ deep sofa in that style. Or I should say, it’s very unlikely.

  • marian Unterman - January 22, 2017 - 10:07 AM

    Do you recommend 8 way hand tie for sofa or spring mechanism and what type if so?
    thanksReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 22, 2017 - 12:54 PM

      Hi Marian,

      Well, there’s a lot of hype about the 8-way hand tied springs and they are fine, but if it’s a sleep sofa, of course, one can’t have that and if the rail below the seat cushion is not deep enough, it can only support a sinuous spring application.

      I dunno. I worked with two custom upholstery makers and both used sinuous springs. The furniture was well-made, holds up beautifully and was supremely comfortable. ReplyCancel

      • Marian - January 29, 2017 - 4:59 PM

        Thank you Laurel, very helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Diane M C - January 12, 2017 - 8:31 PM

    I am looking for a leather loveseat for my Family Room and would appreciate some advice. Due to back surgery, I need lots of support in the seat cushion. The few couches that I have purchased seem to sag and lose all support within a year or so. Please advise what I need to get in way of the seat cushions and the support under the cushions?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 12, 2017 - 9:14 PM

      Hi Diane,

      I specify spring down for all upholstered sofas and club chairs. 99.9% of the time.

      For springs, there are two different types of construction:

      8-way hand-timed and sinuous. I can’t tell the difference, quite frankly.ReplyCancel

      • Diane M C - January 17, 2017 - 10:25 AM

        Thank youReplyCancel

  • chris - December 19, 2016 - 12:45 PM

    Hi Laurel, you did an article about space saving sofas and one of the sofas was designed by TSC Designs and you called it a settee you had used it before, do you know what the model of this was? As a follow-up, I am in real estate and working with a committee to come up with sofa selections for a lobby, the maximum depth is 26″ and I see there isn’t much out there, would you have any tips?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 19, 2016 - 1:14 PM

      Hi Chris,

      Sorry, not off the top of my head. TCS is to the trade only, so even if you had the model number, it would do no good. And if working with a designer, they should be able to help you with that.

      I would definitely suggest working with a professional designer. At 26″, you will be restricted to a settee. There are many out there in a wide variety of styles.ReplyCancel

  • Amy - December 15, 2016 - 4:12 PM

    Laurel,

    I have a couple questions:

    1. What are your thoughts on leather sofas? Like, where do you think they look best and where would you not use them.

    2. What do you think of the sofas by Roger+Chris or Roger and Chris http://www.rogerandchris.com/ ? Do you think they are good quality?

    Thanks,
    Amy OhrtmanReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 15, 2016 - 11:11 PM

      Hi Amy,

      I’ve done many leather sofas over the years. Please be sure to get an aniline PROTECTED leather; unless you like the beat up look. We usually do them in family rooms and libraries.

      Roger and Chris are new additions in Laurel’s Rolodex and I also used one or two of them in my new paint palette and home furnishings collection. (part II of the paint collection).

      As for the quality. I’ve never seen them in person, but they look to be alright and it’s a small company run by two dudes who seem to take a lot of pride in what they do. That tells me something. ReplyCancel

  • Lynn Nocifora - December 14, 2016 - 7:24 PM

    I have 3 boys 6’5″ football players. I need a very firm sturdy couch what support system should I look for.inside the bottom of the couch?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 14, 2016 - 7:27 PM

      I would suggest perhaps some lead weights and to nail the sofa to the floor. ;]ReplyCancel

  • Laura N - November 30, 2016 - 4:28 AM

    Great post Laurel! What would you suggest in situations where someone in the family insists upon reclining furniture. My husband must have either a leather couch or chair that reclines? Unfortunately, a comfy chair with an ottoman or a chaise won’t satisfy him. I didn’t see any reclining furniture on the CR Lane website and the link seems to be broken for Lee Industries.ReplyCancel

  • B Mills - November 28, 2016 - 4:40 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Thank you for your excellent post on sofa selection! It’s very helpful in demystifying the choices.

