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purchasing a new sofa

Emily Oster

Back in September, I wrote this post about how we had moved into round 3 of our first floor renovation planning. The general theme of the post was about balance and fluidity. Finding a plan that works functionally and aesthetically but that is also feasible for us. It also was about relaxing the process and understanding that things might come together in pieces. After a couple of months of drawing, redrawing, sitting on the design and coming back to the design, I think we have a design plan that fits these two themes. I am not saying its not going to change but, at least right now I feel good about it. So good in fact, that I think we are going to take the plunge toward commitment and purchase a new sofa.

Now this is not how I would typically recommend proceeding. The purchasing of main pieces of furniture should generally be the last thing or at least near the end of a renovation list. But sometimes in the design of a home, things don't come together efficiently or necessarily in the right order. 

The main reason for us jumping out of order and why I feel fine with doing it, is that we really need a new sofa! Ours is my post college sofa that my parents bought for me for my first apartment. I think it was originally $400 and is now in its 7th year of use. It has been moved 4 times, been spilled on and stained an unmentionable amount and has never been professionally cleaned. I/we never anticipated having it this long and have really pushed its limits in terms of acceptability. We have put off purchasing a new sofa because I didn't want to do so without having a plan for our renovation. So now that we have a plan, one that is well designed and attainable in the near future, we are moving forward with the big purchase.

First, the living room plan. We need a sofa that will work with our existing layout and one that will work with the new. Our current room floor plan below.

The room is challenging because it is 1.) not that big 2.) has a flue that protrudes into the room and 3.) has 4 door openings and 3 doors. Its positives are that 1.) it is close to the kitchen 2.) has good natural light through a pair of french doors and one large window and 3.) has the original chair rail and molding. To address the negatives and accentuate the positives (plus keep in mind the flow of the rest of the first floor) I have come up with this plan. 

The first big gesture of the plan is to change the room's opening to our back hall and kitchen. Essentially, we will be closing in the current access and a closet to create a large center opening. This will allow for a partial open floor plan with sight lines from the living room into the kitchen and from the front door all the way to the back of the house. The second big gesture is to fur out the flue bump out to make a proper fireplace. We haven't figured out how or if we will retro fit the flue to be a working fireplace but by widening the bump out we will make an architectural feature out of what currently is an awkward eye sore. 

Now for the furniture plan. The obvious and really only starting point is for the sofa to go opposite what will be the new focal point in the room - the fireplace. And if you refreshed your memory by reading the September post, you know that I had pretty much decided on a sectional. Specifically, the Carlisle chaise sectional from Pottery Barn. In the plan, the sectional would look like this.

The main draw back of this configuration is that the chaise extends into the center opening. Meaning you would have to walk around it to get into the room. With the renovation, the back hall is going to generously sized so I do think it would work if we really wanted it to. However, the sofa is already largely scaled for the room and I worry about how big it will feel - especially if it obstructs the opening. If we did the regular sized Carlisle at 80" long it would look like this in plan.

And if we did the grand Carlisle at 90.5" it would look like this in layout.


Design wise, I would say the standard 80" size is best scale for the room. In fact, if I was being really design focused I would probably not recommend this sofa at all because of its 45" depth. A narrower sofa would be more in proportion to the room something around 38". But its not always all about design but balancing design with wants/needs and what we want is a big, cozy deep sofa. 

So what have we decided on....the grand Carlisle sofa! We had the opportunity to sit on the grand over Thanksgiving in Chicago (our local store didn't have the model) and found the extra length along with how deep and cozy the sofa already is made the chaise not really necessary. Nice but not needed. And considering our room plan as well as the greater versatility of a sofa over a sectional, we have pretty much decided. We also know we want the one bench cushion - no center sag - and the down blend cushion. Now we just have to select the fabric.....

I hope everyone has a great weekend!