I get this question a lot: Do you know where I can get a comfortable chair or couch that is stylish?
In an ideal world you shouldn’t have to sacrifice one to have the other. In reality it is hard to find both. In the world of staging, I quote the great Billy Crystal “Fernando”
It is better to look good than to feel good.
When I began designing for people’s homes, including my own, suddenly comfort became equally as important as style.
I came to fully understand this concept of comfort v. style through personal experience. I was so excited when I found a really sleek mid-century inspired minimalist couch with fantastic peg legs, a low profile (the back doesn’t go up very high), and scratchy, but cool looking, fabric. What makes it minimal is that the cushions are thinner i.e. the opposite of over-stuffed. We couldn’t wait to see it in the space, and it did look fabulous but after living with it in the family/movie watching room, my dog and my husband couldn’t wait for me to donate it to staging. This streamlined beauty is the star of my staging collection but didn’t serve my family’s comfort needs. I get it!
Ever since then I have been pondering this question of form over, or in addition to function, comfort standing in for function for sake of argument.
I asked myself the existential question; What is a comfortable couch? I distilled the elements of comfort to 3 basic principles.
- Your body feels supported in the right places.
- The fabric feels good/cozy/pleasurable against your skin.
- The quality of construction. It is important to feel like you are on something well made.
With these principles in mind I set out anew with fresh ideas on furniture acquisition. I spared no furniture store including used, custom, retail, scoured the internet, and went to consignment sites. I did find some great pieces at high-end consignment stores but for seating this isn’t for everyone. I also found amazing success through the company Interior Define. I designed my own couch which was fun and easy.
You pick the leg design, the depth, and the fabric. Then they make it for you. Easy peasy. It arrived after an agonizingly long time, yes it does take longer because it is made to order. The experience of this couch is like napping on a green velvet cloud. That’s right, I chose an emerald green durable fabric similar in feel to velvet, it’s heavenly. There it magically floats in our library room. I love it even more because it loves me back.
The takeaway is that there is a cross between comfort and style. You just have to find it.
My 88-year-old Dad just recently moved in with my husband and I. We have one recliner in our house. That was a gift for my husband. I found a great looking/comfortable recliner from West Elm. Tip; West Elm does have great recliners.
It didn’t take long for my Dad and husband to begin a subtle yet obvious battle dance for the recliner real estate. I started to accept the fact I would need to purchase another recliner for Dad. I also know the kind of seating my Dad really likes, and it ain’t West Elm. Images of 80’s overstuffed with a few mustard and/or chili stains were keeping me up at night. I knew for my Dad the chair had to be super duper comfortable and easy to get in and out of. All problems are just design opportunities, right? I had an idea, I looked for a combination of vintage and really really comfy and well made. I found it on Facebook marketplace. Yes, it was pre-owned but had never been used. We put it in his space and he loves it, and I love that he is comfortable and my husband has his chair back.
The moral of the story is one I come back to after every design lesson; Function is form. In other words, furniture ultimately is a comfort tool. When it is providing it’s highest and best intended function that is beautiful and will always be in style.