My brother, John, is wanting to fully refurnish his apartment. He has only had hand-me-downs and cheap stuff so far, so he really wants to make the place nice. I jumped at the chance to help because how often do you get to totally start over? Plus, he has a much bigger budget than me.
He told my Mom that he likes Victorian style and I know that he likes science fiction stuff like H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, so I was thinking of going with a steampunk look. Leather. Dark wood. Industrial. Scientific. Library. Academic. Edison bulbs. I wanted to go with muted masculine colors like charcoal gray, navy, espresso, cream. Since John appreciates Asian culture, I wanted the dominant color to be Japanese indigo, brought in with throw pillows, bedding, rugs, etc.
John lives in Houston and I won't be able to go down there to shop with him, so I'm going to pick options from chain stores that he would be able to visit himself. He is moving at the end of the month, so I'm just going to cover the bare basics that he needs, a bed frame and a couch, for now, and delve more into other furniture, textiles, and accessories that he might get down the line in later posts.
The sofa is the main piece of furniture in a living room. You want it to be fairly basic so that you don't get tired of it in the approximate ten years you'll have it. You can change the look with pillows and throws. For John's steampunk look, I was thinking of a Chesterfield or an English rolled arm sofa.
Essex Sofa with Casters by Crate & Barrel $2199.00
This sofa has that English academic look that would work well in a steampunk home. It looks formal with the pleats and casters, but also comfy. I like the in-stock cream color in Natural, but other options that would work with the look are a darker brown (Pecan) and a light gray (Stingray).
Chesterfield Sofa by Pottery Barn $2099-2699
This is my personal favorite. Chesterfield sofas are so classic and dignified. Some friends of mine have what looks to be this same sofa and it's gorgeous in person. I picked the washed linen/cotton fabric in Metal (a medium charcoal), but there are many different fabrics and colors available. There is also a beautiful leather one.
Lancaster Leather Sofa by Restoration Hardware $2460-4765
I couldn't resist adding this one. I've sat on it in the store and it is heaven. The seats were really deep and the leather was perfectly worn. It's a lot more expensive than the others, but if I had the funds (and a cat that wasn't bent on destroying my vinyl Chesterfield), I would get it in a heartbeat.
Carlisle Upholstered Apartment Sofa by Pottery Barn $1499-1899
Another English roll arm-type couch. For this one, I chose the denim fabric in Warm White, but there are tons of fabric and color options. I like that this one doesn't have any separate back cushions, which can sag and look sloppy very quickly.
Those are my suggestions. I would recommend going to Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, and Crate & Barrel to sit on as many sofas as you can. It's a personal preference as far as softness/firmness, head support, cushion depth, etc. If you don't like Chesterfields or English roll arm sofas, get something basic with clean lines (see the Restoration Hardware leather one above). Too modern wouldn't look right with this overall look. For colors, I would recommend cream, oatmeal, light gray, dark brown, charcoal gray, or deep navy. Pick one of the darker colors if you plan on getting a pet in the future. If you choose a leather sofa, please only get a brown one. Black, white, and colored leathers (ick) give off an entirely different vibe and just aren't as classic as brown. Also, if the couch has separate back cushions, make sure that they are attached somehow to avoid the inevitable saggy look.
My brother also wants to get a bed frame before he moves into his new apartment. He is going to spend a lot on a good mattress and box springs, so it would be nice to have it up off the floor. I was thinking of a iron headboard to contrast with all the soft furnishings in a bedroom or a chunky wooden one with some character.
Emmerson Bed by West Elm $1299-1499
Beautiful and looks like it is made from old crates. This one has nice clean lines and I think that even with a king-sized bed, it wouldn't dominate the bedroom. So often, I see bedrooms that are weighted down with dark, ornately carved, wooden furniture. Plus, I don't think you need a box spring with this type of frame, so that'll save a little money.
French Academie Bed by Restoration Hardware $495-895
My favorite. I actually want to get this in the twin size to make into a daybed for my future library. This one has a nice patina and a perfect academic look. Can't you just imagine this parked under a canvas tent during the height of colonial imperialism? Requires a box spring.
Coleman Bed by Pottery Barn $649-849
A nice classic option. Most furniture stores have something similar to this since it mixes with a variety of styles. Requires a box spring.
Chesterfield Upholstered Sleigh Bed by Restoration Hardware $1525-3080
This is a good soft option for reading or surfing in bed. You know by now how much I love the Chesterfield style. If you get the Chesterfield sofa though, don't get the headboard too. You want to mix it up a little bit, especially in an apartment. Requires a box spring.
That's all I have for now. I'm off to study for my French test. Check back soon for more furniture, lighting, textile, and accessory suggestions.
Extra Credit: I was very inspired by this home tour, which has that steampunk look without going overboard.