NTS Tips and Tricks

Customising Comfort with Built-in Sofas

Finding the perfect sofa is no small feat, even under the best conditions. Style considerations like colour, texture, and shape need to contend with more pragmatic ones such as: Will it fit through the door? This task can seem all the more daunting in small-footprint homes where you don’t have the luxury of wasting any precious space. A simple and budget-friendly solution we’ve noticed across many of our episodes is built-in sofas, customised to the quirks of the space and the needs of the owner.

Snug Storage Solutions

When redesigning her Hong Kong apartment, interior designer Daphney Ho of F.A.L WORKS Studio had to come up with solutions that would complement the angular, not-so-squared layout of her living room. Ho’s clever addition of a pony wall between the genkan (a traditional Japanese entrance area) and living room allowed her to then create a custom sofa that hugs back in on itself slightly. This not only gives the living room a cosier more self-contained feel, but allows for the clever placement of shoe storage at the back of the sofa, facing the entry. The spacious sofa (a perfect daybed) features well-disguised drawers underneath for storage.

For this Paris living room, architect Bertille Bordja of ovo/ studios designed a L-shaped bench sofa that wraps around the chimney and includes with plenty of integrated storage under the seats. The corner sofa, which already makes the room feel bigger by maximising the amount of open floor space, features a curved base to make it more ergonomic and is designed to the same height as custom built in side tables for visual continuity. The cushions are also wide enough for it to double as a guest bed when needed.

Comfy Customs

No space for a full sofa? No problem. For this 13sqm/140sqft London apartment, Nina Tolstrup and Jack Mama’s of Studiomama added an integrated one-person sofa into an alcove within the mounted shelving unit. A pull-out ottoman was included underneath for added comfort and storage.

For more design by Studiomama, check out Small Town House, London

Window Seat

In this Lisbon attic home by the team at KEMA studio, a custom sofa was built into one of the niches beneath the sloped roof. The couch, which can comfortably seat three or serve as a single bed for a guest, sits against a wall of handmade brick tiles with a small window for ventilation. A little light added to the wall makes it a great spot to curl up and read a book, too.

Looking for simplicity and comfort, architect Kumiko Ouchi of Small Design Studio designed a 2.2-meter custom bench for the living room of the Tokyo home she shares with her partner and their cat, Cochi. To either end of the bench, Ouchi added recessed shelving into the wall beside the bench as a place to keep books and a bioethanol fireplace for warmth. The tiles surrounding the sofa carry through to the kitchen for a fully cohesive feel.

Special Mentions

The four-seater couch in this Sydney apartment doubles as a base for a fold-down bed by night.

The corner sofa and bench in this Hong Kong home have integrated storage beneath finished with the same rattan coverings that appear throughout the whole space.

A bench across the length of this Florence living room forms the base of a sofa with tailor-made cushions designed to make the room appear more symmetrical.

Maximising Space and Comfort with Built-in Sofas

Unlike conventional sofas, built-ins are tailor-made to fit specific dimensions and contours of a room, optimising available space and enhancing the overall design harmony. These bespoke sofas can be crafted with precision to complement the architectural elements of a space, providing a cohesive and integrated look. The ability to choose materials, colours, and textures allows for a seamless integration with the overall design scheme.

Watch Now: Our Small Footprint Series explores how designers are shaping the future of our cities.