Normal-Size Upholstered Furniture + Insider Info + Best Deals!

Recently, we have been talking about scale as it relates to our upholstered furniture.

You know. Sofas and chairs.

And there’s so much information floating out there…

  • If a sofa isn’t deep enough, I won’t be comfortable
  • I want the “luxe” seating which is extra deep
  • The back of the sofa must be a certain height
  • I can’t find smaller scale furniture.
  • My husband is 6′-4″ and I’m 5′-0 tall.

Today, the average “luxe-seating” is 25-27″ deep and the over-all depth is 45″.


You do realize that luxe-seating is marketing bull-shit, right?


Please don’t fall for it. It’s not luxe. It’s not luxe when you’re sitting in a sofa and your feet don’t even come close to hitting the floor!



New York Times article on why furniture is so large

The above article is an excellent piece about over-scale furniture and why many people are falling for this con.


Let’s take a look at the most often sat on piece of furniture in our home.




The is the stately Stately Comfort Height Toilet from Kohler.

kohler-stately-comfort-height-elongated-toiletThe measurements of the Kohler Stately Comfort Height Toilet



The measurements of the coordinating seat.


And by the way, my toilet is a very similar size. I put the seat down and sat on it and aside from the hard seat is absolutely fine. I went and got a small down throw pillow and it is divine. So there!

But Laurel! I’m not going to sit there and watch TV.

Maybe not; but I know people who spend hours reading there. ;]

So, then why is my sofa that only has a 22″ seat so uncomfortable?


There are three main possibilities.

  • The pitch
  • The seat cushion
  • Mushy decking




The classic Barcelona chair designed by Mies-Ludgwig Van der Rohe – and licensed by Knoll.

This is one of the most comfortable chairs ever designed. No fluffy pillow back and not very large either. Please notice the handsome pitch of the back and the seat. A good amount of pitch for a sofa or chair is 10-20 degrees off of vertical.

Dimensions in inches:

height – 31.5″

over-all depth – 30.3″

seat height – 17.7″

It’s difficult to find a precise seat depth but it is not more than 20.5″.



Sorry to shout but the world’s most comfortable chair has a seat depth of only 20.5″!!!

I have sat in one of these beauties and I can assure you that it feels luxuriously deep.

It is comfortable because not only is the back well pitched, so is the seat.

For more information about how to choose a sofa please click here.

The decking needs to be firm. It’s the part under the seat cushion if it’s a loose cushion.

As for the so-called “gold standard” 8-way hand-tied springs. Sure, they’re usually very good but not always and not always necessary. My old custom upholsterer used sinuous s springs and his furniture is supremely comfortable. For more info on good stuff to look for this is a great article.

But… for most sofas is that there is never (well almost never) a reason to have a sofa more than 38″ deep, 35″ seat depth 24″

Alright, I’m convinced Laurel, where do I find all of this wonderful petite furniture?


Folks, there are dozens of manufacturers that carry human-scale upholstered furniture. And I could tell you a lot of them. Just don’t go here for a sofa, as previously discussed.

But let’s make this search for well-made, beautifully styled and scaled upholstered furniture a little easier.


Hang on a sec… let me go and grab my rolodex. I mean– Laurel’s Rolodex. :] There are some 140+ custom upholstery manufacturers listed and dozens more that create what you see is what you get (WUSIWYG) :] upholstery. Yes, the latter is almost always cheaper, but some of it is absolutely fine.


Okay, I have my rolodex and you know, I didn’t have to go far. ;] It’s a PDF file which you’ll see in a sec how wonderful a tool it is if you don’t already have one.

And if you don’t, what are you waiting for? The sources are both retail and to-the-trade, but everything TTT is available somewhere for consumers– either with your designer and/or a retail establishment.


Whenever I’m looking for a source, (like all the time) All I have to do is click on the table of contents tab:



The alphabetical section contains a blurb about each vendor and many anecdotal references.


Then, I scroll down to the custom upholstery section


Here’s a little snippet. And here’s the best part. All you have to do is hover over either the blue or apple green (laurel’s faves) and click on it and it will open up onto the manufacturer’s website.

Do you have any idea how much time this saves? But back to our furniture sourcing!

Then, I hovered on Barclay Butera. Do you know that line of boutique furniture?

It is a medium high-end company of super-stylish furniture manufactured by Highland House (also in Laurel’s Rolodex– of course.)

I thought I would start there because Barclay has some way-cool pieces (to fit his way-cool name!) that fit my criteria for human-scale upholstered furniture. It’s all super-comfy too! I’ve sat in most of the pieces and even the smaller ones, feel surprisingly spacious.



Barclay Butera Ridgecrest Settee 60″w  26″d  31″ h

26″ deep is for the entire piece!

However. This is something very important to know. Sometimes they are not accurate on one or more of the measurements. Upholstered furniture is not easy to measure!

