When I was first shopping for a new leather sofa (and totally clueless) one of the first brands that came to mind was Crate & Barrel.
I guess we are all brainwashed at some point to believe that some brands are better than others. Yet, the price point for their furniture was the first immediate turn off.
I wanted to revisit my initial reaction to see if Crate & Barrel's leather furniture is any good.
From a price perspective, Crate & Barrel would appear to be of very high quality. An average three seat leather sofa from Crate & Barrel retails for up to $4500.
Yet, after researching Crate & Barrel's manufacturing process and sourcing methods, I believe consumers would be best to spend that money elsewhere.
Let's dive into the details of some of Crate & Barrel's leather furniture.
Stylish leather furniture that fits with most modern living room décor. A bonus is that most consumers have a local Crate & Barrel store nearby to test the furniture. Concerns about the quality of their leather furniture especially imported sofas from China. Mixed reviews and most customers would be better suited with more affordable, more durable alternatives.
What's The Background Of Crate And Barrel?
Crate and Barrel is one of the leading home furnishing stores in the United States.
They employ over 7500 workers across both the Crate & Barrel and CB2 furniture brands.
But did you know that it all started with a simple idea?
In 1962, Gordon and Carole Segal (only 23 years old at the time) were honeymooning in the Caribbean.
They became enamored with the high quality and affordable furnishings.
The Segals were not happy with their careers and dreamt about starting a business that allowed for more freedom and creativity.
It wasn't long after that they came up with the concept for Crate and Barrel.
Today, Crate & Barrel has 89 stores and 8 outlet stores across the United States and Canada.
Is Crate & Barrel Legit?
Thus, Crate & Barrel is most certainly a legitimate company. However, a check over at Trust Pilot shows that consumers haven't put much faith in the company.
The majority of consumer complaints for Crate & Barrel are surrounding customer service issues.
Where are Crate and Barrel Sofas made?
Crate & Barrel works with other furniture manufacturers and does not make its own furniture.
Some of its furniture is made by companies in the United States, but note that Crate & Barrel does imports a lot of sofas from China.
Crate & Barrel offers what they term 'Exclusive' furniture pieces.
These are items designed by Crate & Barrel and only available at their stores.
Any furniture piece not deemed 'Exclusive' is an item resold by Crate & Barrel. This means that the vendor they purchase from works with other retailers.
Thus, a Non-Exclusive furniture piece can likely be purchased from another furniture retailer, such as West Elm, Pottery Barn or Article as an example.
If examining any sofa at Crate & Barrel be sure to closely examine the details to see where the sofa was manufactured.
Crate & Barrel's Lounge and Gather sofas are made in the US, likely made by Lee or McCreary Industries.
Otherwise, it's a high likelihood that the sofa is made in China.
For example, this Wells Leather sofa, which is an 'Exclusive' item is manufactured in Hong Kong. So designed by Crate & Barrel, but sourced and made in China.
Does Crate & Barrel Manufacture Its Own Furniture?
Crate & Barrel does not manufacture its own furniture. They are solely an online furniture retailer and not a manufacturer.
Based on my research, I learned that Crate & Barrel purchases furniture from Lee Furniture and McCreary Modern in North Carolina.
Note that McCreary Modern also makes furniture for Room & Board, Ballard, Arhaus, and some other stores.
Crate & Barrel's Lounge and Gather sofas are made in the USA and I do believe they are manufactured by either Lee or McCreary Modern.
Crate & Barrel also has a team of designers that create 'Exclusives' for Crate & Barrel.
However, be sure to check where the sofa is made if you are looking for a USA built sofa.
Many of Crate & Barrel's other leather couches for sale are made in China.
Is Crate & Barrel A Good Choice For A Small Sofa?
Many apartment dwellers choice Crate & Barrel for the percieved style, yet need to find a small couch to fit into their living area. Thankfully, Crate & Barrel offers a solid selection of furniture for small spaces. A wide variety of loveseats and apartment sofas are available.
The Crate & Barrel Gather Leather Lovseat is a popular brown leather couch designed for small living areas. There are three different width options, starting at 76 inches, which retails at $3999, surprising only $100 less than the 88 inch width option.
The Gather has a solid wood frame, and is upholstered in buttery Italian-made leather. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with many customers calling it 'soft', 'comfortable' and 'stunning'. Even those with dogs have called it 'pet friendly'.
What's The Quality Of Crate & Barrel's Leather Furniture?
Based on their website listings, and using this super sharp Gather cognac leather sofa as an example, Crate & Barrel uses 'top-grain, aniline-dyed Italian leather'.
Thus, again, this is a sofa manufactured by McCreary Modern, which is generally a well respected USA furniture manufacturer.
Ultimately, the quality and construction of Crate & Barrel's furniture is good, but not the best.
Remember, when you buy a couch from Crate & Barrel, you are paying up for the brand name and the overhead necessary for the company to earn a profit.
Don't get me wrong, the Crate & Barrel furniture is very stylish (they have people that work on that).
