By Barbara Chandler @Sunnygran
Sofa Workshop is pretty prominent on Chiswick High Road, with a long, low façade adjacent to Barclays Bank. Last Friday, they re-opened after lockdown (but see note * below). “People keep popping in to say how much they’ve missed us,” says store manager Melissa Fernandes. In fact it’s best to make an appointment as only two sets of customers can visit at a time.
This is part of strict anti-virus policing, including regular steam cleaning. Sofas are a useful measure for social distancing, they say – “two metres is roughly a three-seater.” You’ll find such rules the new normal for shopping for furniture everywhere into the foreseeable future. Nevertheless in this store “the coffee’s always on” and dogs are welcome.
“The lockdown has made people really value their sofas,” Melissa goes on. “They’ve been spending a lot of time on them!”
Images above: floral futons are among just some of the luxurious furniture pieces
Sofa Workshop (also open now in Battersea) has been making stylish upholstery in the UK since 1986 – you can customise a choice of over 60 models, from sleek mod to old-style trad. They’ll take from six to eight week to make your sofa to order. But right now they have a “great British Clear-Out” – these are “ex-display, overstocks and samples” at from 15% to around 30% off, for immediate delivery. You can see some in the window. The choice is changing all the time – ring the store for updates, and register an interest.
Particularly popular in Chiswick is the V&A collection. Fabrics are inspired by the museum’s archive, each with its own provenance – such as Turkish silks, Chinoiserie, and 18th century chintz.
“Moreton’s Marble,” which you can currently see in the window, has an elegant somewhat Arts & Crafts aesthetic.
In fact it dates from the 1920s, and comes from an original drawing for a printed textile by Douglas Bennett Cockerel, a distinguished bookbinder (1870–1945), commissioned by Morton Sundour, a respected old British fabric brand. The V&A collection is made in Long Eaton (the heartland of British upholstery manufacture) and the fabrics in Cheshire (ditto for textile printing.)
Neat corner units – “you get a lot of seats for your money” – are popular with younger customers, and sofa-beds and upholstered stools are useful.
Now that browsing is tricky, do as much homework as you can in advance – you could book yourself one of the new showroom video “virtual tours”, and order up fabric samples. The website is worth exploring with good sections on fabric choice, and an inspirational blog.
“But you’ll want to try out the different fillings for comfort, and feel the fillings and fabrics,” says Melissa. Before you come, measure up your space. Also check on access for deliveries – note narrow doorways, stairs and tight corners, for example. Some models can come apart for re-assembly. Deliveries cost around £79.
* You’ve probably heard that independent stores will open on Monday 15 June when the government relaxes its restrictions on selling “non-essential” goods. That’s when you’ll see a lot more of the High Road cranking back into life. But several big chains, including DFS, Furniture Village, Ikea, and indeed Sofa Workshop, are open already.
This is because in mid-May, “homewares” was added to the list of essential goods the government said you could sell, and the big brands, after deliberations with lawyers and officials, grabbed the chance to open up. Other small stores – the Futon Company and Adventures in Furniture, say – did not feel “homewares” included large items like sofas and furniture and are somewhat aggrieved. We’ll bring news of their openings in due course.
Sofa Workshop, 147 Chiswick High Road, W4 2DT Tel: 020 8742 0159
Barbara Chandler writes for the Evening Standard Homes & Property section.
Read more on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Heal’s reopens