How NOT To Shop For A Sofa

yesterday

It first really hit me the morning that the Better Homes and Gardens Do It Yourself Magazine folks were coming.  The Sofa.  The poor sofa was begging for mercy.  We bought this sofa about eight years ago and I still absolutely love it.  It was one of the best purchases we’ve ever made.  I feel like I’ve finally learned how to shop for and what to look for in a sofa.  And I learned it all the hard way, you don’t have to learn the hard way, you can learn from my mistakes.

Remember how this sofa used to look? It’s toile underneath but after an afternoon with the slipcover whisperer and 10 willing sewers we got this….

This picture’s from just a few months ago, there’s no denying that a white sofa is so very photogenic.  Show off.

And this is what I did the morning that the BHGDIY ladies were coming, I had to rope it off so no one would sit on it.  And I’m noticing that after a little over two years of being slipcovered there are some parts that are really showing their wear.  And I blame myself. We are the family in the world that is the most hard on their furniture.  I make no apologies.  We eat on it, drink on it, sleep on it, we don’t let the dog on it but that’s about my only rule.  That sofa serves us, not the other way around.

But two weeks after washing it, the slipcover looks like this again.  I’ve noticed that in the summer when my boys are home, the slipcover is filthy and needs washing every 2-3 weeks, when they are in school I can go 6-8 weeks.  I’ve thought about doing a new slipcover–Kristi even offered to come down and I love that idea because I LOVE white slipcovers and always will.  But I HATE washing them. And people, putting a slipcover on a sectional is about three twenty times more trouble than putting one back on a normal sofa.

And then I got an email from La-Z-Boy telling me about a new sofa they had and asking if I’d like to review it.  And I ignored it for over a month because I didn’t want to think about getting a new sofa. I LIKE my sofa.

This sofa?  This sofa is the anchor of our home. I feel like everything in our house is somehow connected to this sofa, once I put the white slipcovers on it changed how I felt about the room. It made me love the room.  It kind of made me love our house. The sofa is still SO incredibly comfortable.  After eight years it’s held its shape and the cushions are perfect and I still LOVE it.  I didn’t want to start over fresh.

And then I remembered that La-Z-Boy owned the company that made our sofa back when we purchased it.  And I knew I had always told myself if I ever DID look for a new sofa, I would start with La-Z-Boy because I trust them and Clayton Marcus belongs to someone else now and because if THIS sofa didn’t disintegrate or burst into flames or turn into a puff of smoke after being in our house for 8 years, then we’ve got something special.

So I finally emailed La-Z-Boy and they are up to the challenge of working with me and submitting themselves to the torture of answering all of my questions and putting up with my indecisiveness and letting their sofa be tested in the crelest most demanding environments that is our house without sofa rules with three boys and a man.  So we can all watch how this next sofa of ours will hold up.

So here’s my wisdom, laid bare for you, learn from me young sofa shoppers, don’t do what I’ve done….

What I’ve Learned About Shopping For A Sofa–Most of it I Learned the Hard Way

 

1. It’s better to be patient than to settle…TRUST ME

We’ve had two sofas in our 17 years of marriage the first one was leather and we had it for 9 years.  My husband really wanted leather and I really wanted a new sofa and we had a budget and we wanted our sofa YESTERNOW so instead of saving up a few more months and getting the leather I really wanted, I settled and paid a few hundred dollars less and got an orangy leather that I hated for the next 9 years. Did you read that?  I hated a sofa for 9 years because I didn’t want to spend a few hundred dollars more to get what I truly wanted.  And the orange leather sofa wasn’t cheap, I just didn’t want to wait any longer to get what I really wanted.

the orange sofa #hated

Lesson learned.  If we would have waited a few months until we had a little more money and got the beautiful leather that I actually wanted?  I wouldn’t have had to despise the sofa for nine years giving it dirty looks only to get rid of a sofa that was still in great condition but that I hated.  Funny, instead of seeing that I was wasting money getting something I didn’t really like, at the time I felt like I was saving money in settling.  That works for some things like ordering the fish instead of lobster, but I wouldn’t recommend that method with a sofa especially one that you are paying good money for in the first place.  Sofas are the centerpiece of a room and many times are the most used item in the house (well, maybe besides the toilet) it’s worth it to save a little more to get the better quality and finishes that you like, even if it means waiting an extra few months.

2. Don’t buy the trendy fabric on the sofa, use that for pillows

Yep, I bought a toile sofa. Not only that, it was a sectional. Not only that, it was RED. And yep, five years later, as much as I still loved toile?  The sofa had me in a corner.  There’s only so much you can do with a room with a red toile sofa. I wish I would have gone neutral.  Lucky for me I was able to slipcover it.

Kramer’s hands, how did I not get a photo of his actual face?

