small living room sofa - row house living

My Small Living Room Sofa Love Affair

This is about a full shot of two sides of my living room. There’s about two feet more going forward and a foot and a half between the edge of the sofa and the stairs. It’s a pretty tidy fit. Sitting in the foreground is Dante, a.k.a. Mr. Meow.

Marie Kondo, of the Konmarie tidying method that’s all the rage these days, says you should only keep things that “spark joy.” I have to say that my sofa absolutely sparks joy. I really, really, really, love my sofa. How did this love affair begin? Well, not overnight.

We had our previous sofa for over 10 years. It was a sleeper from IKEA, whose name began with an “A,” that had been damaged upon delivery because a six-floor walk up with spiral stairs is no easy challenge for a sofa. It was a discontinued model that we got a good deal on even before the discount for the damage. For a while, it did what it was supposed to do. As a sleeper, it behaved as we expected of the typical fold-out sort of sofa that it was. Not bad but not entirely great either.

When we moved to Philadelphia, our cat Dante developed an interesting habit of waking me up anywhere between 1 and 5 a.m., pretty much every morning with a special cat serenade. As long as relocated myself and him to the sofa, he would go back to sleep. This would have been OK if the sofa was actually big enough to sleep on without having to open it but it wasn’t and opening a sofa is disruptive enough to make going back to sleep impossible.

Thus, I embarked on a five-year odyssey to find a new sofa that met the following criteria:

  1. Must fit in our living room.
  2. Must be stylistically cohesive with a nearly 200 year-old house.
  3. Must be long enough to provide comfortable sleeping space for a five-foot, five-inch human and one medium-sized feline.
  4. Must seat three adults comfortably so that one of us doesn’t have to sit on the stairs to watch TV.
  5. Must be relatively budget-friendly.

It took a while. Customizable sectional seating options are very expensive. 95% of the sofas that seat three people are too large for our living room. Sleeper sofas haven’t really gotten any more comfortable. I thought perhaps that going full-on antique might be an option but comfort would have been compromised, as antique seating prompts a numb bum after about 30 minutes. I might have dealt with it but the rest of the family nixed the idea. Meanwhile, our sofa was losing the battle to the cats, having one side entirely destroyed from scratching even with scratching pads and posts put in every room.

I really did check out quite a few furniture stores. I am really trying to break out of the IKEA mind-set and broaden my interior design scope. However, that’s where my dream sofa ended up being from. Friheten (there’s a video!) meets every criterion above. Seriously. By some geometric miracle, it fits into our ten’ish by ten’ish feet square living room. I can fully stretch out on the long side. All three human family members and the three cats can occupy the sofa comfortably together at the same time. Due to the lack of sides, it creates a more open passageway from the front door to the office area. It is remarkably easy to pull out and, once the cushions are removed, is a very comfortable full-size sleeper. With the section pulled out, we don’t need to worry about a separate ottoman and there is ample storage space under the chaise section. At $599 (USD) it’s decently priced.

We’ve had it for almost a year and it’s holding up nicely to abuse by the teenager and cats, not to mention my sleeping on it most nights because of meowing cat.  So far, it is the most perfect sofa ever. The styling is IKEA and therefore modern but nothing that can’t be fixed with some historically-sensible cushions, which I am still working on.

For general advice about getting the right sofa for your small space, check out our post on Furniture for Small Rooms – Living Room Sofa.

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