One thing I seem to have a lot of discussion with family and friends and the occasional client about are Sofas. I thought it might be helpful to others to write down my thoughts and advice that I regularly give out on the subject. Mr AV and I are currently in the midst of organising our sofa. And I'm happy to report that after a lot of discussion about modular vs sofa and armchairs, and overall style of sofa (high/low back, cushions etc etc) we've made a decision.... It came about because I was looking at the expensive Italian furniture manufacturers websites for inspiration (companies like B&B Italia, Poliform etc), and found exactly the look that I think will work well in our space - quite modern, which will play well off the old stone fireplace, the steel windows and the rustic dining table.


The problem is, that Italian furniture companies do not supply cheap sofas. I suspect this one above would retail for well over $25,000. I haven't actually checked, as really... what's the point?! So I decided to use this as inspiration for our sofa. Part of the problem that I've had with a modular is that I didn't want a giant U or L shape in the room which can look quite 'blocky'. I also like having side tables and consoles to provide places to put down a glass or have a lamp. This one is laid out with some open parts avoiding the block in, and I particularly liked the clever tables that go over different parts of the seat to break it up and provide somewhere to put a drink down.


So, I've had a bit of a hunt around, and we've selected the "Empire" from Jardan, which I'm putting together in a non standard way. Here it is below - it's fairly simple/ classic. Now, this is not a cheap sofa either, but it's not going to be in the Italian scale of expenditure, so we're ok with that.


I do think a sofa is the one piece of furniture, aside from your mattress, that is worth sinking a big portion of your budget into. A more expensive sofa should last you for years and years, and be much more comfortable during this time. My favourite manufacturers of high quality sofas locally in Australia are Jardan, Moran and King furniture (I also use two other manufacturers that are to the Trade only for custom work). Jardan and Moran are available through David Jone's and Myer department stores, and Jardan also has stand alone stores in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. I particularly like Jardan for a modern style of sofa, and the one and only sofa we have in our house came from there 13 years ago and has had a hard, hard life. At the time (Mr AV and I were 25) it was a huge expenditure, and most of our friends were buying far cheaper sofas from Freedom Furniture etc. But it was most definitely worth the money - very comfortable, and still looks good style-wise all these years later. Many of my friends got rid of their sofas after 5 years, bought new ones, and then have recently done the same again (finally investing in good quality ones). Our sofa is our only seating option, and has been for the entire time that we've had it, and has consequently had a lot of use. It's not quite ready for the scrap heap just yet either.

Jardan's Leila sofa


So some of my tips - when choosing your fabric, really consider the amount of use your sofa will have. I would recommend that if your sofa is going to get a high amount of use in your main living area you should choose a commercial quality fabric. These should have a rub test (martindale rate), and the higher the number the better it is. A high rub test rate will mean that your sofa will not come apart at the seams, will not pill, fray or have any pile wear off and should look a lot better in the long run after years of use. Of course leather is the most durable, unless you have a cat...

I'd also suggest that in considering your sofa, you also weigh up a few factors, such as how you'll use it. If it's your only seating space in your house, and you'll have guests using it then buying a big extra deep squishy sofa is not going to be a good choice. Most people won't lounge when they visit your home, they'll sit more upright. Balancing upright on a squishy and deep sofa is difficult. If it's just for you and you have other seating areas for guests, then by all means buy what you like. Interestingly, most men tend to want a sofa with a high back on it, and most women want something lower (going more for the aesthetics). Most men also seem to be attracted to very overstuffed leather sofas - they give the illusion of comfort (because you can most definitely find comfortable sofas without having to resort to puffy marshmallow style ones).

puffy marshmallow suite. Please don't buy one.

If it is not in your budget to buy a new sofa, I would recommend that you look on Gumtree or in your local Auction House (the ones that deal in estates, bric a brac and the lower end of the antique market, not Christies or Sotherby). Look for the sofa that was someone's pride and joy in their formal living room and that has a reasonably classic shape - ignore the fabric.  This sofa would not have had much use at all, it will still be in pristine condition with the springs and foam intact. Now, upholstering a sofa is reasonably expensive (around the $800 - 1000 mark for a 2.5 seater plus fabric on top of that). Our labour costs in Australia are high, so the reason why you'd upholster a sofa over buying a brand new one is because you like the shape and it can't be easily replicated. If you don't like the fabric on your new estate sofa, then I would look at doing a custom slipcover. Again, this is not cheap in Australia... it will cost almost as much as reupholstering, so instead I've used the Slipcover Shop in the US in the past, where a heavy duty cotton custom cover with separate seat and back cushions will cost around $350 - 450 and just require you to do a fair bit of measuring. Check online for coupons as well. As you can often pick up the sofas at Auction for around the $200 mark, this is very cost effective. I actually had a bid in last weekend on a three piece lounge suite with a fantastic shape... but I lost out by $10!! It was going to go in our soon to be empty Study and be reupholstered... so the hunt continues.


