Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Dan's guide to picking out a couch (and liking it afterwards).

In most of our homes, the couch, sofa, davenport, chesterfield or divan is the focal point of our living room. Generally, it's a major investment that isn't as easy to switch out as the accents that also make up the room.  It's a buy that shouldn't be made without doing a bit of homework. Walking into a store and picking out the first piece that's somewhat comfy is not the answer. Trust me on this one.

I made the ultimate mistake when purchasing my couch. I panic shopped and purchased an in-stock piece from a big box retailer - it was a Tuesday evening and I realized that I was going to be having company over that Saturday. Realizing that I wanted to have somewhere for them to sit other than the floor, I decided to hit up as many stores as I could, as quickly as I could.

My camel coloured beast right after delivery
Though I ended up a piece that was in my budget and is of decent enough quality, there are a number of things that I will do differently when I purchase my next couch. Therefore I offer to you, my own tips and guidelines to make sure that you end up with a piece that you truly love, rather than a camel coloured beast that looks out of place with the rest of your space (I'm really not bitter about it....).
Tip Number One - Don't panic shop.

That's a given. But seriously, take the time to wander around showrooms, furniture stores, thrift shops, etc. to see which pieces stand out to and really catch your attention. I did this, but when it came down to crunch it, rather than let my guests sit on my lap or on folding furniture, I jumped the gun and purchased the first piece that looked decently made, fit into my budget and wouldn't look horrendous in my space.

anthropologie decor
Tip Number Two - Test drive potential suitors.

Get your mind out of the gutter!! When I was wandering around the furniture store where I bought my couch, I sat on a few pieces, but I didn't dive into them, or flop around on them like I would a piece in my own home. Think about how you live and how you use your couch. Will the piece be sat on when you're entertaining? Do you nap on the couch? Do you want a cozy couch where you can snuggle up with your partner and watch a movie without being squished? My advice to you - jump around on showroom pieces, flop into chairs, lay on them, make yourself cozy in them. If you're going to be spending the coin, make sure you get what you want. Take it from me, there's nothing worse than spending half of the evening feeling like I'm going to fall off of the couch...and neither of us are big.

Tip Number Three - Know your style.

To be fair, my camel coloured beast isn't the ugliest thing that I've ever seen. It's actually quite handsome. That said, it's not what I was originally going for. It really isn't me. I wanted something casual. Something big and cozy with overstuffed seat and back cushions....a piece that I could basically live on. I wanted a sofa with a removable slipcover that I could throw in the wash so that I wouldn't have to worry about getting jam or whatever on the upholstery. Instead, I've got classic, formal and micro suede that, pardon the language, is a real bitch to keep clean. I hate the upholstery on my couch. It's a dust magnet and I swear that at some point Mister is going to knock me out if I 'pull a Dan' and go all crazy on him for having a piece of cheese resting on one of the arms. I got it scotch guarded which helps, but I'll never go with micro suede again. That said, there are people who adore micro suede for whatever reason....

Tip Number Four - Spend as much as you can.

When it comes to purchasing a couch you want to buy the best piece that you can possibly afford. Seriously. You should look at your couch as an investment piece - the more that you can afford to invest, the longer your piece will last. Sure you could go to your nearest big box and buy a door crasher two piece living room set (never, ever do that) for the princely sum of $799.99.... but seriously, how long do you expect that set to last? You might get three years - possibly five out of the set. Typically these pieces are import, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - there are a number of great import pieces, but a bulk of these pieces feature sub-par fabrics, stitching and fill. 

When it comes down to it, you can buy a 'choice' couches for $499.99 to $699.99, 'decent' couch for $799.99 thru $999.99 and a 'good' couch for $999.99 and up. I'm not even going to discuss those couches that you see for prices higher than the cost of my last car...I love designer pieces, but really, who of us can afford pieces that expensive?

Avoid at all costs (for obvious reasons)
Plus, when it comes to purchasing selections from your local big box furniture outlet, you're often limited to colours and finishes shown on the sales floor. If I hadn't panicked, I would have waited 6 to 8 weeks for my custom upholstery selection. It's totally worth it when you can get the colour and finish that you really want.

Related to this, I bring you my next tip -

Tip Number Five - Pick your couch before you pick your paint colour.

This is a tip that I failed to follow in my own home. I wasn't sure when I was going to purchase my couch and wasn't prepared to live with 'rental white' walls, so went ahead and painted. However, being that I painted my walls in earth tones, I lucked out for the most part. That said, I am thinking of shaking up the colour scheme this summer. The last thing that you want is to end-up with a room that looks like this...
And lastly, I bring to you, 

Tip Number Six - Think outside the box.

There are a gazillion furniture stores, designer boutiques and online retailers that sell some amazing couches. However, if you're open minded (I hope you are!) why not wander down to your nearest thrift store to see what's on offer. I'm serious.

Sure you'll see a lot of ugly upholstery, rips, tears and mysterious stains. That and the bad 90s marshmallow upholstery that's been hitting up thrift stores as of late....but seriously, there's a lot of great pieces to be found. Look beyond the ugly upholstery, rips, tears and you'll see some great classic shapes. These  pieces can be snapped up dirt cheap and allow you access to a 'semi-custom' piece. Thrift stores are filled with well constructed pieces looking for a second life. With widely available for under $150 + whatever you choose for fabric and finishing and the cost of upholstering you can have a piece that will last longer than anything found at a 'don't pay for 15 month' sale. That and the piece will be uniquely yours, which I dig.

So there you have it. My guide to picking out a couch (and liking it afterwards). The only question left is who's out there that wants to buy a slightly used camel tone, micro suede, Canadian made couch? Just kidding (although, if you're me up)! I'll be living with my couch for a few more years (I think), and I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to make it work it my space. If all else fails and I get sick of the camel micro suede there's always the option of a slipcover & throw cushions!

1 comment:

  1. These are the tips I've been looking for! My boyfriend and I have been looking into many loveseats for sale but don't really know what we're looking for.



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