3.The Sales Reps/Design Consultants are there to help

I still remember the name of the sales rep/designer that helped us with our current sofa (did I mention it was eight years ago?) Her name is Helen.  This time we went into the La-Z-Boy store and met Joe Kramer (who promptly told us that everyone calls him Kramer so we are going with that).  Kramer’s knowledge of the warranties and fabrics and cushions was incredibly useful in helping us make our decision.  I was shocked at the quality of the warranties–you can purchase a fabric sofa from La-Z-Boy and they offer an optional warranty that covers it for LIFE?  Even if it rips or you spill something on it?  That’s incredible.

Plus without knowing I’m a local blogger or anything they offered to come to my house and measure and do a virtual room board showing the sofa I pick out and how it looks in our room.   They have in house designers that will help you as much or as little as you want–for free.

I initially had a sweet spot for La-Z-Boy because of the torture that our current sofa has endured, now I have a sweet spot for them because of their warranties, the fact that they are American made, they stand by their products and they have a great tag line (I’m a sucker for a great tag line)

“Live life comfortably.”

being patient also? dreaming about a leather sofa…

So basically, eight years ago, if I would have purchased an actual La-Z-Boy sofa in a neutral fabric I wouldn’t be writing this post, because the fabric would be guaranteed FOREVER with the Ultrasheild Lifetime Fabric Warranty.  And La-Z-Boy is an 85 year-old company, I don’t think they are going anywhere.

So this time, while I’m picking out the best sofa for us, I don’t have to do secret calculations in my head about staying away from certain fabrics because I assume that our family will destroy them.  It really puts the fun back into sofa shopping.

they have over 900 fabrics and 100 leathers to choose from, oh my!

Lesson learned, if you can get a timeless fabric or leather from a reputable dealer that stands by their product you will actually save money in the long run.

…to be continued

Have you made a really good or really poor decision with a sofa?  I’d love to commiserate.

*There’s some discussion in the comments about La-Z-Boy being American Made, click here to find out what La-Z-Boy has to say for themselves.

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Comments

  1. Oh girl! Have I made a mistake with a sofa?! Let’s see … bought our first sofa about 6 years ago (when our oldest boy was 2). It was (notice the “was”) a beautiful white, blue, green and yellow striped number … very summery and beachy … I fell in love immediately and bought the couch and the matching chair. At the time, my hubby asked, “Are you sure you want a couch with white stripes?” (Smart boy. Should’ve listened to him.)

    We, like you, have no couch rules. So now, poor thing … it’s all faded out (from my attempt to wash the covers … um, the fabric is not washable … nice), holey (yes … there are holes in the seats), dirty beyond measure (more of a khaki than white now), and the cushions are completely out of shape (from all of the jumping, diving, climbing, etc. that comes with two little boys). I so wish we wouldn’t gone with La-Z-Boy. We have a hand-me-down La-Z-Boy recliner that’s at least 20 years old. When the spring broke in the chair, my hubby went to La-Z-Boy, and they gave him a new spring assembly FOR FREE! It wasn’t even the store that sold the chair to my parents ages ago.

    I look forward to reading the continuation of this post. Need all the help I can get! :)

    • sounds like it was a great experience? I think you meant “I so wish we would HAVE gone with La-Z-Boy”. Pesky keyboards!

      Have a great summer!

  2. Christina says:

    Can I add a couple of things to your list of “don’ts” when buying a couch? As a mother of four boys and one girl I found out:

    DON’T let then sit on a new light-colored couch with dark jeans, the dye rubs off!
    DON’T buy a couch with “T” cushions at each end, you can’t turn them over, square cushions are better!

    My couch is shot, I’m thinking La-Z-Boy for the next one!

  3. We bought our white slipcovered couches from Ikea, and although I love the look, and we don’t wash them that much, they aren’t incredibly comfortable. Comfort is pretty important so next time I’ll be more careful to go with a brand that might cost a little more, but work a little better. We’ve had them already for 3.5 years, so maybe in a couple years we’ll replace them. The one good thing is we bought everything pretty cheap, so if my daughter ruins stuff it’s our first set as a married couple and I won’t be too dissappointed with replacing our items when we have a little more money to spend. But right ow I’m not hating them, so that’s a good thing, I’m just not 100% in love. Lesson learned.

  4. We’ve been in the market for a sofa for a while now (read 3 years)…. and how funny that I’ve been eyeing la-z-boy for that entire time. Can you share what model that is he’s sitting on? It looks dreamy… comfy and able to withstand a 7 year old and a 70 lb bulldog.