The third, and final option is IKEA. I'm not a huge fan of Ikea, as it's really disposable furniture/ stuff for future landfill in my opinion, and not the most comfortable. But it does have its place (and I do have Ikea bookshelves in my house for instance - I'm not completely anti Ikea). I don't love the sofas as I don't think they are as comfortable in the long term. But if you do buy one, and want to improve the look I've come across a couple of great sites for customising your Ikea sofa - Slipcovers here from Bemz with some great fabric choices (picture is above) and different leg profiles here at Prettypegs.




So... our 13 year old sofa from Jardan is not looking the best. Around 5 years ago I had slipcovers made up in white, which really has eeked it out a little longer looking fairly respectable. I do think that while my original fabric choice (domestic quality upholstery fabric in light beige) was not necessarily the smartest (although, as we were 25 and unmarried when I ordered the sofa, Children were a long way from our thoughts at the time) the sofa has stood the test of time - it's still very comfortable, and has survived children jumping on it, having its cushions turned into spaceships and cubby houses, and numerous spilt cups of tea/ coffee/ wine (hence the slipcovers...).


On to a new chapter in our home, with new sofas that accommodate more than 3 people - how grown up for us! The old one is going to end up in the children's playroom, where it will likely finish its days.

This is not a sponsored post

36 comments:

  1. Puffy marshmallow suites - awful.......disgusting.......why does anyone buy these!

    what house?

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    1. I just don't know. It's like something out of The Simpsons xx

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  2. Oh gosh - I need you last week when I made my mistake. Love the look of my herringbone wool sofa, but the cushions are not firm enough - sigh. I will eventually have to get some new ones made. I like your choice a lot - I think it will look divine in your space!

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    1. Oh no Wendy! That's the worst feeling when you've gone to so much effort, agonised and then are not happy with it. xx

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  3. Wow - your sofa really has lasted well! I am still grappling with the sofa thing but now it is way down on the list of priorities...I might have to go to the auction houses and look for another sofa. I am still grappling with the cost of reupholstering so much so that I am thinking of doing a upholstery course. Seriously. But only thing i can do are seat cushions. I had a look at the Jardan website - wish they were here. Surprisingly they have a really limited range here. It's either high high end or ikea. Habitat is so expensive for what it is and also I hate the 3 month lead times bc I want it now damn it before I change my mind!! My dream sofa is the minotti ones but they never ever seem to go on sale or turn up on ebay. xx

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    1. I think, give your stage of renos, that you can probably put of all decisions for a couple of months at least.
      Would love to see your blogging about the upholstery course! I am surprised about the lack of options for you... I doubt very much minotti would come up on ebay etc. although they must be offloading them somewhere... Are there any upmarket consignment stores for designer furniture in London? They have them in Sydney and Melbourne, and only stock Italian etc designer furniture (and no replica stuff). That's where everyone puts their stuff when they redecorate or move homes etc. Still costs a lot, but at least half of the original RRP. xx

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    2. So interesting these consignment store idea for furniture!!! They still don't do that here but such a great idea. No it's still Lots Road auction waiting for a sleeper - in fact I think that will be the fate of my sofa and some lucky upholsterer will redo mine and make money on it...PS just found out upholstery courses are just as expensive as redoing a sofa so now I am in two minds about it!

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    3. A tip for Coulda shoulda woulda - Kingcome sofas on the Fulham Road near Old Church Street have fantastic sales in January (and late summer) - usually display sofas or ones upholstered for magazine photo shoots. Typically half price. x

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    4. I used to love Kingcome sofas - very good quality (and sound like they still are?) x

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  4. Heidi, this post is very relevant to me at the moment as our Ikea couch has completely lost all cushion memory - only after around 18 months. I still like Ikea for what it is but it is time to upgrade. We bought it when we first moved into our rental flat after moving back from the Uk, however we live in a house now, so are looking to purchase something that will last. We were going to go with Natuzzi, however I might go and check out Jardan's store. A great post as usual xx

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    1. Oh dear Fifi - I'm so sorry to hear that about the Ikea sofa. You really should get more than 18 months out of it. Natuzzi make good sofas, but definitely check out Jardan's Brisbane store. I think you'd like their various styles, plus they do sustainable manufacture, and it's all made locally which is something to consider. xx

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  5. I used to have a white slip covered sofa, which I gave to the delivery guy who delivered the leather sofa which my kid has spilt so much muck on- and I just merrily wipe it off. The fabric just wouldn't've cut the mustard.

