Our couch is a dozen years old and it has been decided that it is time to move on to a new couch. (That sentence was worded that way because I’m in a denial. Objectively, my wife is right, but there’s no urgency.)
Our current couch is a large microfiber sectional. We have a sizeable living room and a family of five (yes our dog counts in this case). We’ve decided to move away from microfiber. Our dog sitting gig is doing well and we need something that wipes clean easily. Microfiber requires our upholstery cleaner. Even worse, you can’t clean a spot because the cleaned area then looks cleaner than the rest of section. Thus we’re looking for some kind of leather or leather-like material.
I also love gadgets in my couches. We currently have three recliners and a storage console. That was high-tech 12 years ago, but nowadays the consoles have USB-power and cup-holders in addition to storage. The recliners also seem to be powered much of the time. I like that because I fear I’ll chop off a kid’s finger or something in snapping it open and closed. Powered seems much safer. I even saw one couch with a built-in removable tray, that would be perfect for a plate of food or maybe a light-weight laptop. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find another couch with that option.
My wife likes the idea of a chaise lounge to be part of the configuration as well.
This may sound like a lot to ask for, but in looking at two stores we found everything we were were looking for – more or less.
There didn’t appear to be a clear-cut winner and hence the “couch conundrum”. I’m going to explain four of the finalists that caught our eye, give you some pros and cons, and ask for your feedback. I’m listing them in order of most expensive to least expensive.
- The Works
- The Value
- The Easy Bargain
- The Difficult Bargain
Bob’s Furniture has something called the Atlas, which is everything we were looking for (except for the black swan tray piece in the console). See the image (click for a larger version.)
My wife sat in the couch and said that it was “the one.” She felt that the couch picked her like Harry Potter’s wand. I couldn’t disagree, it had a great console (USB, cup-holders) and power recliners. Even the chaise reclines to be almost a bed. However, it is $2800 when shipping is included (other stores ship for free.) Friends and family say Bob’s Furniture is of cheaper quality.
Pros: Meets everything we are looking for. Harry Potter’s wand for my wife.
Cons: Expensive ($2800), no deal/promotion, shipping charges, testimonials of lower-quality.
Jordan’s Furniture has a discount area with the couch on the right (click for larger). (Yes, there’s a lost cell phone on the couch, we tried to find the owner.)
It doesn’t have the chaise lounge, but it does have the main features of the console (USB, cup-holders) and power recliners. This couch normally costs $4800, but this is one of 3 we saw on clearance for $2100… and that includes shipping. These find themselves in bargain bin, because there is a new color for 2017. They might have been floor models, but they seem great. This was my wife’s first choice before we saw the Atlas above with the chaise.
Jordan’s Furniture by all accounts of family and friends has better quality furniture than Bob’s Furniture. Typically you pay a higher price for it, but not on this particular piece.
Pros: Most everything we are looking for, big deal/promotion, testimonials of higher quality.
Cons: Expensive ($2100) and a compromise.
Jordan’s Furniture had another couch in the discount area that caught our eye. (We eliminated the ones in their general area as $4000+ is not what we are looking to spend for a couch.
I’m not including a picture, but it was very similar to the couch above. It lacked a console (and hence no cup-holders or USB) and it was made of microfiber – the one thing we wanted to avoid. However, it did have power recliners. The price is right at $1300. There’s only one of these. We could go back tomorrow and find that it is gone.
The “easy” part of bargain is that it has free shipping. This make more sense when we get to the “difficult” bargain below.
Pros: Good Price ($1300), power recliners, good deal/promotion, testimonials of higher quality.
Cons: Microfiber, lacking many features were were looking for, limited availability.
Bob’s Furniture has/had a floor model of their Marco power recliner and loveseat for sale at 50%. That’s a $2000 sofa/loveseat combo for $999. It has most of the features of the $2100 of “The Value” above, power recliners, console (USB cup-holders, storage, etc.). It isn’t a sectional, but that might be a benefit as we could split them up if we wanted to move re-arrange the room.
