How Much Should I Spend on a Sofa?

How much should I spend on …. a Sofa?

You know the old saying “you get what you pay for?” When it comes to selecting furniture, a truer statement has never been said. Well… to a point. Sure there are some brands in furniture for which you will be paying for the name (I see you Mrs. Hunt). Not that I wouldn’t absolutely advocate a client going all-in and buying a Baker Sofa if they could afford it and wanted it. What I’m saying is that there is a quality tipping point. You can get a well made sofa that will last for years without spending a small fortune.

Sofas, and other upholstered pieces, happen to be a piece of furniture where quality can be all over the map and where “you get what you pay for” really comes into play. Where upholstered furniture differs from case goods (dressers, tables, etc) is that you cannot see the guts of a piece of furniture that is covered in foam, down, and fabric. You have to ask about the quality indicators. So, what are these mysterious qualities?
1. The spring system.
2. The filling.
3. The frame.
4. Bonus: fabric

How do all these quality indicators shake out? This is a quick guide to the cost vs. quality debate.

Super Budget. The lifecycle on this category is very short. You can expect these soft upholster pieces of furniture to look good no more than five years with very light use. Pieces of furniture in this category use lower quality materials including the fabric, filling, and spring systems. In this category you will find retailers such as IKEA, Rooms to Go, Ashley Home Furniture, American Signature. Most families with children will find that these super budget upholstered goods will look worn with six months to one year of heavy repeated use. The frames in these pieces are also made of inferior woods, such as MDF and plywood. Sometimes they even use cardboard to shape the arms. They also are stapled and glued and may not have any other joinery beyond that. This may be an option if you do have young children and you want something inexpensive to get you through the early years. However, if you can afford a high-quality sofa, you can use stain resistant fabric and/or have it recovered when your children are older. You cannot recover a super budget or budget sofa.

Expected investment: sofa: $400-800, sectional- $800-$1500

Ikea Söderhamn Sectional Sofa, $1200 Retail

Budget. Technically, this is where furniture stores like West Elm, Pier One, and even sometimes Pottery Barn would fall. The cost of their upholstered goods is a little bit higher, but the structural quality is not much better than the “super budget” category. You may find better joinery in the frame and the frame may be made of pine, instead of plywood, but overall these have a short life. The spring systems are usually lower gage sinuous springs, meaning that the couch will sink after a short period of time and the foam used in the back and seat cushions will also lose their loft in a year or two. In this category, you may also find some ability to customize the sofa, but it will be fairly limited. You can expect these pieces to last 3 to 5 years, but with heavy use they may look very worn after six months to a year. Expected investment: sofa- $800-2000, sectional- $1500-4000.

Pier 1 Ecru Rolled Arm Sofa, $900


Pottery Barn Comfort Slip Covered Sofa, $3000-$4300

Mid-grade. In the mid-grade upholstery you will find a combination of quality.  Most sofas in this category will be semi-custom, though there are some mid-grade manufacturers, like Universal, who offer little to no custom options. You will probably see that these pieces will have better joinery but may have lower quality fillers and lower gauge sinuous spring systems. However, you also may find eight way hand tied spring systems in this category. For instance, The sofa sold at places retailers like Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel are made by companies like Lee Industries. They may have eight way hand tied spring systems and higher quality filling in the cushions. This means that this couch can be reupholstered. They may even have a warranty on the cushions and frames. Sofas in the mid-range price point can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. However, because of the higher-quality spring systems they can be reupholstered and the cushions re-stuffed, and thus, their life can be extended. Expected Investment: sofa- $3000-$5000, sectional- $3500-$8000 depending on fabric selection.

Eight-Way Hand-Tied Springs
Lee Industries 1303-03, retails around $4000 depending on fabric selected


Restoration Hardware Maxwell Sectional, $2400-$3800 depending on depth and fabric


High-end. How are you and is a category where the highest level of craftsmanship is employed and these are “heirloom” quality pieces. This means that they will last a very, very long time. The foam and batting used in the seat cushions is of the highest quality. They often have a down/feather blend top layer and a spring inner core, like a mattress. They always have eight way hand tied springs, if they are not sleeper style sofas. The frames are crafted with high quality, kiln dried lumber and joinery. They can be fully customizable or “designer”. The prices can vary widely, but typically the expected investment is >$7500.

