Sofa: Pottery Barn York Sofa–(three cushion, square arm, slipcovered in Sunbrella Ivory Performance Basketweave fabric) Striped bell-sleeve tee: Halogen (Size up if in between!), Jeans: Caslon (These were probably my favorite purchase of the whole Nordstrom sale. Run TTS and so flattering!) Rug: Atlas Weavers (they don’t have it as an option on their website but if you contact them, they will make it for you!)
If you guys follow along on Instagram, you’ll know that we recently just got a new sofa from Pottery Barn!! I can’t even TELL YOU what a long time coming this new sofa purchase has been–our old sofa, while very cute aesthetically, was far too small for us (both couldn’t easily lay on it simultaneously due to the shallower seat) and it was definitely not the most comfortable thing in the world. (Definitely better suited for a life with girl roommates–not a lazy football Sunday husband sofa by any stretch of the imagination.)
Despite knowing we needed a new sofa for years, we could never really seem to pull the trigger–I think it because it was such an overwhelming experience both because of all the options out there and also because, hello–sofas are REALLY expensive! That and, I am absolutely ATROCIOUS with spacing and knowing what kind of size/shape will fit best in a room. (Which is when it really helps to have a talented interior designer friend, Kira!)
Well, Memorial Day finally rolled around and we decided it was time to pull the trigger–knowing that we’d get a really good deal with all the Memorial Day sales out there–so we headed to do some furniture shopping.
Our first stop was West Elm, because I think their style most aligns with our aesthetic, but every sofa we sat on was hard as a rock and just as uncomfortable as our existing sofa. (To be fair they only had like four total sofas in the store. I’ve sat on comfortable West Elm sofas before 😂)
Then we happened to walk past Pottery Barn on our way to Crate and Barrel and we figured we may as well stop in–even though I had associated Pottery Barn with an aesthetic that is often a bit traditional for my taste in terms of larger furniture items–when we walked in, I was very pleasantly surprised and overwhelmed (in a good way) by how many options we had in terms of styles, prices, colors, fabrics, and endless customization options.
Read below for more about our process, how we picked out our sofa, and a full review of our experience!
My sofa selection tips:
How to choose your sofa style:
First, we sat on every sofa we possibly could, and I would HIGHLY recommend actually going into the furniture store and doing so before you buy. Sometimes, you’ll be surprised at the results! Ours ended up being a custom option, which is non-returnable, so we definitely weren’t comfortable making that big of a purchase online, sight unseen! You really need to see it in person, touch all the fabrics, etc to make sure you’re making the best decision!
Decide on your priorities:
Comfort was REALLY important to us, because we had learned our lesson buying only on “cuteness” previously. Hard sofas are fine for rooms where people don’t spend a lot of time in, but definitely not okay for what you spend the majority of your time sitting on!
Price was also important–we knew this was going to be an investment but we still wanted to keep the price down to a realistic number as much as possible. There were other sofas we would’ve loved to have, but they would’ve cost upwards of $5K (EEEP!) and that just wasn’t something we felt like was justifiable living in a small condo.
With this all in mind, obviously aesthetics were just as important as comfort and price–over my dead body will we have an ugly sofa in my living room 😜
All these factors in mind, Josh, who helped us in the store, guided us toward Pottery Barn’s York sofa.
I will admit, I didn’t love at first in terms of design (We saw the slope arm non slipcover bottom in store and I wasn’t a fan of the arms or the chunky legs at the bottom). However, when I texted my interior designer friend Kira about the options (she’s been helping us finish our home!)–she loved it and suggested we go with the straight arm and slipcovered combo–which I never would’ve put together!
The Juxtaposition Rule:
As it turns out, the combination rings true to the Juxtaposition rule–and brings just the right touch of casual/traditional into our eclectic living room.
The straight arm still has a modern touch, while the slipcover not only is much more functional (you can take it off and throw it in washing machine) but also brings in the right amount of traditional style to make our living room feel more sophisticated, yet lived in at the same time.
I would highly recommend keeping this in mind when choosing a sofa.
Is your interior style “too much” of one thing? I would err to say ours was feeling a little TOO Midcentury Modern eclectic–I didn’t want it to feel “boho,” but I couldn’t really put my finger on how to make it feel more “grown up” and a sofa is such a statement piece, it can really change the vibe of the whole room. (In a good OR a bad way!)
Working with an interior designer:
If you’re someone like me and you have a vision of what you like and don’t like, but don’t really know how to bring it all together in a cohesive way, it’s a really amazing idea to look into working with a designer! Kira and I were texting back and forth for months about a sofa. Like I said, we never found with the option we love so much without her.
You get discounts
Also worth noting is that interior designers will get you discounts that you wouldn’t normally get otherwise. We happened to buy our sofa during a Memorial Day sale, so we already got it at a big discount, but had we decided to wait, we would’ve gotten the SAME discount through Kira! She’s helped us with so much for our house, I can’t recommend her enough!