The biggest problem is that Bob’s doesn’t offer shipping of any kind. You need to haul it out yourself. This would likely mean renting some kind of hourly truck from Home Depot… and driving it an hour to our house. I’ve never done anything like this. I don’t know how cheap or expensive this is.
Pros: Great price ($999), most everything we are looking for (except chaise)
Cons: Not a sectional, logistics of transporting it, limited availability, testimonials of lower quality, floor model that likely has miles on the motor already.
My wife brings up a great point that if we are going to have something for 12 years (or more), we want to be happy with it. I’m a strong believer in that as well. However, I don’t want that to be an excuse to write a blank check. Money is a finite resource.
If we went with the cheapest option, we could use the savings for other projects around the house that we’d love to do. That money would buy that television I’ve been writing about for 2 years now (not that we would, but we could).
As tempting as it might be to go all-in on the Atlas, there’s also no reason to rush on it. There’s no promotion and quantities aren’t limited. All the option have some kind of “buy now” component to make our money go further.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
I’d choose the Value Option, and then get an ottoman if you really want the chaise lounge style function.
If you take the deals away – Bob’s is a $2000 sofa (assuming $800 shipping) with more leather and base furniture area due to the chaise lounge, at a store with a lower quality reputation. Jordan’s is a $4000 sofa, less square footage of leather and stuffing, so likely more quality in the underlying construction.
I’d rather buy a $4000 item for $2100 than buy a $2000 item for $2800. And you can always get an ottoman which gives you the chaise lounge function, with the flexibility of moving it around.
Just say no to anything other than leather. I “splurged” on leather sofa and car a decade or so ago, when I really didn’t “need” it. As a dog owner, I am never ever going back. Always leather from here on out.
Lazy Man says
I’ve never been a fan of ottomans. It seems like they are moving, or the gap becomes an issue if you are sleeping overnight. It’s always something that sounded good in theory and works for a lot of people, but not really for me. I’ll have to ask my wife what she thinks as it was higher on her wishlist.
I understanding buying the $4000 for $2100 and many other people are suggesting the same. I’m not sure we’d be paying $2800 for a $2000 one, the $2800 felt better to both of us. I can’t speak to the underlying construction of either, so I’m simply going by testimonials and original price. I’ve found those later two factors can be misleading and not always indicative of quality.
When you say to only go with leather, does that apply to leather-like materials? There’s a lot of that kind of stuff on the market as well. (When I bought the microfiber years ago, we didn’t have kids or dogs, so cleaning was much less of an issue.)
I would recommend anything that is leather as would last much longer and it’s easy to keep clean. Our family includes pets that of course use the couch more than we do and we switched to a brown leather couch and don’ t have to worry about stains and spills anymore!
Something to consider is the location of the couch, it will start to peel and flake and or fade if it gets too much direct sunlight from a window,etc. I believe it also depends on what type of leather the couch is made of.
The pros of a leather type couch is never to worry about stains and spills and will last a very long time.
The cons, the price.
I would find out what type of leather both sectionals are made of before making a decision. Some use a combination of bonded leather and real leather.
Here is a link:
Hope this helps a little.
Lazy Man says
Sandra, that helps a lot. We’ll have to review a little more about the types of leather. The Atlas (The Works version) comes with a synthetic leather that is $500 cheaper, but I didn’t like the feel of it, so I excluded it from the list right off.
I would do the higher quality leather, #2. Make sure it is truly higher quality. You get what you pay for. I only like stuff I “buy for life”.
Lazy Man says
I would love to “buy for life”, but I don’t know if I believe in that with dog sitting and 3 and 4 year olds. I think there’s a case to be made for an interim purchase if the price is right. Some have even asked why we would buy a new couch with the dog business as it is going to get ruined anyway.
Any tips on making sure it is truly higher quality? I don’t have any experience in assessing the quality of future.
