My Pottery Barn Sectional and Tips for Buying a Sofa

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Some of you may have noticed the sneak preview of my new Pottery Barn sectional in my basement update last week, so today I thought I would share some more details about it! First off though, here are some general tips about buying a new sofa/sectional based on my recent experience:

1) Decide on a budget. You could literally spend anywhere from $500 to $5,000 or above depending on your particular situation. The quality and options will obviously vary based on price (and I have read some very heated debates about buying an inexpensive sofa that might last a few years vs. a higher quality piece that will last much longer), but honestly, I think the most important thing is to buy a sofa that feels comfortable for your budget. Buy the best quality that you can afford but don’t go broke doing it.

2) Determine the size. This can be tricky depending on the needs of your space. Think very carefully about the appropriate length for your room, as well as the layout—do you want a corner sectional or a chaise at one end? Also, pay attention to the overall depth of the sofa as well as seat depth. A sofa with a deeper seat will be great for lounging, napping, or TV watching, whereas a narrow seat depth might be better for conversational seating.

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3) Evaluate your risk tolerance. This might seem like a funny thing to say about buying a sofa, but it can feel like a BIG decision, especially if you are buying something on the pricier side. Are you comfortable buying something online, knowing that there may be hefty shipping costs or a restocking fee if you want to return it? Or what about buying a custom sofa that is non-returnable, if you haven’t seen the model in the store? It’s important to know yourself well and carefully evaluate what level of “risk” you are comfortable with.

4) Pick your style. There are a lot of different sofa styles out there, and they run the gamut from hard-edged mid-century modern to traditional english arm sofas. Read about the different styles online, evaluate what works best with your home, but most of all, pick the style you really love, so that you won’t get tired of living with it.

So, now to apply all this to my sofa-buying experience. I decided early on that I was going to splurge for this sofa and buy something that was pretty good quality. I also needed something very specific in terms of size, because my basement space isn’t huge. I wanted to a sofa with a chaise on one end, and the entire sectional really couldn’t be longer than 100 inches. This is a slightly odd size (a lot of sofas are either substantially bigger or smaller), so in order to get the exact size, orientation, and fabric that I wanted, I realized I was going to have to get a custom sofa. However, I am VERY risk averse, especially if I’m spending a fair amount of money on a piece of furniture and returning it is not an option. So I resolved I was only going to buy a sofa that I had been able to try out in person.

All of that reasoning led me to select Pottery Barn as the best option for our sectional, especially since I also had quite a bit of reward money from a previous purchase, AND they were having a 30% off sale for Memorial Day. I had initially ruled out Pottery Barn, because it didn’t seem possible to get what I wanted within my budget (this is why I think it’s useful to determine the budget FIRST), but after factoring in the 30% off sale and my rewards money, I discovered that I could stay exactly on target.

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After agonizing over the pros and cons of different styles and sitting on all the sofas in the store many times, I chose the “build your own” option with the Pottery Barn Comfort English Arm components. We had been able to sit on the Pottery Barn Comfort sofa in the store, and my husband and I both found it to be super comfortable. I also knew that I loved english arm sofas, and that this piece would blend well with the rest of the furniture in our house. Moreover, even though english arm sofas are very traditional, they are an incredibly versatile style which can be pared with more modern elements for a transitional look. The fabric we chose was “Basketweave Slub Oatmeal,” and it is a great neutral with griege undertones. The fabric has a nice sheen to it, but it also feels fairly casual. I tested out the swatch with various stains (ketchup and red wine), and they came out with no difficulty.

So, the million dollar question is: do we like our new sectional? YES! I absolutely love it. All the time spent researching the various options was totally worth it. Also, though it was not a cheap sofa, it feels worth the money we spent on it, since we got it essentially 40% off. It fits perfectly in the space, I love the style, color, and fabric, and it is incredibly comfortable. I can’t tell how well it will hold up yet, but I will report back after we’ve had it for a few years. Buying a sofa can be an overwhelming decision, so if you are contemplating purchasing one, I really hope that you find these tips and my experience to be helpful!