The 12 Best Sofas You Will Love Forever

Dear Laurel,

Is it me, or has the price of furniture gone through the roof in the last year or two? I’ve been reading your blog faithfully for the last three years, but it’s only been recently that we’ve been in the market to purchase some new furniture.

I mean, I was looking at sofas on Perigold, and I almost fell over in my chair. I remember you liking those Robin Bruce sofas and also recall that a few years ago, they were maybe about 2,400.00, at the most. (Maybe less with a promo code) Well, now, they are $4,200.00!


Sure, they’re lovely, but what has increased the price so much?


Anyway, we still need furniture, and while I can certainly source certain things, like tables and some case pieces, at consignment shops, flea markets, and estate sales, I can’t bring myself to buy a sofa that someone else’s baby has barfed all over it.

And, even if I had it reupholstered, what makes the best sofas (and chairs) worth the money it takes for reupholstery? I know it’s not inexpensive.

Finally, I did see your recent post about cheap sofas and chairs, that don’t look cheap. If they’re so cheap, are they okay to purchase? I figure, if you’re posting these sofas, they must be okay. How will I know if the sofa is comfortable?

Maybe you could do a post about your favorite sofas, in general.

Thank you so much,

Tay Lord-Chesterfield




Hi Tay and Everyone,

Thank you for these fantastic questions. ;]

In this case, Tay is a fictitious character, but everything he/she ;] asked me; I’ve been asked dozens of times throughout my career.

First of all, yes, the price of all furniture has sky-rocketed in the last couple of years. Why that has happened is another topic.


Of course, I’ve written about the best sofas in too many posts to count.

Please know that anytime I post any furniture, unless it’s clearly to say that it or the room sucks, it means that it doesn’t suck.


So, today, we will go over approximately 12 of the best sofas.


These are the sofas that you aren’t going to ask yourself in ten years. “What on earth was I thinking?” No. If you plunk down thousands of dollars for one piece of furniture, of course, you’ll want to love it forever.

One important and quite entertaining post is “Does Your Living Room Furniture Need to Go on a Diet?”

From there, but I’ll link here, you’ll find this post from 2015 that discusses some upholstered furniture trends that need to go bye-bye.

However, one of my all-time favorite posts is this one about some of the ugliest furniture I’ve ever seen.

If you missed the post about the inexpensive sofas and chairs, there’s also a lot in there about what to avoid, whether the furniture is expensive or cheap. Just because a piece of furniture is expensive doesn’t mean it’s classic or even in good taste.


Serena and Lily Miramar Sofa -green silk draperies


Serena and Lily Miramar’s sofa was manufactured for them by Lee Industries.


What makes a sofa “the best?”


Well, there’s the doctoral dissertation version, and the I’m grabbing a cup of coffee and reading in five-minutes-or-so-version. I’ll try to stick to the latter.

When shopping for the best sofa for our needs, we have to decide what’s being done in that room and whether it is a fairly formal room or is it casual?

After that comes to style.


In my book, there are three styles for the best sofas.


  • Traditional (based on 18th and 19th c. styles)
  • Modern (based on mid-20th-century styles)
  • Contemporary. (Furniture that’s currently being made.)

Now, some contemporary styles are classic, lovely, and based on both traditional and modern styles. In my book, I call it classic furniture.


What about “transitional furniture,” Laurel? Didn’t you forget that category?


Ahhhh… I was waiting for you guys to bring that up.

While I may have used the term “transitional,” it is rare. 

I’m not too fond of that word when applied to furniture. When you think about it, what does it actually mean? I can only conclude that it means furniture that’s “neither here nor there.” 

And since “neither here nor there” sounds rather derogatory, they came up with transitional meaning it skirts both (so-called) “traditional” and “modern.” Well, in reality, it’s actually “contemporary” furniture.


However, folks often use “modern” and “contemporary” interchangeably.


I’m going to stick with “classic.” 

Classic furniture, including the best sofas and chairs, is furniture that has and will continue to look great now and 30 years from now. But, why?


Classic furniture has these qualities.


  • Beautiful proportions
  • Lovely lines
  • No weird, made-up shapes on the sofa’s back, arms, or legs.


The best sofas do not have amputated legs.


Sorry if you have that; it’s not uncommon. A sofa should have at least a block leg, but I prefer a leg at least four inches, if not higher. If not a leg, then a skirt.

And, of course, comfortable.


But, Laurel. How do you know if a sofa is the best sofa in terms of comfort if you haven’t sat in it?


Ahhh, yes, the ol’ “But I have to sit in it first” proclamation. Years ago, I wrote out to some colleagues in a forum how I handled the I have to sit in it the first objection.


Here’s what I said about that issue.

You’ll hear phrases being thrown around like


  • eight-way hand-tied springs
  • kiln-dried hardwood frames
  • double dowelled corner blocked
  • made in the USA, etc.


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]


Skirt/no skirt?

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

Finally, there’s the price.

Occasionally, someone asks me:


“What is the difference between a $12,000 sofa and a $4,000 sofa or even a $1,500 sofa?”


Well, the latter is definitely massed-produced. However, the difference between the 12k and 4k usually has much more to do with the name 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 its 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 more things to consider before buying the best sofa.


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” (aka living 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 with a TV and more formal entertaining.



What dimensions do you need?


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

Depth. This depends. Sofas generally come in overall depths from 34″-43.” The latter is like a stretch limo. You need a BIG room for one of those. They also have a very deep seats. I fondly call them “beds.” Some people do want a bed with arms and a back. ;]


How deep are the seats of the best sofas?


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 33″-35.”


How high should the seat be?


The average seat height is 18″-20.” Although some styles might have seats 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.” I prefer Chesterfields that are from 30″ – 32″.


There’s another important element to discuss when choosing the best sofa.


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.


If we are talking “traditional,” we need to go back to the time of Louis XVI in France, 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 the image below.



Harrison Gray Otis House - parlor - late 18th c. decorating Boston

Above, is a photo I took on a tour of the Harrison Gray Otis House, built at the end of the 18th century. Here is a parlor with a Hepplewhite-style sofa.


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


Yes, They’re coming. The preamble history lesson is for anyone interested. Please don’t feel compelled to read if you’re not interested.


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

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


And now, the list of the best sofas that will stand the test of time.


a-GeorgeSmith-HR_Standard_Arm_Sofa_Mohair-AKA - English Roll arm sofa


English Roll-Arm


First, you already know the number one sofa you can read about in the link.

This is known as a Bridgewater Sofa or an English roll-arm sofa. There are numerous versions. The one above is the gold standard for styling from George Smith. However, I believe they start at about $12,000 for the love-seat size. And, I don’t believe that includes the fabric.

Most of these sofas can come with loose backs or tight backs, and also:
Scroll back or straight back.

with a skirt or without a skirt

And, numerous variations on the legs with and without casters.


Signature Sofa Medium Full Scroll Arm Fixed Back George Smith_Lawson arm

from George Smith


Scroll Arm or Lawson Arm Sofa


This also might be called a roll arm. Sometimes the arm fabric is pleated to make a fan shape. The arm can also be smaller or larger.

Another common variation I didn’t mention above is a T-cushion or a straight cushion, as you see above. A T-cushion sits in front of the arms.

None of these variations is a detraction for the furniture unless the legs are super weird or the proportions are way off.


3743_32 Lee Industries sofa

The sofa above with a Lawson arm by Lee Industries


The Lawson arm sofa is probably the most common basic style. In the ’80s, 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.




Paley Sofa


The post, Does Your Furniture Need to Go on a Diet, shared numerous images of Albert Hadley and Billy Baldwin, who designed the Paley chair and sofa for Baby Paley in the mid-20th century. Today, the Billy Baldwin furniture is still faithfully reproduced by Anthony Lawrence.


Gerald Bland - white slipcovered sofa


Track Arm Sofa


This was found in Gerald Bland’s Shop in New York City and is a superb example of a track arm or square arm sofa. Sometimes it’s called a Square Arm Lawson.

Serena & Lily 4 seat Spruce Street

Spruce Street Sofa from Serena & Lily comes in many configurations and lengths.


Skinny Track Arm Sofa


A sofa seen dozens of times on Laurel Home is Serena & Lily’s Spruce Street Sofa. It is my favorite style for a sectional because it is sleek yet incredibly comfortable.

