The Surprisingly Luxe Sofa I Got at Walmart for Less Than $500

published May 22, 2019
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Credit: Dana McMahan

You know how you can just easily pick out a great looking and affordable sofa with no hassle whatsoever? Yeah, right. When I started furnishing my newest Airbnb project, a studio style apartment we renovated over the former stable behind our Victorian (aka Little Carriage House on the Alley), I knew it needed a gorgeous sofa. With the bedroom and living room all in one, the sofa had to be pretty enough that you wouldn’t mind looking at it when you’re in bed.

It also had to be able to make it up a flight of stairs and come through a doorway into a long and narrow hallway with an even more narrow doorway at the end. So, that ruled out heavy and large. It also needed to be affordable (like less than 500 bucks), and sturdy enough to survive in a short term rental that’s dog friendly. NBD.

These requirements didn’t mesh well with my dreams of a vintage velvet Chesterfield (also, we don’t have a truck, so I don’t know what I would have done if I did find one that would miraculously fit the space).

My friends were quickly growing tired of me complaining about how hard it was to find the sofa. One decided to do something about it and tell me about the futon sofa she had in her home. This just so happened to be a friend whose design sense I completely trust, since she’s a designer, and consulted with me on our kitchen renovation last year.

She shared a photo of a vintage-style, blue velvet, tufted sofa—and a surprise. The sofa was designed by husband and wife duo The Novogratz. And it was only available for sale online at Walmart.

Now, if I’m being honest, I’m Target all the way when it comes to big box retailers, so it had never occurred to me to look at Walmart. But I went straight to find the sofa, and it was perfect! Better yet, it was $471 including shipping, and the reviews were some of the best I’d seen in that price range (and I read a lot of reviews for inexpensive sofas!).

Since the price was so great, and I needed some versatility, I ordered the matching ottoman, which I figured could double as a coffee table in the small space.

Then I waited impatiently for shipping. The ottoman came quickly, but the online tracking said the sofa was delayed. There wasn’t a way to see live updates, which was a little frustrating, but one afternoon a person from the freight company called to say they’d be there the next day! I can’t think of the last time I was so excited for a delivery.

Fortunately, the delivery team was nice enough to carry the box up the stairs, because it was seriously heavy. My husband and I finished the assembly within an hour and I could have jumped for joy: it was amazing! The scale was perfect for the room, but even better, it made the exact impact I was hoping for. I wanted a whimsical, eclectic, bohemian vibe for this apartment, and it’s like the blue velvet sofa was made for the living/bedroom area.

And it was just in the nick of time. The very next day I was hosting a travel show on my hometown of Louisville, and when the film crew arrived I let them choose where we should shoot the introduction. As soon as they saw the sofa in the carriage house it was unanimous; we’d film there.

We haven’t officially launched the Airbnb yet (sofa buying is fun; installing quarter round and floor transitions is not), but we’ve given a sneak preview to a few friends and to guests of our other Airbnb, and the response is the same from everyone: they LOVE the sofa. The question is the same too: “Where did you get it?” I feel like I should whisper when I tell them the truth, because it seems like such a fun little secret. People who know me know I like to source things from thrift shops, Habitat ReStore, and antique and architectural salvage shops, so Walmart is the last place they’d expect.

But hey, when you see a winner, you see a winner. The only downfall I would say is while it seems solid, this sofa isn’t going to win any awards for the most comfortable thing ever. But what it lacks in coziness it more than makes up for in looking amazing on Instagram. Not that I bought a sofa just for it to look good on Instagram, but maybe it played a little part. And I give it a 100 on that count.