After posting our living room reveal, I’ve been getting lots of messages about the white sofa. I wanted to put the myth and rumors of white sofas to rest with a brand new ‘How We Choose‘ post… they look beautiful and don’t have to be a scary commitment. Trust me when I say, you’re not ‘throwing your money away’ when you purchase one, and I promise they do actually go with everything. I consider them one of the best investment pieces you can buy. Click through for a few Q&A’s…. as well as a giant roundup of my all-time favorites and tips for choosing one for your home.
S E C T I O N A L S
I’ll start with sectionals because they usually seem more intimidating to purchase. Here’s the thing about sectionals… you don’t want your living room to look like a bachelor pad or a frat house (at least let’s hope not)- the key to pulling off a sectional is to pair it with interesting textiles, side tables, and a coffee table large enough to anchor the size of the sofa.
I have a theory that round coffee tables look best with sectionals because the sofa itself tends to look pretty boxy. It’s nice to add feminine curves and contrast to the rectangular shape. The same goes for textures. A white sectional in a gorgeous material really doesn’t look masculine at all, but if it were in leather- that’d be a totally different story.
My sectional is #5… the small square arm number from Pottery Barn, in white denim. It’s durable and I have zero regrets.
S O F A S
In general, buying a sofa seems like a big commitment. Most likely, you’ll have to live with your decision for years to come. Sort of daunting, right? It doesn’t have to be! I always recommend nailing down your style first. I like to determine the style based on the arm shape. Here’s a little cheat sheet…
- petite arm = chic
- rounded arm = transitional
- slope arm = feminine, yet modern
- square arm = modern, and a little masculine
- english arm = super traditional
- soft curved arm = feminine
Just because an arm is of a certain style doesn’t mean it won’t pair well with a contrasting aesthetic. For instance, my square arm sofa might be modern and a touch masculine when it comes to shape, but it goes really well with my mid century coffee table and feminine textiles. You just have to make sure the aesthetic is reflected elsewhere in your home, so it doesn’t feel out of place. Make sense?
I’m breaking down LOTS of different sofas, all by arm style below:
A white slipcovered sofa with a petite arm feels very chic and glam. This arm style almost has a delicate feel to it. I’d pair this look with a linen or natural material that looks more casual.
Rounded arm styles are an easy choice for transitional homes.
They can blend in well with traditional decor, as well as with a modern aesthetic.
Also, when you’re selecting a sofa, in addition to comfort, seat height, back height, and arm rests, consider how you like to sit. A large bench seat cushion can accommodate more people without it feeling awkward (nobody likes to sit on the crack). If you opt for a sofa with multiple seat cushions, you generally want to think of one person per cushion. The slope arm styles above show perfect examples!
I also wanted to point out a brand that makes designer slipcovers for IKEA pieces (#1). We considered doing this when we first moved in. Have you guys heard of Bemz? I’ve mentioned them before.
My sofa has square arms. I like that they’re sturdy and modern, and have a very geometric shape. Square arms are a nice contrast to fluffy down pillows, and soft textiles.
The English arm style is uber traditional. It reminds me of old world beauty and gorgeous antiques. These options feel very glam and luxurious because of that.
You really can’t go wrong with a soft curved arm style. It’s a good compromise and always a safe bet for any style.
Q & A
Interested in hearing what it’s like to live with a white sofa? Check out the Q&A below…
Q: How often do you actually have to wash the slipcover?
A: That totally depends on your family and lifestyle, but here’s the honest truth… our home is under construction, we’re renovating, we eat 90% of our meals on the sofa (we currently have no indoor dining table), and the dogs are allowed up. I’m not a gross person, I swear. I’m actually the contrary… probably a little OCD / type A / neat freak. I wash our slipcover once every month or two. It stays really clean, I vacuum crumbs, and I lint roll dog hair a couple times a week (our dogs are non shedding).
Q: How do you wash /dry it?
A: It’s pretty easy… I wash the sofa in three sections (left, middle, and right). I could probably do it in two loads, but I like to make sure it gets really clean and isn’t crammed in our washer. I zip the covers prior to tossing them in the wash, I add one cup of OxyClean, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and the tiniest bit of bleach. I then set the washer to warm water on low to medium spin cycle. Once it’s finished washing, I toss it into the dryer on extra low for 10-20 minutes until it’s damp, but warm to the touch. I’ll put it back on the sofa while it’s still sort of damp and allow it to air dry the rest of the way… just to ensure it doesn’t shrink and stays true to size.
Q: How did you land on denim?
A: Denim is famous for it’s durability. It wears SO well. I like that it’s heavy duty, stands up to wear and tear, and still looks casual and relaxed (like a good pair of jeans). Dog nails are no match for it, and we even caught Finn on our doggie camera humping the cushion (terrible, I know), scratching them, and chewing them. Needless to say, he’s no longer allowed in the living room while we’re gone, just as a precaution, but he’s a 100 lb. dog and if he couldn’t puncture the fabric, that’s saying something. Here’s proof of what what he did to our old sofa.
Q: WHY white?
A: White is classic, timeless, and it literally goes with anything. It’s light and airy in the summertime, can be paired with pops of color for spring, and can be layered with plaids, checks, pillows and throws in the winter. If you’re non committal or scared to make an expensive furniture purchase, white is always a good answer. It’s not as overdone as gray, greige, or taupe, and can blend easily into any aesthetic or style. I was honestly sold after helping this client and shooting her living room. She has 4(!) boys, two dogs, and a husband and has had these gorgeous sofas for 5+ years. She totally convinced me.
Believe it or not- white actually hides dirt / pet hair / food better than darker colors like black or navy.
Q: Have you even spilled anything on it yet?
A: Duh. If you’ve met me, you know I can be clumsy. Here’s a list of things Emmett and I have already spilled on the sofa: red wine (yep, might as well start there), beer, spaghetti sauce, Chinese food (general tsao carryout sauce, ick), and orange juice… to name a few. Believe me when I say, you truly can’t even tell. With a little stain stick action, and regular washing, every single mishap has 100% been removed. I don’t even panic anymore when something spills.
Q: Is there any other maintenance?
A: I prefer a down or down blend sofa. They’re more comfortable, in my opinion. With any down product, it does require some fluffing and shifting from time to time. I’ll fluff the pillows every other week, and when I wash the slipcover, I’ll be sure to rotate the cushions so they wear evenly. I haven’t had any issues so far and it looks just like it did the day it was delivered.
Q: How did you convince your husband?
A: Ha! I’m not going to lie, it took a little bit to sell him on the idea. He still wasn’t 100% convinced when the sofa was delivered. I think it took the first time washing the slipcover to SHOW him (he likes scientific proof) that it’s tougher than it looks and will wear better than anticipated. That- and the dog camera evidence of Finn trying to destroy / hump the cushions.
Does that help to clarify how to make a sofa purchase? Even if white or slipcovers aren’t for you, I hope there were some helpful style and materials tips you took away! Questions? I’m happy to help in the comments below.