Three of the best: Sofas

I wish I needed a new sofa.

modern leather chesterfield from westelm

Well that’s not entirely true as I don’t wish to be spending vast sums of money. I DO need a new hob and I’m not looking forward to spending the money on that at all as it will be expensive, and the one I want, the one that is really, really handsome, is several thousand pounds so it won’t be living in my house any time soon.

But that’s not really the point. The point is that hobs are boring, sofas are beautiful. Buying a new sofa opens the door to a whole new living room. It’s like getting a new hair cut or having dramatically different highlights.

Yes, you can buy the sensible one in the neutral shade or you can be a little bit daring. If it’s a colour you love now, you will probably love it for ever. Check your wardrobe to see if there’s any in there if you’re not sure.

classic with a twist: the leather chesterfield from westelm

So why not start with the sofa? Build a scheme around that. It’s not like you won’t find a colour for the walls now is it? So here are my current three fantasy sofas.

Now, to be honest the first isn’t really that out there. It’s just a gorgeous leather sofa, but a) we’re starting gently and b) there is a lot of terrible leather seating out there. I was asked to advise on a navy blue leather sofa the other day, and while I love navy blue, and leather, there was something about this particular piece that actually made me wince. Like seeing a man with his toupee on crooked. Or someone with their lipstick smudged. Or your French teacher turning up to lessons with one eye beautifully made up and the other completely bare. At the time we were cruel and didn’t understand that she had small children and that, frankly, it was a miracle she was wearing matching shoes as she probably hadn’t slept for a week and had then been distracted during the one, the single, the prized, five-minute window when a woman should be allowed to be alone with her thoughts and her mascara wand. Mrs Pickett, wherever you are, I apologise.

Enough of that sofa though. It doesn’t deserve the oxygen of publicity. If you want leather have a look at that top one above.

This would go in any colour scheme. Seen here against white walls but imagine it against dark grey. The monochrome rug is perfect. Complement with  a navy blue velvet (not leather) armchair and keep the accessories either brass or dark silver. This is a sofa for life not for a trend.

the hatfield from sweet pea and willow

Now what about this? It’s quite a traditional shape but soak up that colour. And doesn’t it look comfy? Imagine that against a dark wall with the brass accessories just bringing out the studwork and her delicate feet. This is a modern take on a Regency sofa and I think you’d be surprised how much it would go with. Start with a monochrome palette of black and white, or charcoal and ivory which is a little less harsh. Or bring in more jewel colours – aubergine, turquoise, orange and teal. A modern rug with a hint of emerald or a simple black and white Beni Ourani.  Add a leather armchair or a patterned linen one and suddenly this sitting room has wow factor.

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the velvet three seater from rose and grey

Now we come to the point. This grey sofa above gorgeous. It’s probably the one I would buy. Wouldn’t you? A model of restrained good taste that will never go out of fashion, you can dress it up with cushions and throws and it will be a very respectable addition to the family. I should know. I own a dark grey velvet one.

But, in the same way you are always pleased to see your Great Aunt at weddings, isn’t it more fun when your cousin turns up? A flying visit from wherever she’s been backpacking or temping recently. Full of interesting stories, a hip flask of vodka in her ballgown and lots of ideas for how to make the party more interesting.

gold velvet sofa from rose and grey

Meet the gold velvet sofa. Just as comfortable, just as elegant but way, way more fun. Still gorgeous against the dark walls – think navy or charcoal – perfectly happy setting off a classic chalky white. But doesn’t the grey one look just a little bit dull beside it?

As I said, I wish I needed a new sofa. I currently have the Great Aunt. I’d like to invite the cousin.

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. the modern Chesterfield is absolutely gorgeous, that would be my number one, in fact I might just go and have a look if they do a smaller version of it and start saving. Second on my list would be the gold velvet one, that colour is just perfect, although the mouse grey somehow suits the cosy shape of the sofa better. OK, maybe the grey one then with a few bold cushions, like the beautiful Niki Jones ones

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