I've spent the last few months on the hunt for a new sofa. What I was looking for seemed somewhat impossible: a comfortable sofa with modern, clean lines that was slipcovered in a fully washable fabric. And just to make it a little harder: I was trying to find something under $1000.
I found plenty of gorgeous, modern sofas that were stiff and uncomfortable, with back cushions that were comically short. Most were not the least bit washable- which seems sort of insane to me. Between our dog sleeping on the couch for 14 hours a day, and our bad habit of eating dinner in front of the tv, I knew we needed something that could be thrown in the wash when the inevitable wine or food spill occurred. Slipcovers were the obvious answer, but most slipcovered sofas have a very traditional look, with oversized rolled arms and full skirts- not what I was going for. Eventually, I was able to find some options (though most were not in my price range). Read on for my top picks:
The 86" Jasper Sofa from Room and Board ($1399) is a very handsome fellow. Room and Board makes great sofas, and I was very tempted by the Jasper. I spent a lot of time trying to talk myself (and my husband) into buying this sofa as an "investment". Technically, it didn't fit all my requirements because it doesn't come slipcovered, but all the cushion covers are removable (though they recommend dry cleaning). You can order a slipcover for Jasper, but it will run you about $500. I finally gave up the dream of this sofa once I actually sat on it in person. Some of the online reviews had complained about the back cushions breaking down and sagging over time. The sofa is very comfortable, but the back cushions are really soft, and I could envision them breaking down quickly. We tend to be hard on furniture, and if I'm going to invest in a nice couch, I want it to last for a very long time.
The 85" Norah Slipcover Sofa from Rowe ($1310+) offers a lot of great options. Rowe sofas are custom ordered through your local dealer, and then built in the USA to your specifications. They have hundreds of fabrics you can choose from (many of them machine washable), and you can specify leg finish and cushion fill (you can upgrade to super comfortable feather top cushions for about $120). The Norah model even includes four throw pillows in fabrics of your choice (though the prints to choose from are not super exciting). Unfortunately, none of my local dealers had a floor model of the Norah for me to see in person, but all the Rowe sofas I did see were comfortable and well made. I ultimately decided against this one because of price, but I'd definitely consider a Rowe sofa in the future. If you are considering one, definitely shop around between dealers- I had one local store quote me $1700 for this sofa. The best prices I found in the Bay Area were at Chameleon Consignment in Lafayette.
The 84" Monterey Sofa ($1398) from Cre8 a Couch is fully customizable (hence the cringe-inducing Cre8 name). None of their sofas come slipcovered, but you can order the Monterey with a slipcover for an additional $250. In addition to choosing from their hundreds of fabric options, you can specify the couch height, seat depth, cushion fill, or add details like nailheads. I was a little freaked out by the idea of ordering a custom (non-returnable) couch without knowing exactly what I'd end up with, but they do have a wide variety of floor models for you to try out and use as a template for your design. I ended up deciding not to take a $1800 gamble (the quoted price of the Monterey I designed, including the slipcover and delivery), but I think their custom couches are worth considering if you have the funds and are looking for an unusual size or detail.
In conclusion, after sitting on many, many, many couches, I will attest that you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to sofas. Also, sofas are expensive. To really get the best deal, I'd advise finding a good quality sofa at a consignment store (I didn't have any luck finding anything used since I was looking for something so specific). The more expensive options I looked at were definitely better constructed and generally more comfortable. The particleboard frame of the Ikea sofa is not going to be as durable and strong as the hardwood frames of the nicer options. The Ikea sofa was not made by American craftsmen, and it definitely wasn't made to my exact specifications. It's a shame that there has to be such a huge jump between Ikea and anything else. Many of the other couches I found on the market for less than $1000 were horribly uncomfortable or just obviously terrible quality. If you can afford it, I think one of my first three options would be a great pick. Hopefully, we'll be able to upgrade from Ikea at some point, but as we're still renting and who knows where we'll end up living next, it just didn't make sense to invest a lot of dough into a couch at this point. So far, I'm quite happy with the Karlstad and think we made the right choice. Stay tuned for photos!
[Top photo from Room and Board]