Published on March 13, 2019

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courtesy of studio mcgee

Anyone who’s ever gone through the process of buying a new sofa knows that it can be an intimidating undertaking. Never mind searching for one that doesn’t totally blow your budget, but trying to find a sofa that perfectly suits the size of your room and complements your style? Impossible.

There are a number of factors to assess before you make your purchase: How long do you plan to have this piece? Do you prefer natural upholstery to synthetic fabric? How do you feel about a sleeper sofa? That said, there’s one way to cheat the system, and that’s by going to the experts.

Having gone through this grueling process more times than you or I would ever like to imagine, interior designers can sofa shop with their eyes closed. Okay, maybe they keep their eyes open (for obvious reasons), but you get the point. When it comes to style, comfort, size, and color, they know best. So, we asked a few of our go-to designers: What sofa do you swear by?

From vintage silhouettes to kid-proof cushions, here are 13 designer-approved sofas for every type of homebody.

If you want to live luxuriously (but don’t want to spend a fortune)…

Nicole White is currently obsessed with “stunning boldness,” and this lavish emerald sofa hits the spot. “It’s both stylish and comfy—not to snuggle in all night but to chill and have a good conversation or two,” explains the designer. Thanks to its versatile hue, a showstopping sofa like this can be dressed up with brass lighting or down with reclaimed woods.

“It will never ever go down in flames as a ‘sofa you used to own.’ It’s definitely an eternal flame—a ‘love you forever’ kinda sofa,” White adds.  

If you want to cuddle up with your dog…

The perfect balance of polished and casual, this splurge-worthy sofa is an ideal pick for growing families that want to begin investing in furniture for the long run. The Carpenter Sofa’s clean, straight lines mixed with the more traditional curved arm makes it work well with any design style,” says Johanna Vente Anderson, one part of the duo behind Saffron and Poe.

Bonus? The linen slipcover. “You can just throw it in the wash in the case of spills or muddy paws,” adds fellow designer Fiona Bronte Burr.

If you want to commit to vintage…

Austin-based designer and creator of HOTELette Allison Crawford is our ultimate source for chic vintage finds. This 1970s Milo Baughman sofa doesn’t just deliver on beauty and originality—it’s super functional too.

“For apartment dwellers or people who move a lot, I suggest investing in a comfortable sofa over a sectional,” says Crawford. “A mid-size sofa in a neutral color will fit any space, while a sectional is harder to make work in multiple layouts.”

If you want to transport your living room to the tropics…

For a vintage look that’s half that price, Crawford suggests going with this Brazilian-inspired sofa from Anthropologie for its style, versatility, and—most importantly—ability to customize. For an unexpected twist, the designer would go with a fresh material and color direction when furnishing the rest of the room, with this sofa at its core. “I would pair it with velvet club chairs in a fun color like cobalt blue,” she says.

If you consider lounging a sport…

Both Maine-based designer Tyler Karu and Casey Keasler of Casework would voluntarily spend a Sunday afternoon lounging around on Amber Interior’s Billie Sofa. If there were ever a sofa truly deserving of the descriptor “sink-worthy,” this is it. “It comes in multiple sizes, and I love the shape and scale,” says Karu. “The low back and slim arms keep it from feeling intrusive or imposing.”

The Billie Sofa, which is available in 11 different color options, exudes the California-cool energy its designer, Amber Lewis, is known for. “It looks incredibly comfortable but not sloppy because it’s so tailored,” says Keasler. “I also love that it’s on legs, so it doesn’t take up a lot of visual space.”

If you want California-cool on a budget…

Love the Billie Sofa but don’t want to shell out $5,700 to call it yours? Keasler suggests going for this wallet-friendly alternative from West Elm. Featuring a similar silhouette—note the deep seat and low arms—the made-to-order piece only looks expensive.

If you’re the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” type…

While there’s little we love more than a hot-pink settee, there’s something to be said for classic construction. With its sophisticated silhouette and plush chenille upholstery, this straightforward sofa from Crate and Barrel is Utah-based blogger Sarah Gibson’s go-to pick for pulling off that covetable casual-cool look.

If you wish it was summer all year round…

Contrary to popular belief, linen isn’t just for summer. In fact, this ultra-breathable fabric will stun year-round, particularly when used in the living room. Nashville-based designer Andria Fromm is a big fan of this local linen find that intends to mimic the same sensation of sitting on a cloud rather than your standard couch.

If you want to seat your extended family, and then some…

I have been really happy with RH Modern’s sofa construction, look, comfort, and fabric selections,” says Natalie Myers of Veneer Designs. Influenced by seating from the 1970s, the Modena sofa features all the essential ingredients that make an extremely comfy landing pad: a broad frame, deeply cushioned back, and thick arms. Although this piece looks especially eye-catching in linen or velvet, Becki Owens suggests opting for the company’s performance fabric—a kid-friendly pick that’s easy to clean and stain-resistant.

If you’re constantly swapping out pillows…

You may not be the leather sofa type. We weren’t either until we saw this Parisian-style piece—Shea McGee’s latest favorite pick from her shop. “It’s a really pretty black/blue leather that adds a nice depth to a design,” shares McGee. “While the curves are reminiscent of traditional silhouettes, it’s a lot more streamlined and it looks amazing with throw pillows.”

Whether left bare in the midst of a transition or layered with your favorite new finds, this inky black pick is more pillow-friendly than first meets the eye. “Sofas that are comfortable, let pillows shine, and mix up the profile style are the real winners,” adds the designer.

If you’re still not over Downton Abbey…

Nothing screams British classics quite like a chesterfield—and this tufted beauty does not disappoint. “Room and Board sofas are American-made, so the quality is superb, and all my clients find the comfort level to be top-notch,” notes Southern California–based blogger and designer, Anita Yokota. “A current favorite has been the Macalester Sofa.”

If you’re rarely in your bedroom…

Fall asleep in front of the TV again? With this plush sofa at your disposal, you won’t wake up with aches and pains the next morning. Dee Murphy of Murphy Deesign swears by this super-sleek number, and we can see why. Aside from its beautiful, low-back composition, the Melrose sofa is fairly affordable, coming in under $2,000. Not sure about the height of the arms? Cushions too thick for your liking? All Clad Home sofas are fully customizable, so you can adjust your sofa to suit your specific needs.

If you take more photos of your living room than yourself…

“Jonathan Adler’s Aspen Sofa is unexpected and original. I love its asymmetrical shape; it’s not deep and cozy, but it is playful and fun,” shares Kahi Lee, one of the designers on TLC’s Trading Spaces. If this tubular couch doesn’t exude pure luxe, what does? When you want a sculptural alternative but don’t want to spend a fortune, this funky-framed piece will get the job done.

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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