    That room's v. nice x

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    1. Leather does work well with kids, fabric is difficult. I'm hopeful that I'll successfully corral all antisocial sofa behaviour to the old one in the Kid's playroom. Fingers crossed...The room itself is nice, but it's got crap piled up in all corners at the moment. It's driving Mr AV quietly nuts. Unfortunately I have a lot of catalogues etc around the place for the renosxx

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  6. Now I'm in my element. I spend a lot of time on the couch! We have several. Some are investment pieces, and some are practical such as a sofa bed and a lazy boy rocking chair, which was bought for my babies. We also have a hideous three seater couch that allows for independent reclining (for each seat)- it is dreadful- but my husband is attached, so it follows us from house to house. So far it has survived 4 moves. It is currently outside on the patio. Where it belongs.

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    1. Laughing at your comment - that reclining sofa sounds absolutely hideous!! I'm sure it's very comfortable though. It reminds me of years ago going to one of the trade expos, Decorex, which had Furnitex as part of it. I was happily browsing through the stands when I hit what I termed the Ugly Sofa Section - literally 2/3rds of the space in the expo full of reclining sofas and puffy lounges, all with cup holders and slots for remote controls built into their arms. Some had trays between seats on the sofa for your drinks. Many would also do massage etc. Row upon row of them, with people queuing up to try them out. I nearly ran screaming for the door - you've certainly never seen me walk so fast in heels before!! xx

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    2. Ha! Don't tell my husband- he'll be ordering a three seater independent recliner with cup holders and slots for the remote controls!

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  7. I wish I'd read this post around this time last year, when I overhauled my sofas. I went down the reupholstery route (which I can confirm is not cheap in London). My husband had a really good quality Ralph Lauren sofa which he had bought in NYC and shipped over when he relocated. I got it covered in a teal/light blue brer rabbit fabric from William Morris (I had free-reign on the design). The interesting thing was that it was done in-situ as the sofa is very large and it was incredible to see the sofa stripped down and then built up.
    I also had a slip cover made for a daybed in our study which is sort of like an extra long valance on a bed. On top of it sits some back cushions and a pair of blosters. I did this in a colefax fabric which I forget the name of. It has transfored the room! I hated having a bed in the study but it was practical for out of town vistors and is much more comfortable than a sofa bed.
    x

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    1. That's amazing that they did the sofa reupholstery at your place Charlotte - how fascinating that would've been to watch! Love your fabric choice, I bet it looks fab now.
      Your spare bed sounds like a great solution too - I hate sofa beds because they are so uncomfortable, but having a full bed in a study can make a room look a bit half/half. I'm sure the Colefax fabric looks stunning on it xx

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  8. The new sofa is just stunning, I would love something that modern, I always have to go for a pattern because I am the kind of tinker that loves nothing better than eating on the sofa - it's just me most of the time so I really do still live like a teenager, I have no one to set a example too!

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    1. I'm a bit worried about the fabric and kids to be honest - it's going to be hard work to keep them and their shoes/snacks off it.
      There's nothing better than a cosy night on the sofa in front of a fire with dinner on laps. xx

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  9. My pet hate in a sofa is very wide arms , always looks so ungainly. I hadn't heard of Jardan before and as always glad to see more furniture made here. Yours is a really nice one , btw can you buy a modern sofa with feather filled cushions anymore?

    My 2 sofas belonged to the late mother of my oldest friend but they looked more stylish in their previous home I think. I do also have the Victorian sofa of dark carved wood yet another famiy heirloom.

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    1. Jardan is fantastic - they are into sustainability too, all designed locally (and they don't copy the Italians, unlike a couple of other local manufacturers), and all made in Melbourne. I haven't seen a modern sofa with feather fill - a couple of the manufacturers that I use for more custom pieces will do it, but I usually specify a feather wrap over foam cushions. That way they keep their shape better, but you get that puffy/fluffy look of the feather cushion as well. The best of both worlds.
      Hand me downs are fantastic, and they don't make them like they used to. The two armchairs I had reupholstered late last year are both 200 years old - they came out on a boat with Mr AV's family when they first arrived in Australia! I doubt that you'll find a modern armchair in such good condition in 200 years time. xx

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    2. wow thats amazing furniture coming with the family ..mine came as convicts no furniture Im afraid

