the fate of the leather sofa

Marian ParsonsFamily Room, My House50 Comments

Many people have asked about the fate of the leather sofa and for a few more details about why I swapped it out, so I thought I would answer that question in a post, especially for those who are weighing their sofa options for a purchase.

The leather sofa is the Brooklyn leather sofa in Toffee from Pottery Barn.  I bought it a few years ago using gift cards, redeemed credit card points, and profits from things I purged from our house.  (If you’re interested, you can read the details on that HERE.)


We love that sofa and the recent switch doesn’t have anything to do with not liking it.

Earlier this year, I rearrange the furniture in the family room.  All four of us had been sitting on the leather sofa together when we watched movies and, with two growing boys, it was feeling a little tight.  I knew that at some point, we were going to need to rework the space.

On a whim I tried putting our Ektorp sofa from Ikea perpendicular to it, to make an L-shaped seating arrangement.


I didn’t like it at first, but I have learned that it’s best to live with something for a few days before making a decision.  As the days passed by, I liked it more and more.  “Mommy’s spot” became the left arm of the sofa.  I would lean against pillows, snuggling in to work on my computer or to watch TV, and it was perfect for me.


The arrangement was comfortable, but it did look a little disjointed.

My first thought was to get a matching love seat from Pottery Barn, but that style only comes in a sofa and chairs.  I also looked at Ikea, at the matching Ektorp love seat, but I really didn’t like the idea of going back to slipcovers for the “boys’ sofa”.  Leather has been much more practical for all of the grunge they inevitably bring in the house with them.

So, I felt a little stuck and unsure what to do.  Of all of the furniture in our house, this is the one we probably interact with the most.  I decided I may need to be open to an option that doesn’t include keeping the leather sofa in the family room.

That’s when I looked at sectionals and decided that was the best direction to go to be most practical for our family and to give the room a more cohesive look.

I was a little nervous about going with a light colored sofa, but the Salonne sectional from AshleyHome is more of an oatmeal color and the fabric is definitely more durable than white cotton twill slipcovers.  I’ll keep you posted on how the fabric wears, though.


I know there was some controversy about whether the sectional was my style or not, but I love it more in person than I even thought I would.  The styling is more modern, but I like that it’s very neutral, so it doesn’t call attention to itself and the antique pieces that are more “me”, like the pie safe, French chairs by the window, antique hutch, etc. can steal the show.

We moved the two displaced sofas to the studio.  I may sell the Ikea one, but I’m still debating that one with myself.  And I’m going to reupholster the tufted ottoman.  It’s a nice piece, but that fabric has not worn well and looked pretty bad.  It was pilly and dingy.  But the bones are good, so I’m going to swap out the fabric and might use it at the foot of the bed in the master bedroom.


We are definitely keeping the leather sofa, though.  I habitually sell every sofa I declare will be the “studio sofa”, but then we always miss having a sofa!  I promised Jeff I won’t sell this one and we’ll keep it as our “studio sofa”, which actually gets quite a bit of use!  And you’ll see it in photo shoots here and there.

I’ll keep you posted on the changes we made and how they work for our family.

the fate of the leather sofa

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50 Comments on “the fate of the leather sofa”

  1. I have to say, I love the space you have created here Marian. I read many of the concerned comments on your post about the new living room furniture- and I think that this post really sums up for me why your blog is such an encouraging, inspiring place on the web! You handle the many opinions so well- however varied they may be. I love your PB sofa- but I think your new sectional looks great too- and as a mom with 3 kiddos, I fully understand why you love it! The soft pallet it provides when paired with your new pillows is just lovely- and looks like MMS to me 🙂

  2. You don’t owe anyone a sofa explaination, because even though you run a design blog, in real life you still have to LIVE in your beautiful space, not just look at it. Kudos to you for picking what works!

  3. This is why I sometimes choose not to read the comments, this is your house, you have to live in it. I am not the biggest fan of sectionals, but you pulled this one off without any complaints from me. It’s PERFECT! But then I knew you would style it to you. People need to realize that you really can take almost anything and style it your style and it will fit in. Great Design!

  4. I miss the leather. *wink*

    We own two identical leather sofas. I arrange them in an L and rearrange them during the holidays across from each other. We’ve always bought two sofas. The first ones we sold when we moved to Manila. We didn’t need living room furniture for another four years but we knew we would buy leather. Our newest sofas are a beautiful milk chocolate, bought here on Guam and a great quality. Every cushion– all six on each– is removable, can be unzipped and the down refilled. With the great leather conditioning tutorials and DIY products out there now, these sofas will definitely last us the rest of our lives– we’re 55.

