The Neutral Sofa

May 25, 2012

I’m willing to bet well over 50% of every sofa sold in the USA is a neutral tan-beige-ish color.  It’s typically one of the more expensive pieces of furniture to acquire and one of the largest ( unless of course you play the piano ) and most people want it to last a long time…  And they do, if you buy a well made sofa to start and cover it in a fabric that will A. hold up and B. not look dated years from now.  Because the sofa is so big “playing it safe” means keeping it neutral and less obvious in a room, “make it disappear” or at least, make it less obvious than say something half its size.  All of these theories have merit.  You can change the look of a room with art, throw pillows and accessories, on a whim.  Re-covering or slip-covering a sofa is a more expensive and timely endeavor.It’s actually funny to me as a designer that most people was to make a statement with their furnishings, especially if they have a professional guiding them away for any wrong decisions.  I am all for making a statement, and if bold and playful is your thing I’d happily find a pattern or bold color or woven texture for your upholstery, but neutral can be a “look” not just a default.  Because there are fewer distractions in a room full of “quiet” furniture, scale, form, quality and floor plan become even more important, neutral isn’t always easy to pull off.  I think the room above works largely because the ceiling and floors a deep warm brown, creating contrast and interest, the floor plan is good and the lines of the soft-goods are pretty and the additional furnishings suit the look and maintain a calm tonal look. Here’s a neutral sofa that’s holding its own in a more bold setting.  The tufting of course adds am element, an additional detail giving the already stylish sofa a boost.  Throw pillows in bold colors and patterns wake up the sofa and give balance to the  Danish armchair covered in a strong geometric.  So this proves that a neutral sofa can go bold, you just have to layer in some changeable accessories to make it work for your look.  My last word(s) on neutral sofas (and chairs)…  Neutral doesn’t have to mean boring!  I’m not advocating for one fabric stretched from one side of your living room to the other.  Neutral can be any color from white to cream to beige to tan to camel to taupe to grey to mushroom.  Mix it up and give your upholstery some interest by varying the shades, add texture and even pattern – like neutral stripe, and play with combinations of colors greys and creams for instance.  Want a red sofa? Go for it! …just be sure it’s something you can live with for a very long time, or set aside a bit of cash to help pay for the recovering when it you get sick of it.

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