I see that the back legs curve back and that plus the pitch are going to add at least 3-4 inches.


Sometimes they forget to measure that part and only measure the bottom side rail. I would say this piece is actually more like 29-30″ deep. Designers out there. Do you concur? However, the point is… don’t be afraid to speak up. Call the showroom or manufacturer, ask for a field measurement, if you have any doubts. There have been many times I’ve done that and dodged a bullet in so doing!

Oh, this piece is on sale on One King’s Lane for just over $1,900. It could go almost anywhere. A small living room or den. An entry way. Or at the foot of a bed; very versatile.

barclay-butera-sofa-96-x-38-x-35 Another wonderful Barclay Butera piece is this classic rolled-arm beauty that comes in both this tufted version and non-tufted.

People sometimes want to know if a tight-back sofa is less comfortable than a loose back. In my opinion, usually not and as a rule, I like a throw pillow behind my back anyway.




A way-cool, sleek club chair from Barclay Butera  Park Avenue – dimensions – 34h 36d 32


Ginger Sofa – dimensions – 72w  35d  34h

Moving on to another vendor on Laurel’s Rolodex– The Best Slipcover Company. (Above) It is to the trade and for you designers out there and they are very designer friendly. They also sell in many retail stores. I’ve never ordered from them but seen them at the New York Now show several times. They are one of the very few upholstery companies that shows up there.


I love the small roll-arm and button-tufting which gives it a slight retro feel.


Above and below by the wonderful designer Thomas O’Brien for Century furniture. Yes, this will set you back a few nickels but maybe worth it. Exquisite styling and perfect for a smaller room or apartment. (Or for folks who aren’t playing for the NBA.)


Thomas Obrien for Century Furniture -orlo-chair-27-5-wide-30-d-29h-22-5-seat-depth-seat-height-19-5

This photo is mine from the High Point Market fall 2015 when I was on the Design Blogger’s Tour.


I would take this puppy home in a heart-beat – color and all! This is a wonderful small sofa found at Wisteria but This is one of my all-time favorite sofas sold at Wisteria but manufactured by Lee Industries.



Uh huh… and this one too.

but there’s more…



Lee makes the same sofa for Serena and Lily who has THE best fabrics and a cool app that let’s you see the fabrics on the sofa.  (which is why this image is a little funky and plastic looking. Their fabrics are not at all!) AND, their price is several hundred less than Wisteria.


Yes, the nail-head trim and legs are slightly different. Trust me, it’s the same sofa.trevor81insofaoatmealshs16_1x1_trmHowever… Did you know that Lee Industries also makes some of Crate and Barrel’s upholstered furniture? Yessirrree… and this version of the same sofa is nearly half the price of the


This is a small sofa that doesn’t meet the depth minimum. And there  ARE some fabulous pieces that are deeper and seem to need to be deeper. Let your eye be the guide if you have the space. OR if you truly have a cavernous left or great-room and it’s a casual-type home, of course, you can go deeper. What I object to more is when the back feels too high.

However, there are exceptions to that too!

lee-sofa-5360-11-apartment-sofa-w72-d38-h37One of my fave, fave, fave pieces from Lee Industries is this tufted beauty  which is 72w 38d 37h. It does have a big beautiful pitch and is a wonderful piece from the side or back. It’s all about proportions and I think they got this one just right.



But here’s a piece also from Lee Industries that is 40″ deep. I am going to put an absolute cap on 40 inches. I love this piece. It has that cool California-casual-we-just-returned-from-the-beach-and-now-we’re-going-to-have-enchilladas-and-sangria-by-the-pool vibe.


It is for sale at Wisteria in plain white cotton for $4,189 which is pretty much the going rate for a Lee Sofa.




You can get the SAME sofa at Crate and Barrel for less than half the price. (May 2017 – huge bargain!) Yes, the fabric is crap not as nice. Meaning, it’s cheap and looks it up close, but hey, for the family room for your kids to jump on for under 2,000 bucks, why not? Put on some fab throw pillows. But again, this piece needs a ROOM! (meaning at least 300 sq feet and at least an 8.5 foot ceiling.)



We did this sofa, The Tarleton, last year for a fun adult room from CR Laine

cr-laine-francois-chairl1445_1014a-29x32dx31hFrancois chair from CR Laine 29w 32d 31 h


This chair would be wonderful in a small library, office or den.

Of course, all of this is just a sampling for what’s out there. There are beautiful pieces to be found. I find that the higher-end furniture and a lot of the lower-end is well-scaled. It’s the middle-ground that’s an issue. But that certainly fits with our bloated middle-class society. Doesn’t it?


Laurel-e1443573876689PS: FYI, I just finished the B-C-pie and enjoyed every last morsel


Welcome To Laurel Home!


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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