I was shopping for a high end couch a few years back and one of the quality assessment indicators I learned about at the time was whether the suspension system was 8-way tied coils or straps. The former is higher quality and will not sag over time like strap suspensions. I found this blurb that explains a bit about 8-way coils.
Lazy Man, I think you are a little too late for my advice, but what the heck. Sit down and determine a budget and what features you want/need. Then you can determine exactly what you are looking for and which one is just for show. Do you need the USB power or will an $20 power strip and extension cord behind the couch do? Do you want leather, or do you care about microfiber? Do you need a chaise?
Here is some quick advice I got years ago about buying furniture. Furniture has the greatest markup of any purchase you will ever buy over cost (generally 2-300%) because people buy furniture once in 20 years (like beds). So you maybe getting a deal with the one that is 50% off but not really getting a great deal in terms of off actual costs. Just a thought.
Now to answer your question. I hate leather, and would never get a chaise (too hard to get out of once you sat down). So I would go with #3. However you have dogs and young kids, so leather would be better for you. Knowing your needs, I would go with #2. I would never buy #4 as it was a floor model and have had too much bad experience with floor models.
Just my opinion. As my grandfather used to say, opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and usually other people’s stink. Gotta love the depression era saying :)
BTW – Merry Christmas and have a great 2017
Lazy Man says
It’s not too late. We started with a budget of $1800 based on what we thought we liked online. Of course that doesn’t mean anything, because it’s basically going by a picture and not having details of leather, fake leather, or anything else. Until we got there we didn’t know that cup-holders were available. I didn’t know that there were motorized recliners. If you get motorized recliners you get the USB power included since it is cheap and easy (and it makes sense for charging a tablet the included storage console.) If you get a console, you get cup holders because it just makes sense.
So in-short, motorized recliners, consoles, USB and cup-holders are 1 feature in almost all couches. The cup-holder is important to save me tons of spilled drinks and the combination of the other parts of the feature are important.
My wife has the chaise on her wishlist, but it’s impossible for me to climb inside her mind to know how high. We talk about it, but she likes the other couches mentioned as well, so it doesn’t seem to be a must have.
While getting 50% might not be a great deal in terms of actual cost, it’s better than paying a 250% mark-up, right?
I think I’m eliminating #3 because of the microfiber, it seems like everyone agrees that’s a bad option for our situation. I felt the need to present something in between $999 and $2100, and for the right people it may be the best value/option.
Number 1 – You have people you trust attesting to lower quality combined with a MUCH higher price.
Number 3 – Less expensive but has the ONE feature you know you don’t want (Microfiber). The lower cost is overcome by the more difficult maintenance.
Number 4 – I wouldn’t consider a floor model of anything that contains a motor. It probably has the equivalent of 3-5 years use on the motor already.
For me it’s a no brainer. Option 2. No shipping charges and $2700 off the original price PLUS testimonials of higher quality make it the winner hands down.
Lazy Man says
Thanks for the help HarpoZappa.
I might not have explained it well, but we liked number 1 MUCH more than number 2 (and the additional feature of the chaise that my wife loved) is tempting. I think it’s a lot narrower than just focusing on lower quality at a higher price.
The number 2 one has also been on the floor for some indeterminate amount of time in the clearance section… and possibly longer in a showroom. It has some use on it already as well. It might be just as fair to eliminate it based on your same reasoning as #4.
Lazy Man says
Thanks for all the advice everyone. The feedback so far was extremely helpful!
My wife and I were doing a little room-planning and the idea of a sofa and a loveseat gives us a lot of flexibility to do some things that we didn’t originally think of. Specifically, we aren’t limited to a 90-degree angle and the room could open up a lot.
It is really tempting to save a thousand dollars, enough to complete a whole new flooring for the room, which was next on the list.
[Edit: Well, the #4 option was bought hours after we left on the 23rd. So we can remove that idea. To top it off, it was called the Power Bob II, not the Marco like I thought. The best option might be to wait.]