  5. Girl…if our sofas last 5 yrs, I’m always amazed! Our current ones are going on 3 yrs, and still love them. But I like a new look about every few years , so our “old ones” get taken down stairs to where all sofas go to live out there years, right? Our basement family family room currently has 3 different looks going on, and hurts my eyes, but oh well, its just for the kids anyways :)
    I actually was going to post about that soon…
    ~Kim

  6. Michelle says:

    I think the point about neutral is an important one. You can always change the look with pillows. But, my question is how to wash the slips without them shrinking or never looking like they fit again. I have two identical sofas, and only one gets use because its in front of the tv. I washed it and it looks like a ill-fitting bag. Its sags in the front and stretches across the arms and back. Maybe a slipcover care tutorial is what I need ;)

    • yes, there’s SECRET to slipcovers, the most important step? Wash the fabric in hot water and dry it in the dryer BEFORE you make your slipcovers, works like a charm.

  7. The first purschase my husband and I made together 15 years ago was our sofa. Our hunter green leather sofa. Three kids and a dog later and that sofa is still as comfortable as ever, but in the basement family room, with a slipcover to hide the greeness of it all!!

    http://www.no29design.com/2012/05/sofa-makeover.html

  8. Yes. My mom offered to buy us a sofa 6 or 7 years ago. I let her talk me into getting something that was more HER style than mine. It is plaid. With hunter green. Thank the good Lord that I like the lines of the sofa. I also won a slip cover in a Giveaway it’s one of those PB cat-offs that the online slipcover place sells. I haven’t put it on yet b/c I’m a little nervous about how to make it look right….

    • OH my word you crazy girl, if I lived closer I would come over TODAY and put that sucker on for you! Put it on today and send me a picture!

  9. Be still my heart! Your little guy sleeping on the orange sofa was sucking the same fingers that our #3 did! I always feel mushy when I see a little one with those fingers plugged in. I have nothing to say about sofas. Just finger-sucking sweet babies!

  10. In 1985 I bought mynfirst piecemof furniture, a La-z-boy sleeper in Scarborough, Maine at what was called the La-z-boy Showcase Shoppe. I paid (gulp) $700+ dollars for it. It was colonial blue plaid. Just last summer it was hauled off to sofa heaven. It had gone through 5 residences and three lake cottages….

    I agree on buying neutral sofas….although I am presently sitting on a la-z-boy sofa that is the color of my ginger-haired dog…wish I hadn’t fallen for the brown sofa sale and had saved a bit more for a classic color….

  11. Ahhhh, yes, I have a red toile sofa very similar to yours. It is the most comfortable thing I have ever sat on, but I did not heed warnings about buying a sofa with a pattern on it. Lesson learned. Still a bit intimidated to sew a slipcover, though.

    Great post.

    ~Heather

  12. We are sofa kindred spirits!
    The first sofa we bought was the manager’s special. It wasn’t really what I wanted, but it was on sale and ready to ship…the stuff I wanted was WAY more expensive, and meant waiting 6 weeks. A patient person I am not.
    Well, just 3.5 years later, my manager’s special was anything but speacial. The cushions were going flat, you practically had to use a crane to get yourself out of it, and don’t ever let anyone talk you into beige microfiber. Sure, it comes clean, but when you wipe a spot you basically just end up with a really clean SPOT…and really obvious how dirty the rest of it is. Not to mention that you could almost see where the fabric was beginning to thin just a bit at the corners and I knew it was only a matter of time until it would tear.
    So, I spent a decent chunk of change recently on a custom sectional. It was more than double what we paid for the other couch, but I pretty much want to make out with my sofa on a daily basis it’s so amazing. I was *this close* to getting slipcovers, but I begrudingly admitted that the thought of pulling them off regularly would drive me batty. So I ended up with a tan “sofa-y” fabric…and I love it. As much as I LOVE white…I’m really really really glad I didn’t do slipcovers after all. (although my couch is technically slipcovered…the cushions anyway).
    My husband hemmed and hawed that I wanted new sofas, and at the price tag, but now that they are here he admits that they rock and were worth every penny.
    Moral of the story: you really DO get what you pay for. Anchor pieces are worth every penny…trying to “save” money is actually wasteful in the long run.
    Here’s a pic: http://liferearranged.com/2012/01/instafriday-37/

    • I tell myself I’m buying TWO sofas when I buy a sectional, it helps dull the pain. And really, if we bought two chairs and a sofa instead of a sectional, it would actually cost MORE, just with a sectional you are paying it all at once.

      Sectional lovers UNITE!

      • TOTALLY true. We talked about buying the two couches plus a chair/ottoman…was even more expensive…and my room is really open so I needed something to create a space/walls…my previous couches always looked like they were almost “floating” in the space. This is much cozier.

  13. I’ve made sofa mistakes too. Hopefully the one I have now will last until my kids are out of college. That’s the goal, but that’s also 13 more years to go. Good luck sofa. You’re gonna take a beating!

