3 rules to break when buying and styling a sofa


The rule: A lot of people buy the biggest sofa that will physically fit into their space.

Break it: “I always prefer to buy something a bit smaller that can be moved around to different areas, so that I can change the room around for the seasons or for entertaining,” says Heather.

The rule: Buying an occasional chair that perfectly matches the sofa is a pretty safe choice.

Break it: “I like to mix up the décor and have a chair that is quite different in style, but in a colour that complements the sofa.”

The rule: “Quite often I see sofas that have been placed to face the TV, therefore the light isn’t great for reading and other couch activities.”

Break it: Buy a lovely floor lamp that can be moved around as you need it, says Heather.


  • Add a group of two or three side tables; you can pull one away to use closer to the sofa to place a drink on it.
  • If your sofa is placed against a wall, make it the central feature within a grouping of art.
  • If you don’t have the room for both a footstool and a coffee table, buy a larger footstool or ottoman that can do double duty.


When it comes to an investment furniture piece like a sofa, we can pay too much attention to function rather than styling. Yet the sofa is the ultimate statement maker in the lounge room, not just for its sheer physicality but for the many moods it can encompass as decor trends evolve.

We asked homes stylist Heather Nette King and photographer Mike Baker to create three distinctive looks for the sleek and luxurious Arthur G. Conrad three-seater leather sofa.

“It’s classic and simple, with straight timber legs,” Heather says. “The low back has a contemporary feel, but it’s versatile enough to work in traditional as well as modern settings.”

When styling each look, Heather says she started out with the rug and the artworks. “These are often the hardest pieces of the puzzle. Then I’ll select a paint colour for the walls and build up the room, adding the larger furniture pieces, then finally the soft furnishings and accessories.”


TWR 22 Mar Home Pimp My Sofa MT Moody Luxe

This look is all about the dark palette, so ditch your wariness about working with a dark wall. “A lot of people think that dark walls will enclose the space, but it has the opposite effect,” Heather says. “Black around the window will make greens outside seem more vivid, ceilings can appear higher, and the room bigger.”

For this look, Heather set the sofa against a dark grey wall with a matte finish, then brought in lush textures such as velvet and leather cushions, a luscious rug and a marble-top coffee table, with a big bunch of native blooms and foliage for dramatic impact. “Nothing says luxury like marble,” she says.

A Dion Horstmans black sculpture against the dark wall adds another dimension to the space.

“Lighting is critical,” Heather says. “Rather than using overhead [lights], task lighting via lamps helps create a more ambient environment.”

  • GRASSHOPPA FLOOR LAMP \ by Gubi, in Anthracite, $1199, from Surrounding.
  • ON SOFA \ Black velvet cushion by Missoni, $530, from top 3. Velvet cushion in copper, $220, from Arthur G. Black leather cushion by Atym, $235, from top 3.
  • WOODROW MARBLE COFFEE TABLE \ $1200, from Fenton & Fenton. Malmo grey glass vase, $44.95; and black vessel, $35, both from Norsu. Shrine bookend stand, $240, from top 3.
  • ON WALL \ Wash & Wear Matt in Dulux ‘Black Caviar’, $44.95 per litre. Galactic Mapping 3, sculpture by Dion Horstmans, $5000, from Flinders Lane Gallery.
  • ON FLOOR \ Regal Oak (wide) flooring, $135sqm (installation extra), from Godfrey Hirst. New Heriz Nepalese rug, $7400, from Loom Rugs.
  • ON WALL \ Wash & Wear Matt in Dulux ‘Black Caviar’, $44.95 per litre. Galactic Mapping 3, sculpture by Dion Horstmans, $5000, from Flinders Lane Gallery.
  • ON FLOOR \ Leather hold-all by Mr Jason Grant, $229, from top 3.


TWR 22 Mar Home Pimp My Sofa MT Earthy Botanicals

“We’ve moved past the jungle look with indoor plants and they’re now being incorporated in a more sophisticated way,” Heather says. Key to this look are earthy tones such as brown and rust, handmade ceramics and accessories in soft blush pinks to add warmth, and texture that works well across all seasons.

“Pay attention to texture,” Heather says. “Try to mix up the materials you choose and incorporate as many as possible – velvets, linens, felts, etc.”

She also recommends varying plant selections to keep the look interesting, and adding metallic touches for an elegant feel.

  • ON SOFA \ Painted Hydrangea linen cushion, $200, from Bonnie and Neil. Confetti cushions in teal, $49 (small) and $69 (large), from Open Room. Round cushion in blush, $85, from Norsu. Big Major cushion in forest green, $165, from Bonnie and Neil.
  • ON WALL \ Wash & Wear Matt in Dulux ‘How Now’, $44.95 per litre. Roses paper print in buff, rust and gold foil, $300 (unframed), from Bonnie and Neil. Wall hanging by Honey Honey Creations, $89, from Norsu.
  • SHELF \ Plant shelf with porcelain pot, $440, from Ivy Muse. Burnt Umber ceramic vessels by Ruth Bruten, $45 (small), $50 (medium), $55 (large), all from Open Room. Brass and ceramic Nest pot, $170, from Ivy Muse. Philomena portrait by Sandra Eterovic, $680, from Open Room.
  • ON FLOOR \ Regal Oak (wide) flooring, $135sqm (installation extra), from Godfrey Hirst. Vintage Anatolian Kars rug, $3400, from Loom Rugs.
  • ON RUG \ Velvet cushion in bottle green, $180; and piped pink cushion, $190, from Arthur G. Pushpin Cork side table by Kenyon Yeh, $476, from Open Room. Brass plant mister, $50, from Ivy Muse. Plants, stylist’s own.


TWR 22 Mar Home Pimp My Sofa MT Pop Art

Bright and graphic, this is a brave and eclectic approach to decorating that mixes decor styles, eras and colours with
confidence, Heather says. “The leather sofa provides the anchor or base from which colour can be added.”

Here she mixes modern pieces such as the Patricia Urquiola rug with vintage lighting and accessories, including the striking Galerie Maeght original vintage poster.

“Remember that contemporary decorating schemes work brilliantly in older, traditional-style buildings. Conversely, stately, traditional furniture can look incredible set against modern architecture.”

  • FROM LEFT \ Vintage red plastic stool, $22, from Waverley Antique Bazaar. On stool \ Stand For sculpture by Peter D. Cole, $6000, from Franque. \ 1950s Magazine stand, $325, from Grandfather’s Axe.
  • ON SOFA \ Tumbling Blocks orange cushion, $155, from Bonnie and Neil. Steps cushion $89, from Modern Times.
  • 1950s DUTCH NESTING TABLES \ by Pilastro, $1490, from
    Modern Times. Limited edition candlestick by Peter D. Cole, $2500, from Franque.
  • VISIONI RUG \ by Patricia Urquiola for CC Tapis, $8800, from Loom.
  • ON WALL \ Quad 30-mm Tasmanian Oak wall panelling, $23 per metre, from Porta. Painted with Wash & Wear Matt in Dulux ‘Vivid White’, $44.95 per litre. Galerie Maeght original poster, $1600, from Vintage Posters Only.
  • TOPAN BY VERNER PANTON LIGHTS \ $390 (pair), from Grandfather’s Axe.


Conrad three-seater sofa in Tapa, $5750, from Arthur G.



Stylist \ Heather Nette King

Photographer \ Mike Baker

  • @mikebakerphotographer



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