Choosing a sofa or sectional is HARD! Leather or fabric? Cushions or built in? I’m sharing all my tops for choosing and walking through why we chose the one we did!
Earlier this week, I shared the plans for our living room update. And it’s underway! We have a long way to go but just swapping out some of the key pieces and getting art on the walls has made such a big difference! Today I want to chat about choosing the perfect sofa for your home. Since our last sofa (seen here in our home tour), I’ve had some regrets. It’s not that it wasn’t a good piece, it just wasn’t what I wanted for our main space. Shane and I would often comment to each other that it was the perfect sectional for a TV room, not a living room. We’re excited that the upgrade to our living room (this gorgeous leather sectional!) means we also get to ditch the futon we’ve been watching TV on for the past 5 years for a sectional down stairs too.
Since a sectional (especially a leather one!) is an investment, I wanted to give some good starting points to think about what you really want in a piece. Hopefully as I talk you through our decision making process, it helps you decide what your family is looking for!
Sofa or Sectional?
This was the first thing we decided. Before we even picked out our last sectional, it was a big deal to Shane to have that comfy corner spot that he could have his feet up. This was never as big of a deal to me- I just wanted to have a spot that I could curl my feet up on to the couch (so deeper seating). The other factor that goes into choosing this is the size of your room and how many people you want to seat. Some sectionals offer extra seating and some just offer extra foot room (which can take up square footage of small rooms). Decide what’s important to you before picking your piece!
Since the Mello Sectional has a comfy corner spot and is deep seating everywhere- it’s great for what both Shane and I love in a sofa.
How many people can it seat?
We have a big family. Like, not just living under our roof (6 of us), but extended family that live in town and come over often. And I also host a girls group once a week where there’s regularly 12 of us in our living room. Seating lots of people comfortably is definitely important to us. But depending on your life stage and lifestyle, this might not be a big deal for you. We chose the L shaped sectional that the Mello Sectional offers to add those couple extra seats over a standard sectional or sofa. Having the back extend down one side makes it easy to seat a few more and I also love the look of it. I’d say it comfortably sits 5 adults, but if you get cozy 6… and if there’s children, I mean… the sky’s the limit ;)
If you’re looking for a sofa but seating is still important to you, pay attention to the length- some sofas can seat four or five instead of the traditional three. Likewise, some apartment size sofas are better for only two.
Leather or Fabric Sofa?
This is another choice we decided on a long time ago. Pretty much immediately after starting to use our last fabric sectional. We missed the easy care and cleaning of a leather sofa. Pretty much everything just wipes down off of leather and if it doesn’t, it adds to the natural patina of a good leather. We have 4 kids aged 5 and under and it’s impossible to avoid spills. Since we’ve had our tan leather ottoman slipcover in our living space, we’ve been able to watch it age over time and use and it looks even better than the day I made it. I’m obsessed with the look of aging leather, so this was a no brainer for us.
Other factors in leather? It’s naturally hypoallergenic so great if you have allergies (which I do!), it won’t pill, and it patinas over time. Patina is a nice way of saying aging- if this bugs you and you want it to look brand new forever… leather, especially a lighter leather like this might not be for you. All leathers are different too. The one we got (the Mello sofa in Taos Tan leather) is a full-grain, full-aniline which will age and patina. It’s also one of the highest quality leather you can get. Bonus. If you’re interested in learning more about leathers, I found this blog post from Article really informative and interesting.
Fabric sofas are totally beautiful too. I love the look of an almost linen looking fabric like this one. If you’re looking for fabric, consider the variance of texture or as I like to call it, the stain hiding capabilities. I love light, evenly coloured fabrics but they show stains like no other fabric. If you choose one that has some texture happening, it’s much easier to hide any stains. If hiding stains is a concern, you could also look for a sofa with flippable cushions!
If you’re still unsure (especially about ordering online!), Article will send you samples of the fabric/leather to help you decide!
Both Leather and Fabric Sofas need Care
I was going to put in a point suggesting ease of care but honestly, both leather and fabric should be regularly cared for to prolong the life and keep them looking fresh and new. For leather, that means giving it a quick vacuum and wipe down regularly and then using a leather conditioner (I’ve bought Otter Wax at Article’s suggestion- can’t wait to test it out!) once a month or every couple months.
For cloth, that means sealing it with an upholstery spray (we use Scotchguard), vacuuming it regularly, and then when there are spills or it starts to look dingy, giving it a good clean. We have had great success with using this cleaner before sealing it again. The other thing we found with our previous sofa (but not so much other fabric pieces we have) is pilling. You can use a sweater shaver/ fabric defuzzer to remove this.
Removable Cushions or Built In?
Okay, so I’ve had three sofas other than this one. Two of those had removable cushions, and one (the hand-me-down leather from my dad) didn’t. I loved being able to flip a cushion if there was a spill. I loved that the kids could build forts with the removable cushions. BUT for me- I didn’t love how they inevitably looked messy. Every time I tidied the living room, that included fixing all the cushions, pushing them back into place and fluffing the back cushions. And as much as I love my kids being able to build forts… they can downstairs now, ha! Because that made the cushions look rough quicker. The piping was never quite straight and even when the room was ‘tidy’… I still noticed this.
The built in cushions of the Mello sectional save me time in my tidying. Since this sectional is a modular sofa (meaning two pieces that you can move around), the only thing I need to ‘adjust’ when I’m cleaning is their alignment to each other. I also love that there’s nowhere for my phone or remotes to hide in this sofa.
Quality vs Affordability
This is always the question, isn’t it? Look- I’m all for quality goods but do know that there’s times in life that affordability wins and that’s okay! When we bought our first sofas when we were just getting married, I honestly didn’t think about quality. We just wanted something in our suite to sit on. But 10 years and a few sofas of experience later, we’re ready for something that we will care for and that will age beautifully with our family. I love that Article has high quality furniture (seriously, we’ve been so impressed with everything we have from there!) but without the markup of traditional furniture stores. It’s still an investment for a leather sectional, but the quality of this leather is worth it (to me!).
Other times you might choose affordability first? Maybe you are in a temporary living arrangement and know you’ll want to choose new pieces when you move or maybe you have a pet that’s known to damage furniture and is getting a bit older or maybe you don’t clearly know what style you like and although you need something to sit on- you know you will change your mind.
Times you want to invest in quality as much as you can? When you know what you want and don’t expect it to change for a long time, when you plan on being in a similar sized space for the foreseeable future, when you’re ready to care for the piece you get, and when you don’t want to contribute to ‘fast’ furniture waste.
Alright, friends! I hope this gave you lots to think about and help you make a decision for your next sofa. I really am so happy with the sectional we chose. It’s the Mello sectional in Taos Tan from Article and it’s beyond beautiful. I’m planning to share a ‘how it’s holding up’ update in about 6 month to let you know how it’s keeping up with our kids and the crazy that happens in this house!