Sofa Salvation

We had a bit of a disaster when we moved into our house and hopefully our advice will help many of you moving to the region to avoid the same stress.

Generally houses in the Mosel have the living areas on the upper floors, with the ground floor being given over to utility space and more historically to wine production. The reason for this is simple – the flood risk. That means your sitting room is likely to be on the first floor, accessed by a staircase with at least one bend in it. Our house has no fewer than four such staircases, three of which dog leg back on themselves but with no half landing.

All fine and dandy I hear you cry, as such features add to the character of the property. We were of the same opinion – until our sofa (amongst other things) would not go up…!

They say moving house is one of the most stressful times of your life, but that is multiplied tenfold when half your furniture will not fit in your new place. Our thoughts went from joy through disillusionment to despair as we trawled through one furniture store after another trying to find a nice sofa that would fit. Futons or Ikea were looking like our only salvation, and neither were what we really wanted.

Anyway, when I thought our morale could sink no lower, desperation drove me to scour the internet for flat pack sofas. Bingo! I came across a company near London called Nabru who make sofas of all shapes and sizes guaranteed to fit into any room or even go up a spiral staircase. Better still, their website says they can deliver to many overseas locations.

We happened to be in England the following week so we went to the Nabru showroom in Uxbridge. There we discovered a range of sofas that actually looked very decent indeed – not the small flimsy things we were expecting, but big, substantial and inviting. The amazing thing is, they primarily produce these things for the narrow canal boats we have in Britain, and they really are problematic when it comes to furnishing.

Their sofas are indeed clever. They are made of a MDF (medium density fibre-board) skeleton which simply slots together without any screws or bolts (unless you have a sofa bed option which has 4 screws!) and then covers and cushions are added. Imagine a giant version of those cardboard dinosaur skeletons you can buy for kids and you are on the right track! We needed a sofa and decided to take the plunge and ordered a corner sofa with a sofa bed in it.

I cannot recall the price exactly but it was a shade under £1,000 which for a sofa of that size was not bad, especially considering it was pretty much custom made to our requirements – being modular, you can choose the type of arms, feet, cushion softness, configuration, fabric, piping, etc. Best of all, the price for delivery to Germany was £130 if I recall correctly which is bad at all.

Our very first sofa in Germany took eleven weeks to arrive despite the fact it was fairly bog standard. So imagine our surprise when Nabru said ours would be delivered seven days after ordering it. We almost had heart attacks when it was delivered whilst we were eating breakfast on the sixth day!

It arrived on a single pallet as a plastic wrapped pile of MDF pieces, lumps of foam and bags of fabric. Unlike IKEA stuff, many of the parts have the item description stamped on them which really helps checking off the parts list and of course when assembling. Putting the bones of it together was pretty straight forward as all the pieces just slot together. The base covers were a bit more challenging as you need to pull them tight, and the sofa bed mechanism left little space for my chubby hands to do up the Velcro fastenings. Oh, and don’t be alarmed by the use of Velcro – it means you can easily readjust it if necessary and it does hold very strongly indeed. Best of the use of Velcro means you can replace the covers later on without having to use a professional upholsterer.

The hardest part of the assembly by far was putting the bases into seat cushions – this is where Nabru sofas differ from traditional ones which do not have such bases. You would have thought these bases would make the sofa too hard, but oddly enough they don’t – the sofa is firm to sit on but the cushions are thick and surprisingly comfortable. You can choose between firm and soft seat cushions – the firm ones have MDF boards in the bottoms of them, whilst the soft ones have a chipboard frame with a webbing lattice stretched across it. We had the soft option, although we found putting the chipboard and webbing bases in really tricky as it is a deliberately tight fit and the chipboard had the habit of grabbing the foam and material of the cushion. Nabru advise putting the bases into a plastic bag before sliding them into the cushion and that does make it easier, although pulling the bag out afterwards is a bit of a challenge.

All in all it probably took me about three to four hours to assemble the entire sofa. It probably would have been quicker and easier if there were two of us doing it, and I suspect the standard two or three seat sofa without the sofa bed option would be more of a doddle to put together.

Downsides? Well, you really need to assemble it as close to its final position as it is very heavy and does not slide easily, especially if it is a corner unit and even more so if you have carpeted floors. Also, the corner sofas when moved can go out of square and I suspect MDF has its limits when bent out of position too far.

Upsides? As mentioned earlier, you can replace all the covers quite easily either when they are worn or even if you just fancy a new look. Also if you want to change the configuration at a later date you can simply order the extra parts – also useful if you do happen to damage anything. Nabru told me they have been running successfully for ten years and spares are readily available for all their products both past and present.

The video above (which is from Nabru’s YouTube channel) gives you an idea of what they are all about. There are other videos on YouTube by customers which are worth checking out too, as are the reviews which are generally very favourable.

Nabru’s website can be found here.



  1. Thank you for your post. As a new owner or a very thin 100 year old house in Zell, I was wondering if the stairs would impact any future furniture purchases. Like yours, ours came fully furnished so we do not need to rush into it however we are looking to update it to make it more appealing as a vacation property and to our tastes. What is in there is not to bad. I am keen to hear your experiences and probably should have sought out a site like yours in advance. All has gone well, but managing renos from the left side of Canada has been somewhat challenging but so far so good. I just got the photos of our new cellar doors this morning. The new kitchen is going in as soon as the electrical has been replaced. Thanks again for your post, we are keeping an eye on your blog as it is our best view of Zell until we get back for a coupe of weeks in June.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your kind words and am glad you find the blog useful. I will be posting more often now I have more time!

      Awkward stairs seem to be a Mosel thing. Our house is not narrow but the stairs were built in an era when furniture was obviously much more simple than it is now. I assume there are other sofa manufacturers around that make furniture for awkward spaces, but we did find Nabru convenient. As you probably know, most houses in the area have a beam poking out of the upper gable with which you can hoist things up through the windows, but even then often the windows are too small as was the case with our house! The bed was also problematic and we had to cut the base in half and then bolt it back together, so bear that in mind if you are buying beds for your place. Saying that, German beds seem to invariably flat pack anyway and the double beds are little more than two single beds stuck together so they should not be as much as a problem as the American or British divans with full size bases.

      Give me a shout next time you are in town – if we are around it would be great to catch up. Who are you using for your renovation works?


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