Sofas & Couches

Parent Q&A

  • Place to buy a nice couch for not too much

    (7 replies)

    We have purchased all of our previous couches at thrift shops, on Craigslist, or at yard sales, when we haven't gotten them for free... But we are now in need of a new one, and we are feeling like it might be time to purchase a new ("reasonably priced!") one.

    It would be amazing if it was organic (but, given our budget, this is unlikely). We've had microfiber in the past, which has worked well for easy cleaning and comfort, but definitely open to other suggestions, provided the couch is comfortable. Would love to buy local and purchase one that is made in the USA or a labor-friendly country. We'd like to spend less than $2,000. This will (hopefully) be the couch that lasts a lifetime! Thank you for the suggestions.

    Hello! It is a bit of a drive, and I'm not entirely sure about the USA made/labor practices, but, the Crate and Barrel outlet in Tracey has excellent furniture, and at incredible discounts (way better discounts and far greater selection than the Berkeley location).

    We got 2 couches we like a lot at Z Gallerie on 4th Street in Berkeley for a fairly reasonable price - it wasn't a place that was on my radar, but we were walking by and liked what we saw in the window. I think it was around this time last year when we bought, too, so look out for a year-end sale. It's held up well so far to daily use by 3 kids.

    Of course it depends on your personal style, but we've always loved shopping at Room & Board for furniture. You can select the upholstery options and although some items there are expensive, we got a great sofa for around $1,600. Their products are all made in the US and hold up great. They are not the most local and only have some organic options, but I thought I would at least give you the suggestion to check out!

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Good quality couch/sofa, inexpensive

Jan 2009

We need a new couch, in a fabric that will last if we get another pet (cat an/or dog). we don't want to pay 3000 for a couch like at Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn - but we are not at all impressed with the IKEA stuff (i have not found a good quality, stable couch there). is there some kind of a happy medium - more quality than ikea, less expensive than the above mentioned stores...does anyone have a recommendation for where to get a couch/sofa/sectional.... please and thank you Lisa C

We just got a lovely couch at Papillion Home on Solano Avenue. They carry Rowe brand couches, which are good quality, from a reputable company, and have good warranties. (the company has been around for 20 years, so you don't have to worry about them going out of business.) Scandinavian Designs also carrys Rowe brand. Our couch was a floor model and is covered in a microfiber velvet. We got it for $900 and we are very pleased. Its also great to support a local store rather than one of those big chains. carrie

We're also couch shopping, and after trying all the places you mentioned plus more, we stumbled into Scandinavian Designs on Shattuck the other day and were pleaseantly surprised. A wide range of styles in the $600-$1500 range, and comfy. Check them out if you haven't already. They have a sale going on through 1/31 on some things. You can also take a peek at their website to preview. Fellow Cat/Couch Owner

We bought our sofa at Harvest Home at Bay Street Center in Emeryville (here's a website: for less than $1500. We have a young child, so we chose a slipcover sofa, and once, when we needed to, we took off the slipcover and had it drycleaned. Easy-peasy. The slipcover version isn't quite as neat as a standard upholstered sofa, but it fits well and should in no way be confused with the slipcovers you buy for your sofa after the fact. These are really tailored to the sofa. We've had it almost five years now and are still very happy with it. Carrie

Try - I bought a couch there about 6 years ago, and I have quite a few friends who also own them. The prices are pretty reasonable and the quality and styles are great. I'm not sure what they're offering these days, but given your needs, you might look for a microfibre couch. Good luck. Judiah

We bought our couch last year from Zentrum in Berkeley (they used to have two stores, but now I think there's just one, near 4th street). We got a sofa with a chaise lounge on one side (it's an L-shaped sofa) in microsuede (a great fabric for pets, easy to clean and looks really good) for $1000. They have beautiful furniture at amazing prices, it's our favorite furniture store. So long Ikea! Tegan

