Saturday, November 11, 2017

Review: Joybird Hughes Sofa in Sunbrella Performance Weave Fabric

The Quest for the Perfect Sofa: Part Two

Hey, remember my painful journey to acquire a decent stylish and family-friendly couch? Well, I'm here to tell you that it truly does get better.

After a solid year and a half of whining on the web, a miracle occurred. Someone whined louder. Incensed by low-quality upholstered goods, Ana Henzel penned "Why Does This One Couch From West Elm Suck So Much?" on the blog The Awl and created a furniture firestorm. 

West Elm responded by pulling its Peggy sofa. I responded by throwing an even bigger tantrum about the Peggy's equally disappointing sister, the Jackson sectional, which has also since been discontinued. Finally, after a full fifteen months after the initial purchase and what felt like countless back-and-forth emails, West Elm agreed to issue a full refund and haul the sofa back to the mid-century replica hell from whence it came. They even offered me a substantial discount on another West Elm sofa, but I declined the offer. 

And then we were back to square one: sofaless in Sacramento, marathoning our Netflix shows on an air mattress. Luckily, Joybird was there to save the a snail's pace. 

Will Joybird Bring the Joy Back Into Our Living Room?

Even before our West Elm sofa had been whisked away, we were pretty sure that our next sofa would be a Joybird. Once we were faced with an empty living room, we briefly considered opting for the beloved Braden sofa from Room & Board, but eventually decided it was just a little too traditional for our tastes. 

Ordering from Joybird isn't just a transaction, it's an experience and an exercise in adulting. First, you choose from their wide (and I mean wide) range of sofa and sectional styles. Since we'd just come off a bad experience with a relatively plush and cushioned sofa, we knew we were in the market for something relatively firm. We pretty quickly honed in on Joybird's popular Hughes sofa, which is said to boast a "classic contemporary profile." (Note: If you're less decisive than we are, you can use Joybird's sofa quiz to find the best styles for you.) 

Once you've chosen a style, it's time to choose a fabric. And, whoo boy, are there ever a ton of them! We were still recovering from the disappointment with West Elm's not-so-durable marled microfiber, so we were understandably anxious about finding a fabric that could stand up to our messy toddler and scratch-happy cat.

We spent hours pouring over the dozens of fabrics we received in our free swatch kit. My sister can attest to the fact that I spent the better part of one of her visits comparing and contrasting different shades of green and testing durability by tearing at swatches with a thumbtack. In the end, we went with one of the Safeguard fabrics, Premier Mallard (since renamed Premier Lagoon). While testing different swatches, I poured some of my wine over the Premier Mallard swatch and watched it repel from its surface. After confirming with a Joybird associate via chat that it was a tight enough weave to survive my cat, I was sold. 

So I placed the order. My mouth dropped when I saw the delivery estimate - a full nine weeks from the day I ordered. I grew nervous when I read the recent Yelp reviews, many reporting additional delays. But sure enough, my sofa was delivered right on schedule. 

So...did I finally find the right sofa? Here's how I feel seven months after my purchase...

Joybird Hughes Sofa - Pros and Cons

Aesthetics - 4 / 5

Guys, I am feeling this sofa. In the weeks leading up to its delivery, I was having serious doubts about my fabric selection. After all, it's not every day that you see a teal sofa, and the swatch made the color look a little bolder than the finished product. But as the great philosopher and shit-stirrer Willam Belli once said, "When it's right, it's right."

The one thing I'm not 100% in love with is the visible square patchwork around the buttons. In the past, I've had sofas that featured a solid back panel, and I think I prefer a slightly cleaner, more sophisticated style. Luckily, we chose a fabric that's dark enough to hide the seams, but it's really apparent in photos of lighter-colored Hughes sofas. 

One of the seat cushion covers was slightly uneven for awhile and I couldn't figure out how to fix it for the life of me. My husband (pictured above with his worn-out socks) eventually figured it out, but it required some strategic folding and pulling of the fabric. All is well now!

Comfort - 4 / 5

This surprised me! I actually find the Hughes sofa to be more comfortable than our old sectional. With the West Elm sectional, the chaise section wasn't quite as long as it needed to be so you would end up either slouching or letting your feet dangle off the edge.  cushions are firmer and more supportive, and when we want to prop our feet up, we just pull over the ottoman we bought from Target a few years back. 

Now, reviews I've read have reported that some people find the Hughes to be a bit too tall and too deep. We haven't found this to be the case, but we're both of average height, so petite readers may want to take our review with a grain of salt.