Please remember, if you don’t know. A sofa is exactly like a pregnant woman who’s giving birth.

It’s not how big on the outside. It matters only what’s going on inside.


And now, for a big switch of gears regarding the best sofas that will stand the test of time.

A classic Chippendale Sofa

Pair of 18th c style Chippendale sofas


One of a pair of 20th c. Chippendale Sofas. Superb reproductions of the 18th c. style.


Another red Chippendale sofa is coming up in the widget that is much less expensive.


Gerald Bland style shop neo-classical fireplace mantel - slipcover Chippendale sofa

Above, a gorgeous Chippendale sofa from Gerald Bland’s Instagram. The striped slipcover makes it look entirely fresh. For more, please see my Gerald Bland High-Low post here.


The contemporary version of a Chippendale sofa is a camelback sofa.


living room in Kentucky - camelback sofa by Lee Industries

I assisted this lovely lady long distance with her camelback sofa from Lee Industries.


Lee Chesterfield Sofa. One of the best sofas


Chesterfield Sofa


Above, one of the most beautiful Chesterfield sofas by Lee Industries. Chesterfields are sofas with large round arms that are the same height as the back of the sofa. Usually, they are tufted, and they are often made of leather. However, they don’t have to be.



This is a job I did in 2012 for a fantastic young family in Scarsdale, NY.


romona-upholstered-tufted-sofa-Pottery Barn

You will never guess that this beauty, a contemporary take on a Chesterfield, is from Pottery Barn. I love that they kept the arm in proportion to the beautiful traditional tapered legs with casters.

best sofas modern-furniture-lampert-sofa-jonathan-adler


Tuxedo Sofa


A Tuxedo Sofa is the first cousin to the Chesterfield. Well, it’s a much skinnier, less curvy cousin. Above is the Lampert, a sofa by Jonathan Adler. I’ve sat in this one, and despite having no pitch, it is verrrry comfortable, surprisingly deep, and enveloping without being too high and overwhelming.

There’s a good reason it’s been in Jonathan Adler’s line for over a decade. Sadly, however, the Lampert bed, another favorite, has been discontinued.


A square-arm Chesterfield by Pottery Barn



These are by no means all of the sofas I like. But, they are some of my favorite sofas.


It might be interesting to compare this post from 2016 about upholstered furniture and specs for sofas and see how they compare.

Again, if you missed the post earlier, please check it out. Some of today’s sofas may not be in your budget. This post from last summer features some of the best sofas that are less costly, still beautiful, and classic.


12 of the best sofas you will love forever

Above is an image you can pin to Pinterest for reference.


And below is the widget with most of the same images you can click on for more information.



I hope you enjoyed this post about the best sofas. I believe these are the sofas that will still look current 20 years from now.


PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES! And, if you haven’t seen them for a while, there have been some substantial changes.


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16 Responses

  1. Thankful for the inspiring list of ‘The 12 Best Sofas You Will Love Forever.’ Your curated selection promises enduring style and comfort. Appreciate the thoughtful insights, guiding us towards timeless choices through the lens of furniture rental expertise.

  2. A timely post for me. Need to do something with my family room sofa….replace or reupholster. It looks like the English roll arm in this post, with a skirt. It is a Hancock and Moore and built like the proverbial brick ____house, LOL! I’m telling you, it must weigh 400 pounds. This post helped me decide that reupholstering is the way to go. After looking at these photos, I realized this is my favorite style….why pay for a new one, which won’t be the same quality? Thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us!

  3. Laurel,
    I do love this post as I have several sofa projects/decisions to make. I like that you show living solutions where two matching sofas are not required because I have an “inherited” sofa that I love … but it is a project in waiting. Have you ever spent the sofa budget on rebuilding and reupholstering a sofa with good bones? My sofa is a camelback with high arms similar to your Ramona sofa above. Your discussion of skirt v. exposed legs was helpful, but I’ve never seen you mention upholstered parson legs… is that because they are hopelessly awful? I’m ok with them but I now realize that they just don’t have the height you suggest —- only 3.5 inches. Thoughts?