    I’d like to know what are the best transitional sofa styles that bridge modern and classic design?

    I want to replace my Lawson rolled-arm sofa with something that will add a modern edge to my casual, transitional living area — but not look out of place. (I live in the Seattle area where a clean, modern aesthetic dominates and anything overly ‘classical’ can feel like grandma’s attic.) A modern track-arm sofa seem too boxy and ordinary while others feel too stuffy & formal. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what sofas styles to consider that might help bridge the gap.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 28, 2016 - 8:25 PM

      Hi B,

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the post.

      But I can’t recommend anything. I can’t see your home and people’s perceptions of what is classic, traditional and modern vary widely as I discovered in my years of working with clients.

      I would suggest either looking at different manufacturers or getting a consult from a pro designer who’s aesthetic you like. I’m not doing that at this time.ReplyCancel

  • Kathy K - October 31, 2016 - 10:57 PM

    Thank you for your terrific article! I wonder if you’d weigh in on my dilemma: Do you think a contemporary sectional can work in a historic home? Our restored 1880s home has small spaces that are interrupted by windows and mantels, so we’ve mostly stuck with petite, classic furniture. Lately though I’ve been yearning for the comfort of a big sofa and my best location is an L-shaped corner of my living room. To my eye, an English roll-arm sectional is a contradiction, so what’s a woman to do??? Maybe mix in something very modern? I’d love to hear what you think. Thanks so much again for sharing your expertise!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 31, 2016 - 11:07 PM

      Kathy,

      Thank you but I have nothing to share because I’m not there to see what’s going on and if I was, there would be a hefty consultation fee. It sounds like you have a charming, albeit somewhat challenging situation. This is why I always recommend getting professional help. Even if it’s only a consultation. ReplyCancel

      • Kathy - October 31, 2016 - 11:25 PM

        Thanks Laurel. I’m sure that Is great advice! All the best and thanks again for the informative posts.ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn - October 21, 2016 - 8:01 PM

    Thank you Laurel for this post. Confirming my decision to have a custom Chesterfield done. I really love the look of a bench cushion, ours will be long 108″ sofa. Do you ever use bench cushions? I noticed you like polyester for washing. I was going to choose a ” white” I know.. cotton or linen poly blend. Would love your feedback and am I crazy by going with white? thank youReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 21, 2016 - 8:13 PM

      Hi Marilyn,

      I’m sorry but I can’t give out individual advice because if I did so, I would be sitting here all day long answering people’s questions about their unique needs and it’s not possible. Thanks for your understanding.

      I would either hire a designer to consult with or else consult with whoever is making the sofa for you. ReplyCancel

  • farnaz - October 18, 2016 - 6:05 AM

    Nice blog and very attractive. I liked The Russel Sofa the most because of its look and color. Thanks for sharing blog.ReplyCancel

  • Brad Burgess - July 18, 2016 - 4:29 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Thanks so much for all of your useful advice on this site. Furniture shopping is so frustrating because there is so much cheap junk out there. I have rambunctious teenagers who are hard on the furniture. What brands/models would you recommend that are extremely well made and built to last?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 18, 2016 - 9:56 PM

      Haha Brad. I specialize in rambunctious (understatement) teenagers but somehow they’ve managed to become young men now and are no longer underfoot.

      All of the brands that I’ve listed are well-made and built to last if one uses them for what they were built for.

      sitting on, lounging and snoozing.

      I could have a completely separate blog on child-rearing. I don’t want to get too personal but just believe me when I tell you that as experienced as I am as a designer, I am 100 times more-so when it comes to raising children.

      Yes, it was that bad.

      Please allow me to give you a little advice from someone who made it to the other side and is still in one-piece. I’m happy to throw you a little life raft.

      Of course, you may ignore what I have to say… but I guarantee that if you do this one thing, you will see results which will benefit both you and them in countless ways.

      You have a right to have your home and furnishings intact.

