A Little Imperfection in the Seat

I've developed a love for a bit of "imperfection" in the seat of a sofa or chair.

An uneven-looking upholstered seat cushion often results from being a down or down-wrapped seat cushion, so I think I'm a bit like Pavlov's dog and when I see a seat that's slightly uneven, I associate it with a down-wrapped cushion (which are super-comfy) and it looks more comfortable to me, which makes me like it more.  You also see it a bit more in single seat cushions or double because the longer a seat cushion is, the more it will vary.  
{Sofa by Verellen}

There are the quarter-bouncing seat cushions and the more slouchy down ones and while I think both are great (and each definitely has its place in certain homes or rooms) I myself love the more imperfect look of the slouchy ones in my own home because I'm an extremely casual person (it matches my sweats better ;) and when I sit in sofas, I tend to curl up in them & get cozy vs. sit on the edge of them & sip cocktails.  (And you can sip cocktails from a curled up position just as well- trust me  ;) ;)

{Garden & Gun--- loooove this house!!}

In my work for clients, we do both types of seats- quarter-bouncers and relaxed seats.   It really just depends upon my client and the function of the room.  I find my perfectionists & very busy clients are often more drawn to tighter seat cushions because of the look and the fact that they don't need fluffing.  (Flipping yes, always, but fluffing, no.)  I consider myself pretty busy too, but I guess I just have a thing for imperfection.

I'm the type of person who usually picks a favorite but still appreciates the alternatives.  It's probably why our client & client projects are all so varied...  I think different things are right for different people.

You don't often see imperfect down seats in photos because they usually get fluffed and primped before they're photographed, but you can still pick them out:

{perfectly fluffed, but you know she's a slouchy sitter... love}

I've found a couple of photos which look like they were shot just after my boys visited and had a party on the sofa, but they somehow look really beautiful & chic to me:

{I'm not sure where this image is from but I think about it a LOT.. someone let me know it's from Lonny}

I particularly love the look of a down seat without piping on the cushion.  Piping adds more "structure" to the look of a seat cushion and so a doubleneedle stitch often takes that away a bit and makes the seat more round/ less squared off.  (like above)

I can spy a little bit of the doublestitched down seat on the sofa on the left below:

Here's a leather seat cushion that really doesn't seem like it was prepped for it's photo and I love it (with piping):


There's often so much newness and perfection in a home that's getting decorated that I really love to see elements that feel as if they're been there for a while & that have patina like the gorgeous leather on the wing chair above.  People often have unrealistic expectations with what will happen to a piece of furniture after it lives in a house for a while.  The reality is that pieces with fabrics and cushions and stuffing will change over time and that's okay.  Sometimes that change (or need to fluff/ whatever you want to call it) is a hallmark of quality & natural materials, which have their own innate beauty.  Good shoes can scuff, a great t-shirt gets softer, and jeans fade...  Life makes its mark on everything, so of course it will affect the things in our homes too.  I see this as part of everything & think these slow subtle changes are good.  Eventually, something can wear through to tatters, and you fix it or recover it, but along the road to tatters, that piece has a beautiful life as long as you take care of it.

It's the pieces that are made so that they look like they shouldn't change that end up looking bad as life hits them.  (In a sofa I'm thinking of an inexpensive foam or cushion insert that just gets smashed down and doesn't come back up leaving the seat cushion all baggy & lonely looking.) Like this:

{Image from Apartment Therapy}

Upholstered furniture requires care & maintenance:  flipping cushions periodically, vacuuming gently, washing or spot cleaning...

The seats on the chairs above look like they might be quarter-bouncers, but I love the slipcovers on the chairs because there's the tiniest bit of movement/ wrinkle in the fabric.  I love that little bit of reality which I think is beautiful.  (Reminds me of an unironed linen napkin = love}

Here's a room that's totally not my own personal style but that I find really charming.  I'd love to visit and  curl up:

{via Cote de Texas...  love the seat cushions!!}

Here's a pretty example of the slightly imperfect seat cushions I love on an English arm sofa:

{love this and found it on pinterest but am not sure of the source}

There's something so inviting about it to me.

 Here's a totally primped picture but I know these pretties are what I'm talking about:

Here's an example of a French mattress-style cushion that doesn't look like it's down wrapped but that still has that very "real" look I like:

I did a few of these layered together in the DC Design House a couple of years ago for a relaxed and "imperfect" feel:

 Anyway, I'm off for the day but would love to hear your thoughts on perfectly imperfect upholstery. Tight perfection? Love it or hate it?  Have a great day!!

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.


Nancy said...

I agree with most of what you say. I always notice the cushions. I do, however, like the piping. And don't like lumpy. Comfy yes, lumpy no. :)

Jennifer said...

Lovely thoughts on how things change with time. Perfect is so boring :) PS, the image with the leather wing back and the one with the blue roll-arm sofa are from the same room, a Houston house that appeared in Lonny. I have always thought that the blue cushions looked like they were about to fall off! Hehe.

Pam said...

