Sectional Like This on a Budget?

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Q: Please help! We've just moved to a new apartment and I desperately want to replace our tired, bulky, and peeling cheap leather couches with a nice modern sectional to accommodate our love for lounging. But finding a stylish, comfy and practical couch on a budget is proving to be a real challenge.
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What I really love is the idea of a sleek, low-slung, modular sectional like this one, especially how it can be rearranged into a lounger for two.

The problem is, on our budget, we can only afford something like this in fabric if looking at reputable stores. But we have a not-quite-potty-trained two year old, and another one in the plans in the next few years, and for that reason I'm really leaning towards leather upholstery. I've seen leather sectionals at that price point from online stores such as www.lafurniture.com, but I'm dubious about their comfort and quality - all these stores seem to be using the same stock photos and not providing any info about the brand or make of the product, and I'm wary of ordering such a big-ticket item without seeing it in person. I'm debating going with a darker shade of fabric that won't show stains as much, but am terrified of the smells of various toddler bodily emissions permanently seeping in.

So I'm looking for help and advice! Does anyone know where I could find a modern, clean-lined leather sectional semi-similar in style to the one pictured that won't cost upwards of $4K? I should say I'm not a fan of traditional or vintage style, tufting, or spindly legs, and I'd prefer it to sit very low to the floor. On the other end of the spectrum, am I right in thinking a fabric couch with a toddler and two goofy adults who like to eat on the couch is a bad idea? Or are there ways to make it work - I've heard of fabric sealants or stain protectors, but not sure how effective those are. And from yet another angle, has anyone bought big-ticket furniture from one of these mass online retailers, and am I correct to think that a $2K leather sectional sounds a bit too good to be true, and you'd get what you pay for? I'd really appreciate any advice! Oh, and I'm kinda iffy about getting a used upholstered piece with a young child, so I'd prefer to go new rather than Craigslist.

Sent by Kate

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and son in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.

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