So You Need a Sofa. Here Are the 4 Questions To Ask To Get It Right.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be a part of an excellent story about buying a new sofa that appeared in The Washington Post.  Lindsey Roberts did a great job at sharing and distilling a lot of information.  Today I wanted to expand a little on the story with four questions you should ask yourself when buying a sofa.

How do I use the space in which the sofa will go?

This is the first question I always ask.  There is such a wide range of variables that make shopping for a new sofa overwhelming.  If you can pinpoint exactly how you live in the space, then you can eliminate a whole host of options.  For instance, if this is in your family room where you spend all your time and you have young children and/or pets, then a tight back upholstered formal sofa is not in your future.  Slipcovers are looking pretty good, as is a man-made fabric.

What are my priorities for the space?

We all go through life stages.  In my business I call them the Ikea, Pottery Barn, and Red Barn stages.  As we grow in maturity and wealth, it’s important to identify what stage you are in and what is important to you when you’re decorating.  Are you looking for a quick fix that will get you through the new puppy or young children, or are you interested in investing in an heirloom-quality piece that will outlast the puppy and see the children into adulthood?  We believe in a high-low combination of decorating.  There will always be places to save if you want to splurge somewhere else.  Before sofa shopping it’s wise to decide where that is.

What is my budget?

That leads me to budget.  What is it for the entire space, not just the sofa?  Knowing that will allow you to make tradeoffs as you design.  If heirloom quality sofas are important to you, then perhaps you buy fewer sofa pillows.  Or if you want a sofa the kids can destroy then you can splurge on a nice wool rug (which can be surprisingly kid friendly!).

What size do I need?

If you have a tight space like the ones in Old Town and Del Ray, it’s extremely important to measure the space carefully.  Not just the space in the room, but the route the sofa takes to get into that space.  I have had people take sofas through windows to get it in. Personally, I had to take off door jams to get my sectional in the house.  With tricky old houses with narrow stairs and small doorways I highly recommend having a professional come out to measure the path so you know what can fit in.  We recommend Heirloom Express.

Also, sometimes a custom size is in order.  Please don’t fear the word “custom.”  It’s not as scary – or expensive – as it sounds.  A custom sofa gets you exactly what you need and want.  Off the rack sofas may be returnable, but they also may be just “meh.”  You want the sofa to fill the space, but not over- or underwhelm it.

Who is Cisco Brothers?

This is where I get to promote Cisco Brothers, our upholstery line (which happens to be on sale this month!).  For more than 20 years, Cisco Brothers has been making heirloom-quality furniture in the heart of Los Angeles. Their commitment to the environment, their commitment to quality design, and their commitment to their craftspeople, customers, and community are just a few of the reasons we love them and have carried their line since we opened our doors more than nine years ago.

When part of your furniture company’s philosophy is this — “We don’t look at our product as a disposable commodity or luxury item.  We see our sofas and chairs as enduring symbols of family and home, and construct each piece with care, tailoring it to the needs and desires of each individual customer,” — then you know it’s good.  That’s a company I want to partner with.

Each piece is custom made to your specifications.  It is a pile of wood, nails, foam, and fabric until we tell them what to make.  All the wood is domestically sourced hardwoods, they use double dowel joinery, all the metal has been recycled, none of the cushions contain hazardous flame-retardant chemicals, and the majority of their fabrics are natural fiber.  I could go on and on.  If you’re interested in learning more, please visit their website or come in the store and we would be happy to share more.

To make this amazing product easier for folks to invest in, we have an everyday discount of 20 percent.  But, this month we are taking an additional 10 percent off that price, which makes it even easier to bring home a piece of art for your home.

Whether you invest in Cisco or not, I wish you the best of luck on your sofa search!

  • The latest from Amy
Owner Amy Rutherford started Red Barn because she wanted to deliver a service — to provide both old and new in one place. No longer will busy shoppers be limited to reproductions or forced to shop multiple flea markets for the look or gifts they want. The trick in blending old and new, vintage and modern, classic and quirky, is balance. And Amy’s knack for mixing rustic antiques with urban chic has created a look that is both fresh and familiar.

Red Barn Mercantile opened its doors in September 2007 with a single vision in mind: providing old and new to offer our customers signature whole-room designs at great prices.

We’re more than a furniture boutique and provide more personalized service than a big box retailer. We work hard to bring you the highest quality furniture and gifts, the most unique conversation starters, wall hangings and accent pieces, whether they come from off-the-beaten-track flea markets, or the latest designers.

1117 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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