CHOOSING AN ENGLISH ROLL ARM
If you tuned into Emily Henderson’s blog last week, you saw my intro post for #MakeoverTakeover (which got lots of lovely comments, so THANK YOU ALL for that!). This week, I’m delving into a bit more of the specifics and talking about, you guessed it, sofa choices! Exciting, right? This was a big one for me because sofas are expensive, and for my indecisive self I felt the pressure to not get it wrong. I couldn’t fumble this one. So I took the time to consider everything I wanted in the sofa first. I started by asking myself the following questions:
1) What do you want from this sofa?
2) What kind of fabric/colour?
3) What style of sofa do you want?
4) How much do you want to spend?
Standard as these questions are, it’s the same ones I start with when consulting with clients. Everything that comes into this room after the sofa will have to work in harmony with the sofa. So the answers to these questions are as much about the ROOM as they are about that first, ever important, piece of furniture. And by dissecting these answers you can start pulling your options together.
Here is what I answered:
1) Comfort: An obvious one. Let’s face it, no one ever says they want an uncomfy sofa. I was looking for a deep sofa, one that I could sink into whilst watching Parenthood (yes, I know I’m four years behind, so NO SPOILERS PLEASE!).
2) Linen or cotton (or a blend). We have dogs and so the fabric choice was one that I had to consider very carefully. They are the sweetest little fellas alive, but one of them sheds and the other LOVES to lick. Himself, us, and the pillows. So we needed something light in colour so the shedding hair isn’t an eye sore. And a fabric that was durable, that could withstand the test of time and the sandpaper tongue of a nine-year-old chihuahua. I’m not a lover of velvet (for my space) and we had ‘Everyday Suede’ (not my choice, or my favourite) on our old sofa. Both durable materials, but likely to be ruined by one dog or the other before long. So, the thought was to go with something that has a slight woven texture (which works with my love of natural fibers!).
3) Last week, I spoke about finding my own personal style. If Emily’s book is any indication, then mine is Scandinavian/Zen (although I’m not sure my sofa choice quite fits into that bracket). Maybe the COLOUR, but certainly not the STYLE. As you can see from the opening photo, I went more traditional in the style of the English roll arm. Having never bought a sofa until now, I’d never thought about it in depth. But as I began to pin ideas (always a recommendation of mine, you’ll be blown away by the common threads you’ll find!), it became apparent that the roll arm was the way forward for me. Pinpointing that was the most challenging part, because there are so many sofa styles out there. Even the English roll arm category has it’s own variations of styles!
4) I was looking to spend around $2000.
Once I narrowed down the style, I started to look at what options were out there in our price range. It was also important to understand the differences between what each store that offered the style of English roll arm could provide. Was it in our budget? Did it feature the kind of dog-proof details we needed? Asking questions was EVERYTHING!
Not long after I started looking, IKEA came out with the ‘Stocksund’ which, for the price, is pretty incredible. It wasn’t the most comfy thing to sit on, but I loved the fact that it has removable back cushions and that the feet are light wood toned. A small detail to some, but certainly fit into that Scandinavian aesthetic for me. The downside for me was that the fabric selections – there’s only about five, and even the best of them wasn’t working right in my colour scheme. So, for me, a deal breaker. Would I recommend this to a client? Absolutely, for the right client. For someone on a tight budget that wasn’t too fussed about the limited selections, this is a really, really great option.
Full disclosure: You can’t buy this sofa in America (UK shoppers, GO AND GET IT!!!). So why am I showing you? Because, truth be told, this was – and still is – my dream sofa. Around the time Emily got her family room sectional from Sofa.com, I started perusing their site, found this beauty and fell in love. But when it finally came time to pull the trigger and order it, I learned they’d closed their New York warehouse and were, effectively, now only working from their UK base. To say I was GUTTED isn’t saying enough. Why do I love it so much? The shape, the back cushions, the fabric (which is, by far, one of the best selections I’ve seen), the brass castors, the welting . . . this list goes on. I did look to getting it shipped over, but shipping alone would have been at least double our budget, and as I’m learning: “If you SET a budget for yourself, STICK to it!” 😉
Recognize this bad boy? This is the sofa Brady is getting from Interior Define. They had not long since come out with the Rose sofa in collaboration with The Everygirl blog. I contacted them about fabric options and, at the time, they only had the one choice: The light grey you see above. When the swatch arrived, the texture wasn’t quite right. Now they have an array of options, so it just shows what a year of being in production can do. I cannot wait to see Brady’s sofa when it comes. We deliberated for days over which fabric he should choose, and he finally picked an amazing fabric choice from their selection. They have some incredible options now.
The Restoration Hardware roll arm. When I first moved to the States, I was very dubious about Restoration Hardware because all of their stuff is SO BIG and would never fit into our matchbox-sized houses back home. But I’ve begun to develop an obsession for them, mainly because of the materials they use (and their new store on Melrose is A DREAM). I went down to the RH Outlet in Long Beach to see if they had any good deals on the sofa, but their only options were cream linen (again, not very dog friendly!). What I love about this RH sofa are the feet and the choice of fabrics. They have the best Belgian linen options, and I’m crazy about Belgian linen right now. If I had it my way, Belgian linen would adorn every surface of my house. What I didn’t love is that they feature too many seat pads. This doesn’t work with my ‘less is more mantra’ (…Zen…?). I don’t need that many cushions!
Which one did I go for, did I hear you ask? Let me present . . . the Carlisle Grand sofa from Pottery Barn. Again, when I got here, there were certain connotations attached that led me to think Pottery Barn was a bit stuffy, something your Mum would LOVE, something a bit more ‘grown up’ about it. What I love most about the sofa is that you can get one long seat pad instead of two or three, which means you don’t have to be that person sitting with (or sliding down) the crack up your ole “you know what.” The fabric is brilliant too. It’s recycled cotton in Heather Gray: A blend of 70% cotton, 26% acrylic and 4% other (I hate when they say that, what is that other fabric???). And It can be machine washed cold (wonderful with the two sweaty, shedding, licking ratbags). Of course, like all good things, it isn’t PERFECT. I really wanted castors on the feet to give it that traditional English feel. But everything else ticked the boxes and we paid $1900 for it (which included my designer discount). In January, we’ll have had it a year and it still feels brand new. Pottery Barn might be more “grown up,” but they know how to make one heck of a good sofa.
These photos give you a better glimpse into how the **not styled** living room looked once the new sofa got here.
I’m still deliberating over whether to get a new coffee table. This is one of PC’s last standing pieces of furniture from his life before me, and one I’m not totally opposed to. In fact, I quite like it. Except it does feel very big in the space. We’re also lacking some seating, so I’m hoping to find two small side chairs that will sit opposite each other (sort of ‘flanking’ the sofa). The rug we’re currently featuring is too light for the space, and almost blends in with the sofa colour. So, I’m looking to upgrade that soon too (actually, if you’ve seen my Instagram, then you know I’ve found a rug that I LOVE, I’m just not quite ready to reveal that on here yet!).
Before and progress. Which one do you prefer? Please don’t answer that 🙂
See you next time,
Love Ginny xXx
***progress photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD