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Posts Tagged ‘sofas’

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In this contemporary scheme, a comfortable statement sofa worked well to bring a relaxed feel to the room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

It’s weird thing that sofas are so hard to get right, but they really are. Furniture is generally easier to select than say redesigning a bathroom or commissioning joinery but over the years I have heard many sorry stories of profound disappointment on receipt of an eagerly awaited sofa. With this in mind, I often find myself using the 3am worry slot to agonise over an impending sofa delivery. However much I know that we have done exhaustive investigation, double-checking and confirming on behalf of, and involving, our clients in the run up to placing a sofa order, it is always a few hours prior to delivery that I decide that we have definitely overlooked something.

There are a lot of things to consider before buying (or commissioning, more on this later) a sofa. Firstly, you need to think about what style of sofa is going to work in your room – do you lean towards a contemporary or traditional feel, mid-century modern or shabby chic? You don’t need to put a name to the style you want but if you are unsure of what look you prefer then you are not ready to enter a sofa shop yet. Fabric choice is important too and hard to consider in isolation. Building up a picture of the final scheme including wall colour, flooring, other items of furniture, curtains or blinds and so on will help you to avoid a fabric choice that you find hard to match to or that is a bland disappointment. There is a raft of other decisions to also be considered and these crucially include size – a measure of the room with consideration to other items of furniture is vital – and comfort levels of which height of back, depth of seat, filling and how the sofa is constructed all play a role. There are lots more decisions that are important but I won’t go into all of these for fear that you may decide that your hand-me-down, battered sofa that you hated when you started reading is perfectly all right. However, I will say that it is better to consider a lot of these decisions prior to spending that nightmare Saturday morning trailing around high street furniture shops and ending up feeling overwhelmed by information, underwhelmed with what you have seen and temporarily less keen on the loved one that you left the house with that morning.

Can I also at this point, strongly steer you away from the idea that buying a cheap Ikea sofa with the plan to bin it in future and get the one you actually want is a sensible decision. This thought has been shared with me in my professional capacity more times than I care to remember and it is a notion that is riddled with flaws, the primary one being that all you are doing is delaying doing the work to get the right sofa and in the meantime putting up with a piece of furniture that isn’t right because you haven’t given proper consideration to what you do want (whether it ends up coming from our fine Swedish friends or not.)

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A traditional sofa in a plain fabric looks very happy in this country drawing room. Photography by Simon Whitmore

Once you have done your homework deciding which sofa is perfect for you, there is the possibility that you won’t be able to find what you want on the high street. Retailers are undoubtedly getting better at offering flexibility on size, fillings, legs, fabric and so on but I do find that we often have to commission a completely bespoke sofa in order to get what we want and this route is available to everyone. A good sofa maker is able to make or commission a frame to an agreed size, shape and style and then upholster it to your requirements which means that the world is your oyster. It also means that you are speaking directly to the expert, the person who is going to actually make it, so you should receive excellent advice. I know that you will be thinking that this all sounds very expensive and although it is not a bargain basement option, I always think it is less expensive than one would imagine, which is a reflection of not paying for a middle man and normally not paying for a swanky showroom and a glossy brochure. Although there are many excellent sofa makers all over the country, for historical reasons many are located in and around Nottingham which is where our ace upholsterer is based. There isn’t a chance that I will reveal his name but if you find a workshop with stressed looking craftsmen looking at an order and muttering ‘what on earth are they asking for now’, you may be in the right place.

What I will share with you are a few of my sofa related tips drawn from many years of professional sofa buying, some more painfully learnt than others, that I hope will help you in your quest to avoid sofa disaster:

  1. I’ve mentioned checking the size of the room but the other key measurement is the size of the doorway/staircase/sharp turn from corridor to room etc. A beautiful new sofa that won’t go into the room is not a pretty sight and if you think your proposed sofa won’t fit you may be able to have it delivered in pieces (removable legs or arms etc.) but you need to check that carefully.
  2. Don’t rule out the idea of an antique sofa that may or may not (if you are really lucky) need recovering. Often the frames (and sometimes the fillings) are well made and antique sofas can offer something a bit different. As an example, there is a company called Pelikan in Haverhill that buy original mid-century sofas from Denmark and restore and recover them. If your style leans in this direction, and you are in the market for a sofa, you should visit them immediately.
  3. Sofabeds are much better now than they used to be when neither the sofa nor the bed were all that comfortable. They are a good option if you are short of guest sleeping space but remember to consider how the room will function when it is transformed into a bedroom – do you have to move furniture in order to unfold the bed, where does bedding live, where do guests put their things? – often sofabeds are not used as beds because the room doesn’t really work as a bedroom, so it may be better to concentrate on sofa comfort rather than incorporating the bed facility.
  4. I hate hard and fast rules from interior designers because there is normally an exception but I am going to stick my neck out on scatter cushions made from the same fabric as the sofa. I genuinely can’t think of a situation where they are a good idea. The purpose of a scatter cushion (not back cushions or any cushion that is part of the sofa) is primarily decorative and small square cushions that blend into the sofa are apologetic at best.
  5. Lastly sales. Panic buying leads to mistakes. It is great to get a bargain but it is not a money saver if you immediately want to change it. There are many sales throughout the year and I guarantee that if you miss a sale bargain, there will be another tasty offer available sooner than you think.

Finally to anyone who has made a mistake with a sofa purchase, and my heart goes out to you if you have, don’t add to the problem by matching to the mistake. I have had customers say to me that they have a sofa they hate but for whatever reason it has to stay so we need to build a scheme round it. This is not a good plan. My approach would be to design a scheme that we love without considering the offending sofa, and implement it, which will hopefully dilute the impact of the mistake. We may add a few accessories that tie it into the scheme and then we wait for the day the right sofa can be put into the room and the sofa mistake can be found a new home somewhere that it is welcome.

This article first appeared the February edition of Cambridge Magazine 

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This week I took a trip to Haverhill to visit the warehouse of the wonderful company, Pelikan. I not only had a good look at their collection, but I had a chance to sit down with the owners Penny and Rachel.

‘Romi Three Seater’

Pelikan is a furniture company that specialises in the restoration of Danish, mid-century sofas and chairs. While maintaining the sophisticated, minimalist style of Danish design from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Pelikan team revamp the furniture in modern wools and tweeds.

‘Coco Two Seater’

The concept and motivation of the company is to make vintage styles accessible and functional in today’s modern world. So often with buying vintage furniture, especially pieces that are in frequent use like a sofa, there’s always the slight hesitation that because of its age the piece will be too fragile to operate in the same way as a new sofa. However, the beauty of Pelikan is that they retain all the authenticity of the original design and style that mid-century modern has to offer but it is presented in a fashion that allows for the daily rough and tumble that comes with modern life.

‘Hera Armchair’

The company began to materialise after Penny, one of the co-owners, visited a friend out in Denmark and was struck by the beautiful furniture that filled the homes and buildings. Inspired by what she saw she began to delve into the mid-century world, finding a niche in the market for pieces that held the spirit of the past with the suitability and durability of the present.

‘Vera Three Seater’

The team have trusted places where they source all of their pieces from, after initially making to trips to Denmark themselves they developed a keen eye for fine craftsmanship and quality pieces, and with an abundance of designers, styles and pieces to choose from they seem to be spoilt for choice.

After their selected pieces arrive at the warehouse the process to finding the perfect fabric to suit the personality and style of each piece begins. From authentic Harris Tweed to wool blends in contemporary colours, each piece of furniture is treated as an individual, with its own needs, and this is perfectly captured by each piece receiving its own name, catered to its style and history, from Wolfgang to Raja.

‘Raja Daybed’

Pelikan also do a bespoke service, where a customer can choose from a range of unrestored pieces and have it customised to their specific needs and in their own chosen fabric. This process can often lead to the most daring and exciting pieces, which in turn inspire the fabric choices for collections that follow.

‘Wolfgang Armchair’

What is so lovely about Pelikan’s products, and the mid-century motif in general, is the way that the designs visually effect you. From the off-set when you walk into room that houses one of these pieces, you will immediately think ‘what a lovely piece’, but the more time you spend looking the more the piece comes to life. Small details that give the overall look such flair and style slowly come out and with each new glance or different angel you view it from the more the piece speaks to you, there’s a gradual appreciation that grows, which is perfect for a piece of furniture that is meant to last.

‘Flora Three Seater’

Whether you’re a vintage or mid-century nut, or you just like a hint of this style in your home, there’s bound to be a piece that’ll take your fancy. From large three-seater sofas, to laid-back armchairs to conversational footstools, each piece has something to say and something to add to a home. The kind of pieces you’ll find a Pelikan are ideal if you want to add a little retro chic into your interiors, they’ll act as a foundation, which you can build upon, as they’re the perfect balance between exotic vintage style and functional, contemporary finishes. Though each piece is approached in an individual manner, the collection comes together in a succinct manner that shows a focus, organised company that masters their passion.

Pelikan are having an open studio on the 17th & 18th June, visit their website for more information.

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For many people the words January and sale mean finding the latest bargains at a favourite clothing store, however at Angel + Blume, the January sales also means being able to get our hands on some beautiful pieces of furniture at a fraction of the cost.

The January sales is one of the best times to purchase that long sought after item you’ve been wanting to buy, whether it’s an investment piece or something striking to add to your home, there is so much on offer.

