Sometimes, a girl has to take a break from bashing her head against the brick wall of producing, and go shopping. As you know, I recently moved to a new apartment, and I’ve spent the past month (more like two or three) looking for a new couch. I have learned many things, the first of which is: couches are f*#!king expensive. I want a large couch for our living room (longer than our current 70-incher). I want it to be comfy, and modern-but-not-too-minimal, and not a sofa bed. I would like it to cost less than a month’s friggin’ rent, and I’d also like it to look nice. Basic requirements, and yet strangely difficult to fulfil.
Here’s a rundown of what I learned on my search. If you’re in the market for a sofa, I hope it helps.
At the top end of the beauty spectrum, you will find Montreal-based Montauk. Their couches are undeniably gorgeous, and can be customized to fit your needs. And, because they are beautiful and perfect and made lovingly just for you, they can easily cost between $5,000 and $15,000. I don’t know about you, but my reaction to that is … yikes!
The “Misfits” section of the Montauk website is worth checking once in a while, because overstock and other odds and ends get posted there at significant discounts (and organized by (Canadian) city). They’re still pricey, but you can sometimes find a great piece for half off.
If you’re looking for something more vintagey and don’t mind paying downtown Toronto prices, I recommend checking out Queen West Antique Market, a large vintage/antique spot at Queen and Roncesvalles that sells beautiful pieces at premium prices. They have perfect-condition Eames chairs, and they have $3,500 vintage couches, like the Scandinavian beaut below (and honestly, that’s the low end of the price spectrum). While the quality is impeccable, the prices are very high at QWAM. But hey, if you don’t have the time, the energy, and the car to go poking around at antique markets outside the city, this place will do all the hunting for you, and charge you for the service.
The Bay has some nice sofas, as well as some that look like they belong in grandma’s basement (not my grandmas’ basements, mind you, both my grandmas are style queens). One important note about The Bay is that they do put a significant markup on the non-HBC brands they carry. If you want to get a good sense of what’s out there but have the time to comparison shop, I recommend taking note of the manufacturers or brands you spot at The Bay and then finding their points of origin. You might end up paying a fraction of The Bay’s price.
There’s actually a big sale on at The Bay at the moment, if you’re in the market for a couch like right now. Most pieces are at 50% off. The classy Manhattan, below, is down from $3,599 to $1,799. That’s not bad, but the sale is even better when you find the slightly cheaper models like the Martini Condo Sofa, which has been brought down from $1,199 to an IKEA-level of affordability, at $599.
Toronto also boasts a wealth of trendy and modern furniture shops (mostly along Queen West, and some along King and other places) such as C2B, Morba, Design Republic, etc. There are a lot of mid-range options, especially if you like that Mad Men look.
The 65″-long “Avec Apartment Sofa” below is $1,500, and the longer, full-sized version is $100 more at C2B. I love that mid-century modern aesthetic (don’t even get me started about chairs from that era, my obsession is real and severe) but some of these couches were too minimalist and austere for my tastes. I like to get cozy, y’know?
The one below, the Dexter sofa from Design Republic, is $1,400 and a little bit more “classic” looking. The tufted look is so quintessentially couch-y, don’t you think?
One of the city’s most reliable med-level furniture stores can be found in Liberty Village (and also on King St. East). EQ3 sells expensive stuff (like Herman Miller / Eames chairs), but also some great, hard-to-find-in-Toronto items like Marimekko imports, and reasonably priced house brand sofas. The current winner is the Salema, which is on sale for $999, down from $1,300.
The best deals can, as usual, be found at IKEA. They offer cheaper versions of just about every style of couch, sofabed and sectional, but for my money one of the current gems is the Nockeby sofa in dark grey, a total bargoon at $829. The picture below makes it seem very minimalist, but in person the wooly, woven / knitted-looking texture of the upholstery actually adds a great warmth and coziness to the couch. It’s long, wide and very comfortable to sit on.
If you’re looking for a basic sofa, stores like Leons and The Brick can still offer good deals hidden amongst the dated-looking leather recliners and over-stuffed couches. The clean & simple Mackenzie collection at Leon’s is a steal, with the couch (pictured below) at $779 and a matching chair at $659. But be warned, if you go to these stores expecting everything to be cheap, you will be disappointed. A lot of their wares fall in the $2,000+ range. Which is nuts, right?
And of course, if you have the patience for it and don’t mind a used couch, there’s always Craigslist and Kajiji. As a non-driver who is fairly particular about aesthetics and who really wants to be able to sit on a couch several times before committing to buying it, Craigslist really isn’t for me. But if you want to find something truly inexpensive, there are many great deals to be had. I found the cute loveseat below listed for only $45. I recommend you follow the very excellent Take This Sofa FB page for tips on all the best finds in Toronto.
And with that, I retire to my own, private, couch-buying decisions. When I get one, I’ll post a photo.