Quality and Durability - 5/5

Sunbrella's Performance Weave in Mallard
This is really where my Hughes sofa has outperformed all the other sofas I've owned up to this point. I paid an additional $225 for the Sunbrella Premier/Safeguard fabric and it was worth every penny. Over the past seven months, this sofa has survived countless instances of spilled coffee, thrown milk, and even toddler vomit without so much as a discoloration. 

Oh, and another thing, it doesn't feel like an outdoor fabric. We were worried that it would feel scratchy and uncomfortable, but it's as comfy as can be. 

The cushions are still plump and firm and it's an absolute breeze to clean - a little warm water on a cloth and any spot you might see is gone in a flash. 

And the best part - my cat has shown zero interest in scratching at it! Pinch me, I must be dreaming! Granted, we did take some preventative steps this time around by setting up a designated scratching post near the couch, but we think that the weave is also too tight to be of interest to Moo.

I will never buy a couch in anything other than a Sunbrella fabric ever again. I swear. I love it that much.

Customer Service - 4 / 5

My experience with Joybird customer service was uniformly positive. I found their service representatives to be helpful and responsive and my order arrived on time and built to my requested specifications. While waiting for my sofa to be delivered, I frequented Joybird's Yelp page and was concerned by the number reviews reporting order and delivery issues, but my sofa was delivered without a hitch.

Joybird continues to provide exceptional customer service. When I emailed Joybird with a question about a slightly uneven cushion cover, they walked me through a quick-fix within hours.

Now, of course, the nine-week wait time can feel a bit torturous in the age of Amazon Prime, but it speaks to the level of customization offered by Joybird. The furniture isn't mass produced, it's made to order...and at a price point comparable to the overpriced offerings at Pottery Barn or West Elm. So yeah, even the wait was worth it.

Value - 5 / 5

I purchased my Hughes sofa at $1,399 (including the added cost of the Sunbrella fabric) during a 20% off sale. The Braden sofa from Room & Board in a Sunbrella fabric would've cost me $2,199 and comparable sofas from Crate and Barrel are $1,500 before any customization. I have absolutely no regrets and feel that the Hughes sofa was totally worth the cost.


I mean, do I really have to say anything else? I'm bonkers for this sofa and might be Joybird's biggest fan. For the first time in five years, I can honestly say that I'm not constantly daydreaming about my next sofa purchase. You might say I'm...couch content. 

I really need to stop with alliterations and puns. Someone take this keyboard away from me.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Bertridge: A Year in the Life, Part One

Just like the Gilmore Girls revival, only with slightly less disappointment and better life decisions.

A year ago this weekend, we were moving into (the then-unnamed) Bertridge.

Though moving day was in mid-January, we actually got the keys to the house several weeks before. The regret started seeping in several minutes after walking in the door.

We weren't expecting to walk into our dream house. We were aware that the house needed some extra love. Built in 1948, the house had seen plenty of small renovations, but few large upgrades, and we'd had to replace the old shake roof before even gaining possession of the house.  And we were gearing up for the task of painting every wall in the house. What we weren't expecting was...
  • Years of old dog food coating the garage and kitchen floors
  • Rodent droppings in a kitchen cabinet
  • Literal piles of debris in the backyard
  • Cat pee covering every wall of what was to be Teddy's room
  • The discovery that the previous owner possibly tried to stain the wood floors around the couch
  • The discovery that half the windows and doors were missing their wood casings
  • A heavy coat of grime on virtually everything
Ah, home sweet home. 

With a lot of help (and even a little bloodshed) from family, gallons of paint, and a ton of enzyme cleaner, we were able to scrub away the grunge.  But the issue of the floors remained. We're not whether it was mistreatment or simply age that left them in such poor shape, but the dark stains, scratches, and discoloration lent the house a permanent vibe of filthiness. With the help of parental benefactors, we opted to have them sanded and stained before move-in day. Finding a Sacramento floor guy in the days following Christmas wasn't easy, but Young's Hardwood Floor Sanding saved the day.

The effect was immediate. Sanding the floors alone made such an enormous impact on the house. The impact made it all the more difficult to choose a stain. Should we say light or give it some color?

Initially, we were going to try to choose a very light stain, but in the end, due to a few subtle but deeply-rooted stains, we opted for Minwax wood stain in Colonial Maple. I worried it would be a bit too orange, but it turned out great.

And so, before we even moved in, we tackled some pretty big home improvement projects. We've made a habit of taking on a project each weekend. Sometimes it's just a matter of touching up the trim, while other times it's soliciting dozens of quotes to demolish and rebuild the pesky cement steps out back.

This post wasn't what I imagined it would be, but as it's been sitting my drafts folder for a good six months now, I'm going to go ahead and post it. Don't judge me. I'm a busy working mom with a high-energy toddler, Crohn's disease, and limited spoons. As the great Nina Bonina Brown would say - "Sue me!"