Believe it or not we got a great deal on a beautiful couch and love seat at Macy's It was on sale, it was microfiber and we had a choice of some colors - the micrifiber is fabulous - I wet a dishtowel and rub out anything that marks it - even pen when my son's friend sat down with a pen in his pocket. It is so comfortable when my son is home from college he refuses to sleep in his bed. The microfiber is truly a miracle fabric and we didn't pay for the extra coating either! And at the moment you can get very good deals at the Macy's (they will negotiate right now as well) - we went to Concord - they have the biggest selection of furniture. anon

Lisa - I vowed never to buy retail again, after seeing what was for sale at Consignments Plus in Walnut Creek. Before going over there, I assumed the prices would be unpalatable, b/c of the location. But (happily) NOT so :-) Nip over there and see what's avail. Good Luck... Been There w/Old Cat, too

We bought a 2-piece sectional at EQ3 on Bay st. in Emeryville last June. Since it's only 7 months old, I can't tell you about the wear (tho it is used daily and still looks fairly new). But like you, we were looking for something at a price point between Ikea and Pottery Barn but more well-built than Ikea. I think our sectional was around $1800. Anon

Microfiber couch ''cleanability''

May 2008

I am looking for a new couch, and have heard many things about microfiber/microsuede in terms of its cleanability and durability. We currently have a leather couch which, while so very ugly, has been easy to clean: except for ballpoint pen, I can get anything off.

We have one toddler who uses our couch as a play area, two short-haired dogs who are forbidden to come up on the couch, yet occasionally do sneak up, and we two adults aren't Martha Stewart in terms of cleanliness (we all eat and drink while sitting on the couch).

I am wondering if it really is true that ''microfiber is just so easy--everything comes right off?'' Please share any experiences and/or advice. Is it easy to clean, but the fabric wears after awhile? Can you see where that OJ spilled, even if the OJ itself is gone? I'd also love to hear opinions regarding a solid fabric vs. something with a pattern.

Many thanks! Someday, I want nice furniture again

Yes it is totally cleanable, they try to sell you the repellent but you don't really need it. Mine has had everything split on it and it all comes out, no marks. Even with a load of hockey players having a bbq! Only negative is it really leaves marks of your bum in it! What was that in my jeans pocket? micro-cleaner

I spent a lot of time weighing the fabric options when selecting our couch. I was told over and over how kid (and messy adult) friendly the microfiber couch is, so we selected this fabric in red. I don't know if our particular couch is cursed, or if Jennifer Convertible has a unforgiving type of microfiber, but the stains on my couch are HORRENDOUS. Three years later, I now have one infant, one preschooler, and a couch with about a thousand drool water marks. Every time something is spilled, just the process of cleaning it leads to a bigger watermark. The ONLY way to get it clean is to have it professionally steam-cleaned. But at $80 bucks a pop, and the fact that it stays clean only a week at most, this isn't the most practical solution. PLEASE, if anyone has a better fabric choice, please share!! Now I Know Why Grandma Wrapped the Couch in Plastic

I don't know anything about microfiber couches, but our solution with young children and cats is to use a slipcover. I still have my old couch from grad school (which has been owned by at least two or three other grad students in the past). It's not pretty, but it's comfortable and clean (doesn't smell, but has stains). We use slipcovers that can be washed. We first used a slipcover from a website ( ??) but then we just bought a new stretchy slipcover from Target two weeks ago that we love. We also want nice furniture again, but with two small children, I think that will have to wait. This is one solution you may try. Buy something comfortable (new or used) and then put a washable slipcover over it. My two cents

We have a light green micro-fiber couch, 2 off-white microfiber chairs and a 14-month old. When I bought the chairs my husband thought I was crazy, but they really do clean easily. A damp cloth is all you need. Most of our spills are food, but we've also had to deal with baby spit up, juice, pencil marks and some weird red mystery stains that I cleaned up at least 24 hours after they appeared. A microfiber believer

Chemical-free sofa?

May 2008

Are there furniture shops in the Berkeley area that sell flame-retardant-free sofas? Hoping the reduce chemicals in the house

Roche Bobois in SF sells chemical free upholstered furniture. They're stylish, but not cheap. chemical free

Best sofa fabric and color for kids and pets?

Nov 2007

Need new sofa and chairs for family room as our pets and kids soiled the last set. What is the a good fabric (not including leather) and colors that can weather the storm of kids and pets? I'd like to be able to put a cushion protector on the sofa coushions to avoid anything soaking through, so I'm wondering if a slip cover is ideal? Any advice or thoughts would be great!

I have been dealing with the same thing as you with my kids and cat and found that slipcovers are best. You can wash them and put them back and finally change them when they are old and stained. We kept our old worn out but sturdy shabby chic sofa but have been using a slipcover and it looks great. catherine

As a professional slipcoverer, my favorite fabric for families with kids and pets is Crypton Super Fabric. No need for cushion protectors because fluids cannot soak through it. Stains lift right off. It isn't inexpensive, but is the best. Lots of restaurants and hotels use it these days. They make many patterns and weaves, including suedes and velvets. See They now sell to consumers as well as to design professionals. Ask the store you are buying your furniture from whether they can specify ''Customer's own material'' if they do not offer crypton fabrics themselves.

For more budget friendly fabrics, I'd look into some of the microfiber suedes that are on the market. Many of these are hydrophobic and liquids will bead on the top rather than soak through. They have varying degrees of stain resistance...ask the vendor for the specifications.

Choose small patterns or textures over solids because pet hair and marker ''decorations'' tend to disappear in the pattern. When selecting your color, take your pet's fur color into account. As long as you are investing in new furniture, try to make it a practice to vacuum the surfaces that get the most wear once a week, and flip and rearrange cushions as often as possible to spread the wear around. Dirt, dander and dust just get ground into your fabric if they are not lifted off. Buy and use the arm protectors: they can be easily washed when they get dirty, unlike your upholstery. Jeanne Swartz

Fabric one if my favorite subjects. First you need to decide if you want an upholstered sofa/chair or a slipcover. If you choose upholstery look for a fabric that has more than 100,000 double rubs. A reputable fabric retailer should be able to steer you towards this. A texture or a pattern will hide stains and dirt. A darker color helps too. Don't be afraid of synthetic fibers they last longer and the colors are usually richer. If you have a sunny roon Sunbrella has fabulous upholstery fabrics.

If you go with a slipcover and you pick a fabric that can be washed have the fabric pre-washed to shrink it up so you don't have any surprised after you wash it for the first time. And again pick a fabric that is darker in color and has a texture or print. Solid fabrics with flat weaves show all stains regardless of color. As a person with kids, a dog and a cat I have opted for slipcovers. I have a cotton one I wash when ever I need to and a nicer one that I dry-clean for when I want my house to be a bit more put together. Teal Major

A color that has worked well for us is sage green. Early on, we had a regular sheet ''protecting'' it. That was kind of effective for our first kid. What we have going on now is a vinyl fitted sheet (about $5 at Target) under a slipcover. The slipcover is the same color as our sofa and is a nice cotton brushed canvas. It is removable and machine washable. And it looks nice! anon

Ektorp sofa from Ikea anybody?

March 2006

I'm thinking of buying the EKTORP sofa from IKEA. I've had equally good and bad experience with IKEA furniture and would find it helpful to know whether people like that sofa or not. Does it wear out quickly (I know that it is kind of soft to beginn with)? How are the covers holding up to frequent washing? We have two toddlers and 2 cats and are thinking of getting a dog --- would that be a good sofa for the next 5 or more years?

We love our Ektorp sofa!! We've had it for 4+ years and it's still going strong. The slipcover has been washed countless times and it still looks like new (and it's offwhite). People cannot believe that it is an Ikea sofa. Ektorp lover

i've had my ektorp sofa (loveseat actually) for a few years, and it's only gotten moderate use, in a guest room. it's not held up very well. the first cover, light blue, got too stained and worn after about a year, and then the zipper pull broke off, meaning if i took off the cover, i couldn't put it back on. when i went to buy a new cover finally, in red, they told me i could return the original, though i still haven't as it's an hour to get to ikea... then when i put the new red cover on the first time, the same thing happened - the zipper pull broke off! so i plan to return them both when it's time to get a new one, and hopefully i'll get 2 new ones. but i still wouldn't recommend it at all. get a really well made slipcovered sofa somewhere, that will hold up. i still have one that's great from a place called sofa a la carte in SF, but i think they went out of business. good luck! anon

What to look for in a leather sofa

Jan 2005

We would like to hear from anyone who has purchased a leather couch, ie what to look for and if you're happy with leather (vs fabric). And, if you have a store you can recommend for a quality leather couch at a reasonable price, do tell! Thank you!

