New Sofas and Young Families: A Dangerous Pairing

Is it totally crazy to be investing in new furniture with a young family and completely irresponsible (yet adorable) children running around your home?!

Let’s be honest – I don’t know the right answer, but what I can tell you is how I made peace with my latest major furniture commitment.

I’m talking about buying a Sofa . A Couch. That vital piece of a family room where you all come together to lounge, read books, watch movies, eat popcorn, and relax as a family. I mean, no pressure…it’s only the single most used, and probably most visible item in your home.

So, how on Earth do you choose a forever couch for your family, when you know that your toddler (and possibly your husband) will inevitably and most times inadvertently spill, color on, and stain this item?

I was struggling with deciding whether to buy an IKEA (or equivalently low price level) couch to last us the next 3 to 5 years, or to truly invest in a piece of furniture that would anchor our family room for years to come.

Either way, I had a pretty big checklist of needs for my couch to fulfill. At the risk of sounding like an extremely unrealistic and unreasonable buyer on House Hunters…

Here are my must-haves:

  • Must be comfortable (not too soft, not too hard – a Goldilocks couch if you will)
  • Fabric must be soft (that was the Hubby’s – he’s very sensitive…)
  • Should be neutral in color.
  • Must be as stylistically timeless as possible, yet not “stuffy and boring”
  • Must be large enough for the whole family to cuddle up together on movie night
  • Must be small enough to fit between my living room window and patio door
  • Ideally includes a sectional or ottoman
  • Must be attractive. (Did I really need to list that?)
  • Must be a good value (Value = Cost / Quality)

I found myself very drawn to white couches, and although I’m extremely optimistic…I’m not dumb. I considered a slipcover, but I didn’t love the consistently messy look of them. I worried I’d always be yanking and tucking to create a more tailored look until someone came along and sat on the couch again. (This is no way for anyone to live!)

One day I wandered into West Elm and fell pretty hard for the Andes Sectional:




It wasn’t white, but it read very neutral (although grey and white striped), and I felt like it would hide minor stains quite well.



Most importantly it looked perfectly suited for a family movie night and a bowl of popcorn. I could just picture it!!

It was 15% off online for under 2000 dollars, but there weren’t any reviews to allow me to research its quality, durability, or comfort. It was also pretty modern for our typical taste, and although I was trying to keep my mind open to newer styles – I was nervous about this couch lasting 5+ years in terms of style and durability.

After a few weeks contemplating the West Elm couch, we finally double checked the measurements of the living room with the current owners of the house and decided to move forward.

What do you know…the sale was over. So I called West Elm and politely asked if I could get the sale price, since I only missed it by a day or two. The lady who answered the phone kindly said, “No.”

I was not so pleased.

The whole event actually made me mad enough (keep in mind I was mid-move, living with my parents, highly emotional amid major life changes) that I changed my mind completely. The Andes sofa was off the list.

Luckily, I was staying with my parents before moving in to the new house and my mom is an expert at furniture shopping (really shopping in general). She made her most recent sofa purchase from a local furniture store, but it was manufactured by Bassett – an established national brand.

Grampa (or Bompa as he’s been dubbed) offered to watch the little guy during nap time so that my mom and I could check out the local Bassett store at Concord Mills.

I was on the hunt for something identical to my West Elm love, but since nothing in that style fit the scale of our mid 80s home, I wandered around until I found something that spoke to me.

Well, of course this blue and white combo made me swoon. It was setup just like this in the showroom, and although I certainly petted the pretty couch and pillows, I knew it was white and therefore impractical for our life with small children.



I let it go, and even priced a custom sectional in a pretty grey with a salesperson, but I wasn’t crazy about the proportion of the chaise piece. It was too small to feel cozy. I wanted a large comfy couch for family movie night!! (I know I already said that – but the lady helping me seem to struggle to catch on).

I came home feeling defeated, and in my frustration I began to show my husband the couches I’d seen that day, just to see if anything spoke to him.

You wouldn’t know it by his scruffy sweat pants and ball cap style, but he’s actually got great taste (especially when he agrees with mine – haha). He also admired that Essex Sofa by Bassett and whereas in the store I figured it only came in white, the website clearly showed options for customization of fabrics.

We digitally rendered the Essex with the pretty grey fabric (A Heathered Twill called Sterling) I’d picked out earlier for the other sectional, and we were pretty sure we’d found the one!



Now, I just needed to solve the problem of wanting a comfy chaise.

The obvious option was to choose the ottoman that was designed as part of the Essex collection.



Unfortunately, it was too small and too low to give me that sectional-inspired “sprawl across my sofa in any direction I please” feeling.  I needed something big enough for two people to comfortably share while resting their feet, and maybe something that could serve as a coffee table of sorts at times.

I poked around the website some more and discovered their HGTV HOME Custom Ottoman options. The NYC dweller in me wanted a storage ottoman right away, but when I realized that I would lose the turned wooden feet option (that made it coordinate with the Essex sofa) I knew it wouldn’t work.

I was still debating between a square and rectangle when I took my husband back to the store to sit on the sofa (to ensure he approved of the comfort factor – as you do). He’s picky; have I mentioned that? I also love him a LOT.

While we were there, I took the opportunity to grab a few ottomans and carefully carry them across the store to set them in front of the sofa. I may have also pushed the perfectly arranged coffee table and matching ottoman out of the way (temporarily!!). Needless to say, I attracted the attention of a Bassett designer. She spent our entire conversation telling me why I was making a horrible design decision by adding an ottoman to this formal sofa. I politely tried to assert my needs and opinion, and then decided to just nod and smile…and continue grabbing ottomans.

A few ottomans later, I was confident that I’d be perfectly happy with a large rectangular ottoman custom made to match my sofa.

Now I just needed to get the right price.

To be Continued…


Stay tuned for the end of the sofa saga, and photos of our slightly revamped living room.

(Sorry I had to stop! I was already over 1300 words!!)






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