Need advice on sofas

RaidentMay 11, 2014

I've been looking for a sofa for the past several months now. This'll be my first sofa, so I'm kinda anxious about "getting it right" and more importantly, I want to avoid buyer's remorse. I've been reading a lot of stuff about sofas and furniture in general online - much of which has been on this forum - but the more I read, the more questions I have...

1) Quality: I now understand that I won't be getting anywhere near top quality for $1000 (my original budget), but how much does good quality cost?

More fundamentally, is it even worth it for me to spend loads of money on a quality sofa? I don't anticipate I'll be living here for more than 5 years or so, and even if the sofa does fit the decor of my next home, there's no telling whether or not my future wife will like it. So even if I buy an heirloom-quality sofa, it could end up being obsolete much sooner than that.

Also, just to check, a good-quality sofa should have kiln-dried hardwood, 8-way hand tied springs, wooden doweled joints, and corner blocks. Is anything missing/incorrect?

2) Leather vs fabric: I prefer leather, but my understanding is that in order to get a leather couch that won't be cold in the winter and sweaty in the summer, I'd have to go with top-of-the-line full grain leather. Or do cheaper yet equally-comfortable leathers exist? If not, I guess fabric wins by default...

3) Value for money: This is related to point 1 above, but while it's obvious what the difference between an Ikea sofa and a $3,000 sofa is, what's the difference between a $3,000 sofa and a $20,000 sofa? Or more generally, at what price point do I reach the point of diminishing returns? What's the best bang-for-the-buck? I'm willing to raise my budget to an extent, but only if it's truly worth it.

4) Design: I've noticed that a lot of furniture looks like it came straight out of the 1920s. Unfortunately I live in a brand new condo that's designed to resemble an upscale boutique hotel rather than a Victorian mansion, so that type of styling would look extremely out of place, to say the least. What are some good manufacturers that make modern-style sofas?

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any help!

This post was edited by Raident on Sun, May 11, 14 at 6:32

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Hancock and Moore My first option
Classic Leather is the main two Second option
I have heard many people say Leathercraft uses cheap leather overseas. STAY AWAY!

If you decide on Fabric go with Wesley Hall, they are the best.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:08AM
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Well I don't know much about leather but I know you can get good looking, high-quality furniture (that isn't leather) for around your budget. Something like this settee:

would work great in a smaller room because its not too big and it has that mid-century modern look that a lot of people seem to look for.

I've never had an expensive couch and I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything! Stick to your budget and as long as you put a little time into your search (it sounds like you are) you should be able to find a good quality and economical sofa. good luck!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 10:49PM
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Thanks for the advice! As a follow-up, do you have any tips on how to negotiate with the furniture stores for a better price?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 2:17AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis

I like it when folks can pick up their sofas and when they are not in a big hurry.

Honestly I am pretty cynical about quality. I like cushions which unzip so they can be restuffed. Sometimes I think ppl sit on their sofas more now than in the past lol.

No but honestly, I have worked out deals with folks in the past and at the last minute they offered cash and asked for a discount on sofas. Our CC processing is pretty cheap now so I have said sure, if $20 is worth your trip to the atm I'll give ya twenty off.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:54PM
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I like the leather made sofa because of its reliability.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 3:29AM
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For $1000 forget about getting a genuine 8 way hand-tied sofa.

You will probably also have to give up the kiln-dried solid lumber and dowels. It will probably have corner blocks, but not as many as a higher quality sofa and they will be stapled, not screwed.

Most furniture salespeople in the larger stores wouldn't know about the type of wood in the frame (or how it is constructed) anyway.

Fortunately even a mid-priced sofa ($1000 - $1500) with a plywood frame and no-sag springs should last you at least 5 years if you get a good durable fabric. There are a lot of cheap very durable fabrics available. Most 100% Polyesters and microfibers will hold up for at least 5 years.

Another thing you will probably have to give up at $1000 is leather. Most leather at that price is actually "bonded" leather, which is not the same and costs about the same as a good grade of vinyl. There are some genuine leather sofas imported from the Far East at that price level, but to hit the $1000 retail price the rest of the sofa is going to be closer to what you would expect from a $599 retail fabric sofa.

For a sofa to cost $20,000 you are usually paying for a one of a kind custom-built piece. The difference between a $3000 sofa and a $5000 sofa is largely dependent upon the cost of the fabric used.

As an example for a $1000 sofa the manufacturer is probably using a fabric that cost them between $3/yd. - $7 yd. (triple those costs to estimate fabric retail prices.)

Going from a $1000 sofa to a $3000 sofa, in addition to a better frame and more expensive fabrics you are paying for more highly skilled workers who will spend considerably longer building your furniture.

Above the $5000 range you are looking at expensive "designer" fabrics, and exclusive designs but the overall quality of the furniture may not be that different overall from what you will find in the $3000 - $5000 range.

Europeans are far ahead of American furniture designers and manufacturers when it comes to upscale modern sofas. Unfortunately most of those cutting-edge designs are quite expensive. The popularly priced modern styles are usually Asian knockoffs of the European styles, but you won't find the meticulous craftsmanship that makes the expensive originals so magnificent. There are some American manufacturers who make good quality modern furniture but it can take some searching.

Ironically most of the expensive modern-style sofas will have plywood frames and will not have 8 way hand-tied coils. Many of the interesting frame styles can only be created using plywood shaped on a computerized CNC router and cannot be done using solid wood. 8 way coils require a high sofa profile and sleek modern styles simply do not have enough room below the seat to accommodate them.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 3:59PM
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