I had a butter-colored leather sofa and loveseat that I just replaced with fabric-covered ones. I wouldn't buy leather again. Leather is cold when you first sit down. My cats scratched up the leather when they jumped on it, leaving conspicuous marks that couldn't be repaired. The light color looked dirty unless cleaned regularly with saddle soap, a messy and time-consuming job. Cleaning accelerated the wear of the leather's finish. Eventually I tried covering the furniture with standard pre-fab slipcovers, but the leather was too slippery for them to work. Never again

Some friends bought a leather sofa from Macy's. The service was excellent (they had to replace several pieces because of the leather quality and Macy's was responsive) but they ended up trading it in for cloth because the sunlight/heat through the windows made the leather all sticky. A thought to add to your deliberations.

I've had my leather sofa for 13 years now. The other day I thought it was finally starting to look a bit worn, but then I wiped it off & it looked brand new again. This couch has been through three toddlers & two cats, and we are very lax about everything, from food or drink on the couch, to jumping on the couch (happens all the time.)

Key ingredients to getting a good one: look for thick leather that is upholstered tightly - not that thin, loose, wrinkly style. Look for cushions with inner springs, as you will have this thing for a long time. And finally, you must have a good frame to support the couch, because it will be heavy.

I got mine from Expressions custom furniture in 1992. I paid $2200 on sale. In comparison, I just paid $800 for a fabric-upholstered sofa for another room in December 2003, and it looks so bad already I'm inclined to get rid of it. Rose

Where to find kid-size foam couch

Sept 2003

Can anyone recommend a place to buy a small, kid-size foam couch? Someone gave us one many years ago and its falling apart and I'd like to replace it. I've heard about a $99.00 one at Foam Creations on Solano but was hoping to find something less expensive. Thanks much for any suggestions. Karen

In addition to Foam Creations, I've also seen these in that bed store near the Pinole Toys 'r' Us. (A few doors to the left, I think).

I saw some at Berkeley Kids Room, on Shattuck. anon

We got one a Toys R US for $19. All foam. No wooden support. But the cover is removable and can be washed and it is still is good condition after 2 years of use. Anon

Best type of sofa with kids?

August 2003

We just bought a cute little house and I'm dying to upgrade from our student futons to a grown-up sofa. I've been shopping around, but can't decide which fabric will best survive the beatings (and spillings) from my toddler. Some salespeople say leather, some say scotchguarded fabric (but which type?). Any advice from those with experience? Anything we should avoid? I'd hate to spend a lot of money on a sofa and have to worry about it being damaged all of the time. Maria

I would definitely suggest a leather sofa! We bought a leather sectional at Ikea and I've never been sorry. It has taken a lot of spills from my twin girls and it looks great. It's really easy to take care of. Laura

We just bought a micro-suede couch from costco for $500 it is great. Looks and feels like suede but can be shouted out. Yeah- perfect for this mommy and her baby, messy husband and three dogs! Check it out. Juliette

Leather is the only way to go. I can not tell you how many times I wipe my couch down. If you want the soft feel of fabric buy some nice throw pillows. oakland mom