      And they have a right to kill each other because that’s what children do; survival of the fittest. But if they want to kill each other they must do it someplace that’s meant for children to kill each other, like on a busy hi-way at rush hour, on the fence of a bridge with a 100 foot drop or at the top of a skyscraper on a very windy day…

      But NOT on your $5,000 spring-down sofa!

      Below is the one thing I mentioned earlier.

      We found it helpful to write out the rules and what would happen if they were not adhered to.

      Just pick one thing at a time to work on.

      They CAN be trained and then it will spill over into other areas. It’s quite something.

      Of course, something else will crop up to take its place. But if they’re teens already, they’re already half-way out of your hair.

      Good luck and Godspeed!ReplyCancel

  • Batya Klein - July 2, 2016 - 2:02 PM

    Does TCS designs have a catalog? How do you specify what you want?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - July 3, 2016 - 12:23 AM

      Hi Batya,

      Yes, TCS Designs does have a catalog, to the trade only, however. You can only order from Dealers and Designers who carry the line.ReplyCancel

  • Anna - June 28, 2016 - 11:52 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    Thanks so much for your thorough guide. My husband and I just purchased our first home and are slowly outfitting it. I have been in love with the English Roll Arm for quite some time now but have only recently realized that the second floor library in our old house has a 29 inch wide door frame which I’m afraid really limits my E.R.A. options. Any ideas as to which sofa would be a good fit, or what dimensions I should be looking for?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 28, 2016 - 8:56 PM

      Hi Anna,

      The measurement to see is a diagonal between the lower back and the middle of the arm. If it’s less than 29″ you’ll be good. But another option might be to have the legs removed. There are companies who know how to do this and put it back together again, but I would investigate ahead of time.

      Another consideration is the door. Sometimes we have to take it off to get something inside.

      The other option is also the length of the sofa and what’s on the other side of the door. Are there any tight turns.

      If you have any doubts, I would have a professional come and do a survey to see if the piece you are considering will fit or not.

      You will probably be okay with a depth of 36″ The good news is that ERA sofas have a low arm. Also look for one with a back no higher than 34″ But still– please measure and/or have it professionally done.

      One last thing is that it’s upholstery which has a little give. ReplyCancel

  • karen - June 25, 2016 - 11:40 AM

    Laurel, your sofa posts made me find you and now I’m not leaving!

    I had never seen a “wedge” sofa before but I like the gentle arc–Can one actually lay down and lounge on a wedge or is that just not happening? I would love to use two wedges across from each other….ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 25, 2016 - 11:56 PM

      Welcome Karen! Yes, I think you can lay down on it, but you would need a cushion for your head.ReplyCancel

  • EvaAxe - June 13, 2016 - 9:44 AM

    I would love to give you ideas that can change the way people buy furniture.
    It would be great motto waste the entire piece by just changing the way it is made and sold. See my first email. 814-658-9917ReplyCancel

  • Eva Axe - June 13, 2016 - 9:41 AM

    I have been searching for a sofa that meets these criterial,
    1) must be able to lay on it and not have your head or feet draped over the arms.
    2) must have great even support from end to end, I sit on sofas and when close to the arm the support is weak or gone verses the center of the seat.
    3) the inside of the cushions must be solid not foam wrapped with batting.
    4) the cases of the cushions should be inter changeable and washable.
    a) you can charge the looks for the season if the base were solid neutral and the cushions were able to have the casings changed with different colors and patterns.
    b) there are a lot of special needs children and adults that have accidens, so it would be great if the casings were removable as well as washable with the cushion tops being waterproof and wipe able. I have a grandson with full blown Hershbrungs disease, he has lost his large intestine his colon and part of his small intestine. He is short gutted. He has done an impossible and is potty trained during the day which Doctors are in awe of, but when he sleeps there is no
    control, so he has leakage.
    This disease is on the rise, and many people would love to remove casings and wash them. Not just for the disabled but also for spills.
    It would also be nice to change the looks of the furniture without having to replace the entire piece.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 14, 2016 - 1:32 AM

      Hi Eva,

      Kravet fabrics makes a fabric backing that’s actually plastic so that liquids can’t reach the cushion. I think it’s called durotex.