I think most people get so accustomed to the layout of a room that, unless they have design experience, it’s difficult for them to imagine a different layout. They only consider buying new pieces and putting them in the exact same arrangement they already had. I think it’s a good idea to step back, take a look at the space, and try to imagine different floor plan. This may open up some other options to you.
I’m curious if you did any haggling over the prices at any of these stores. In my experience, just about everything is negotiable.
Lazy Man says
I don’t think I would have thought about the different layout if I hadn’t wanted to find a way to save a grand with the #4 option. Saving money can be the Father of Invention. It is a good reminder to question everything and come in with an open mind though.
We didn’t haggle because we were trying to get a feel for the market and what was available. I’m admittedly not the best at haggling. However, one thing that I left out of the Jordan’s Furniture write-up is that the couches in their discount area get cheaper each week they are not bought. The price on the new day is right on price tag. So they could very well counter, “Why not come in next week and try to save a couple hundred then?” I’m not sure if we could have haggled too much on the one that was already discounted 50% at Bob’s (#4 option). That leaves the #1 at Bob’s. We might be able to do something there.
There are other furniture stores out there, but of these that we looked at, we didn’t feel strong at haggling at this point.
“Saving money can be the Father of Invention.” Absolutely! I’ve always joked that it’s my cheapness that is the driving force behind any creativity I have. When you value high quality, but hate the idea of spending more money than is absolutely necessary, it definitely pays to learn to be creative and resourceful.
It’s a good point – that you need to have your mind made up and be ready to purchase before bothering to try to negotiate a better price. Haggling, like any other skill, is something you get better at over time, and there are useful strategies that can be learned. It definitely pays off. I have to say that about 90% of the time, I save money and/or get something extra thrown in.
As far a deciding on a couch goes, the one thing I would advise exercising caution with would be a floor model. I’m not sure where you live, or what it’s like in your area, but with the way bed bugs are becoming more prevalent in my area, and considering how many people have been testing those couches out, I’d probably pass.
divide the cost [including shipping, sales tax and time of transport] by 144. then decide if an extra 2 or 3 or $5 per month is affordable. and by affordable, i mean what will make you happy. what works with your life. what will you not be afraid of collapsing when the kids jump on it.
alternate decision making process: eliminate the high and the low [easy since you don’t love either one] then it becomes which of the middle two works with your life, which has a deal-breaker.
it’s not like you’re going to end up destitute with any of the decisions, you are over thinking this.
ps: if you make a wrong decision, sell or donate it and replace it.
Lazy Man says
That’s a good call, robyn. There seem to be a couple of $1000 gaps in there, so the difference is probably $7 a month.
I wish I knew what wouldn’t collapse. It seems like the best bet would be the #2 option that others pointed out. It is hard to eliminate the high one because my wife did love that one (and I kind of do too.) We were all set to buy the low one yesterday, but it had already been sold. The third is the easiest to eliminate due to the microfiber cleaning issue.
My personality isn’t to liquidate a mistake purchase… losing hundreds or a grand just to start over would make me sick to my stomach for months.
Be very careful with bonded leather, and make sure you know what the frame is made of. We bought a “leather” sectional 6 or 7 years ago at a well regarded furniture store in our area. We quickly discovered that the leather was bonded leather and the frame was made of cheap pine and pressboard. My mother sat down on it and broke the frame. My husband opened it up underneath and tried to repair it, but the materials used were so cheap that even reinforcing the frame only helped temporarily before it started breaking again. The bonded leather started cracking within the first year. After 3 years it looked like garbage. It was the worst furniture purchase we ever made. We got rid of it last year and had a hard time even giving it away. We ended up buying a couch that was made in the US. The frame is solid cherry. The fabric we got (a heavy tweed) doesn’t show dog hair and is easy to spot clean. I strongly suspect all of the ones you are considering have at least some bonded leather. That material will not hold up (regardless of all the “leather conditioner” they sell you.)