    Can you tell I’m hoping the leather sofa comes back?! Lol! Of course I’m hoping your new furniture holds up very well for those growing boys. Your family will enjoy making very happy memories for years to come.

    The ads are better, Marian. *thumbs up*


  5. Great design ALWAYS starts with function. Whenever we try to ignore functionality, a room’s design will eventually be wrong. I live in an old Victorian and I love mixing antiques with modern pieces. While providing the function my family of four needs, it injects design balance into my home. I guess it’s all in your taste, but a home with furniture and accessories that are all of the same time period feels overwhelming…so I say…LONG LIVE THE SECTIONAL..

  6. Think I must chime in…I love the new furniture in both rooms. Naturally, your furnishings will change as the boys grow. In the end, it is still MMS worthy!!!

  7. I also have a light colored sofa, and on the first day of each month, I rotate and flip the seat cushions. At the same time, I get out my dust buster and vacuum up any crumbs that I see below the cushions. It has REALLY helped with the wear and tear, as it seems like one side of the sofa gets more use than the other!

  8. I must say that the space you created is awesome. I have checked all your blogs and found this blog as one of the best. I love your new sectional sofa. And I am sure you and your kiddos will feel it more classy and comfy.

  9. I was a complainer about the new furniture. But confession: My favorite chair in my living/family room is a leather recliner I bought from TJ Maxx! This after telling my husband for years “no recliner.” (It actually doesn’t look too recliner-y).
    Comfort has to be a major consideration.

    1. Ha! Yeah, I never thought I would have a sectional, but I’m really happy with it. Antique pieces have my heart, but I’m not the only one who lives in this house, so I do have the make some compromises to make the place comfortable and functional. 🙂

  10. Sometimes we have to consider function as a higher priority than form — particularly with growing families. I think you’ve chosen well and you’ve made it work with your style. Of course, leather is a wonderful option for families for spills and whatnot, but it also comes at a hefty price tag — another big consideration when choosing furniture! I chose some outdoor furniture this summer that is more modern than my usual style because it was the best functioning furniture for my space and my budget. In addition, my husband only wanted to purchase from Costco. Sometimes we have limited options and we just make things work as best we can! Great job, as always, Marion!

  11. I agree with Susan that you don’t owe anyone a sofa explanation, but I appreciate your humility and willingness to do so for your readers. It’s your home and it looks great! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! I love that you blend old with new, and I will continue coming back for inspiration!

  12. I seriously LOVE the blue pillow pictured on your Ektorp above!! I can’t stop looking at it. lol. You may have shared where it was from before but I can’t remember. Do you mind sharing the details?

  13. I think it looks great.! It’s really tidy and quiet and just blends into the room, and the color of the fabric is wonderful. I don’t think it detracts from your style at all, and it looks lusciously comfortable. I like much better than the leather sofa.

  14. I agree the leather sofa and the Ektorp sofa just seemed disjointed. I know you loved the leather sofa but I think new modern sectional blends beautifully with your vintage and antique pieces and is so much more functional.

    Hopefully the lighter colored fabric performs well with two boys. I would be interested in knowing how the workmanship of the sofa performs for the long haul as well. I have no problem with sponsored posts as long as you are able to freely comment objectively on the product you have been compensated for. Perhaps that is something you can clarify for your readers.

    1. Yes, I am able to share my honest opinion about products and honestly, if I really didn’t like something or had a bad experience with the company, I wouldn’t accept them as a sponsor for a post.

      I also think there has to be a trust in me as the blogger, that I’m not going to accept just any sponsored post and that I’m not going to lie to my readers just to make some money or get a piece of furniture. I value my readers and my sponsors and I want to make sure I am doing right by both of them.

  15. While l don’t mind a sectional and think they are very functional for some spaces (and yes it works in your space), I was most disappointed with the choice of using Ashley Furniture. There are a number of high quality upholstery companies that manufacture in the USA. Ashley uses factories in Asia and is not very well made from my past experience. And I think the coffee table looks very contrived – a poor imitation of a true factory cart. Restoration Hardware has a much more realistic looking one – but, truth be known, it is probably made in Asia also. Don’t mean to criticize, just think you could have done better – especially supporting “Made in America”.

    1. HUGE price difference between Ashley Furniture and Restoration Hardware (or Pottery Barn for that matter). I vote for the more affordable sectional at this stage of life. Shop high end someday when your kids are out on their own. Trust me, it comes way faster than you think!

      1. I think those kiddos deserve to snuggle on a healthy sofa, not one coated with chemicals and unsafe for their developing bodies. 🙁
        It’s not about purchasing “high end” it’s about purchasing ethically and safely.