      And then I would opt for the new Crypton Home fabrics that repel water and stains. In fact, that might be enough. There’s more about that in this post. https://laurelberninteriors.com/2016/06/12/open-concept-home-renovation/

      And my best wishes for your grandson. I have a special-needs son. He’s 21 now. It’s not easy. Blessings to you and the rest of your family.ReplyCancel

  • Beth - June 12, 2016 - 1:25 PM

    Thank you for the great post. I love the above sofas above but noticed none are skirted. I have had a skirted sofa for so long I can’t imagine a sofa without one. I am in need of a new one and was wondering do you think skirted sofas are too outdated?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2016 - 2:00 PM

      Hi Beth,
      That’s a difficult question to answer. Sofas with skirts are a 20th century invention and became increasingly popular from the 1960’s on.

      I do like them in certain situations and my philosophy has always been if someone truly loves something, it is never outdated.ReplyCancel

  • LaurenG - June 2, 2016 - 2:00 PM

    Hello Laurel,
    I have been looking for a pair of English arm sofas for my family room (which gets a lot of use). An interior designer we spoke with said that they didn’t like Lee Industries because they feel that the quality has gone down in recent years. However, the price for the Lee is much better than the custom English arm sofa from another designer. I would love to have your thoughts on Lee and whether you would still recommend their furniture (since your post is from a few years back). I would much prefer to save the money, but don’t what to have issues with quality.
    Thank you!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 2, 2016 - 10:37 PM

      Hi Lauren,

      I have not noticed any decrease in quality in Lee. I did a sectional last year and it is gorgeous. I also did a whole bunch of furniture for a long-distance client and she’s very happy with her new furniture. However, that’s my limited experience. It’s possible that the designer you spoke to had a different experience for some reason.ReplyCancel

      • LaurenG - June 9, 2016 - 11:44 AM

        Thank you so much for your reply, Laurel! Really appreciate your feedback and love your website 🙂ReplyCancel

    • LaurenG - June 2, 2016 - 2:11 PM

      Oops, what I meant to say is that the Lee price is much better than the price of the custom English arm sofa that the designer recommended and quoted us for.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny Paul - March 28, 2016 - 7:24 AM

    Great Post! I always have difficulty in buying sofa. It is very difficult for me to choose style. Your article is very helping. I like these sofa styles; they all are very elegant and stylish.ReplyCancel

  • Rktrixy - February 15, 2016 - 5:11 PM

    I can’t seriously fall in love with any sofa until I see the dimensions. Why? Because I’m tall and I have bad joints. Modern sofas, especially, have seats at 15″ or lower(once you sink into them) that are impossible to get out of without assistance. I understand this knocks a lot of the sofas out of the running, but I’m sure deep sofas don’t work very well for the petite, or short. It takes all kinds of sofas to fit a lot of bodies, styles, houses, etc.

    Amazingly – seat height is one of the few dimensions not listed on websites or other published data. You get height, depth, length. Sometimes you get seat depth (important to know, too.) Width of the arm roll. Size of the throw pillows. Where the framing was harvested. But nothing about “where the rubber meets the road” so to speak.

    I’ve sent more than one sales rep scurrying with a tape measure to collect the data. I wish manufacturers thought it was important!

    So – all that aside, I’d like the Lee sofa above the chesterfield.ReplyCancel

  • Edward J Cauley - January 27, 2016 - 6:45 AM

    Hi Laurel – we currently have an upholstered sofa and love seat with an extremely deep seat ( almost 28 ” ) .We are looking into a leather sectional with a wedge corner and know it’s going to be an adjustment having a depth of 22 -24 inches. After the sticker shock of leather, knowing it’s a quality product and should last a very long time, we are finding it slippery when we test drive them. Is this going to go away after a break in period or do we need to just get used to it ? Thanks, EdReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 27, 2016 - 9:43 AM

      Hi Ed,

      Maybe you need snow tires? Sorry, couldn’t resist. I really can’t say whether or not this particular leather will remain slippery or not. It sounds like an aniline protected leather which is what you want.

