Monday, January 17, 2011

The Endless Search for the Perfect Couch

Our Family Room couch is reaching the end of its useful lifespan.  We bought this couch, and its identical twin that's in the living room, some time in the late 1980's I think.  I love the style, the deep seat cushions, and the color ... but the fabric is beginning to deteriorate in places, and it's probably past time to consider searching for a replacement.

The Husband and I have been discussing this for a while, but we continue to put off the search for a new couch.  I hate furniture stores!  The conversation with the sales associate has been known to go like this:

Sales associate, "What are you looking for today?"

Me, "We have to replace our family room sofa."

SA, "What style are you looking for?"

Me, "Something classic and traditional, nothing trendy or stereo-typically family room.  A three-seater, preferably, with low arms ..."

SA, "I have just the thing!"

And I am inevitably led to a herculon, overstuffed monstrosity, with recliner ends and cup holders.  WRONG!! 

When I say 'Classic', I really MEAN classic ... a sofa that can stand proudly, no matter what time period it comes from. 

Things with our current couch are reaching a critical point.  There are holes in both cushions that I can no longer conceal by flipping them over, and I have already swapped them with the cushions on one in the living room which get a bit less wear.  The junk hunter in me has been searching for inspiration on Craig's List (my favorite store!)  This morning, I found ...

(terrible Craig's List photo that I improved as much as I could using PhotoShop)

I love the lines and the size of this!  The orange?  Not so much.  This couch is free and it would require a complete re-do ... The Husband insists that we buy a new sofa (which is wise, I guess) so this orange freebie will continue to be inspiration only.

Here is where I could use some help.  Since you've seen what style we have in our Family Room, do you have any ideas about how we might proceed to find a new couch?  Have you seen one that you think would be perfect for us?  We are open to just about any color (except white) to go with our RH Silver Sage walls and antique heartpine floors with a colorful oriental-style rug.

There are an awful lot of very imaginative and creative and talented folks here, and I'm hoping that someone can set up on a path to the perfect new family room couch.  Any and all ideas are welcome, and are very much appreciated.


  1. The Ethan Allen Whitney Sofa - in three cushion style. You can pick from a wide variety of fabrics and colors too!... I tried to copy and paste the website code for you but it's not cooperating with me... but you can google it.

  2. Hi Connie,
    Well, I'm not much help. I haven't bought furniture for almost 10 years now, but I wish you luck in your search! I did read Karen's comment above, and I can say that we had an Ethan Allen sofa for years and years - we got rid of it when we downsized, but they make great quality furniture.
    ~ Zuzu

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Saw one a year or two back,aged brown leather,looked beautiful,a
    little pricey.But might work well with your decor.Saw it in Powells.

  5. I really like that craigslist sofa. It has a great style. Redoing it, though, would probably be very expensive. But, at least, you'd have a sofa with great bones to start with. Don't listen to me, though. I'm useless on this subject.

  6. Have you considered redoing your present sofa? Another good place to look is at the Lazy Boy website or store. My daughter is very happy with her's.

  7. I should clarify by saying that our current couch is going to be used in the guest house/cottage, whenever I get around to renovating that outbuilding. It's the perfect shape for slipcovering, and I have been itching to try my hand at sewing a slipcover. I won't have time to do this any time soon, you understand, but I still have the plan in the back of my mind.

    We would love to switch from our two cushion seat to three cushions, mainly so we can seat another person. Like it is, this huge couch really can only seat two people comfortably ... or one person, if they're napping. :)

    I have some really good ideas from here so far. Any more?

  8. If you can afford Pottery Barn, that would be my dream sofa, I like the Greenwich collection. It's only two cushions but looks very roomy. Good luck with your search.

  9. If you really love the couch you have--why not just have it recovered?


    I love the couches at Pier1, they have some great looking two cushion models too. I haven't purchased any of their couches or chairs but I have seen them in the store and they seem to be a nice quality.

  11. Oh me oh my... boy do you have a predicament on your hands. We just went through the search for "the perfect couch" and I happy to say we are 100% completely satisfied. We, however went with a new version from the store, but you if you are trying for a refurbished version, I would strongly suggest holding out for a few more months if you can and visit a local college VERY FREQUENTLY when it comes close to "move out" time. Senior, (and many undergrads) will simply dispose of really great furniture instead of having to move it! Sounds crazy huh? But very true.

    Just my thoughts so if you can hold out, it may be worth a try!!!!

  12. Our local furniture stores have NOTHING that interests me and everything they offer is junk... Seriously, is there a furniture company even out there anymore that makes classic furniture built to last for more than 5 years? Junk I tell ya. Wish I could help but have felt only disappointment in every furniture store.


  13. Johnston Benchworks will probably have just what you are looking for and traditional fabrics to boot! They aren't cheap, but the sofa in my living room is nearly 10 years old and still looks brand new. It doesn't get heavy use, but it has held up like iron!

    Kat :)

  14. Connie - how much are you hoping to spend? I had good luck with Crate and Barrel.

  15. Connie,

    Try Candice Olson's designs.


  16. Kat sent me an email suggesting I that I check out Lee Industries, and it seems to be an answered prayer! As soon as I clicked on on Sofas, there was a whole page of wonderful choices. Crate and Barrel are also really nice ... I have shopped there, and sat on their stuff, on a number of occasions. I'll have to check out the Candice Olson link ... love her show!

    I don't mind spending the $$$, if I get a quality piece. It's spending money on crappy stuff that makes me steam.

  17. Connie,
    I am so happy to meet you!! I'm thinking that we have a bit in common;)- love of: antique house and barn, original oil paintings, the gardens, and rescue dogs!!
    Your home is beautiful. I look forward to looking around your blog!

    Regarding the sofa... I hate sofa shopping too- so much so I had my last three custom made! A really good upholsterer can "rework" your existing sofa- even things like changing the width of the arms, adding feet instead of a skirt, changing the back height, outline.... etc. They basically work with your original frame and rework it to the new style.


  18. "Sofa" caught my eye, because I love sofas, and am an absolute PILL when it comes to buying one.

    I was going to suggest Lee Industries but I saw that someone else already has.

    Really I think the other alternative for a good piece that doesn't cost a jillion bucks is to go to a good independent furniture store -- the kind our mothers shopped at -- and sit and scrunch and lie down on EVERY sofa on their floor (bring husband for this) and when you find one that feels right ---
    make sure the frame is kiln-dried hardwood and doweled at the joints, the springs 8-way tied, check that you cannot feel the wood frame thru the upholstery (esp at the arms), have hubby pick up one end (it should be heavy) and try and wiggle it -- it should not wiggle.

    Sit at one end of the sofa and make your husband plop down on the cushion next to you -- your tush should not feel the impact of his tush making a landing and your cushion should not tilt towards his. That's the beauty of those 8-way tied springs.

    Down cushions are a treat for the tush, but not my first choice because of the endless fluffing -- we had one that I used to walk on to fluff up. But a foam core wrapped in down -- that works nicely. Lee Industries and some other companies are using "greener" fillings but I haven't spent any personal tush time on them so can't vouch. But a decorator friend of mine likes them.

    With an independent shop, you can order exactly what you want, change arms, change # of cushions, change skirt, and choose from zillions of fabrics --that the shop should let you take home to place around the room and make your husband CRAZY asking him, "what do YOU think?" when he really doesn't care.

    Whoa. Sometimes you just can't shut me up.
    Good luck! I LOVE furniture shopping.


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