While some may dread the month of January, we think it’s a gift from the shopping gods, so out with old and in with the under-priced! I’ve chosen some simply gorgeous pieces from the sale section of some fabulous designers and stores to give you a little inspiration!

Vreeland Stripe ‘Atlanta’ Sofa in Multi Stripe from House of Hackney

Sometimes we need a little justification to help push us in the right direction, and in this case being brave enough to purchase a wild design like this vibrant number from House of Hackney just got a whole lot easier with its reduced price tag. Just like most of House of Hackney’s designs this sofa doesn’t err on the side of caution, its beautifully rich design oozes with contemporary glamour and will make a worthwhile investment.

Miss Adventure Sofa from Sofa Workshop

This beautiful bohemian style sofa from Sofa Workshop takes on an equally stunning pattern, but with mellow hues for those looking for a more laid-back style. This sofa and print combination would look amazing in a dozen different style settings from an industrial loft space to a classic country home; it’s a useful and delightful piece to have in your house.

For an investment that’s a classic, the ever faithful Habitat always has something up their sleeve. This Colin sofa is effortlessly chic and is perfect for a busy and changing lifestyle. Its relaxed nature makes it work as the staple of a room, meaning that as its furniture accompaniments change around it, it will never look out of place.

Colin Three Seater Sofa in Charcoal Fabric from Habitat

If you’re all set for sofas but are still in the mood to do a little revamping to your living room, buying a statement armchair is a great way to make your home feel all shiny and new without going into redesign overdrive.

Deco Tub Chair from David Linley

This Art Deco inspired armchair from David Linley is an ideal little dose of fun for any room, its vibrant colour will make it a stand out piece, while its size means it won’t overpower the room. Purchasing this colourful item will make the January blues seem more like a myth than reality. The same goes for this gorgeous rattan chair from The White Company, which is absolutely great addition for a modern or contemporary home.

Radial Rattan Occasional Chair from The White Company

You may have made quite a lot of use out of your dining room or area over the holiday period and if your table and chairs are looking a little worse for wear or you just feel like an upgrade, the January sales will lead you to an overwhelming amount of offers, but there are some truly lovely designs by some wonderful designers out there.

Vienna Chair from Tom Faulkner

This mid-century meets Art Nouveau style chair is a design masterpiece! Whether you feel like decking out the entire table, or perhaps just one at the head, this chair will show off your design skills. As with all pieces from Tom Faulkner there is an easy elegance and fluidity that makes the design so beautifully contemporary.  It also comes in a vivid pink, yellow or green.

Benchmark is home to some fantastic designs and products that are classic contemporary at its finest. This superb design from Benchmark is a home staple, plus it’s designed by the legendary Terrence Conran making it an absolute steal!

Normandie Side Chair designed by Terrence Conran for Benchmark

Another investment piece from Benchmark again designed by Terence Conran is this stunning sideboard. It’s a beautiful contemporary piece that unlikely to ever go out of style. Its clean lines means it’ll work with several design schemes without stealing focus or looking out of place.

Albin Sideboard designed by Terrence Conran for Benchmark

Or for something a little more rustic and flamboyant, there’s something quite special about this piece from Sweetpea and Willow. It will give a little grandeur to a room and fill it with some old school elegance.

Julien Commode in the style of Louis XV from Sweetpea and Willow

So don’t despair when it comes to venturing into the deep dark world of the January sales, there are some wonderful investment pieces out there that will last you a lifetime, and will hopefully leave you with some leftover cash!

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(Hanging fabric) ‘Wild Geese Velvet in Goose Grey’ & (sofa) ‘Oakwood in Woodsmoke’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection

The Bohemian Travels collection from Mulberry Home is an absolutely stunning line-up of fabrics and so we couldn’t not share it with you today. This collection brings together timeless and exotic designs in rich, modern colours schemes creating the perfect balance and ambience. Transport your home back to yesteryear with these dreamy and nostalgic designs.

(Curtains) ‘Puzzlewood Velvet in Spice Plum’ & (cushion) ‘Saddle Blanket in Teal’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

The beautiful patchwork style of the ‘Puzzlewood’ fabric is playful whilst still retaining its sophistication, over the years Mulberry have perfected their ability to give a playful edge to their work whilst still remaining the classic elegance of British style.

(Sofa) ‘Haddon Check in Plum’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection

This fabric is the prime example of how to do traditional style correctly in the modern age, the glorious plum colour enhances the classic tartan pattern putting it into its rightful place in classic contemporary design.

(Chair) ‘Magic Carpet in Plum’, (curtains) ‘Oakwood in Multi’ & (trunk) ‘Logan in Indigo’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection

These three fabrics are where Mulberry’s contemporary take on all things exotic come in to play. The combination of the vivacious colours and the striking patterns make these fabrics perfect for the stand alone or statement pieces needed for any extroverts interiors. In particular, the vibrancy of the Oakwood pattern especially in the multi colours is outrageously stunning, the icing on the cake for any home.