    I can’t wait to see what you’ve chosen. I’m really excited for you.
    ~FringeGirl

  14. Kimberly says:

    We started out with a hand me down slipcoved wingback couch, went to another prettier hand me down paisley couch with a white back ground and learned not to give prego cats flea bathes. It causes a lot of bleeding, and maybe on your beautiful new to you couch, and you will never get that cat miscarriage blood out of your couch, and worse that cat may run out the door and never come back. Sad and disgusting I know, but wait we are grosser. After beautiful paisley bled to death, I bought an oversized set that made our living room feel like an awkward closet. After a year of that nonsense I found an ok used set that was a much smaller scale, then we got a dog. It turned out that said dog had a problem with submissive urination. That rule about keeping the dog off of the furniture that we both have turned out not so great, because when you told this dog to get down he did, but as he did he peed all over whatever he had sneaked onto . I washed those cushions so many times. :( We had to part with that dog and I literally burned the furniture. Awful. Next I put a daybed in my living room, which worked better for us with a baby and co sleeping and all of the other rules we break. Then when the baby, became a toddler we switched back to a couch. I found a larger scale brown microsuede on craigslist for $150. After 9 years I am thinking I should have gone quality over quantity, but maybe not, we do loose a lot of fluid in this house apparently.

  15. I LOVE this post. Here’s my sofa story. We’ve purchased one sofa in our 16 years of marriage and that was 10 years ago. I’m not sure what we sat on for the first 6 years but I think it was hand-me-down stuff. Anyway, I wanted the white slipcovered Pottery Barn look but couldn’t afford PB. After months of searching, I found the look I wanted for $449 at Value City Furniture. It looks like a slipcover style but only the seat cushions are removable and washable. What?!? Three kids, a dog, and 10 years later, my poor sofa is a filthy, hot mess. Granted, it’s held a lot of bottoms day in day out for 10 years but it’s sagging in the middle, the piping on the edges of the washable part is threadbare, and didn’t I mention that you can’t wash all of it? Lesson learned. The giant “econo-sectional” is calling me from the bargain aisles of Costco but I’m going to take your advice and just wait. But here’s the question: If you buy a La-Z-Boy sofa you can actually get it recovered as part of the warranty?!? Because that would be amazing. {Oh my word, longest comment ever. Sorry!}

    • I think we have the EXACT same value city sofa–I have one in gold. And it’s in the front room and only gets sat on maybe once a week so for a room like that? it’s PERFECT. Good to think about how you are using your sofa before you buy.

      I am gonna contact La-Z-Boy right now to get a rep over here to answer any questions about the warranty. I think what they do is they clean it first, (there are stipulations like you need to be able to tell them what the stain is and contact them within a certain time frame) but yes, if they can’t get the stain out, they recover it. or replace it.

      I’m not sure if the warranty is automatic or if you pay a little extra for it, I think the fabric warranties are through Ultrashield so you may purchase those in addition (I’m thinking I saw an extra $149 charge for our leather but I’m not positive) and they treat it with stain guard and then gurantee it.

      Also I think leather has a 10 year warranty

      • Thank you! I hopped on over to the La-Z-Boy site and drooled over their sectional options. We can’t get anything yet but it’s nice to have the encouragement to just wait and and invest in quality.

  16. Such good advice! I am living with a leather couch and love seat that we picked out when we first moved in 11 years ago! And I have hated it everyday since! I even tried to sell it a couple of years in but it’s still here. We are definitely in the market for a new set and THIS time I am not going to settle!!

  17. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for this post. We are on our third couch (2nd time with a love seat), this set we bought for $75 off of a friends friend. It’s very worn (from her dogs getting up on it & scratching the leather up), yet still comfy. We’ve had a blue sectional with a fold out bed, that WAS our bed because @ the time it was “we can either afford a couch or a bed, HEY lets get a big blue sectional that has a BED INSIDE IT!” YEA….pregnant on a pull out bed?? NOT FUN, what’s even less fun is an EPISIOTOMY on a pull out bed. Then 9 years later we get a couch & love seat with neutral fabric, with some color flecks in it. Not a bad couch, unless you get a new puppy & her jumping up & down off of it has created RIPS in the fabric after only having the couch for 3 years. SO we are on our “new” living room set, it’s working for us, but I have to use the Boppy I used for our youngest son, to give my back support, or I wouldn’t be able to sit on the couch. THANK YOU SO MUCH for this story, it IS better to wait & save up the $$ to make sure you get what you want & not settle on something you think will be ok, just to save some $$. It’s SO not worth it & that’s what I’m going to do this time. I’ve GOT to find a La-Z-Boy store, I’m thrilled it’s American made, they give you so much help & it’ll be covered for life, with 2 sons, a hubby & 2 puppies, that’s a BIG deal!

  18. Nester, I wish I could travel back in time and send myself this advice. I hate our current couches. I got a black floral fabric. It’s pretty enough, but now I’m stuck in an autumn color palette and a very traditional decor. And we spent a LOT on them, with teflon coating and everything. Worst. Decision. Ever. And my husband likes them, and we spent good money on them, so he doesn’t want to spend more money on slipcovers. We’ve had them for 5 years now. I’m hoping in the next few years something will happen to one of them so I can justify slipcovers. Isn’t that awful, that I’d be happy if they got a tear?

  19. When I moved into my condo I was pretty much starting from scratch furniture wise as it’s my first ‘real’ place, and I was moving out of a 330 ft bachelor apartment that was big enough for my bed, and that’s about it.
    I have a one bedroom condo, so I knew I wanted a sofa-bed for any out of town visitors. There’s only one problem – have you ever looked for a sofa bed? They’re pretty ugly. It would be one thing if the sofa was going to be in a basement – but front and center in my living room? I refused to settle, so I lived for months without anywhere to sit in my living room. I eventually found a sofa I loved the look of, but it wasn’t available as a sofa bed, so I decided to go custom,
    Getting my sofa was a long process, and I definitely learned some things – choosing fabric is hard – they make it look easy on all those shows on HGTV, but it really isn’t. Also, I should have also done a wee bit more research on the company I picked to build my sofa. It was only after I had some difficulties that I did a Google search that would have made me seriously reconsider them.
    Anyways, after months (and months) of waiting I did get my sofa – I’m relatively happy with it. You can see it here: http://sweetsuite10.com/2011/03/sofa-saga/

    • I LOVE your sofa. La-Z-Boy had a square arm sofa that I was in love with but decided to get something else. Now I shall dream about square arms.

      very smart to google first!

  20. Our first brand new couich and matching loveseat was what I thought to be a bright, fun floral pattern. It was good quality and I really liked it for the first 6 years or so, but I really couldn’t justify getting something new when it didn’t have one wear mark or spot on it! We kept it for another 3 years and by this time my husband could barely stand it and I had all boys in the house so I was outnumbered! We finally dropped it off at the Salvation Army along with two mauve chairs(ack). Looking back, I really can’t believe that is what I chose because my style is so different now! We ended up buying an inexpensive neutral couch. That was about 3 years ago and it is starting to show wear already. I think I am afraid to spend a lot of money on a good quality couch again because I don’t want to feel like I need to keep it forever. I do think that I’m much more aware of my style now though so maybe it would be ok. I’m also curious to know what a good couch costs with such a good warranty??

    • couch, not couich!

    • hmm, that’s a great question, I’d say if you spend $500 on a new sofa it probably won’t last that long. Our current sectional cost about $2,000 eight years ago. The Laurel sofa (in the photo that my husband is sitting on) I *THINK* it’s on sale for $799 base price and then if you upgrade the fabric and stuff it goes up from there.

  21. We bought a couch and love seat on a whim our first year of marriage. A furniture store in town was going out of business, so we got a pretty good deal on it. They were leather and I actually still like them. The problem was they were huge! They barely fit through the door (we had to take the door off the hinges to get it inside). Not to mention that it completely overwhelmed the living room of our tiny apartment. Problem 2 was they they were HEAVY. It was made of solid red oak, so that’s good, but it was so heavy that multiple men had to move it, and at the time we were moving about once a year. When we were moving overseas, I had a really hard time getting rid of them, but I knew they needed to go. They were in good shape, so one of our relatives bought them from us and still has them. They still look nice, but I’m glad we didn’t try to keep them since we’ve moved 4 or 5 times since we got rid of them. So, my notes to my future sofa buying self are 1. measure the room and 2. make sure they don’t weigh as much as a small elephant.

  22. I had no idea LaZBoy has that kind of warranty, good to know! We bought flexsteel furniture after much research and it has held up really well for 7 or 8 years so far. I’m not crazy about the style, but it’s ok. My biggest regret is choosing dark blue chenille fabric. I really wanted something much lighter, but knew I wouldn’t be happy worrying abut possible stains. I don’t know if I would make a different decision now because of the stain issue. Such a dilemma- I want light and bright and carefree! :)

  23. Is it bad that I have buyers remorse over the couches we just bought 4 months ago? When we bought our house, we wanted to use some of our leftover money to buy a new couch. We didn’t have tons to spend, and I was thinking in my head how much I wanted a sofa/loveseat set (stop laughing, I know I was wrong). I also wanted a gray couch. I hate beige and due to our budget, we weren’t getting something made for us… we had to find a gray couch right off the bat.

    We bought the first gray couch and love seat combo we could find. We also loved that we got both for 500 bucks. But they’re huge and I finally had to move the loveseat into the “dining room” (where we keep the dog crates). The seats keep coming up in the back and you constantly have to readjust them. It’s so frustrating.

    The couch we had beforehand was an uber cheap cheetah print futon that we needed for upcoming guests. The couch before that was thrown away because it was pleather and completely ripped to shreds by our lab. In hindsight, we could’ve bought a slipcover but that was before they were everywhere.

