Published on February 26, 2020

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courtesy of studio mcgee

There are infinite factors to consider before you purchase a sofa: Do you prefer linen or velvet? How do you feel about a sleeper? Is it easy to carry up stairs? Designers don’t have all the answers, but they do have most of them.  

Having gone through this grueling process more times than we could ever imagine, the pros can shop for a sofa with their eyes closed. When it comes to style, comfort, size, and color, they know best. So we asked 15 of them: What couch do you swear by? From vintage-inspired silhouettes to kid-proof cushions, there’s an expert-approved option for every type of homebody.

The Apartment-Friendly One

Elizabeth Damrich has been eyeing this couch for its curved shape and sculptural presence. “It’s elegant and dynamic at the same time,” says the designer-stylist. Buh-bye, love seats: The piece boasts a padded tight back and can measure anywhere from 70 to 95 inches long, so it works just as well in super-small spaces. 

The Collector’s Item

Jessie Schuster recently took the leap and bought a Mario Bellini Camaleonda sofa and recovered it in an almond-colored alpaca textile from Fishman’s Fabric. It isn’t your average modular sofa—this one has wheels. “It was perfect for me, as it is vintage and classic, yet super-practical for my entertaining needs,” says the designer. 

The One That Reinvents the Bolster

You haven’t seen arms quite like the ones on Egg Collective’s Howard sofa. The NYC-based female design trio accentuated the geometry of the sides with an extra layer of cushioning and two perfectly curved pillows. “It feels very now,” says Keren Richter of White Arrow.

The Cotton Candy One

The last sofa designer Merve Kahraman bought happens to be her own design. The three-seater is made to mimic the feeling of sitting on a cotton candy cloud, hence the soothing pink and arc-shaped backrests. The walnut wood base with round legs sets it apart even more.

The Parisian-Inspired One

This velvet find (inspired by the French flea market scene) is Nicole White’s top choice. The color is very of-the-moment, but you’ll love it forever, she swears. “It will never, ever go down in flames as the ‘sofa you used to own,’” she says. 

The One Your Dog Can Enjoy, Too

This one might look super-polished, but it’s kid- and puppy-proof. Simply toss the linen slipcover in the wash when there’s a spill or muddy paws, notes Johanna Vente Anderson, one part of the duo behind Saffron and Poe. The deep seats and single bench cushion also make it easy for four-legged friends to spread out.

The Textured One

A Milo Baughman sofa definitely comes with bragging rights, especially if it’s one of his burl-wood designs. Allison Crawford, the founder of Hotelette, loves this vintage number (original fabric still intact!) because it comes with a story, but the wood keeps it feeling pretty neutral, meaning it will go with any aesthetic. 


The One That Lays Low

Both Maine-based designer Tyler Karu and Casey Keasler of Casework would voluntarily spend a Sunday afternoon lounging around on Amber Interiors’s Billie sofa. “The low back and slim arms keep it from feeling intrusive or imposing,” says Karu. The piece is available in 11 shades, and no matter which fabric you choose, it won’t look sloppy because it’s so tailored. “I also love that it’s on legs, so it doesn’t take up visual space,” adds Keasler. 

The Classic Gray One

Pining for the Billie sofa but don’t want to shell out $5,700? Keasler suggests going for this affordable alternative. It features a similar silhouette (note the deep seat and low arms) but comes with cast-metal legs for a more industrial vibe. 

The One That Fits Everyone 

Influenced by seating from the 1970s, Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs believes this option has all the essentials: a broad frame, deeply cushioned back, and thick arms. Although it looks especially eye-catching in linen or velvet, Becki Owens (another fan) suggests opting for the company’s performance fabric if you have little ones around the house. 

The One You Can Get Creative With 

You may not be the leather sofa type. We weren’t either until we saw this Parisian-style piece—Shea McGee’s favorite pick from her shop. Think of it like a blank canvas. “While the curves are reminiscent of traditional silhouettes, it’s a lot more streamlined and looks amazing with throw pillows,” she says. 

The Movie Night One

Fall asleep in front of the TV again? With this plush sofa at your disposal, you won’t wake up with aches and pains. Dee Murphy of Murphy Deesign swears by this super-sleek number. If you’re unsure about the height of the arms or the thickness of the cushions, you can tweak them to your liking before you put in your order. 

The One That’s Like a Work of Art

This Jonathan Adler creation is unexpected and original. “I love its asymmetrical shape; it’s not deep and cozy, but it is playful and fun,” says Kahi Lee, one of the designers on TLC’s Trading Spaces. 

The Quintessentially British One

While made in America, this Chesterfield, design blogger Anita Yokota’s favorite, channels Downton Abbey vibes. Stick it in a library (or any reading nook); the high back and arms invite you to curl up with a good book. 

This story was originally published on March 13, 2019. It has been updated with new information.

See more designer-approved picks:
10 IKEA Items Designers Won’t Leave the Store Without
Your Favorite Interior Designers’ Go-To Decor Stores
Turns Out, Designers Are Just as Obsessed With Target as You Are


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