Quite often a home’s design centers around the family room sofa. At least it does for me. Most of my design and decor-related thoughts these days have to do with picking out a couch. Maybe you feel differently, but for me the couch is the axis around which the rest of my design scheme spins. Once that’s decided I feel like the rest of it will fall into place pretty easily.
via The Everygirl
Given these feelings, you might not be surprised to hear I’ve put a fair amount of time into sofa-related research lately. Initially I didn’t really know where to look. The only sofa we have ever purchased is from Pottery Barn. I wasn’t sure what style we were looking for exactly but I knew it wasn’t Pottery Barn this time. I checked out Crate and Barrel, West Elm, Ikea, CB2, World Market, even places like Haverty’s and La-Z-Boy. We looked at Room and Board, Overstock, Wayfair, Joss & Main, Macy’s,…and many more places. I looked locally, and across the country. I looked at different ends of the price spectrum, and considered all types of different styles of sofas. I had moments where I focused on quality craftsmanship, and moments where the only requirement I had was either that the couch be (in my eyes) beautiful, or absolutely cozy, or both.
I felt like I started to notice some patterns:
- a furniture retailer would offer sofas I thought were cute/stylish but they were out of my price range
- a furniture retailer would offer sofas I thought were cute/stylish and they were affordable but the quality seemed likely to be poor
- a furniture retailer had prices that were affordable but offered nothing I found cute/stylish
I don’t remember how I found it, but it was love at first sight. But what’s more – and more closely related to the point of this post – finding the Sven introduced me to a segment of the furniture industry that I wasn’t really aware existed up until that point. I don’t know how you might label them, but they have in common that they are more or less online-only, they tend to cater heavily to millennials, and they are disrupting the Way Things Are Done in the furniture industry.
For some I know the idea of buying a couch without first sitting on it might sound scary or off-putting. But there are compelling reasons to consider it:
- Not having to leave the house to shop for furniture. Let’s be honest — who among us wants to put on pants or (even worse) talk to people when they don’t have to?
- Cost savings. No brick-and-mortar stores for the company equals better prices for the consumer.
- Disruption factor. There are plenty of articles buzzing around on the internet about the (long overdue) change that is coming to the furniture industry. In April inc.com featured an article entitled 5 Industries That Are Prime Targets for Disruption and listed ‘Furniture’ first. I’ll be honest, this appeals to me a lot. After all, what industry couldn’t stand to be revitalized now and again?
Without further ado, here are seven furniture retailers changing the way we shop for furniture.
Joybird started in 2014 when four former employees of the now-defunct Thrive left to create their own furniture startup.
Notable: Joybird’s sofas are handcrafted. Each sofa is made to order. Which leads me to the next point — customization. Sofas come in many different fabrics. Their website boasts over 1000 combinations of fabric and frames from which to choose.
Price range: Middle of the road. Sofas range from $1,199 to $2,649.
Return policy: a generous 365 days.
Due diligence: A quick internet search turns up plenty of mentions of how long it takes a customer to receive their Joybird order. It feels unfair to consider this too much of a negative though, given that each couch is made to order. Sofas are manufactured in Mexico.
Favorite: the Preston sofa, modern and elegant.
According to Article’s About page, the company started in 2014 when four software engineers, very literally chilling out (GET IT??) north of the Arctic Circle, decided to go Silicon Valley on the furniture industry.
Notable: Quick turnaround time. Some online reviews mentioned receiving their sofa in the same week they placed their order. Shipping is a low flat rate of $49 regardless of order size.
Price range: Middle of the road. Sofas range from $699 to $2299.
Return policy: 30 days.
Due diligence: Most reviews I could find were positive, but some raised questions about quality. A bigger issue I saw was customer service complaints — although this is where I need to note that Article seems to be extremely responsive on social media channels and online forums — see this (crazy long, and still active) Houzz thread. Sofas are manufactured in Asia.
Favorites: the Sven in this leather is my number one contender for Family Room Sofa at this point.
Benchmade Modern was started in 2015 by former Pottery Barn designer Edgar Blazona. He sought to engineer a solution to complaints he heard from friends about frustrating interactions with furniture companies, emphasizing faster delivery while retaining quality and customization.