    Our family, growing up, didn’t have much money, so we often got people’s hand-me-downs. Maybe that’s why I think sofas are disposeable? We were always trading an old one for another old one…

  24. Oh, my goodness! The “Laurel” has SUCH sweet lines. I’ve been dreaming of that one for a solid year now. We currently have ONE loveseat in the family room–for a family of SIX.
    (There are three chairs and two ottomans as well!)

    Needless to say we are sofa dreaming(or I am). Hubby is currently unemployed so it will be quite a while before we walk back into the furniture store…

    I LOVED this post! :) Thanks for the enthusiastic sharing of information!
    hugs!
    ~april

  25. Cindy Osborn says:

    My (ex-husband) bought a leather sectional to surprise me for my birthday. I had mentioned in a store one time that I liked the style but we had not seriously “shopped” around. It turned out to be the absolute most uncomfortable couch I have ever sat on. Immediately after it was delivered and set up we called the store to try to return it (to no avail) because it was SO bad, not to mention it was HUGE. It took up the entire living room; so much so that when he went to sell the house a few years later (post-divorce) the sofa hindered the sell because it made the living room appear too small. We actually fought over who was KEEPING the thing. It was not cheap either so he won’t be replacing it any time soon. So the only satisfaction I have from that whole ordeal is that his new wife (hence the divorce & guilt purchase of surprise sofa) is stuck with that miserable thing (couch and husband) for many years to come! But I have a super comfortable couch now and I sit on it and just laaaaugh and laugh :)

  26. Valerie J. says:

    This is so timely(Engl.?). We’re working on the built in right now in our living room and have started looking at couches. I’m attracted to dark velvety couches and some leather. Actually the la Z boy cadence sofa in steel is calling my name(pretty sure it is not velvet but the same aura to me). My husband is for the leather, which I really like too, just not sure if grey can be considered neutral enough to stand through the years. Also it does get pretty cold here, how about leather in winter, does it get too cold?(maybe a stupid question )

    • if you have real leather (not pretend leather) it is perfect year round, cozy, soft and natural.

      • Valerie J. says:

        Thank you! Your post has made me reconsider trying to go cheaper on the sofa. I think I might learn from everybody else’s mistakes here and not settle for something I don’t really like. The sofa quest continues!

  27. GREAT advice.

    True: I WISH I were there with you, pouring over fabrics and hanging with you while you pick out a sofa. Weird designer thing, I suppose.

  28. Oh yes, Nester, I have been there! Three times too many, actually. Are you ready for my Sofa Saga? It’s long.

    SOFA #1: When we got married 12 years ago (this Sunday!), my parents purchased a “light weight” hide-a-bed (that should have been our first clue) in denim (!) from L.L.Bean for us to start out our new life and home. Now, as much as I love L.L.Bean, I hated that sofa (and I picked it out). It was uncomfortable as a bed AND as a couch. Within minutes of sitting on it, you were sliding off onto the floor. By the end, my husband had cut pieces of WOOD to stick under the cushions in the hopes that it would help with the sliding. It didn’t. Two years later, we sold the thing in a yard sale.

    SOFA #2: My sister and her husband had moved to Tanzania in 2001, and they left her rather cheap blue and white checked Queen Anne style couch with us. We used that until 2004, when we got another couch (from my parents) for Christmas. There was a budget, and by this time, I had discovered Ikea online. I showed the Ektorp to my husband, who raised an eyebrow about a couch that came in a box (been there, done that, sold it at a yard sale), and insisted on buying from a store. We picked out a horrible, plaid couch in mint green, dark red, and yellow. I hated it, almost from the beginning. When you sat on it in the wintertime, it gave you static (yes, that kind of fabric and foam). It didn’t go with anything, but I tried my hardest to make it work.

    SOFA #3: I never forgot about the Ektorp. In 2010 we visited an Ikea for the first time (the closest one is 3+ hours away), and the moment my husband actually SAT on the Ektorp, he loved it. I knew he would. I knew I loved it already. And it was almost the same price as the ugly plaid couch sitting at home in our living room. We debated trying to shove it in the car (we were on a long road trip), but decided that THIS time, we weren’t going to rush into anything. We visited a different Ikea in June 2011, and looked at them again. We sat on them, looked under their cushions, and debated their construction. We basically took it for a test drive in the store. And then we waited. Again. FINALLY, last August, we headed to our closest Ikea and came home toting a new Ektorp. We LOVE it. We sit in the living room more than we ever did with any of the previous couches. It goes with EVERYTHING (we went with white, but are thinking about going back to get the tan cover), and instead of being the first thing you notice, it has become another layer in the grand scheme of the living room.

    When I think of all the money that we have thrown away on couches in the past, it makes me cringe, but I’ve learned my lesson and am moving forward. I loved this post, and I can’t wait to see your new choice!!

  29. We are sofa hunting right now, but not in a hurry. Our leather sofa has a tear in the cushion, and toddlers are magnetically drawn to a hole of any sort, so naturally, the tear keeps getting bigger.
    Never considered lazyboy but now I might. Thanks!

  30. Oh goodness…to be continued. I can’t wait to hear the rest! We’ve been wanting/needing a new sofa. Our (5) kids have done everything imaginable to/on ours and it’s really starting to show. I can’t imagine what it would look like if it wasn’t already brown…yuck! We’re thinking leather might be a better fit for our family. ☺

  31. When we were first able to BUY a sofa (rather than take hand-me-downs), we went with leather. That leather set lasted us 15 years or something. Five kids and a husband/rancher — leather was our only option for dirt and livability. We have since replaced that old set with another leather set and added a leather sofa & loveseat downstairs too. I have a comfy paisley fabric chair all to myself which looks great with the leather. For those of us who live where there is REAL dirt and lots of home living going on (and now grandbabies) leather has been a great choice for us.

  32. P.S.
    Hubs has had 2 Lazy Boy recliners in his lifetime and I would never buy a man anything BUT a LB.

  33. One problem I found with a two cushion couch as opposed to a one cushion is that when you lay in it your butt will find the crack between the two cushions. I have had both and really prefer the three cushioned one. You might want to lay on the couch you have picked out just to be sure! I love your tips as we will be purchasing a new couch soon. Our first one lasted 18 years, the second one has been around for 10 and looks twice as old.

  34. would love to shop for sofa sometime this millenium!!! thanks for the tips! our living room set we inherited from my brother-in-law 19 years ago – and it’s difficult to get out of, even if comfy sitting/sleeping on (great for Sunday afternoon naps!). Our family room sectional BARELY fits in the room and yes, was inherited from my wonderful FIL – 4 years ago (because he didn’t like it!). I have a LaZBoy recliner in our office that looks great after 11 years, and I have been grabbing every LaZBoy ad to see what they’ve got. Someday….

  35. The only couch I ever bought was awful. It was forest green fake suede material and the cushions slid off every time we laid around on it. When we moved, I gave it away. My parents gave us thier couch, a turquoise Ethan Allen that I love although it has taken a beating over the past 6 years with 2 kids. I don’t know how I could ever decide if I had to get a new couch today. I always think of slipcovering ours but it does seem like a pain – so I am glad you admitted that part :) And I totally thought you were going to say that you bought a new couch because of the BHG shoot and I should have known better – you’d never do such a thing! Happy you are still the same content, reasonable love what you have and make the most of it Nester that I love :) xo!

  36. Awesome advice! We have purchased two sofas in our seven years of marriage and, thankfully, still have and love them both. The first sofa was purchased when we had no money and no furniture. We found it on clearance for $299 and it is super comfy and a fairly neutral, khaki green color. I had always planned to get rid of it when we got our “dream sofa”, but we just moved it to another room. I never worry about eating on it or sleeping on it or anything really and it’s great to have a worry-free place to sit.
    Our “real” sofa came from Ethan Allen four years ago and is a dream! We had a very specific idea of what we wanted and waited until we could get it. I love the hardwood construction and tight back and it still looks brand new!

  37. I have a lay-z-boy sofa that I absolutely love, it was given to me by my parents when I got married (my dad buys and sells furniture, and goes to sales all the time so he had picked this sofa up at one a while ago and it was a staple in my parents house for a long time) Love love the sofa but the fabric is horrendous, its like floral reds and pinks, very cluttered ugly design. I’m more a simplistic girl myself but I can’t get over how comfy this thing is. I’ve contemplated making a cover for it myself which I would love to do but the task seems so daunting and I don’t know where to start (I’ve bought covers for it before but they just didn’t fit right and I hated it) so its been sitting there in our living room and I try and pretend its a beautiful neutral color! Maybe it will change sometime soon but I hate to think about getting rid of it, I just love it.

  38. Oh Nester, I so admire your “no sofa rules” rule! I must say though that would drive me insane…I am probably overly strict with sofa rules but, geez I can’t bear dirt on the sofa! I have something to learn here about relaxing our sofa rules for our 2 boys sake :)! I don’t know if they’ll ever be allowed to plunge from an arm but I’ll work on it! My hubs and I made a great sofa and love seat purchase about 1.5 yrs ago. It was our first official sofa purchase and we went with a sofa and love seat with 2 sets of slip covers, one set in white and one in aqua blue. We just put the white covers on for the first time last week, Im in love, I love the lift and airyness they lend to the room. So far our US made sofa is holding up well and is comfy as ever! I love the idea of being able to wash my sofa covers, makes such a difference! Looking forward to see what you end up selecting for your new sofa!

  39. Be sure to ask the sales rep if ALL the components are made in the USA. Since you live in NC, you have to be aware that most of the furniture manufacturing companies are now what is called “off-shore” which translates to Asian countries. They may have an American name – but is not manufactured stateside. What you don’t know is that they use weak, fast-growth woods rather than hardwoods which is used by the few remaining furniture manufacturers in the states. This message is to ALL your readers: don’t be fooled by low priced furniture – pay a little more to get a better quality piece of furniture. The most important components of furniture never meets the eye – it’s all beneath the cover. In the long run you won’t be sorry by doing your homework first.