Holly Hunt Waterloo Sofa

My personal mantra on sofas is invest. I’ve heard people say “…but, my taste might change! Then I’ll be stuck with a sofa that doesn’t work for my new style.” I would invite you to think back to all the previous sofas you’ve owned. Aside from the fabric, were they really all that different? Mine haven’t been. My advice is, if you can afford it, get something with a classic shape that will work with many styles. It’s an item worth saving for. You’ll be able to re-upholster it down the road if it’s of excellent quality.

If  you’re in the market for a new sofa and need some help or looking to redo your living room, schedule your Design Style Consultation with  Paradigm Interiors here!

3 Tips: Styling a Nightstand

You have seen them again in your favorite home decor magazine: beautifully styled nightstands and bedside tables. Have you ever wanted to try that look? Let me guess, you’ve poured over a million Pinterest boards and think you’ve got the formula figured out and then #pinterestfail #sadfaceemoji.
Whether done in traditional or minimalist style, a beautifully styled nightstand can make a real impact on the look of your bedroom. You might be surprised to know the ‘why’ of styling is much more important than the ‘what’. A traditional bedside table or nightstand has a lamp, books, small accessories, maybe a small floral arrangement, and perhaps a piece of art hung on the wall or placed on the surface. A minimalist nightstand may only have a simple lamp and a clock, but they all have a few things in common…
Lighting: You need some type of task lighting at your bedside. We perform variety of activities in our beds and most of them require some lighting.  Colorful, uniquely shaped lighting can really pack a punch when it comes to style. If you’re on a budget, a table lamp would be the least expensive. Another option, if you want something more permanent,  is a wall sconce. A hard wired sconce is less budget friendly because it will require the work of an electrician, but the look can be beautiful and frees up space on your bedside table! You’ll want to make sure you place the lamp within arms reach of the bed. I usually make it the closest item to the bed. If you put it too far away you will have to reach over other items and you will risk pushing items, including the lamp, into the floor.

Scale & Proportion: When selecting a bedside table and the items to be placed on it, make sure to choose a nightstand or table that is in proportion to your bed. Then select Items that are scaled to the size of the nightstand. For instance, if you have a king sized bed that has a tall headboard, you will want to select a nightstand substantial enough to hold a taller, more substantial lamp. Then, the art and accessories should be scaled to the nightstand and lamp.

If you’re scratching your head a little and wondering “how do I know it’s the right scale?” You’re in luck, I was just getting to that! There’s an ancient design “rule”. Seriously. We’re talking Ancient Rome. Roman architects found there were naturally occurring proportions. This number translates to somewhere around 2/3 or 3/5. So, a lamp would ideally take up about 1/3 the width of your nightstand and maybe be 2/3 it’s height. Then, your art might take up about 2/3 the space left and could be Placed on the wall so that it was 30% higher on the wall than the lamp. Each accessory could then be scaled from there.

The Golden Ratio

This leads me to the final tip…

Shape: I’m going to talk about shape in two ways -the overall shape of the arrangement and the shapes of the objects used in the design. You want the overall shape of the vignette to lead the eye over the arrangement in a way that makes sense. The most popular and easiest shape to manage is a pyramid shape. This would include any art over the bed, the headboard of the bed, and the objects on the nightstand. The art over the bed being the highest point and each subsequent object leading the eye lower. This gives the overall vignette a more visually dynamic look. Another popular shape is a rectangle. This works well if you want the eye to rest at a particular height. In this shape, you would hang the art level with top of the bed and lamp. You can see in. The pictures below how the two shapes create a different feeling.

An Example of pyramid shape.
An example of rectangular shape.

The second part of shape. If you’re going for a minimalist look, select a lamp that has an interesting shape to add some visual interest. The shape of the base or the shade can provide this. For a maximalist look, using a several shapes for the selected accessories will create variety and help move the eye across the arrangement.

Minimalist nightstand with furniture by Moe’s and lamp by Kenroy Home
The nightstand in this vignette has a variety of shapes and textures.

What are some ways that you can use lighting, scale, and shape to make a beautiful bedside vignette?

If you think you still need help with styling or just want to freshen up your look, give Paradigm Interiors a call!