Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sitting Pretty: The Agony of Finding The Perfect Sofa

Ever since we moved into our house, two months ago, we've been searching for some new sofas. We sold our old sofas to the buyers of our house, you see, and since then we've been using (in order of comfort) a bean bag, a chaise longue, a cheap two-seater sofa and a dining chair to watch TV at night. It gets rather awkward when more than two people come to visit. We've had to pull out the folding camp chair on occasion.

A few weekends ago, I became fed up with the lack of class in our house and trawled the stores in search of a stylish couch. Has anyone done this lately? It was agonising. All the sofas I love were either insanely expensive, or too exorbitant to contemplate. I don't know about you lovely library readers but we have a huge mortgage. We simply can't afford $3000 for a couch. Let alone $6000 for two.

There's an old saying that I love: desperation breeds determination. Or is it: When the going gets tough, the tough resort to creative measures? Anyway, I was so disillusioned by the over-priced sofas I decided to go on a sofa mission. Two sofas for under $1000.

I targeted the auction houses, the second-hand stores and even ye olde eBay looking for classic styles. Finally, I unearthed two beautiful old wingback sofas at a cute little second-hand store in the countryside. They were $100 each. I only wanted one. "You might as well take them both," said the lovely owner. Then I found two bolts of stunning cobalt-blue herringbone tweed marked down to $5/metre. I took 15 metres – $80. An hour later, I found a delightful 70-year-old-upholsterer willing to do the job for $400/sofa. He was also happy to collect the sofas up from the shop. But he said he couldn't do the job for another month because he was "going on a caravan holiday with his wife: their first in three years".  I told him we could certainly wait, and I hoped they had a romantic break. It took me two days of driving around the countryside, so the fuel was probably another $40. Total price for two gorgeous wingback sofas in navy herringbone? I don't care, because I'm just so THRILLED we finally have something to sit on! 

But the moral of this story is: Look before you leap, or you sit, because now that we've decided on cobalt herringbone I've discovered that everyone else in the world is choosing PINK! Yes, that's right, a pink sofa is still the seat du jour, apparently, even after all the saturation we've seen of this pretty shade. Orange, green and grey are also fairly fashionable, but pink is the top choice, it seems. This cute one, above, is Diane von Furstenberg's. 

Pink sofas. Who would have thought they were the height of sitting room chic?

The sitting room of Number Sixteen Hotel in London, designed by the always stylish Kit Kemp.

A room by one of my favourite designers, Mary McDonald. Too much pink, do you think? I like it. I think it looks very English.

Here's another beautiful English home, this time by Harriet Anstruther, in London.

And yet another space designed by an Englishwoman with an eye for a good design, India Hicks. Her mother, Pamela Hicks, also has a pink sofa, I noticed in one of her posts.

Even India's daughter, Domino, has her own version.

Lilly Pulitzer's also doing a few pink numbers. I love the ottoman. The flip side is actually a different colour. Aqua, from memory?

Anna Spiro's famous pink sofas, as featured in Vogue and Canadian House & Home. I always adored the hot pink cane couch. So whimsical and unexpected.

Here's another sofa that Anna recovered for her home. Slip covers. Don't you just love them?

Another English version of a pink sofa, this time by Ros Byam.

Which reminds me of this pretty number, from the lovely Chinoiserie Chic blog...

Even Miles Redd is taking to pink sofas now...

So is John Stefanidis...

But this little cutie was my favourite of all of them... 

(Source of this image and image at very top unknown. Please feel free to notify me if you know, so I can credit accordingly.)


  1. Yes, but think of what goes with cobalt - pink! Pink pillows, pink throw, pink everywhere else. And then think of brilliant greens or orange or red or yellow - or the whole spectrum you can interchange with the pink. Cobalt can be a great neutral. You made the right decision.

    1. Your comment was so uplifting. Thank you Laura Lee. Perhaps we'll have to find some pink or orange cushions now. There are a few lovely decorators and designers who read this blog, perhaps I'll ask them if they have any in stock? Thanks again. x

  2. How terrifying to find my pink leather sectional from the 80's is in style. It certainly wasn't when we bought it. It now spends its time downstairs in our media room so it's mostly seen in the dark.
    Lovely pictures!!

    1. A leather sofa is always good for a media room, I think. It doesn't show the wear and tear of bottoms, nor of drink spills and chips. x

  3. love a pink sofa.

    I own the giant cushion on the 1st Anna Spiro sofa, the big one on the back left x

    1. Oh, that's a gorgeous cushion! An Anna Spiro cushion is one of my decorating dreams. Ours seem to be so saggy? (Although I'm not sure if that's because of the dogs sitting on them?!) x

  4. A girl after my own heart. Well done for your patience and persistence. You will get so much more pleasure from them than you would if you had just swiped your credit card for $3000+ per sofa! Can we take a peek at the new cobalt sofas?

    1. They're still with the upholster Jan, and he's still on his 'romantic caravan (RV) holiday"... I don't want to rush him either. He was so looking forward to going away.

      I'll try and post a photo when they're done. And maybe even during the process. I'd love to know how to upholster a sofa. x

  5. If everyone has pink that would put me off..I like to have something different.. your 2 sound fab. hope we get to see them .

    yes sofas, I like ones with feather filled cushions that you can lie on. Not that I have those ...
    I got mine earlier this year , they are modern looking and a sort of a burnt orange, they were given to me ..v lucky.

    However what I need to do permitting is to re upholster the carved 1860s job. My great great grandfather was a furniture maker...yes I am burdened with the family heirlooms.. not that I would get rid of any of it

    BTW coming to Melbourne for the long weekend for my bi annual visit it still winter there?..v. excited I love Melbourne

    1. Mmmm, we were told about these magnificent feather numbers. They sound utterly luxe.

      Your orange version sounds very stylish. And free too! Even better...

      Melbourne is warming up at last, spring is here finally. Weather is to be 27 later this week. I've been wearing a summer dress and a light trenchcoat for the last few days. Do bring a brolly or trench - it's still raining every other day.

      All the spring fashions are out in the stores, and the bulbs are blooming in the Botanic Gardens and along the streets. It's a gorgeous time to be visiting. Do hope you get to go shopping! xx

  6. Also love love love the Mary McDonald room, indeed it does look very English, more comfortable and less 'styled' than a lot of interiors these days in mags.

  7. I covet a pink sofa, maybe I could get away with it sometime in the future as my husband is colourblind and conveniently can't see pink! In the meantime I'll have to make do with the sofa's I already used to belong to my grandparents, one to Leo Schofield and another I picked up on the cheap from the auction and had recovered in Designers Guild mock crocodile velvet! Yours sound like they will be gorgeous and even better, conversation pieces! Rx

  8. Lovely designs of the sofas..Really like them all.


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