    2. Anne,
      Good luck finding a furniture company today other than maybe Bob Timberlake or Amish made furniture that manufactures 100% of their product in the USA. Usually some part of the materials are coming from China or Asia. Yes, some of it might be made here or assembled here but not the whole piece from start to finish like the old days. I guess that’s how they get around saying its made in the USA.

      Personally, I have always thought that Pottery Barn furniture looked cheaply made.

      1. There are actually quite a few. 🙂 A quick google search will find organic, handmade in USA, healthy furniture, it just takes a bit more effort. Several are in California, a great one Seattle…

    3. I have to agree that I wish more consumers would make made in the USA a priority. Not just because I live here, but because of so many ethical reasons, one of which is that one of the main reasons companies started outsourcing the manufacturing of their products to places like Asia, is to avoid the stricter environmental policies in place here that are meant to improve our health. Places like china look the other way in that area and many others. 🙁

  16. It looks great! As a mother of 4, now grown children it was always a big headache keeping sofas looking nice. No matter how well behaved they were. In our recent move I opted for a new look…. The Ikea Ektorp chaise in white. I love it! And the chaise is my home base. When friends come over for dinner parties…. I get so many negatives about choosing white slipcovers. I will confess with our little dog I usually have a white sheet handy to protect it on bad weather days. But overall I love the look and the comfort of it. It was fun to get out of my comfort zone in decor…….

  17. I actually had just purchased this same sectional! We haven’t received ours yet because it wasn’t in stock at our local store, but I do have a question about it for you. I read many reviews stating that the armless chair portion (or was it the love seat portion…) sat up about an inch higher than the rest of the pieces, making an awkward ledge. I’m wondering if you noticed the same issue with yours, or maybe they just got some wonky ones. Crossing my fingers that ours doesn’t do this, ha!

    PS I love that you chose this sectional as well, it totally validates my design choice as I live in a 110+ year old house and love to mix antiques and modern day pieces 🙂

    1. Katy, It does actually sit up just a little higher and it seems to be due to the way the springs are tied. My guess is it will relax as the sofa is used, but Jeff and I agreed that it was nice that there was a “firm seat” that you don’t sink into as much as the others. I would definitely check it out when it’s delivered and let customer service know, so if you’re not happy with it, you can return it. I did let them know, but we’ve decided we like it.

  18. I am shocked by all the comments! This is your family room. It is a private area where you and your family hang out. Just because you have a blog doesn’t mean that your whole house must be quintessential MMS style at every moment. This is your HOME – where you and your family really live, not just a prop for your blog. I think that you did a great job of explaining the changes in this room. You certainly didn’t tell anyone to run out and buy anything. I love reading your blog for inspiration and ideas. I like to incorporate some of your ideas into my own home. If I don’t like something, it’s not a big deal, it’s your home. You should never feel like you have to defend what you put in YOUR home or on YOUR blog!

    1. Thank you, Kimi! I understand that many of my readers feel very personally connected to my home and style and when I make changes, even for the sake of practicality, it ruffles a few feathers! I also understand a skepticism when it comes to sponsored content. I know it’s a responsibility and I take that seriously.

    2. Keep in mind that a blog like this is written for an audience and is a professional endeavor. All writers for an audience are subject to reactions good and bad. The reason bloggers get swag is because they have an audience, not because they have a cozy home.
      Likewise they are getting money from ads on the blog site because of the number of monthly users. Which doesn’t mean that the blogger has to decorate her home to please the readers, but the readers certainly have a right to respond.
      Marian handles it very well.

      1. Totally agree and well said. Marian is a rockstar, we all know this that’s why we’re here.

  19. I was one that did not like the change, but looking at it today I like it! As I did say however, it is your home and I think your family will love cuddling on it together!

  20. Anxious to know how you like it over time. I am entertaining the idea of a sectional (vs sofa and two chairs) but I wonder how it works in the long run in a house of two adults. I might want one that has the end lounge chair. Keep us posted.

  21. My husband and I have been debating whether to buy two love seats or a sectional for months. Mainly I wanted love seats so I can move the pieces around. Truthfully, the sectional would be more comfortable. We’re still trying to decide, but I am glad to see you made a choice that was most practical for how your family functions. That’s how we should decorate instead being slaves to a “style” that doesn’t always work in every room. The other rooms in your house function differently and they fully reflect the Miss Mustard Seed style. I’m glad you made the bold choice to do what’s best for you. Plus you always find a way to mold your space in to a cohesive look. I think it looks very comfortable and practical for a family room.

