Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What's in a sofa?

Did you see this piece, analyzing the couch, from the Home and Garden section of the NYTimes?

The author asks the question: what is the difference (really) between a $1000 mass market sofa and a $13,000 designer breed?

The answer: quality.

The author concludes that under $1000, you are going low end and you will likely pay for it.  What I find interesting is the conclusion that there's not much difference in the mid-range, which, let's face it, is where most of us live.

Here's my two cents: when it comes to high-use upholstery, buy the best you can afford.  Have you ever read the reviews for an Urban Outfitters couch?  Go do it.  Complaints about everything from marked discomfort to quickly disintegrating product.  While I can't imagine buying a couch that costs more than my car, I have purchased couches twice in my life (and I am 38!) and both times I saved my pennies for a good one.  The first, (seen here at the end of its days) was from the ABC Carpet and Home outlet, so while I paid about $1000, the value was higher, and I certainly got my money's worth with 10+ years of hard use.

The second is the Bantam from DWR, the entry level price point for that often out-of-reach retailer. We have had it for 3.5 years and I imagine we will have it for many more.

Oh!  And our loveseat is from Lee, in a Kravet fabric, and I plan to have it forever.  The classic lines and small shape mean I can reupholster it and use it in various rooms and in any house, forever and ever, amen.

I often think about how weird it is that I am reluctant to buy "real" furniture--all my case goods are vintage or ikea, I made most of our headboards, curtains, and soft goods--but when it comes to upholstery, I firmly believe you just have to go with the real deal.

If you read the comments in the Time article, you will see that opinion on this point varies widely.  Where do you stand?


  1. I completely agree! While paying thousands of dollars for a sofa seems crazy to many, when it comes to upholstery you really do get what you pay for. I have an under $1000 sofa (it was the best I could afford at the time) but am saving up for my next sofa - a "grown up" piece of high quality that will last me years.

  2. I go cheap for everything except a sofa. We spend too much time in it to have it fall apart.

    Our current sofa is 18 years old. (Due for an upgrade.) Will check this article out.


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