Thank You John & John (Robshaw & Derian)

This is the photo from the cover of the most recent issue of Elle Decor. It is a picture of textile designer John Robshaw’s NYC living room. What jumped out at me immediately from this photo was his sofa. Most of you aren’t aware of the fact that since WWB and I relocated to Charleston in September, I have been living with a living room void of furniture. Why? Because I cannot commit. I am in a stalemate. Why? Because the room is quite small, with an early 19th century fireplace that is not original to the house jutting into the room, but really I can’t commit. However, when I saw this sofa, I immediately started to google.

It is called the Geranium Sofa, and it is from John Derian – no surprise there on things/places that I love. It is manufactured by Cisco Brothers out of California, and is modeled on antique Hepplewhite sofas/settees. The beauty of this sofa is its depth – because this is my biggest concern in our living room. This sofa is only 27″ deep. There are not many sofas that are this shallow … well there are but they are antiques that cost upwards of $7,000 – and who wants to spend that on a sofa!

As I said, the Geranium Sofa is loosely based on a Hepplewhite sofa. Along with Sheraton and Chippendale, Hepplewhite was one of three famous English cabinet makers of the 18th century. The majority of 18th century English antiques that we know of today are based on the designs of these three craftsmen. Above is a good example of a Hepplewhite settee. Notice the similarity in the clean lines and simplicity of this piece and the Geranium Sofa from John Derian.

These are the beautiful Belgian Linen fabrics that you can have the Geranium Sofa come in, or you can send in your own fabric. I am not sure whether I want to send in my own fabric or use one of these beautiful linens. Typically you are meant to use something simple on your largest piece of furniture in the room, and dress it up with throw pillows and smaller pieces of furniture with patterns. However, as seen above Robshaw did just fine with a busy pattern, as I did on my study sofa with China Seas Lysette Reverse.

Above I mentioned the importance of the depth of the sofa, and how 27″ is very rare, and really fabulous for what I am dealing with. Above is the floor plan of a Charleston Single House, our house actually. A Charleston Single House is an architectural style that is native to Charleston and popularized in the 18th century because of the way it takes advantage of the breezes off the water to combat the lowcountry heat. The thing about a single house that is important to note is sight lines. As you can see above, the red lines mark sight lines in our house. You can stand in a room at one end of the house, like the kitchen, and see all the way through to the far wall of the living room, and vice versa. The doorways all line up. So in choosing a sofa for the living room, and assuming I am putting it across from the fireplace, one has to be aware that you will be seeing the side of that sofa from the kitchen and the dining room – which means the more shallow the sofa, the better. Making sure the viewers sight lines are not too hindered is an important part of decorating in a small Charleston Single, because if you can see all the way to the far wall of the house, it can give the illusion of space and depth.

Here is the Geranium Sofa in John Robshaw’s living room again – from a different angle. This helps showcase the shallow nature of the piece and its clean lines. Although the sofa is shallow, it does have high arms, which again is something one needs to look out for in a Charleston Single House. I will keep you posted on where I end up. I have taped out the size of the sofa on the floor of the living room, and I am awaiting my mother’s arrival on Thursday to help with the final verdict. I will keep you all posted – but would love to hear your thoughts.

photos courtesy of Elle Decor & John Derian

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