      However, while leather is durable in some ways, in other ways it can be as fragile as a fine silk! For instance it cannot be exposed to direct sunlight or will fade like crazy. Heat and sun can dry it out and cause cracking.

      But even if not slippery, leather will never be warm and cozy and I am surmising that is what you are desiring. BTW, 28″ is a bed. lol Unless you are exceedingly tall, 22-24″ should be way more comfortable.

      For my clients, I always do a beautiful, high quality polyester. The cushion covers can be unzipped and thrown into the washing machine–at least in an emergency.

      There are also the new Crypton fabrics which are about the same price as a good leather, but are exceedingly durable!

      https://laurelberninteriors.com/2015/11/01/i-dare-you-to-drop-red-wine-on-this-beautiful-white-fabric/

      Your salesperson should hopefully be able to give you some good advice. ReplyCancel

  • Christian - November 11, 2015 - 4:13 PM

    3643-32 Sofa at top. Hello! I love this sofa. Can you tell me what range this one is in? I cannot spend 10 grand but was hoping this one was less, or, could be less depending on the materials.

    Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - November 11, 2015 - 6:51 PM

      Hi Christian,

      Yes, the fabrics can make a huge difference. If you go with one of Lee’s fabrics, that will save money. Most of the full-size sofas on this page retail for between 3,500-5,000 +/-ReplyCancel

      • Rebecca Meals - November 25, 2016 - 10:13 AM

        Laurel,

        This was the question I was going to ask…regarding price range. I’m also wondering if there is a compromise on these sofas versus another store. You see, we aren’t well to do…better than many, but we don’t have 10,000 for a sofa (We spent that much on our previous vehicle!!!). We spent $1500 on a 4-piece set (sofa, loveseat, chair and a half, and ottoman). I hate it. It was nice enough when we got it about 6 months ago, but the cushions are already breaking down. You can definitely tell which one is my husband’s favorite seat! And, we were desperate for furniture because our 15 year old set was so damaged that we were falling through the cushions and sitting on springs. Yikes! So it was most certainly a rushed, “gotta leave the store with something” sort of buy. And yes, it was a box store, because that’s what we have around here in rural America.

        So help me understand…I absolutely want to upgrade from buying crap to buying quality. $5000 for ONE sofa seems high to me. Not that I don’t think it’s worth it, because I’m sure it is. But just in terms of the ratio of how much we make a year versus how much we spend on one piece of furniture, if you know what I mean. $10-$20K to furnish a living room? Try a $20K budget to remodel our entire 2000 sqft house, including kitchen and baths! So you see, when you consider how much we are spending on an entire house and then contemplate spending that same amount to decorate one room, it seems a little out of our price range. I’m telling you this to ask, is there a middle ground between cheap crap and a $3-5K sofa? Instead of box stores, is there a better quality store that has the styles that are traditional, but maybe not as high of quality, but definitely better quality than box stores? For example, Pier One has some lovely Chesterfield and english roll arm sofas and love seats, the sofas ranging around $1000-$1300. However, they don’t have any down. One sofa costing as much as my crappy 4-piece set? Okay, I can buy that. But…am I’m just throwing money away on more expensive junk? Can I compromise with something like this? Or, is it best to save for a long time to afford the $5000 down sofas? I have an entire house to furnish. I don’t own a single piece that wasn’t a hand-me-down. And I want to budget for some antique pieces (I’ve got my eye on a French style writing desk for my living room….to die for!!!).ReplyCancel

        • Kathy K - November 29, 2016 - 7:14 PM

          One option might be to buy and reupholster high quality second-hand furniture. Where I live craigslist is full of sofa ads, and although sellers often ask top-dollar for them, in the end many accept prices well under $1000 because there’s little market for second-hand goods — I know I have in the past. Laurel, I’d appreciate your thoughts on this strategy.ReplyCancel

          • Laurel Bern - November 29, 2016 - 7:18 PM

            Hi Kathy,

            It’s a good idea in theory, but here’s the problem. Let’s say that you buy the sofa for $700.

            Then, you need 18 yards of fabric at $50.00/yd = $900

            The sofa needs some spring work and new seat cushions. That amount is $1,500. It would be here in New York. Now, the sofa costs $3,100.

            It will be the same as a brand new sofa, but not necessarily a savings in money. But if it’s a cool old sofa with a frame that one can’t get easily these days, that’s a great option!

        • adrianne hunt - November 27, 2016 - 5:49 PM

          Hi Rebecca – let me tell you what I found that might be right up your alley. I have no affiliation with this place (in fact, I just had a terrible experience with them that they fixed) but Calico Corners has furniture that has a LIFETIME guarantee on its frame and, I think now, 7 years (used to be lifetime) on the seat cushions only (NOT the back cushions). Their prices range from $2k on up, of course, depending on style and, most important, fabric. You can pick from 4 different cushion fills, and springs or no springs. Check out their website. They’re the ONLY ones I’ve found who have any type of worthwhile guarantee on their sofas/chairs. If you’ve never had down before, here’s what I know about it, as I do have a combination of springs/foam/down and all down. The combo is just a relatively thin layer of down/feathers wrapped around the core (whatever core you get). You have to fluff any back cushions almost constantly, but they ARE much softer than regular polyester or foam. I don’t mind it, my husband hates having to do it. If you’re thinking of ALL down, that’s extremely expensive and worthless as far as support. With ALL down (no feathers) you’d need probably 200 lbs of it or more (and that’s a LOT) for it to actually support someone in a seat cushion. There’s all down and there’s down/feather combo, which a lot of places call “down.” You need the feathers for support, as all down alone would be astronomical price-wise. I know, because I have down/feathers chairs with ottomans and just the ottoman cushions are ridiculously heavy (the boxing is only 4 inches), and when you sit on them you really sink in and can feel the furniture part underneath. Even with the feathers, NOT supportive in the least. I would recommend almost anything except all down or all down/feathers combination. You need a core of springs or really dense foam for support. That’s why they wrap a core with down or down/feather combo. Another option, if you find it relatively cost effective – find a couch you like and have the seats or backs or both replaced with custom cushions made to fit that couch. You may have to have the whole thing recovered in another fabric (unless you can find or get the same fabric) but even that’s cheaper than living with bad cushions. My 3 back 3 seat 86″ couch cost $1K to recover including fabric I picked out. It’s not all that expensive compared to wasted money for cushions that after a couple years are trashed. I’ve found one custom made seat cushion, from a company that makes them, with down wrapped core (core choice will affect price) to be around $250 or so for a 23×26 inch seat cushion. If the frame on a couch is pretty good, to replace the seats on a 3 seat sofa would cost maybe $800 or so. If you’re looking to buy a $5K sofa, you can easily replace all the cushions for well under that. The couches I have (two of them the same) cost $3k each in 2005. I just had each recovered for $1k each including fabric. I couldn’t afford $6k again, but $2k I could do. AND the upholsterer did some extra things for no extra cost, and I had the seat cushions replaced for free under the warranty. I’ve been trying to find some place that actually makes custom, but they only give choices of arms/legs of the items they sell. Cannot find a true custom making place. So look into maybe buying a couch you like and seeing how much it would cost to replace the cushions with a down combination. It might be cheaper than you think. Hope I helped. It’s always good to hear experience.ReplyCancel

          • adrianne hunt - November 29, 2016 - 12:38 AM

            Still don’t understand………do you mean springs in the seats are wrapped with down and feathers?? You don’t indicate WHAT is wrapped with down and feathers, you just say spring down. so “spring down” to me, not knowing industry terminology, means springs. Correct?

          • Laurel Bern - November 29, 2016 - 11:41 AM

            Hi Adrianne,

            Thank you for your interest, but may I recommend that you do your own research in topics you don’t understand. Thank you.

          • adrianne hunt - November 28, 2016 - 11:20 AM

            Laurel – what do you mean by your statement of “spring-down (foam and down in lieu of that)”? Maybe it’s the terminology, but the way you use the term “spring-down” to me means down (no feathers) surrounding springs, and “foam and down” means down (no feathers) surrounding foam. Is that your definition of each one? What I was describing in my answer to Rebecca was seat cushions that have springs in the center, foam surrounding that and a down/feather overlay on the top and bottom of the cushion. Pure down and down/feather combination being two different things. Could you please explain what you mean in both instances? I’m not understanding correctly. Thanks

          • Laurel Bern - November 28, 2016 - 3:47 PM

            spring down is always wrapped with down and feathers. Yes, it’s trade terminology. I do not recommend pure down and feather seat cushions because they are constant maintenance and fluffing. But I have done them on occasion.

          • Laurel Bern - November 27, 2016 - 7:31 PM

            Hi Adrianne,

            Thank you for sharing your experience. I only recommend spring-down (foam and down in lieu of that) for clients as it is both soft and supportive.

        • Laurel Bern - November 25, 2016 - 8:14 PM

          Hi Rebecca,

          Perhaps take a look at Crate and Barrel. Their furniture is largely made by Lee Industries. And yes, it’s paired down and no, the seat won’t be down, but it is going to be far better quality than what you have.

          This one is very pretty and classic.

          http://www.crateandbarrel.com/montclair-2-seat-sofa/s228879

          I would stay away from the bulky ones that don’t have legs. A skirted sofa is okay, but a sofa with a hard rail that comes all the way down to the floor is strange, IMO.ReplyCancel

          • Rebecca Meals - November 26, 2016 - 11:03 AM

            Laurel,

            Thank you for this information! This gets my foot in the door of the higher end furniture without breaking the bank. Maybe one day I will get the good stuff, but for now, at least I know there are options that are viable for us!!!

  • Molly - November 4, 2015 - 9:36 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I first would like to say how much I’ve enjoyed your website and thankful I found a honest opinion!

    I am currently searching to find a comfortable lounge sofa for my living room. Right now I have a leather sectional in my L shaped living room. I was never a huge fan of leather, but I figured it was the best option as I have a large dog who tends to shed! It was a higher priced sectional and looks brand new after 5 years but I’ve decided to go back to a fabric sofa as I find more comfortable. I’ve been looking at 3 sofas in particular and would love to get your opinion on the quality of them. I want a sofa that will be in style and will last for our everyday busy use!

    The first sofa I’ve been interested in is the PB comfort roll arm from pottery barn.
    The second is the Lounge sofa from crate and barrel as well as the Verano sofa.

    All of these couches are quite deep, as it is going into our family room where we spend our time. As well, the PB and Lounge sofa have slip covers, which intrigues me!

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!ReplyCancel

  • Emilee - October 26, 2015 - 10:42 AM

    Oh goodness, sorry for the typos! I can’t edit the post 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Emilee - October 26, 2015 - 10:37 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I’ve been shopping for a sofa and found one I love and that’s perfect for me. But not ready to pay 4K. It’s the Stickley, “Haven”
    https://stickley.com/OurProducts_Details.cfm?id=10104&referrer=search&q=Haven&SearchSubmit=%C2%A0&finish=&Collection=

    I would love to buy from Lee Industries. But in Nashville we have only two stores that carry three of their sofas. My main issue is that all the sofas that I have been able to sit on at showrooms is the large seat depth (I’m 5’3). Could you help me find one in lee that would be similar to the haven ? It’s not the styling or fabric of the haven. It’s however it’s constructed and the deminsions of how it sits for me. (Feet on the floor, feel supported it my sitting position)ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 26, 2015 - 8:38 PM

      Hi Emilee. I’m sorry, I wish I could help you but this is not a comment, it’s asking for help and I’m not doing any long distance consulting right now.

      However, if you get on Lee’s website, they give the dimensions of the furniture. You’ll want a seat depth of no more than 22″. ReplyCancel

  • Emily McMillan - April 30, 2015 - 7:28 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I just discovered your blog and I have been reading it like a novel! I’m a beginner interior designer so I learning a lot… I was wondering if you ever buy from stores like Crate and Barrel or Havertys which both have furniture made in the US? Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 30, 2015 - 11:45 AM

      Hi Emily,

      Thank you so much! The business has changed a lot, especially in the last 10 years or so. I find that most of the young designers work primarily on an hourly or flat fee so that it doesn’t matter where the furniture comes from. My feeling is that this makes it more difficult to get clients because they are paying retail (unless you pass along your small discount) AND a fee to their decorator. A young designer just starting out is going to have a lot of difficulty getting any true wholesale accounts. On the other hand, shopping through a showroom or store gives you a lot of padding if something goes wrong. I don’t know Havertys but I’ve always liked Crate and Barrel. All the best to you in your new venture!ReplyCancel

  • LINDA - December 16, 2014 - 12:34 PM

    i need to no what is the best sectional to buy i want it to be comfortable,able to lounge on it and it will be in my main livingroom. thanks.ReplyCancel

  • Janene Ferrara - September 23, 2014 - 5:27 PM

    This is such a hugely helpful post. I have some clients in the process of choosing a sofa and I am sending them this link ASAP to help with their decision making process. Thanks for being so thorough.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 24, 2014 - 12:58 AM

      Thanks so much Janene. That’s why I selected this topic. The choices are overwhelming out there, so it’s no wonder that consumers are confused. That’s the problem with this country. There’s just too damned much choice! Same with paint. Let’s knock it back to 100 colors. Everyone would be totally fine.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - September 23, 2014 - 4:01 PM

    This was such a well-written post Laurel. I’m partial to clean lines so the track arm sofa caught my eye. What is an average cost for a sofa like that one?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 24, 2014 - 12:55 AM

      Thanks so much Lisa. As for prices, it depends on the fabric of course. But with a good not-too-expensive fabric, between 2,500-3,500 for most of these. The settee is less except for that Ralph Lauren fabric. That is insanely expensive fabric! Fortunately, that piece only requires 11 yards. [per manufacturer. Its not really that much, but they always ask for more than they need]ReplyCancel

  • Erin Andrews - September 23, 2014 - 12:31 AM

    I loved the history lesson! We spend a lot of time on our sofas. Why not know the lineage? I think my favorite is the sofa you used in the Pound Ridge living room. It’s timeless, but still modern in the way you designed it and really looks so comfortable. What’s your favorite, family-friendly fabric for upholstering a sofa?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 23, 2014 - 12:46 AM

      Hi Erin, Thanks. It seemed to fit in because it has always driven me nuts that sofas with skirts are considered traditional. The PR sofa is my favorite as well. I always do poly for family friendly fabrics. Always!

      ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - September 22, 2014 - 7:17 PM

    Hi Nikki and Christina,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Love our group on FB and looking forward to seeing everyone’s posts! xo, LaurelReplyCancel

  • Christina Rodriguez - September 22, 2014 - 4:12 PM

    Excellent advice, Laurel. The Lawson arm sofa is the one I am coveting for my living room.ReplyCancel

  • Nikki G. - September 22, 2014 - 2:38 PM

    Wonderful as usual Laurel! Great educational material and beautiful classic pieces! The best sofa is the one I sink into and want to fall asleep on – practically ALL of these fit the bill!ReplyCancel