They ensure every piece you get fits well in your space
Another benefit of working with an interior designer? They are space-planning pros. While your home ultimately needs to function for you and your needs, they have general guidelines for how much spacing is necessary between furniture, artwork, etc. This is especially handy if you are considering a big-ticket item (like a sofa). They’ll make sure to steer you toward one that fits the space (and your needs!)
I can attest to this because I had NO idea which size to order and Kira came over, measured, and assured me that the 94″ was the perfect fit. Can you imagine ordering a custom sofa that cost you thousands of dollars and didn’t fit correctly in your home?!
They save you money in the long run
Designers also help you save $$$ by “shopping your house.” Sort of the same as “shopping your closet,” they can bring a fresh set of eyes to what you already own. Maybe all you need to do is swap out that chair from another room, or switch out your pillows. Having an objective perspective on what you already own and how it can work differently for you can save you from running out and buying all new accessories.
Types of Fabric & Sofa Material:
Kira also told us to look for a “performance” fabric–and gave two thumbs up when I told her we were bringing home Sunbrella swatches!
We really lucked out with getting Josh as our in-store designer, because he essentially threw out all the options he DIDN’T like. He was super honest when I picked up something that had mixed reviews (“stay away from that one–it’s known to pill–don’t choose that one, it’s not stain resistant!) It was SO appreciated!
He quickly convinced us that Sunbrella fabric is where it’s at–it’s an indoor/outdoor fabric and is naturally extremely stain resistant. (Kira echoed the same!) Being an indoor/outdoor fabric, you might think it feels scratchy and stiff–but it doesn’t, I’d equate it to feeling like tweed.
The stain resistance comes from the weave of the fabric, NOT from any toxic chemicals used to coat it. Sunbrella is awarded with the OEKO-TEX label (class II – products with direct contact to the skin), Sunbrella fabrics are made without any identified harmful substance that could be a danger to health, skin and the environment.
We were a quick sell on that one, and we picked out three different shades we thought would compliment our room. I knew I wanted something lighter in tone between an ivory and an oatmeal–so we clipped six different swatches to take home.
Kira says, “Family-friendly fabrics are all the rage these days. SO many retailers are carrying products in more resilient fabrics. When shopping retail, keywords to look for are “performance” and “indoor/outdoor.”
Perennials is another fabric line that is both water and stain resistant (both a MUST for a light-colored sofa!). Restoration Hardware carries the Perennials line, but you can also purchase the fabric solo through a local interior designer.
Choosing a color:
Taking home swatches to look at in your own space is SO incredibly important. You won’t believe how different colors can look between different lighting situations and in different environments. I was so convinced that the lightest color we ended up going with would be FAR too white in our space–but turns out, it didn’t! You also want to make sure you take the fabric off of the white cardboard swatch background–it will skew how you view the color!
MOST noteworthy though–is that I really wanted to put the Sunbrella fabric to the test to ensure this couch would really withstand the test of time.
Test fabric swatches in different types of lighting:
Kira’s tip: “Make sure to view the swatch in at least three different lights throughout the day. I recommend morning, noon, and evening if possible. You’d be surprised how different the same fabric can look at different times of day!”
Will it last?
I decided to pour red wine all over them and see how well the stain came out. You won’t BELIEVE the results! (I would definitely recommend doing the same–it gives you some crazy peace of mind! 😂)
This was just spot treatment! All I did was blot up the stain with a rag, spray on some Tuff Stuff (my favorite upholstery cleaner) let it sit, scrub it with a toothbrush, and rinse. Keep in mind, if you get a slipcovered sofa, the entire thing is washable–you can throw it straight into the washing machine, soak it if needed, etc. It really is incredible.
Shopping for sofas: Where to go?
I personally can’t recommend Pottery Barn enough. Nowhere else we went had the same options–from design, to comfort, to price–not even close. To do our due diligence, we walked into Crate and Barrel after Pottery Barn, just to see what they had–and honestly laughed–they completely paled in comparison in terms of the levels of customization. Of course the have some GORGEOUS sofas, but not any that really checked all of our boxes.
Who knew!? Not to mention, Pottery Barn’s staff of in-house designers are incredibly knowledgable about all of their products and helpful every step of the way. Who knows where we would’ve ended up had we not had Josh!
**Side note** Please keep in mind that many furniture employees work on commission. I received a message from a Pottery Barn staff member after posting about it on Instagram saying that people often will work with someone in the store for HOURS, only to go home and order the product online–taking the sale away from the designer! Just something to keep in mind, as I don’t think this is a well-known fact! I know nobody would do this intentionally–so I just wanted to spread the word 🙂
If you don’t see something you love at Pottery Barn though, there are plenty of other places to shop for sofas though–here are some of Kira’s other favorites:
What other questions do you have about purchasing a sofa?
P.S. On a major budget? Read my tips for scoring on Craiglist post from the archives!