  22. Thanks for the update on what happened with the leather couch. I was very concerned because we are close to getting a new one and my husband is adamant about getting leather. I’m ok with that but I’ve had to push hard to go a little higher end so I can get a more tan/carmel color vs dark brown etc. I completely get why you went with the sectional — very comfortable and looks great with the new pillows. Thanks for your lovely blog:)

    1. Rebecca,
      You might want to look at Lane furniture. We purchased our leather furniture 4 years ago at Furniture Land South in NC and bought a tan/camel colored leather reclining sofa/loveseat. That was the only company we could find that offered a lighter colored leather. Maybe that was because we were looking at reclining furniture not sure.

  23. I love that leather sofa. It’s so rich looking. Why not use it in your living room? The sectional makes sense in your family room. I hope the fabric wears well. I have the PB basic sofa and chairs which are slip covered since 2003 and I love I can wash them and it’s made so well since we don’t have a family room.

  24. I have been lusting after that leather sofa. I appreciate your update. One of the best things I see about your home it that the design is fluid. I love that your space changes to meet your needs or wants, seasons or new pieces. It is always beautiful and looks like a warm and loving home. I like that best. Thanks for continuing to share.

  25. MMS, I am so glad you posted about your new sofa. When I saw it I gasped because it was exactly what I was looking for as we are moving. My husband loved it too and he even commented that he thought I was a pottery barn only shopper so he was happy to hear it was from Ashley. He had a couch before from Ashley and was pleased. We plan on purchasing it in the next week. I know I can trust your reviews!

  26. I am sure you are going to love living with your new sectional, and even though it is more transitional than your style, it kind of recedes away and you seen your pillows. I have found smaller sectionals (the really big ones need to be in a really big room) to be the most practical and comfortable sofas. I had one for a number of years and when I tired of the fabric and the back cushions were smooched down from our little dogs laying on the top of them, I set off to buy a new slipcovered sectional with loose back pillows. I could not find what I wanted and settled for a slipcovered sofa, chair and a half, and square ottoman. It was never right and I so missed the corner of the sofa as my spot for reclining and watching TV. The slipcover part and the loose back cushions served out very well, with two dogs that love a sofa too. I set off to find the perfect sectional for us at a half way reasonable price. I could not find it in a store, but I found what I wanted online. Although I could not imagine buying a couch I had not sat on, after several calls and reading reviews I decided to take a chance and buy this couch with the down filling on top of foam seat cushions.
    It worked out perfectly for us and we love it. A year or so after we bought it, we bought a second home and we bought the exact same sofa in a different color. Both homes feel exactly the same when we are sitting on the sofa. They have worn very well and held up better than the more expensive Pottery Barn slipcovered sofa a friend bought shortly after we got ours. When I need to wash, I put them back on the cushions damp and they look great. ENJOY!!!

  27. Marion!…. love, love! Question though…. I have the same coffee table… love it, but due to darker leather sofa and other wood in the room, thinking about painting the “wood” portion. Any thoughts?

  28. I’m just going to share my two cents here because there are so many people interested in sofa choices and this might be a good forum for it. This has nothing to do with the style you chose, which I think is cute, but I always want people, especially families with children, to be aware of the dangers inherent with furniture purchases, especially upholstered pieces. Upholstered pieces are stuffed with, usually, petroleum based materials such as foam, and then covered with fabric which is coated with chemicals like fire retardants. Fire retardants contain, among other things, cancer-causing formaldehyde. There has been a lot of media attention as of the last few years over the safety of filling the very thing we spend so much time on, and our children snuggle into, with hazardous chemicals. California, as far as I know, is the first state to tackle this with legislation to remove fire retardant chemicals from our furniture. The only way to avoid it is to buy organic. I know, ti’s more expensive, but when you consider how big a purchase it is, how long you will have it, how long your family spends cuddled up on it with faces pressed into the fabric, it’s worth it. Or, you could go zen and not have big pieces and use organic pillows! 🙂

  29. I for one, Marian, prefer the cohesive look that the new sectional provides and completely understand why you made the change. That’s all 🙂

  30. Marian, I tried to email this via your “contact” tab, but the CAPTCHA plug-in wasn’t working correctly there and it wouldn’t let me send it. Here’s my note:

    I really like the look of the Ashley sectional that you put in your living room, We are actually looking for a sectional for our newly completed basement family room. I’m wondering if you can tell me how your sectional is holding up to snacks (if allowed) and if you can tell me what the guidelines are for cleaning it? I want to avoid a “dry clean only” type sofa where I know we’ll be having teenagers eating popcorn and other snacks while watching movies. I’d love any input you are willing to share. Thanks!

  31. I sold my Craigslist chocolate leather tuffed sofa and love seat on Craigslist, for a bit more than I paid 4 years ago😀. It looked great in our stately English Tudor. We moved into a cottage style, so we replaced it with 2 white slip covered sofas. I love to change looks💕

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