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We Bought a Sofa. We Bought a Couch

By House*Tweaking on Dec 14, 2011

The oversized leather sectional that we had in our previous home was too large for the Underdog’s family room.

Technically, it would have fit but it would have taken up nearly all of the floor space in the downsized space and engulfed our future family room. So, we decided to sell it and put the money towards a more appropriately sized version for the Underdog.

Since Handy Hubby liked the previous sectional so much, he had a few stipulations for our next sofa.

  • No loose back cushions. The leather sectional we’d owned before had attached back pillows and HH really liked not having to adjust them every time he sat down and got up. From a design standpoint, I liked this characteristic as well. Loose back cushions can start to look frumpy or lumpy over time. This meant we were on the hunt for either a couch with attached back cushions or a tight back.
  • No microfiber. HH doesn’t particularly like the feel or texture of microfiber. I was okay with this requirement too since microfiber tends to look differently if the fibers are pushed one way or the other. I.e., you get the famous butt print effect after someone gets up from sitting. Not that I haven’t seen some good microfiber pieces out there – I have – but if HH didn’t want it, then I was willing to toss it out of the search.
  • Kid-friendly. We have kids – two boys ages 6 and 3. And a baby on the way. The sofa will serve as main seating in the family room, so it has to hold up to bouncy, rowdy kids. And even though we don’t allow food or drinks {except for water and the occasional bowl of popcorn} outside the kitchen/dining area, upholstery fabric had to be durable and easy to clean. That meant we were looking at either leather {like we’d had before}, faux leather or slipcovered pieces. Microfiber would have fit the kid-friendly bill but, again, neither of us really wanted it.
  • Long-term investment. HH and I were both willing to spend a little more moolah on a quality piece that would stand the test of time as opposed to shelling out hundreds of dollars only to replace a couch of lesser quality in a few short years. This is not our stand on every piece of furniture. But for a sofa that would see regular daily use and be somewhat of a centerpiece for the great room, we felt this would be a good ‘splurge’ item. $2,000 was the max limit we felt comfortable spending. {Again, it helped that we were selling a bunch of the furniture from our previous home to invest in fewer, higher quality items for the Underdog.}
  • Comfortable. Not too soft that we’d sink while watching TV. Not too firm that we couldn’t lounge or nap. Not too shallow that we couldn’t curl up with a book and our kiddos. Not too deep that we’d have to install one of those lift mechanisms just to get up from a sitting position.

Our future couch had to meet a few requirements to say the least. Maybe one other requirement for me was that it have a good aesthetic. Naturally. I didn’t want an expensive, comfy, kid-friendly, non-microfiber sofa with a tight back that stood out like the black sheep of the Underdog! I wasn’t exactly sure what specific aesthetic I was looking for but I knew I wanted something with clean lines and not too high of a back since I planned on floating the sofa in the middle of the family room, facing the fireplace.

So, the search was on.

On a trip to IKEA over the summer {before we’d even sold our previous sectional}, we stumbled upon the Klippan four-seater sofa. It was comfy and slipcovered with straight lines and a low tight back. It wasn’t microfiber and while it would have been kid-friendly with its removable, washable slipcover, I started to wonder if the low, low price tag {less than $500} wasn’t an indication of its long-term durability. Still, I envisioned it with a linen-like custom slipcover and kept that idea on the back burner for a while.

I didn’t get a chance to try it out because once we sold our sectional, the Klippan four-seater had already been discontinued. Boo. I even called the nearest IKEA store to make sure they didn’t have any stragglers sitting in stock but they were completely out. The loveseat version was {and is} still available but it was smaller than what we were needing. I took it as a sign. A sign to move on.

What I moved onto was Crate & Barrel’s Aris sofa.


Again, it had nice lines, a non-microfiber slipcover, tight back and down cushions that screamed ‘comfy!’ The only things that had me questioning ‘Is it the one?’ were the slightly curved back and dry-clean only hemp slipcover. At $1,600, it wasn’t cheap and if I couldn’t throw the cover into the wash every time one of the kids accidentally marked it up then it didn’t sound perfect. So, I decided it wasn’t. Good thing, too. Because it turned up discontinued right when I decided it wasn’t for us.

I was slowly discovering that whatever ‘perfect’ sofa came along, I’d jump at buying it after watching the two above be discontinued. I was starting to think all the good ones were gone. I scoured Craigslist for vintage sofas with modern lines that could be reupholstered…to no avail. I hit up consignment stores and outlets all around the area…to no avail.

That’s when I discovered this bad boy.

He’s leather with straight lines and attached back cushions. He’s much like the sectional we had previously with three notably different qualities:

1) He’s not an oversized sectional. This 90″ long sofa is big enough to fit our entire family but modest enough to fit our downsized family room. I taped out his footprint onto the family room floor for good measure. Literally.

2) His back is lower. While the high back of our previous sectional was helpful in delineating the family room from the adjacent open dining area, it would have been too high for the Underdog’s much smaller space.

3) He’s not chocolate brown. This cognac-like sofa is a bit lighter on the eyes than our darker sectional. The color makes me think of saddles and boots.

I immediately showed him to HH who approved whole-heartedly and was a bit surprised by my masculine choice. As much as I adore slipcovered pieces {they’re so airy and cottage-y, aren’t they?}, I really did like how easy it was to keep our last leather sectional clean and how durable it was. Seriously, after 3.5 years of kids jumping on it, it looked exactly like it did the day we originally bought it. Not a tear or stain to be found. I knew this top grain sofa would stand the test of time as well.

I stalked him for a while until he popped up with a free shipping special. I called and talked to a salesperson and was able to get him for $1,800 flat – shipping and taxes included – which was about $200 off the listed price. Not exactly cheap by any means but he was within our budget and I was already picturing him in the Underdog, so I knew this was ‘the one.’

He was delivered to the Underdog last week. HH was away on business, so I had the delivery guys shove him {completely boxed and packaged} into the crowded garage. I haven’t even had a chance to open him up yet. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. I hope he’s as sexy and rich as I imagine him to be. I’ve already named him Nate after Nate Berkus. Doesn’t he feel very ‘Nate’ to you?

The plan is to float him in the family room facing the fireplace. The two linen-like upholstered chairs I already showed you will sit opposite him to round out a nice, comfy casual seating area. At some point I need to hunt down a rug to ground the floating furniture arrangement and I’m playing around with the idea of using a console behind the sofa. But I think I’ll wait and see how the space feels once we’re moved in before I start scoping out consoles. I want to make sure things won’t feel cramped.

So, there you go. Our latest furniture purchase. I can’t wait to test him out. The petite sofa we have in our apartment {which I plan to use as a dining settee in the future} is soooo not for lounging. It has more of an upright seat and isn’t even long enough for my 5’3″ body to stretch out on completely.

What about you? What characteristics do/are you look/looking for in a sofa? Or maybe you call it a couch. I went back and forth in this post because sofa sounds better but I typically say couch due to my rural upbringing.

FYI – Good news for you! Just found the exact sofa for cheaper than I paid here if you’re interested. Looks like quantities are limited.

images: 1) IKEA  2) Crate & Barrel 3) Elements Fine Home Furnishings

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