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  10. I love your Jardan choice!! I'm very excited about getting a couple of new sofas/armchairs soonish, and this post is very helpful indeed!
    Our current sofa will be kept, as it has lasted for 45 years so far… It's a Conran one bought by J's mother in about 1967. We had it re-upholstered and cushioned after we moved to Australia in 2000. The fabric (dark fuchsia tweed wool) is still in pretty good shape, but the cushions are losing their firmness, so we may need to get it all re-done again soon.
    Ikea is not on my radar… I have only been there two times and I vowed never to set foot in one again after my last visit - it's a recipe for divorce if you ask me!!!
    I have nothing against their stuff, but apart from cheap bedding and the odd storage container, I couldn't bring myself to buy anything, not because it's not good, but I just can't stand self-assemble items that will only last a couple of years.
    I'd rather buy from a junk shop and re-furbish an item, if at all possible.

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    1. I agree with you re Ikea, but I've generally found a lot of stuff breaks pretty quickly - glasses chip in the dishwasher, frames are flimsy, lampshades have stupid clips that need constant readjustment, furniture gets the wobbles no matter how much you tighten up with the allen keys... there is some good stuff, but I do tend to think that much of it you could find better quality in an Op shop for less money.
      Your Conran sofa sounds amazing, and love the sound of that Fuchsia wool too, and how amazing how long its lasted and still looking and feeling good. I know how much you're looking forward to the new decoration part of your reno.... it'll come around faster than you think. xx

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  11. Very interesting Heidi... In Sydney, I have a sofa covered in the most ridiculous fabric... it catches and pulls so easily and just one movement of a dog paw and the fabric pulls. I almost want to chuck the dogs on there all day for a month, to justify a recover!! I love buying second-hand sofas ... the old-fashioned kind that are front sprung and are sublimely comfortable. Unfortunately, they always require re-covering though!. xx

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  12. Oh, you're the Queen of Reupholstery Jenny! I so love what you did to your armchairs at your beach house. I know what you mean about pulling - the sofa in our bedroom has a bit of a weave. It looks fine (as we don't have any pets living with us at the moment), but I live in terror of the children doing something to it. It's reasonably safe as they're not supposed to play in our bedroom... but I do find them there from time to time leaping about on it!! xx

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  13. Great choice with the Jardan sofa. Our main lounge is Jardan very similar to the one you have chosen except ours was bought 11 years ago through Country Road at the time. It has held up amazingly well despite serious kid activity and is amazingly comfy. It is going in our family/tv room and I am trying to find something else for our lounge room. Suspect it may take me a while to find something I like that fits the end of renovation budget, might be beanbags for a while! There is a King furniture option I quite like but years ago when I looked I didn't find their lounges comfy which rates equal with looks for me. Have to say I do quite like the look of the new Jardan Camper range with their cloud shaped backs, my kind of quirky! mel x

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    1. That's so good to hear that you've also had a good result with your old Jardan sofa too Mel. I really do think they're very well made. Interesting you didn't find the King Sofa ones so comfortable. My sister has a King Furniture sofa and loves it, but I'll wait for her to change it in a few years.... she chose White, and has just had her second baby!! xx

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  14. Wish we had room for such a large sofa - might actually have room to squash on with all the dogs then!

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  15. Loved this post!

    I am so excited to be awaiting the delivery of our Australian custom made sofa <3

    B

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  16. Hello gorgeous girl Yes, I'm still here! Just having a peek around Blogland. I really enjoyed this post. Our old Freedom couch was bought pre-children. Thanks to them, it's starting to fall apart. It's about 12 years old. I'm thinking leather should be the go next time. J x

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    1. Hello Jane! Ah.. yes - you're lucky it's lasted 12 years! Leather is definitely a good option to ensure removal of the vegemite finger prints! xx

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  17. Jardan's Empire sofa is my favourite. Ticks all my boxes, with the possible exception of price, which of course you can't see from their website. Any idea of ball park figure for the Empire sofa as shown in your 3rd photo? I see from a more recent post that you changed to a different style in the end. What was the catch? OK. I've just discovered your blog so I'm off for a good sticky beak around now. Thanks.

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    1. It really depends on the fabric you use, and size of the sofa as to what the end product ends up costing. I'm not sure where you are, but there are now retail shops for Jardan in Melb, Sydney and Brisbane and you could contact them for a ball park? I haven't priced up the Empire for a long time, so would really just be guessing…. We ended up with the Leila because they wouldn't alter the chaise enough to make the configuration I wanted work. I couldn't work out what their reasoning was, and argued with them about it a bit, but they thought it would compromise the design for some reason. The Leila's we have work really well though, so I'm happy with the overall outcome.

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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