But it's quite possible there are similar couches (made by McCreary) that can be found for a similar price or less.
Case in point.
Here's a couch from Arhaus (Taylor sofa) which has a very similar appearance to the Crate & Barrel 'Gather' sofa.
Both are around the same price, $3800+ for the Crate & Barrel sofa and $3500 for the Arhaus sofa.
Arhaus and C&B are likely paying a similar price for each large sofa. Both also need to compensate for store overhead and employees in the stores.
Thus, there is a significant markup on these couches in order for these retailers to make a profit.
Are Crate And Barrel Couches Made In China Sofas Any Good?
As noted before, Crate & Barrel does import many of its leather sofas from China. Some are designed by Crate & Barrel (an Exclusive) and some are not.
Let's revisit the Wells Leather Sofa for a moment. This one is made in Hong Kong.
If looking to buy a leather sofa, you need to be able to distinguish between high-quality sofas made with high standards of craftsmanship and those made of junk.
In reading through the description of the Wells Sofa, I have some major concerns.
First, the leather is from China, which is not a deal breaker.
But, I will note that most of the lowest quality leathers come from China (although most online stores are also sourcing Chinese leather).
Second, the frame is built using engineered hardwoods and not solid wood.
Plywood is used for many frames today and is a decent solution. Although, technically plywood is an "engineered wood".
But, I can't imagine that Crate & Barrel would say engineered wood instead of plywood. So, it's likely an inferior particleboard or masonite type product.
The suspension is sinuous wire, which is common and not a terrible solution, but not the best suspension system out there.
Another important factor in identifying a high-quality couch is the density of the foam in the sofa cushions.
The website is vague, but likely using a standard 1.8 density foam, which could lose shape sooner rather than later.
Seat cushions are high-resiliency foam with down-fiber mix wrapped in downproof ticking. Back cushions are polyester fiber.
Overall, you get what you pay for, and sometimes, even a $3100 sofa can be a bad investment.
Not here to bash Crate And Barrel couches, but I would have some reservations on this one. Please, if you have a Wells sofa, please let me know in the comments section at the end of this piece.
Crate And Barrel Leather Sofa Reviews: What Do Customers Say?
I took a look at the Crate And Barrel leather sofa reviews on their website.
Using the Crate & Barrel 'Gather' sofa as an example, reviews are generally positive with 4.7 stars (out of 5). While some of the comments are concerning such as this one:
"Very comfortable, but looks worn out in 3mo"
The positives seem to outweigh the negatives. An example:
"Extremely comfortable and stylish"
"Cozy and spacious"
"Multipurpose, attractive piece of furniture"
"Modern lines and perfect deep seats."
Note this is still a relatively newer couch so I would like to see what customers think, say 5 or even 10 years from now.
But, if you are a regular reader here, you might know that I put zero reliance on a company's own website reviews. They are highly controlled and rarely ever show bad reviews.
This is a dated piece, and my hopes are that maybe Crate & Barrel cleaned up some of their shoddy quality issues, but this is still a concerning expose.
The author had carpenters examine furniture from Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel.
A Crate & Barrel wood-framed bed was advertised as 'handcrafted in Italy of European hardwood'.
Yet, when ripped apart, it was stuffed full of particleboard and shoddy craftsmanship.
Instead of craftsmanship, their real strength may be their knack for creating pricey looks using not so-pricey materials and techniques.
What Sort Of Warranty Does Crate & Barrel Offer On Sofas?
Since they aren't making the furniture, Crate & Barrel's warranty is a bit unclear. It is dependent on whoever makes any specific leather sofa.
While there may be a warranty with the manufacturer, Crate & Barrel offers only a 30 day return policy.
Based on my discussions with reps at a nearby Crate & Barrel store, they do note they will extend services past 30 days if there are any issues.
Is Crate & Barrel Worth The Money?
Many new furniture shoppers visiting their local Crate And Barrel store might be immediately turned off by the price.
But, hopefully you've done your sofa research! As I've discussed before, a high quality leather sofa should typically run between $3,000 to $4,000.
And, well the average Crate & Barrel standard sized leather sofa runs for between $3000 to $4500.
Thus, it might seem that Crate & Barrel would be the perfect balance between the right price and high quality. Right?
Unfortunately, it's not always true.
Crate & Barrel must meet the obligations of its high overhead brick and mortar retail locations. Thus, they need high margins on its sofas to pay off store employees and rents, heat, etc.
I have a friend that recently purchased a (non-leather) sofa from Crate & Barrel. After less than two years, the sofa is sagging.
So, while I think for some consumers, looking for that stylish piece for their new apartment or home, Crate & Barrel MIGHT be a good option.
But, my advice is to analyze the details of the sofa materials and construction. Reference our guides here to help determine what makes a sofa high quality.
Pay attention to the sofa frame, the materials used, the sofa cushions, the foam density, the suspension system, and the leather type.
Now, I need your help! Do you own a Crate & Barrel leather sofa?
Please feel free to leave any comments below or email me any information or pictures at email@example.com