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Buying the perfect sofa

Posted on October 20 2014

Morning, bit of a fragmented week for me this week. I’m off to Hong Kong on Wednesday, and I’ve got meetings galore everyday leading up to then so by the time I get on that plane I’ll be pretty done in I reckon. However the meetings are exciting ones about expanding the biz and taking it to places I never imagined, so let’s see.

I spent the weekend dreaming about a house I’ve found for sale in Italy. Since the beginning of the year I’ve been feeling the urge for a bolt hole. G and I work way too hard and with both of us involved in the biz – working on average 14 hours a day and always at some point over the weekend – I’m beginning to feel a little frazzled like there’s just no let up. So it’s been in  my mind to find a second pad that we can renovate and not talk or think or even mention the biz.

I always thought (rather naïvely) that the more successful the business became the more we could pull back, but it’s actually the reverse. It keeps going in new and exciting directions that we never really dreamed of and as a result the work load has gotten even crazier. Especially with the launch of our own label and me having to spend a good part of the year each year travelling to far flung places visiting our factories and artisans. I need a bolt hole and a place where I can literally escape. In theory the house should be our bolt-hole, but as the team work from the studio here all week, and then we always end up working on the weekend I feel like it never stops!

This place I’ve found happens to be about an hour or so from Rome. Downside is it’s a long drive from London (we can’t fly obviously because we have the 2 M’s and I’m not putting them in the hold, EVER. Nor are they ever going into a kennel!) G thinks we should look at France because it’s much nearer, but I can’t deal with the coffee problem over there. Yes I know it sounds a bit mad but it’s a huge problem to me. Everywhere serves that long life UHT milk stuff, which means I can never sit at a cafe and isn’t the cafe culture the main advantage of going away! I digress.

My argument to G is that we could spend a week every month there, making the long journey (18 hours) viable. The property is cheap but it needs renovating (which isn’t cheap) and G’s argument is that we can’t really afford it.  Me being entirely impractical, I just want to bag the property and then figure out how to pay for the renovation later. Who knows I think it would make the prefect place to hold some classes where we could all potter around Italy, talk interiors by day, drink wine by night (it has the sweetest little courtyard garden, so super low maintenance). I’ll stop pitching now – I forget you guys are not G! I’ll save the persuasive arguments for him.

Lets get down to business and talk sofa’s.

This subject is very dear to my heart as I’ve recently launched my first capsule collection of furniture in collaboration with sofa.com. Designing a sofa was actually harder than I thought. I started off by making a list of the most important elements and it went a bit like this: comfort first, closely followed by supremely stylish, seductive and glam.

Also I don’t know about you guys but I want to keep my big-ticket items of furniture so that whenever I move (let’s say from my house in London to a house in Italy, just for example) it moves with me and still works effortlessly. See how I just snuck the Italy thing in there! I’m doing that a lot in conversations and it drives G mad.

When you’re buying a sofa, figuring out the style is hard. Do you want skirts (hello?), svelte arms, sexy bare legs, concealed legs. Difficult one!

How long do you plan on keeping the sofa – will you chuck it after a few years (hopefully not) or is it for everyday use? Do you want to sink, slob, and lounge, or sit upright in it? Are you hanging out with the family watching Strictly or purely entertaining the Joneses? So many questions, no!

Figuring out the upholstery is a whole other minefield, although I like this bit best! Obviously I want durability – I have had our sofa here for 14 years and it hasn’t been upholstered once, but I also want tactile and glam so my first choice is always velvet. Again it’s personal, I know people often want practical and think dogs, kids blah blah blah but the 2 M’s haven’t ruined ours yet, so just go with what works for you. My personal no-no is leather (personal obviously) – I love squishy leather chairs, but it feels too cold on a sofa for me.

I also love seeing how people use sofas in different ways, so not only to anchor a living room but also:

Doubling them up to create the cosiest seating area

Nice!

Putting them in unexpected places

I’m talking at the end of beds, as alternative chairs around dining tables – in bathrooms even! Think outside of the box I say.

Go classic not quirky

This is personal obviously but I want a sofa that transitions with me, so when I’m a 90-year old lady living it Italy (ahem), it still fits in. Whether I will physically be able to get in and out of it is another matter! So I generally go classy and timeless, and that way it will fit into any scheme. The Abigail (how cool is it to have a sofa named after you?) is retro-inspired and supremely glam. I could move to the Upper East Side with it, take it to my beach house, Italian villa or château, even the yacht!

What I’m trying to say, being sensible here for a mo, is only buy into styles that you love. If you want sharp and bold go sharp and bold. My best piece of advice is to trust your gut, it’s always stood me in good stead.

 

 

 

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