Our Guide To Buying The Perfect Sofa

Whenever we move apartments, the first thing we think of is our sofa. Cue the whining: Do we buy a new one? Will it fit? What color do we need? You know as well as we do that a couch is the most important part of your life living-room, and an uncomfortable, ugly model will throw your feng-shui into code-red. But shopping for a sofa is harder than a juice cleanse, which is why we sat down with Rachel Ashwell, the mastermind behind the pastel paradise of the obsession-worthy interiors store, Shabby Chic. "I suggest casual fabrics that stand up to wear," says the maison maven. "A modular sectional with individual pieces is a good option for homes with narrow hallways and doors." To help you put her suggestions to good use, we've scoped out the very best places to scoop up your own sofa in every price range. Even if you're not in the mood to buy now, we think you should keep this list handy for your next chaise challenge.
Here's our couch cheat-seat!

1. Under $1,000

White on White: This Tribeca
boutique carries a tightly curated selection of modern furniture that
pulls inspiration from designers like Philippe Starck and Charles
Eames . With pieces that look like they cost millions but are for the
most part astonishingly affordable, your casa will look MoMA-worthy
in a flash.
White on White, 85 White Street (between
Broadway and Lafayette); 212-966-6711.

2. $1,000-2,000

The Future Perfect: This
kitschy yet minimalist Williamsburg boutique is filled with an
eclectic collection of furniture and home goods by a mix of local
talent and global designers. The mid-range prices and extensive
selection make this the spot to find a sofa no one else will have.

The Future Perfect, 115 North Sixth Street
(at Berry Street); Brooklyn; 718-599-6278

3. Sky's the Limit

Moss: Is a $5000
Glow-in-the-dark sofa on your furniture wish-list? Moss has you
covered. This high-end Soho shop is a shrine to avant-garde home
design that carries couches that will leave your wallet considerably
lighter, if not empty.

Moss, 150 Greene Street (at West Houston
Street); 866-888-6677.

Check out our interview with the ultimate expert, Rachel Ashwell, founder of Shabby Chic!

What's the first thing you need to consider when buying a new couch?
The appeal and function of the sofa's shape, size, fabric, and the way the pieces will be placed in a room. Seating meant for relaxing and napping should be cushy, comfortable, soft and oversized.


What about cost?
Consider your budget! if you are in the market for an heirloom quality piece that will last for several years, look for words like eight-way hand tied, bench built, kiln dried hardwood, corner blocked, cushions filled with down and feather - all of the sofas in my Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture™ line are constructed this way. For a less expensive option but still great quality look for webbed construction with synthetic cushions like the Shabby Chic® line of furniture.

How concerned should you be about fabric?
Personal tastes can account for a fabric choice though for seating I suggest casual fabrics that can stand up to wear. I love washed cottons and linens and the rumpled vintage appeal. Leather is also appealing because it is timeless, classic, natural and ages beautifully.

Should I buy slipcovers to update an older sofa if I'm really on a budget?
Slipcovers are my primary choice for new or old furniture. Slipcovers can be made to look tailored or relaxed, fancy or plain, depending on the fabric and the detailing. Slipcovers are washable so offer the utmost in convenience and practicality.

Should I be worried about how to get my new sofa into my apartment?
In New York, there are often challenges to get large pieces of furniture into a building and through the doorway. A modular sectional with individual pieces that can hook together once in the room is a good option for homes with narrow hallways and doors. At many high-end furniture stores who custom make each piece of furniture will offer an option to "bolt on" the arm. However, if you love a piece and cannot customize it several companies offer a service to breakdown your sofa and reupholster it in your home - we use Z Brothers in New York.