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Do any sofa manufacturers make repairable, sustainable, recyclable furniture?

By Jeff Frank

Simplicity Sofas has been building repairable, sustainable, recyclable (and affordable) furniture over the past 12 years.

The company uses a modular system with a total of 40 different replaceable, interchangeable components in the entire system. 80% of the products sold use the same 25 component parts.

Those 25 interchangeable parts can create thousands of different sofa, loveseat, chair, sleeper and sectional combinations.
Here is an example of a basic sofa. It is made from 6 different component parts. These include a right arm, left arm, back, base, cushions and legs.


The sofa is shipped unassembled. Assembly 15 minutes. No tools are needed.
Here is a video showing a 7 yr. old and 10 yr. old assembling a sofa in less than 5 minutes.

The furniture is designed to be assembled, dis-assembled and re-assembled dozens of times with no loss of strength or durability.
Below is another sofa. It uses the identical back, base and cushions. Only the arms and legs are different.

Changing those two frame parts transforms the look of the entire sofa.
The style has been modified from modern to traditional. The sofa size has increased from 80″ to 88″.

Below is a third combination. The arms and cushions are exactly the same as in the first photo above.

The only things that have changed are the lengths of the backs and bases and the leg style.

The sectional wedge corner piece shown uses an additional 3 component parts that were not used for the sofas. The bumper ottoman adds 2 additional component parts.

The modular design allows any individual part to be replaced by the customer in a few minutes in their own home.
Cushions are made with extra wide zippers. The inside of the covers are lined with fabric.
Customers can easily replace cushion covers or cores if they ever become damaged or worn out.

Individual arms, backs, bases or legs can also be replaced by the customer in a few minutes without tools.
If a fabric becomes worn or damaged and is no longer available, this furniture can be completely recovered with a different fabric.
A tightly fitted slipcover goes over the original upholstery making worn out sofas look brand new again.

The second photo above shows a sofa with slipcover. (The company also makes identical looking sofas with skirts that are not slipcovered.)
Simplicity Sofas furniture is built to last 20 years and more.

The cushions are made with thick high quality 2.5 density Ultracel foam or Spring down construction. They have a lifespan of ten years or more for most people.

Cushion cores (and covers) are easily (and inexpensively) replaceable if they do wear out or become damaged.

The frames are constructed with select grade solid oak lumber. Below is a photo of one of our frames.

Fully upholstered arms, backs, bases and legs can all be removed and replaced in a few minutes without tools.

Making furniture this way is expensive. Even if we were using the same quality of materials used in mass produced furniture it would still be substantially more expensive.

Modular designs with replaceable parts require more raw materials than would be needed to build a similar looking conventional sofa.

  • For example, in the frame photo above, the base of the arm is made with a solid oak plank. It is resting on top of another solid oak plank on top of the base.
  • In a conventional (non-modular) sofa, one of those oak planks would have been eliminated.
  • Adding additional materials also increases the amount of labor required to build the piece.

Additional material and labor costs do not fully address the sustainability factor. Better quality materials are also needed to increase the furnture’s lifespan. That is why solid oak lumber is used instead of plywood.

  • High quality solid wood furniture frames are typically made with #2 grade lumber.
    • #2 lumber is allowed to have splits, knotholes, warping and other defects. Those defects are what lead to frame problems over the long run.
    • Select grade has almost no defects. Normally it is used only for exposed wood parts where the grain can be seen.
    • There is a substantial cost difference between the two different grades of lumber.
      • Specifically, the select grade solid oak frame shown above costs about $140 to make.
      • A similar frame using #2 lumber would cost around $100.
      • A similar frame using plywood would cost approximately $40.

      Most sofas don’t need a frame that can last 50+ years, especially if the cushions or fabric have a lifespan of only 3 – 5 years.

      • Standard quality cushions, fabric, foam etc. will not last long enough to justify the cost of a top quality frame.
      • The quality of all of those parts must be upgraded as well.

      Regardless of cost, the lifespan of most sofas is limited to the failure of the most fragile part of that sofa.

      • Repairs and parts replacement can be prohibitively expensive for a normal sofa. Reupholstering can cost as much as buying a completely new piece.

      Simplicity Sofas furniture is designed so that all parts can be easily and inexpensively replaced. It is repairable, sustainable and recyclable.

      • Furniture made this way would be prohibitively expensive if sold through retailers.
      • Retail prices are typically double the manufacturing cost. If sold through retailers, few people would be able to afford this furniture.

      When Restoration Hardware sells a sofa for $2000, it originally purchased that sofa from a manufacturer for approximately $1000.

      • The actual manufacturing cost for that sofa was around $750 with an additional $250 added for the manufacturer’s profit.

      Simplicity Sofas also sells $2000 sofas.

      • Its costs are closer to $1500. Because there is no retail middleman the sofa can be sold to consumers for the same price as Restoration Hardware sofas that cost half as much to make.

      Below is one more sofa look. The leather couch shown uses the same exact components as both sofas shown above. Only the arms and legs are different.

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      If you have questions or comments please leave them below.

      Shopping for furniture can be complex and frustrating. Salespeople often do not have enough knowledge to answer your questions or give advice based on limited experience.

      Take this opportunity to get real information and advice before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars.

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