Notable: Their website boasts “the easiest and fastest way to buy a custom sofa.” I can’t attest to that, but it’s true that Benchmade Modern does offer a fair amount of variety in the way of customization. Sofa size can by customized by the inch. Benchmade Modern offers “200 plus fabric, leather, and leg options.” Also, I love that they provide (at the customer’s request) free actual size sofa printouts to get a true-to-life feel for the size of your sofa before ordering. They provide free delivery on every order.
Price range: Middle of the road. $1,729 to $2,369
Return policy: 100 days.
Due diligence: Sofas are manufactured in the US.
Favorites: the Skinny Fat Sofa, Benchmark’s signature sofa. Check out those fluffy side cushions.
Roger + Chris is the brainchild of HGTV alum Roger Hazard and husband Chris Stout-Hazard. They launched a furniture company as a joint venture to utilize their talents and, according to the About page of their website, because it was fun. Can I repeat that? They started a furniture company because they thought it would be fun. I love them immediately.
Notable: Most winning Bios possible — just go read them yourself folks and see what I mean. (Yes, I am absolutely referring to the quotes from their mothers that they are “relatively likable.”) Also, I haven’t called them (yet), but the site says that if you call for a design consultation you will speak to Roger or Chris. I think that’s pretty darn cool, don’t you?
Price range: Middle of the road. $1374 to $2199.
Return policy: 5 days. Yikes. No pressure consumers…
Due diligence: I didn’t find any sofa reviews. Sofas are manufactured in the US.
Favorites: If we’re being honest here of course I love Roger + Chris’s Natalie sofa, which is mid-century modern in style and features a tufted single bench cushion with bolster pillows. Of course. But I honestly think many of their couches are absolutely beautiful, and for the sake of showing you something that isn’t quite so similar to Article’s Sven above, I’m going to put Bobby here, especially in this blue velvet fabric glory.
Interior Define was founded in 2014 by Rob Royer. According to this New York Times article, he was looking to fill the “yawning abyss in the furniture market between the inexpensive cookie-cutter couch and the luxury lounge.” To that we say, well spoken Rob, well spoken.
Notable: Interior Define really does offer beautiful sofa designs. Everything they do is elegant and stylish. They have free delivery on every order.
Price range: Higher, $1000 to $4200.
Return policy: 365 days.
Due diligence: Reviews seem postive overall. Sofas are manufactured in China.
Started in 2015 by former Apple engineer Brad Sewell, Campaign Living markets furniture that “lives, moves, and grows with you.” Portability is emphasized, as the couch is designed not merely to be easily assembled but also easily disassembled. It fits neatly into two sleek boxes to facilitate pain-free moving.
Notable: Cute and unique website design (check it out and see what you think)…some (me) might call it *overly* cute and frustrating to navigate, but I can let that go. Campaign Living pays particular attention to quality — materials are sourced as sustainably as possible. Wooden legs, for instance, are solid hardwood from the Midwest.
Price range: Affordable, the sofa is $995.
Return policy: I couldn’t find any information on their return policy.
Due diligence: So far only three items are offered — a chair, a loveseat, and a sofa. And the collection is sold out at least into the summer. I wasn’t able to find any reviews. Sofas are manufactured in the US.
Favorites: Uhh…I guess in this case, it would have to be…Sofa?
With their tagline of “Good design for all,” Capsule emphasizes making good design accessible to everyone.
Notable: Serious style and elegance. Free shipping on every order.
Price range: Affordable. $899 to $2199.
Return policy: Ah, there’s the rub. At merely 7 days, this short return period feels stifling compared to the more generous time frames offered by the other companies we talked about. It feels a bit paltry given that one is buying the sofa sight unseen.
Due diligence: The About section of their website mentions “long-term relationships built with factories across the US and Asia,” so take that to mean what you will.
Favorites: The Remissa Sofa — so cozy, but still elegant.
All of these companies have great design in common. Most of the couches offered are modern in style, or cribbing off of mid-century modern. I don’t know about you, but as I said above, I feel like all too often we are forced to make the unsavory choice between affordability and style. It excites me to see companies attempting to fill this gap, and offer beautifully designed sofas at budget-friendly prices.
I also love the emphasis on using quality materials. Most of these companies at least appear to try to make an effort to source their materials responsibly. I have swatches in my home from five of the brands I listed, and I’m happy to report they are without fail beautiful.
If you own furniture from one of the companies mentioned in this post, please let us know in the comments below what you think!