Is a Bouclé Sofa Worth it? Here's What You Should Know Before Buying
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The year is 2020 and you’re sitting cross-legged on a concave, Ikea sectional you bought ten years ago. Your return to the office has just been described as a “hybrid model” via zoom, and as you look down at a stain that’s either chocolate or dog poop, you panic. I’m going to be working like this…indefinitely? Suddenly, you’re scrolling Pinterest for design ideas when you notice a theme: bouclé sofas.
We’re talking about those curvy, nubby-textured couches that have taken over your feed. The look showcases bouclé—a fabric first popularized by Coco Chanel in the 1940s—which made a major comeback during lockdown in May of 2020. “We are living in a time when comfort [is of] the utmost importance,” explains designer Tina Ramchandani in a 2020 interview with Architectural Digest. “With very real issues concerning the environment and political climate, days are hectic. So creating a [cozy] space at home that encourages well-being is essential.”
To that end, designers seem to be holding on to this trend with the jaws of life. Unlike quarantine fads like bird watching and tie-dying, bouclé sofas continue to pop up in celebrity home tours—from Gabrielle Union’s to Elsa Hosk’s (shown above). But alas, as a home editor, I can’t help but wonder: How practical is this thing? Sure, these snuggly sofas look gorgeous in a professionally staged photo shoot. But what happens when Gabrielle’s dog has an accident? Or Elsa’s kid spills chocolate milk? Do the stains come out (or do they just…buy a new sofa?). So, I decided to put one to the test.
Below, find everything you need to know about having a bouclé sofa—how to care for it—and five of the best picks to suit every lifestyle.
What is Bouclé Anyway?
Named after the French term boucler, which means “to curl,” the fabric gets its knotty texture from irregular, curly threads of yarn. “[The yarn] is most often made of wool, silk or cotton fibers, making it a soft, cozy choice for upholstery,” explains the experts at Kardiel. Basically, bouclé falls somewhere between fleece sherpa and marled linen. The layered, chunky knit can elevate a space—without overpowering it—and provide that cozy, organic modern look that’s exploding in interiors right now.
How Durable is it?
Disclaimer: Beautiful as it may be, bouclé is a *delicate* fabric that demands to be treated as such. Its high-pile loops are extremely susceptible dirt, dust, colored dyes and even the tiniest piece of lint—and it’ll show immediately. Take it from the photo below, where you can see how dirty my Kardiel ‘Puff’ sectional got after just three months of daily use. The white chaise had basically turned black and it took me four (!!) hours to completely remove the build-up and discoloration (more on that below). As a result, I’d strongly suggest you go with a bouclé performance fabric—especially if you have kids, pets or messy roommates. The yarns are coated with patented technology to resist stains, spills, urine, blood, dirt—you name it. (See the video below if you don’t believe me.)
It’s worth mentioning, however, that the top performance fabric brands (i.e., Crypton, Revolution and Sunbrella) charge anywhere from $90 to $300 per yard for a custom bouclé sofa and, more often than not, these pieces are made to order. Not to mention that regular bouclé, in and of itself, is one of the most expensive textiles on the market, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a sofa under $2,000 (performance or not). So in short, if you’re planning on using the fabric on an occasional/formal sofa (ideally located in a room that’s off-limits to the kids), I’d say have at it. But if your buzzwords include “durable” or “affordable,” you might want to consider scratching the itch with a bouclé throw pillow instead.
How Do you Clean Bouclé?
First and foremost, if it says “regular vacuuming and spot cleaning” in the manufacturer’s care instructions, it means “you need to clean this every day.” I learned this the hard way, where after three months of occasional cleaning, the bouclé went from a bright white to a dull, discolored grey:
In my case, I’d gotten so used to the slow build-up of dirt and discoloration, that it took a visit from my mother (and her disappointing glare) to kick me into cleaning mode. So, I reached out to Kardiel, and they recommended the following: “Make a solution of 1 teaspoon of mild laundry detergent, 1 teaspoon of white vinegar, and 1 quart of warm water. Test your cleanser on a small, discreet section of the sofa first. Use a light dabbing motion to apply the solution with a microfiber towel following up with a clean cloth dipped and wrung out with cold fresh water to rinse away the solution.”
At first, nothing was happening. The discoloration and dirt wouldn’t budge—despite the fact that I was in a full-blown sweat from heavy scrubbing. So, as a last-ditch effort, I decided to add some of the Laundress' stain solution to the mixture. Voila. Slowly but surely, I saw the original white fabric peeking through. I had it down to a science: I would soak the towel in the mixture, scrub until my arms couldn’t take it, then wait for the stain solution to work its magic. After four hours of repeating the cycle, this is what I was left with:
Long story short? Since the deep clean, I’ve kept up with regular vacuuming and spot cleaning (I’ve also added a ton of neutral throw blankets as a protective barrier). The sofa seems to be holding up, but I have to admit: I wish I’d gone with a performance fabric. Granted, the sofa I tested from Kardiel looks *gorgeous* in my living room (when it’s clean) and it’d be a great pick for anyone who has low-traffic areas. But if your lifestyle is anything like mine, you might be better off going with a performance model. So, if you’re really trying to hop on the trend, see below for five performance bouclé sofas that don’t sacrifice beauty for functionality.
THE BEST BOUCLE PERFORMANCE SOFAS OF 2023
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams