Sofas for Difficult Spaces

A couple of years ago, we had a bit of a disaster when we moved into our house and our advice may 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 utility space (or for 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 (among other things) would not go up…!

They say moving to a new house is one of the most stressful times of your life. It is ten times worse when half your furniture will not fit in your new place. Our thoughts went from joy to despair as we trawled through one furniture store after another trying to find a nice sofa that would fit. It seemed as if futons or IKEA were our only options, neither of which we favoured.

Out of desperation, we scoured the web for flat pack sofas, even though we were not sure if such things exist. Bingo! Google suggested Nabru, a company near London who manufacture customisable sofas guaranteed to fit into any room. They even claimed their products can go up spiral staircases. Sounded perfect. Better still, their website said they could deliver to many overseas locations.

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

The sofas are clever, being an MDF (medium density fibre-board) frame which simply slots together. The cushions – which have MDF bases to them – then sit on this frame. Imagine a giant version of those cardboard dinosaur skeletons you can buy for kids and you are on the right track!

 

 

We took the plunge and ordered a corner sofa with a foldaway bed in it. I cannot recall the exact price but just under £1,000 which is remarkable value for such a large, basically custom-made unit. Even now, the prices on Nabru’s website still seem to be very competitive. As the sofas are modular, you can specify the type of arm, feet, cushion softness, configuration, fabric, piping, and so on. The delivery cost to Germany was very reasonable – only around £130 back then, and according to the Nabru website that has gone up to between £150-180 which is still very good.

I recall the first sofa I ever bought in Germany took eleven weeks to arrive despite the fact it was a cheap, bog standard one. So, imagine our surprise when Nabru said ours will arrive seven days after ordering it. In fact, it actually arrived on the morning of the sixth day after ordering it.

It arrived on a single pallet as a pile of MDF pieces, lumps of foam and bags of fabric all wrapped in plastic. Unlike IKEA stuff, many components had descriptions stamped on them which really helped when checking the parts list and of course during assembly. Putting the bones of it together was straightforward as all the pieces just slotted together. Fitting the base covers was more challenging as you need to pull them tight, but the bed mechanism left little space for my chubby hands to do up the Velcro fastenings. Oh, and don’t get alarmed at the use of Velcro – it means you can easily readjust it if necessary and it does hold very strongly indeed. Best of all, 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 was putting the bases into seat cushions. This is where Nabru sofas differ from traditional ones which do not have such bases within the cushions. We were concerned that they would be uncomfortable, but in reality, sitting or lying on them is a treat. You actually get the choice of firm or 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 opted for the soft ones. Putting in the chipboard and webbing bases was really tricky. They are a deliberately tight fit and the chipboard tended to grab the foam and material of the cushion. Nabru advised putting the bases into a plastic bag before sliding them into the cushion which did make it easier, although pulling the bag out afterwards was a challenge.

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

Downsides? Well, you 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 or if it sits on 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 easily when they become 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 for over ten years and spares are available for all their products both past and present which is reassuring.

 

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.

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