How Good is the Joybird Lewis Sofa Compared to Other Brands?

by | Jul 14, 2021 | Ask the Expert | 2 comments

 

Question:

My daughter is interested in a Joybird Lewis sofa. How does this compare to Bernhardt Highland Park Lex, Craftmaster Catherine sofa and Rowe Dorset sofas? 

We saw these sofas while shopping in Belfort Furniture in Sterling, VA. Is this a good place to shop for  furniture?

May 4, 2021

Answer:

Joybird was one of my favorite mid-range manufacturers until it was sold to LaZBoy, who raised prices and moved production from California to Mexico. Overall, it still generally receives favorable reviews, but not the rave reviews it used to get.

Bernhardt should be a higher quality couch than Joybird. Typically, it would also be more expensive, although the Lex is a very simple style. The $899 sale price quoted is an excellent bargain.

One concern: The photo of the Bernhardt Lex sofa shows very poor tailoring (badly wrinkled front arm panels and loose fabric on other parts of the sofa.) Bernhardt’s quality is normally better than that.

Craftmaster quality is generally between Bernhardt and Joybird. Recently Craftmaster’s factory went to a 3 day workweek, despite huge order backlogs, due to an industry wide foam shortage that is expected to continue for at least two more months. Expect lengthy delays if you are special ordering.

Rowe claims to have a proud 70 year history, but it did declare bankruptcy in 2007 and again in 2019. The furniture being built today is not the same as it was 15 years ago.

My main concern with the current Rowe is their cushions. Recently they began using a composite construction with a high density central core glued to lower density foam layers above and below. Although they do not specify the density of these outer foam layers, other competing manufacturers with similar cushions are using 1.2 density foam.

These composite cushions have not been around long enough to establish their long term durability, but I strongly suspect they will fail sooner than the 1.8 density solid foam cores they are replacing.

Another worrisome sign for Rowe is that some of their cushions are using a very thick fiber wrap around the foam core. Check out this video to see what I mean.

The fiber above and below the foam looks to be at least 4″ thick. This is a very cheap way to make cushions look extremely full and plush. The problem is that when that much fiber is used, the cushions quickly lose their shape because the fiber has no resiliency at all.

Also, the foam and fiber core is not bagged (sewed inside a fabric cover) prior to being placed in the cushion cover.

The inner bag helps the foam and fiber retain its shape longer and makes removal of the cover for cleaning far easier.

Many manufacturers in this price range spend the extra few dollars to bag the cushion cores.

When determining a sofa’s overall quality, bagged cushion cores are a significant factor in differentiating between lower and higher mid-range quality.

All higher end sofas will have bagged cores.

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Jeff Frank

Jeff Frank

Furniture Consultant

Jeff Frank is a 45 year  furniture industry veteran. He created this blog to provide detailed facts, inside information & advice for furniture shoppers. 

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Ginger Burnett

    Hello! I just ordered 2 Joybird Lewis Sofas but am a bit nervous after reading some negative reviews. Do you know if this sofa uses the bagged cores in its cushion construction? Many online photos show the fabric wrinkling & loosening on the seat overtime – which looks sloppy. Not sure if I should cancel the order and roll the dice on Overstock or just keep my order. Thanks for any insights you may have!

    Reply
    • Jeff Frank

      Almost all mass produced upholstered furniture brands average between 80% – 90% negative reviews on independent review sites.

      Most of the recent complaints seem to be about long waits and poor customer service.
      That has been normal throughout the furniture industry since the beginning of the Pandemic.

      I can’t tell whether or not this sofa has “bagged” cushion construction, but normally sofas in this price range have seat cushions that are encased in a muslin ticking that fits inside the fabric covering.
      I would be very surprised if these seat cushions are not “bagged.”

      The Lewis sofa has a single long “bench” seat cushion.
      There are advantages and disadvantages to a single long cushion.

      Advantage: Larger seat cushions are more durable than smaller seat cushions.

      The Lewis seat cushions are made with a 2.0 density foam core, which is slightly more durable than the industry standard 1.8 density.

      As a result your seat cushions should hold up for 6 – 8 years with average use.
      In comparison, the same sofa with three smaller cushions of 1.8 density would have an average expected lifespan of 3- 5 years before losing their shape, resilience (ability to bounce back) and comfort.

      Disadvantage: Larger cushions do wrinkle more easily.

      Wrinkling is also affected by the type of fabric. Some types of fabrics wrinkle more than other.
      In general:
      Fabrics that stretch wrinkle more than non-stretchable fabrics.
      Light weight fabrics wrinkle more than heavier fabrics.

      The back cushions will probably wrinkle sooner than the seat cushions.
      The good news is that the back cushions are filled with fiber only.
      The cost of re-stuffing the back cushions with additional fiber is minimal.

      Overstock.com is not a guaranteed solution to this problem.
      They sell a wide range of sofas. Many are far lower quality than Joybird.

      Your email indicates that you work with a fabric company.

      Another option for you might be to find a local custom upholsterer who can build a similar looking couch with better quality cushions and a Sitting Pretty fabric.

      Jeff Frank

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