(Sofa) ‘China Linen in Multi’ from the Bohemian Travels Collection & ‘Carrick in Amber’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

Using the classic blue and white Chinese oriental motif, this China Linen fabric uses pattern clashing in an ultra-stylish way, and taking it even further by contrasting the China Linen against the orange the two fabrics work together to create an almost avant-garde piece of work.

The Bohemian Travels collection is a continuation from the previous collection Bohemian Romance, and the evolution between the two is seamlessly beautiful.

(Sofa) ‘Lomond Velvet in Red/Plum’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

The lavish Lomond fabric oozes in richness whilst capturing the perfect antique look without being overzealous; making it belong equally in a modern interior and a period property without looking out of place.

(Sofa) ‘Velvet Orient Carpet in Plum/Teal’ & (hanging fabric) ‘Shetland Plaid’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

The same can be said for this elaborate Orient Carpet pattern, which could exist effortlessly in a contemporary interior setting. The pattern is bold enough to stand alone against a minimalist backdrop, but is equally as inviting to surround the fabric with other daring patterns and colours.

(Sofa) ‘Game Birds Velvet in Stone/Multi’ & (hanging fabric) ‘Islay in Teal’ from the Bohemian Romance Collection

And for a last minute injection of country chic, a modern take on a Heritage classic motif. This Game Bird fabric is the perfect way to include a little old-fashioned English style with a reimagined contemporary tinge into a home.

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The changing weather at the moment has me reaching for the duvet as I begin to wishfully dream of hibernation during these upcoming months. Alas hibernation is not on the cards, but some beautiful throws, cushions, rugs and lamps are everything you’ll need to make it through autumn and into winter whilst keeping warm and toasty as the cold weather sets in.

Ligne Roset has some beautiful wintery rugs in their collection at the moment, and my personal favourite is this Allusions design.

Ligne Roset - Allusions Rug

It’s the perfect component to your home as the eye-catching design allows the rug to make a statement as a stand alone piece, but is subtle enough to complement other accessories and furnishings, whatever your style.

The rug would look great with a cosy throw like this one from Soak & Sleep, or if you want to go a little more glam and like me you can’t resist a faux fur throw, try this one from Feather & Black.

Soak and Sleep - Moss Stitch Cotton Throw

Feather and Black - Silver Faux Fur Throw

Whilst you’re snuggling up in your throw you’ll want to create a warm atmosphere in your home, some beautiful floor and table lamps will do the trick. Ochre has some amazing and innovative designs; this beautiful cast bronze floor lamp is an elegant piece with a modern twist and will be your perfect companion as you relax in front of a film or with a book.

Ochre - Cast Bronze Floor Lamp

If you’re looking for something a little more striking as well as atmospheric take a look at this stunning Wall Mounted Kasba Tea Light Holder from Rockett St George.

Rockett St George - Wall Mounted Kasba Tea Light Holder

The intricate design makes this a rather special piece and both a functional light feature as well as a fantastic work of art. The piece looks great on its own, but if you’re feeling adventurous and have the wall space why not put two or three of them together for a real feast for the eyes.

Another accessory to truly spoil yourself with is this exquisite Alexander McQueen cushion available from The Rug Company. The butterfly design is sophisticated, dramatic and timeless and would look amazing mixed among some plainer cushions, or on a simple sofa making it a real statement piece. It’s a bit of a splurge but the design is so beautiful it’s definitely worth it!

The Rug Company - Monarch Cushion

Veering away from accessories and dipping into some lovely furnishings, there are some wonderful pieces that are in-keeping with the autumn vibes.

This velvet chair from Oka Direct looks amazingly comfy and is the perfect place to sit back and admire your pretty throws and lamps. Plus the warm truffle colour makes for a perfect canvas to add other accessories in any style.

Oka Direct - Chantal Velvet Chair

If you’re in need of a place to store your summer accessories or are just simply looking for an excellent addition to a room, take a look at this elegant storage box from Sofa.com, it’s both practical and pretty.

Sofa.com - Valentin Storage Bench

And finally, this new fabric collection from Zoffany has got me all excited. The Tespi velvet collection is beautiful and rich and is absolutely perfect for the colder months. It comes in various patterns and colours to suit your style: if you want a more traditional design there’s the Tespi pattern, or for a more retro or contemporary feel try the Tespi spots and squares. These fabrics are great for revamping some cushions or going all out and covering an entire sofa or chair!

Zoffany - Tespi Velvets

So while the cold weather isn’t cause for celebration, the excuse to treat yourself with all these new home addition certainly is, and with these accessories, staying in has never felt so glamorous!

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