  4. Your recommendations have been priceless, Laurel. A few years back my hubs purchased both of your paint guides as well as your Rolodex for my birthday. I’ve subsequently spent many happy hours reading and learning. We followed your guidelines for choosing paint for our 1920s Chicago style bungalow and are finishing painting the entire interior. The house looks Amazing. We recently became the proud parents of two Ballard Design recliners based upon several postings you’ve made discussing scale and design. They are gorgeous! Using Laurel’s Rolodex I learned about Roger & Chris and may purchase from them. Along comes this v-e-r-y timely piece at just this time of deliberation. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your passion and expertise with those of us who love good design but lack the trained eye. A joyous Passover to you and yours!

  5. So much wonderful information about choosing a beautiful, comfortable sofa! I love the gorgeous examples you’ve shown us. I’m definitely one who loves to lean on the arm (unless I’m in a more formal situation), so as much as I love the look of an English roll arm, I’m guessing I should choose a sofa with a higher and more substantial arm? Thanks for this great post, Laurel!

  6. I notice that the vast majority of the pictures sofas have narrow arms. A wide cushioned arm is one of the first things I look at as too narrow or not enough Dacron or down fill makes it uncomfortable to lean on. It is very difficult to buy a sofa. I spent a lot of money on mine however I don’t find it bliss to sit on as too firm and am keen to see it gone.

    1. Hi Alison,

      If the seat cushion is too firm, perhaps it could be changed to a different fill. That is, if you otherwise like the sofa.
      I have always loved spring-down inserts that have a spring core that allows the seat cushion to retain its shape.(crown) But, then multiple layers of with a top layer of down and feathers underneath a down-proof ticking. I find these cushions to be both soft and supportive. One never feels like they sinking to deeply, or conversely sitting on top of the cushion.

  7. The Chesterfield sofa is beautiful, but my sister, who has one, says it’s not convenient to put anything like a drink on the end table because the sofa arm is too high to reach over. And nowhere to rest her arm.

  8. I have 15 year old Lee Industry sofas that I can see lasting another 15 years. I also just bought two more sofas from CR Laine. I had to wait almost 8 months for them but they are beautiful. Incredibly well made and very comfortable. They were custom made and not inexpensive, but they will last my lifetime. I upholstered them with Revolution fabric. This fabric can be cleaned with bleach! But you can’t tell that it’s not made from a natural fiber. I also bought slipcovers in white for a change of color. They are machine washable and look like fine upholstery fabric. I highly recommend CR Laine, a U.S. manufacturer.

  9. I have a track arm sofa from Crate and Barrel (Willow) and it is slipcovered. We have had it for about 10 years and it has been THE BEST sofa. I’m not being paid to plug them either! The creamy white slipcovers have been amazing, and I even have two dogs. I have spilled wine on them as well. If you get those slipcovers off immediately and wash them after a mishap, you will never know that the mess was ever there. You can also order additional slipcovers from Crate and Barrel if/when you tire of the ones you have. Having the stocked white ones though, I have never felt that I needed any others. They go with everything. I believe that Lee Industries manufactured them for Crate and Barrel.

  10. I fell in love with a loveseat I found online years ago! It supposedly was a custom design. I thought either a loveseat size would be perfect for our only DEAD ROOM aka living room. We’ll sell before I’m able to find or afford something for the room!

  11. Hi Laurel,
    I’m so happy I took your advice when I ordered my sofa 2 years ago. I bought an English Roll Arm with a tight back from Ethan Allen. It’s so comfortable. I’m a huge fan of tight back sofas. I had a loose back sofa once about 25 years ago & swore I’d never buy one again.

  12. Hi Laurel, my husband and I were talking about replacing our sectional just last night in favor of getting two sofas! We recently bought a beautiful sofa (English Roll Arm!!) for our den from a company called Roger and Chris, and we are thrilled with it. They’re not absolutely paying me to plug them, haha, but I have to say, I loved loved choosing every single aspect and detail of my sofa- style, fabric, filing, depth, legs, all US made. If you haven’t heard from them please check them out. LOVE your posts as always, thank you!

  13. Oh yay! Thank you for this post! I was planning on doing some digging on your site because I don’t know what kind of couch I want to replace our hand-me-downs and I knew you’d have good advice. But I opened my email first and saw that you not only had links to the articles I wanted to reread, you had a nice wonderful new post for me in the topic as well.
    Thank you!!!

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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