Get leather. I resisted it for the first two kids and made do with wiping spills off fabric. I think we went through 4 fabric sofas over the course of 15 years. After a couple of years our fabric sofa would look terrible and we'd spend the next few years hoping to be able to get another one. No amount of scotchguard will protect a fabric sofa from the kind of abuse that kids can inflict, and they are very creative in finding new ways to abuse furniture that you never thought of. You might be thinking it will just be something like the baby's sippy cup leaked a little juice and you can get that right off, no problem. But in a very short time the baby will be bigger and your sofa will have to accommodate all her friends and the friends' bad habits, dirty shoes, muddy sporting equipment, toys that can make holes, science projects that explode, art supplies that leak, stain, and stick to things. Then they get older and need to eat all the time, and they eat bowl after bowl of cereal and milk, repeatedly ignoring the No Food in the Living Room rule. They are watching the game so they can't pay full attention, but they are certain they never spill anything. And they can buy junk food with their own money, awful junk food that comes in weird colors and has strange crumbling properties, and sticks really hard to fabric. And they stay up later than you on the weekends, so they eat all of these things on the sofa with five of their friends who are also starving inattentive teenagers. And don't forget the pets with their dirty feet, and the little bits of catfood and kitty litter and worse stuck to their fur....

Well, for all these reasons we upgraded to a leather sofa a few years ago. It's one of the smartest parenting decsions I've made. You just wipe stuff off with a cloth. It still looks just as good as the day it was delivered! Ginger

Pottery Barn has several sofas that come with slipcovers that you can take off and run through your wash (or take to be professionally laundered). You can also buy additional slip covers--they are pricey,but cheaper than a new sofa. Jan Marie

We have a couch & chair that came with custom-made denim slipcovers. They are wonderful. If they get dirty or soiled, I simply remove the slipcovers and launder them. The couch & chair are fully upholstered, so they still look great while the covers are being cleaned, plus they give us an alternate ''look'' should we want one. Great choice for a family with little ones. Sharon

It's on the expensive side (around $1500), but I can recommend the Charleston sofa from Pottery Barn in the velvet fabric. It comes with a removable, dry-cleanable slipcover, so my reasoning was that if worse came to worse, I'd only have to replace the slipcover at less than half the cost of the sofa frame. My toddler is 2-1/2, we've had the sofa for nearly 4 years, and so far it has stood up very well to minor spills, nursing slobber, and various other forms of abuse from my kid and visiting kids of all ages. It spot cleans easily, and although I haven't yet had to dry clean it, I keep in mind that that's always an option. Incidentally, I'd stick to the darker colors. ali

Thinking about getting a leather couch

Jan 2003

We are thinking of purchasing a leather sofa, instead of a fabric one, because we have the idea that it will be sturdier, with 2 boys and 2 dogs in our household. Is that a fair assessment? Our last sofa, we had covered with a durable tapestry fabric, and now 10 years later, it is worn through. Will a leather sofa last longer than 10 years? And are the higher end sofas worth the price, $3000+ vs $1200-1500? Do the higher prices and thicker leather really last longer? Thanks for any thoughts on this. Also any recommendations on where to shop for such a couch? Jennifer

We have had 2 leather couches for over 10 years. They are in the living room, not the family room, and so have not gotten the heaviest beating. But we have 2 kids and a dog, and they still look new. Spills wipe right off. We are redecorating, and about to get rid of them. If you want to buy them for a lot less than retail, let me know. Leslie

Where to get a quality couch?

May 2000

Please help. We are in the market for a couch. We want good quality and dont know exactly what to get. Has anyone got something new from a store which they love and trust? How are Scandanavian Design sofa's? Thanks!

We bought our sofa at Busvan for Bargains in SF and have been very pleased. Elizabeth

The new Ikea in Emeryville has a great selection of sofas. We would love to buy one, but it's been kind of a hassle. We went down to the store (no small feat with the traffic!) and picked out a sofa and a color and went to the pick up area. They didn't have the color, didn't know when it would be coming in and told us to call to see when it came in. I called, and the recorded message said that until it was less busy, they wouldn't be giving sales or product help out over the phone. Kind of annoying. However, the couches they have are pretty swell, so we'll probably go back to actually get one sometime, just not when it's so busy.

Hi, I am also in search of a sofa and or sofabed. I went to Ikea yesterday (first time) and sat on A LOT of sofas. Some were very comfortable and supportive of backs, and some were too cushy and slumpy. Quality seemed to vary too, and the prices were all pretty reasonable to cheaper. You can also order some of them with fabric and colors of your choice. Good luck June