Love down cushions on smaller pieces and maybe down wrapped on larger areas sharp and comfy. For me they look better the older they get.

suze said...

Sigh...If only you lived on the west coast. I adore the perfectly imperfect, too.

Unknown said...

Just love the all pictures nice post thanks for providing valuable post, great job..!!

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Jamie said...

Love the Garden and Gun house as well! What was the name of it? I'd love to check out the rest of the rooms!

Anonymous said...

Great round-up! I think I tend to like sofas/chairs a bit imperfect, but then throwing in a firmer bergere or something. Always a mixture!

I think the blue and white settee photo is from Domino.

kandace said...

Love this post..
2 weekends ago husband and I headed to Vancouver on a mission.
(celebrated our 20th anniversary with a little trip)
After 20 years longing for an English arm sofa we finally had it together enough to go ahead!
Cisco bros and Lee were on our radar - so after sitting on both and getting the feel we chose the Lee sofa and 2 Cisco slipcovered chairs.
Down in both!!! Cannot wait for their arrival and relaxed feel in our home.
like you I prefer that relaxed feel.
Ps... Loved your post about the next home project!!!!! Lovely!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren,

I know the source of the photo with the rolled arm sofa and the black china cabinet in the background. It's Ashley Putnam's house that was featured EVERYWHERE and I love it as well. Sometimes I just google her name to get all the different references to her home, which probably qualifies me for a restraining order. The other photo with the slouched cushion on the leather chair is also her house, ironically, the same room, shot from a different angle. Hope that helps!


Kristen said...

I couldn't agree more. I am all about the comfy down cushions. I see them and automatically think COMFY.

stephanie at Stephanie Kraus Designs said...

thanks for pointing this out. never thought much about it when desiging a room - thats why i love reading your blog! Also I am more a lived in curl up on a sofa kinda person.

debra @ 5th and state said...

ditto, ditto, ditto!

that imperfection is what draws me to european interiors, that lived in, maybe handed down, warmth.

get a hoot out of their magazines too which rarely show everything primped.

maybe you saw at highpoint lauren the down filled outdoor pillows....LOVE!

Lauren Gayeski said...

I love this:) I have been peeking around in search of a small sofa for our sitting area in our master bedroom. I love the look of something boxy and midcentury, but I totally agree that I want something that looks lived in with high relaxation potential:) This is a great reminder that cozy can be beautiful! Thanks for posting.

Vintage Home said...

We have down and it is everyones favorite! so squishy !

Vintage Home said...

P.s. have been a big fan since I saw them of the stacked Mattress cushions you did! Great sleep over room!

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Lauren, I really enjoyed this post! So many beautiful rooms and yet each looked loved and lived in.

We have four down sofas, two in the family room, one in the library and one in the living room, yes its true you have to plump or flip or sometimes the two in the family room look a little messy...they are also the favorite place to sit in the whole house or everyone that visits or lives here!

Looking forward to seeing more of your work!


Unknown said...

Lauren, I could not agree more!! I wanted to say "yes" to everything as I was reading :) I too look at the seat cushions in chairs in pictures and love it when I spy ones that look like they're down with a squishiness to them :) I personally do not like a quarter-bouncer seat at all. Case in point (true story): I had a pair of vintage club chairs I found on CL reupholstered by a guy for cheap. He was legit but didn't have a lot of experience with down. I told him I wanted a thin, soft foam insert and then I gave him an old down mattress cover to sew around the foam. Well, I thought my idea was brilliant (right?!) but he used foam that was way too firm and thick so it basically compressed the down too much for it even give any loftiness (major quarter-bouncing). What did I do? I removed the foam insert, cut the depth in half with my electric kitchen knife (so glad to give that thing some use!), and now I am happy to report the seats feel way more comfortable to me :) Sorry for the long rambling comment--I just thought you might appreciate :)

Unknown said...

Really very interesting and amazing interior design of the sofa. I even loved the color combination of your set. Thanks for sharing such a great pictures. my property

Loretta Fontaine (EcoHappy Blog) said...

Lauren- Great post! I noticed a lot of the sofas in your photos have tight backs.

I have a sofa that has mushy back cushions that look good only for one second until the kids get on them. They are in much worse shape than your Apartment Therapy example! My plan is to replace them all with throw pillows!


Cailan said...

I got two of those exact leather chairs in the Lonny picture off Craigslist and they are a dream! I love the cozy, lived in look you're talking about.

Unknown said...
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JRamsey said...

Lauren, I love the sofa from the Garden and Gun magazine. Do you know who the manufacturer is. I'm looking for a sofa just like it.
Jan Ramsey

mrsben said...

"Variety is the spice of life", so I have a tendency to like both. In my home the more relaxed style suits the Family and Solarium rooms (cushion comfy and relaxed) whereas in the LR and DRMs the seating is best described as defined and refined (high density upholstery with lots of accent piping 'n trim). -Brenda-

Renée Finberg said...

love your images.
i love imperfection in a sofa and a chair as well.
the look and feel more inviting.

happy mothers day

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