Why You Shouldn’t Buy A Sensible Sofa

Rosie Sofa
turquoise velvet sofa

One of the issues I come across most often in my interiors consulting is that people feel that because the sums of money are larger than, say, a pair of sandals, that they must be sensible in their choices. That they mustn’t choose anything too bright or outrageous because they might go off it and then where will they be? This seems to extend to anything fun too. and, I assume, is why there were so many magnolia walls and oatmeal carpets for such a long time.

We are, gradually, getting better at this but it’s a slow process. I see many people who are prepared to splash some bright colour on the wall because, hey, it’s a pot of paint and it’s easy to paint over, but then the joyous effect of this is negated by the boring, sensible sofa they put in front of it. Or, worse, they have chosen a colour for the wall and then furnish the room to go with the walls.

Hugo Sofa
velvet chesterfield sofa

I say it’s time to turn that on its head. Think of a colour that you really, really love. One that you wear a lot. Or one that makes your heart sing every time you see it. Buy the sofa in that colour. Because I can guarantee you will find other colours to go with it. And your sitting room won’t look like a kids playroom just because you have bright colours. Because you can always take it down a notch with neutrals. And you can always, always find a shade of grey that will go with the bright sofa you have chosen. And you can always, and much more cheaply than buying a new sofa, repaint the room if you want to change the look.

Now you might think I don’t practise what I preach as I have a dark grey sofa in my sitting room, but I also have a pink velvet chaise longue. Well, to be strictly honest about things, Enid Cat has a pink chaise longue as, God knows, no-one else is allowed to sit on the damn thing but I don’t mind. I can look at it and it cheers me.

Betsy Snuggler
gold velvet loveseat

So forget about the feature wall. The statement cushions. Make the sofa the statement. Then you can change the cushions according to mood or season – bright ones or monochrome ones. The walls will act as a backdrop for this wonderful piece of furniture and it will make you happy every day. Not least because it’s a colour that sparks joy in you and it will remind you that you were brave and daring and not boring and sensible. And we all need to feel like that sometimes.

These sofas are from the new collection by Rose & Grey who have featured on these pages before. Co-founder Lyndsay Goodger says if you’re nervous about a statement sofa then using neutral colours around it are a great way to get used to the idea and to make it stand out more.

velvet_chesterfield_sofa from rose and grey
green velvet chesterfield

“We do make all these sofas in more neutral tones but choosing a statement colour is a great way to liven up a room,” she says. “The sofa is the main piece of furniture in the sitting room so it makes sense to use that as a the starting point and base everything else around it rather than the other way round.

“Choose a colour that sings to you and then either take it down with neutrals or take it up with more strong colour and don’t forget the power of the dark wall.”

Bertie Chair 3
velvet buttonback armchair

Pictured here are the new collection in jewels shades of emerald, blue and gold. There is also a pink option. The range is made in the UK from hardwood frames with fibre-filled cushions. There are 15 colours to choose from in velvet, brushed cotton and linen.

So go wild. Make a bold choice and don’t buy a sensible sofa. Actually I’m just going to qualify that – the sensible part of your decision should be in choose a well-made frame that will last and that is comfortable to sit on and allows you to sit in the way you and your family need. That is – don’t buy a tidy little upright buttonback conversation piece if you want to all lie around en famille watching telly and eating popcorn. Buy for who you are not who you want to be. But when you have made that sensible decision have fun with the colour.

mint velvet sofa from rose and grey
mint velvet sofa from rose and grey
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Can you do a piece on Toy storage !!! for a small house where it can’t just be hidden – have tried IKEA and wooden toy boxes but its not enough !

    1. I used those billy shelves – divided into cubes – two wide by about eight tall. Filled them with baskets – so 16 in all – but some I used for books and sorted – lego, duplo, trucks, cuddlies, games etc. Then the theory was they could reach the bottom ones themselves but if they wanted a high one they had to put the bottom ones away and ask me to get it. It worked pretty well. The baskets hid all the tat and looked as nice as it was possible to do. It was fixed to the wall obvs. Or you could have shelves built in the same way and then when they are older fill with books and photos. I found toy boxes difficult as they could never lift the lift and the baskets mean you could keep it reasonably sorted rather than just a jumble of big stuff. The shelves were in the sitting room. The big stuff was in their bedrooms – garages, houses etc.

  2. I love the look of their sofas- do you know if they have a showroom in London? Or if are any London stockists where we could try them out before buying?

  3. Entirely agree. I have never regretted my mustard yellow monster. I am the only person I know who buys a sofa on impulse – after glimpsing it in a shop window. But we all know it’s the best way to buy anything because then you LOVE it and will happily redo the decorations to let it fit in. Purple and yellow cushions look great in a mainly grey room, and it vibrates nicely with recently re-covered dining chairs in purple, red and chintz (2 of each). Why be boring?

  4. Great article! I’m celebrating today that one of my cleints who ALMOST opted for a very neutral sofa – as she was worried she may dislike the lovely bright teal in a few years – has now confirmed she will take that leap into Bright! I am so pleased.

  5. I couldn’t agree more! We recently moved to a new home with a legitimate living room that has a pair of gorgeous steel framed, nearly floor-to-ceiling windows on opposing walls. I have two extra-long and extra-deep Capri blue mohair sofas facing each other in that space and it is a show stopper. So happy I ditched my droopy, white slipcovered numbers for these.

  6. As the proud owner of a fuchsia pink Designers Guild covered sofa, I wholeheartedly concur. Sensible is very overrated!

  7. I adore when clients go for bright and bold colours for sofas. We have a project that will be finishing in the next few weeks and it has such bright upholstered furniture going into it that I do a happy dance each and every time!

  8. To see gorgeous smokey coloured Enid on a pink chaise longue would surely brighten anyone’s day.

  9. Kate, the sofas are great but those curtains – one plain, one patterned- is that a thing?

    1. Well yes I noticed that! I would have to say it’s not a thing I’ve seen before but then again didn’t Celine show people wearing odd shoes on the runways in Paris a few weeks ago so maybe it IS a thing!

  10. I couldn’t agree more. After that post the other week featuring that fab Heals green velvet number I took my courage in both hands and decided that yes, that 19th-century French sofa would look much better in raspberry pink linen than its current pallid off-green colour. Thankfully the cat took against it and took her claws to it big time, so I’m completely justified in having it recovered (thanks Heini!). The only quandary now is WHICH pink linen. Romo do about 3000 shades of it, as do Designers Guild … decisions, decisions …

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