  40. We’ve had the same contemporary sectional sofa for about 7 or 8 years and I’ve hated it for about 7 or 8 years. It LOOKS good but it’s uncomfortable and the cushions have lost their support (although they still LOOK good) and because they’re attached, we can’t remove them to either flip them or restuff them. I hate this sofa. My husband hates this sofa. I desperately want a La Z Boy reclining sofa but right now, buying a new sofa is not in the financial cards. I’m still kicking myself for not buying a like-new matched set of La Z Boy reclining loveseats I saw in a Palm Springs consignment store last year for $400. For both.

  41. Christie says:

    We have a 6-year-old LaZBoy leather sofa that has served us so well. I would definitely purchase again. I don’t know the exact model name, but I think its pretty close to the “Mackenzie.” It is a lovely cognac color, fixed back cushion and smooth (not puffy) squared cushions, and some nailhead trim on the rolled arm. The seat cushions have held up really well too, and being the only sofa in the house with 4 homeschooled kids that’s saying A LOT!

  42. “It’s better to be patient than to settle”. Absolutely excellent advice! I was 42 years old before I got my first sofa and I don’t regret the wait at all. I’ve had my sofa for 15 years now and I’ll never get rid of it. It’s currently covered in white cotton, which was trendy at the time (but at least it’s a neutral) and in a few years I’m going to have it recovered in another solid colour. It was made in a little store in Toronto that, sadly, no longer exists.

  43. My experience with sofa beds? Get a regular sofa and if you don’t have a guest room, get a good air mattress, If there is no room on the floor for a queen, get 2 twins, you can shift them around. Nobody really enjoys sleeping on sofa beds.

    I really want a ivory leather sectional, but recently I read 2 couches are more versatile. So now I am all worried. The one I want is EXPENsive, (Natuzzi) so I don’t want to make a mistake.

  44. You are a clever lady for someone young…since I’ve been married 37 years, we’ve been through a few sofas. (fyi – I like the word sofa…some people call it a couch, but that sounds too much like ouch!)

    Our last sofa (10 yrs old) is by Massoud Furniture and it has been excellent, grandgirls and crazy cats and all!! It’s awesome.

  45. Amen! When we bought our first house we needed a sofa. We shopped store after store and sat on probably 100! We finally ended up at LaZboy. We finally found a couch that we could agree on as comfortable. Unfortunately, it was leather and only came in 2 colors–navy blue and a gray-beige. We got the gray-beige but I fought the style and color of that couch for the next 9 years until we moved out of state and had to sell it. I love LaZboy and later bought 2 awesome chairs but I agree you should hold out for something you love that will not be a thorn in your side for a decade!

  46. how2home says:

    I have the same rule for our dog as well, no sofa for them….not that i dont love them being on the sofa but the dirt from their little paws and shedding issues…drives me insane! Any plans for this fathers day weekend? Keep us posted! :)

  47. We really cheaped out with our sectional… and we’ve had so many problems with it! The chenile on it is completely worn, the frame of part of it broke and had to be repaired, and the cushions and pillows are all misshapen now. I will def look at la z boy next time. Also, one of the cushions on the sectional is gigantic and kind of dog-legs to the left… I have to practically hump the thing to get the slipcover on it! And your taped-off sofa is cracking me up :)

  48. This post is very timely! We are about to buy a new sofa! Our current sofa is a man eater. It is really deep…. great for sleeping on and cuddling up on to watch a movie! However, when you sit all the way back on it, your feet don’t touch the ground. (yeah, I know it was a dumb purchase) Therefore EVERYONE who isn’t family avoids sitting on it. Hold a sleeping child and try to get up… Well, it is a pretty sight. Pillows help but aren’t enough support!

  49. Suzanne says:

    Oh the hated sofa story. WHen my (then) husband and I bought our first sofa, about 500 years ago, we too didn’t want to wait. I actually thought it looked good in the show room, but instantaneously despised it when the deliver men set it down in our apartment. It was tan/brown and orange PLAID, in that horrible olefin fabric with wooden “hands” at the end of the sofa arms. I hated that sofa so much that I let the dog chew up those wooden hands.. as a matter of fact I probably covered those hands with bacon grease. I can laugh about it now.

  50. Nester-
    We have a gorgeous leather couch and matching craftsman style leather recliner. I like leather a lot and we saved up to get what we want. But now that we’ve had it a few years, if I could do over I’d go a neutral fabric (if the warranty is as good as they promise!) The leather is a large single color in the room and pillows slide off too darn easily. I think fabric would have a warmer feel and you could actually use pillows in a decorative, stay-put way. Just a thought.

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