West Elm Leather Sofa Reviews – Are They Worth Buying?

When I was shopping for a new leather sofa, the West Elm name for some reason was sort of front and center in my mind. I was familiar with the company from online ads and there was a new store that had recently opened near me.  

I did visit the store and liked the look of some of their leather furniture, but didn't really know too much about the company. So, like everything else, I dug in! 

So, are West Elm's leather sofas any good?

Based on my research, I discovered that West Elm offers good quality at an affordable price point. However, there are so many poor reviews online surrounding wait times and furniture quality. The leather materials used are not of the highest grade (top-grain) and many have discovered knock off replicas on Amazon for a lower price.

I welcome anyone that has purchased a West Elm leather sofa to please leave a review in the comments section at the end of this piece. 

west-elm-logo

Summary:

Super stylish leather furniture, owned under the umbrella of Williams Sonoma. Big brick and mortar presence now, so ability to view furniture in person before you buy.  

Key  Features:

  • Very wide selection of leather sofas
  • Concerns about quality, given the negative reviews
  • No explicit warranty policy
  • Many complaints about wait times

overall 

3/5

Quality

Value

Warranty

Reviews

What's The Background Of West Elm?

West Elm is an American furniture store which started with a catalog and mostly online presence in 2002 but has in past years expanded its brick and mortar footprint significantly.  West Elm's first location opened its doors on New York City's Upper East Side in 2002 with only three employees. Today there are over 100 stores, but the company is heavily focused on an omnichannel retail approach in which customers can view pieces in store and leverage the company's virtual design services

Center passageway through Empire Stores connecting Water Street to the open-air courtyard ,where West Elm is located in NY.  Image courtesy Caroline Culler (User:Wgreaves)

Most don't realize that West Elm is owned by Williams Sonoma, which is a publicly traded company (ticker WSM) that owns the namesake Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn and West Elm brands. West Elm is the company's fastest growing segment and now accounts for roughly 25% of overall sales.  

West Elm was started in order to create "a modern aesthetic for the masses" targeting younger consumers in their 20s to 30s but over time the appeal of West Elm's furniture has certainly broadened to cover many different demographics and age groups.  

Is West Elm Legit?

West Elm is a well known online and brick & mortar furniture retailer that has been in business since 2002.  It is owned by a publicly traded company (Williams Sonoma) which also owns Pottery Barn.  The company is listed on Trust Pilot and has a score of 1.2 (out of 5 stars) on 423 Reviews.  There are over 1800 complaints with the Better Business Bureau.  

These stats had me worried.  Keep reading as I explore some of the reasons people are upset. 

Who Makes Furniture For West Elm?

I dug into the investor filings for Williams Sonoma and found that they have a multitude of suppliers, with roughly 65% of their furniture sourced from foreign vendors, predominantly in Asia and Europe. 

In addition, they do have manufacturing facilities located in North Carolina, California, Oregon and Mississippi.

One newer initiative is West Elm LOCAL, for which the retailer offers different products that are produced by local artisans. I'm not sure what the relationship is for a local seller with West Elm, but I found a few leather pieces that looked interesting. 

One was this leather pouf made by a small furniture company from Utah called Gathre

leather-pouf-west-elm


What's The Quality Of West Elm's Leather Furniture?

Since West Elm does now offer local artisan furniture, I'll focus on the furniture sold by the company itself.  

Based on my research West Elm has eighteen different 'collections' of leather sofas.

These include: Haven, Haven Loft, Hamilton, Axel, Dekalb, Dennes, Andes, Zander, Harmony and Harmony Modular, Harris, Urban, Remi Modular, Enzo, Nomad by Burrow, Drake, Brooklyn and Sloane. 

west-elm-sofa

A West Elm Haven Sectional (link)

It seems as if all the leather sofas are utilizing the same grades of leather - West Elm offers what they refer to as a 'Genuine Top Grain Leather' or Animal Friendly Vegan Leather.  

On their website, West Elm says that the hides they use "are all top–grain, which is the finest and strongest part of the hide".  In addition they state that "most of their furniture is full aniline leather, noting that only the top 5% of all hides can be made into aniline leather".  

All in all, top-grain is, generally speaking, the second best quality leather.  Top grain leather is usually thinner (due to the top grains being removed) and not quite as durable as a full grain.  See our guide to leather types for more info.  

My Visit To The West Elm Store - My Review

So, I decided to make the trek over to the West Elm store in Dedham, MA.  It's a beautiful store, the designs are on point and everyone in the store is relatively friendly.  It's not a huge showroom, so they don't have every piece of furniture online available in the store.

However, here are my thoughts (and photos) for some of the leather furniture pieces they had on display in store.  

Hamilton Leather Sofa 

Price:  $2999
Color As Shown: Burnt Sienna

hamilton-leather

I really like the style of the Hamilton sofa.  Also, I only realized when I was reading the tag that is is classified as 'contract grade', which is not a term I was familiar with. According to West Elm, this means that it was 'built to go the extra mile', and "can hold up for everyday personal use or busy commercial use".  I'm not sure what makes something contract grade at West Elm, but if someone knows please shoot me an email at tom@bestleathercouches.com

Overall the Hamilton sofa felt sturdy and the leather did seem to be of high quality and appeared durable.  

Austin Leather Armchair

Price:  $1399 (without ottoman which is an additional $549)
Color As Shown:  Sesame

austin-leather-armchair

I didn't expect this chair to be comfortable based on the looks, and when I sat on it, it did feel a bit stiff, but then when I put my neck back, the head rest support made everything come together. Meaning that it was really comfortable.   Also a contract grade chair from West Elm. 

Ryder Leather Chair

Price:  $1399 (without ottoman which is an additional $549)
Color As Shown:  Nut

ryder-leather-chair

This one didn't feel as comfortable as the Austin Chair, and it has a more old school vibe to it from a style perspective. The stitching also seemed a bit inconsistent and loose. For me personally, I'd definitely opt for the Austin. This one is made in China.

Henley Leather Chair

Price:  $2149
Color As Shown:  Burnt Sienna

henley-leather-chair

A really beautiful chair, I love the design and the wood trim added a nice touch. However, the chair felt a bit stiff and for the price, seems a bit expensive. West Elm does provide a rating for the firmness, and this one is a 4 on a scale of 5 (5 being the firmest).  It could just be that my taste is for more cushion, so I suggest trying one yourself to see if it suits your taste. 

Slope Lounge Leather Chair

Price:  $499
Color As Shown:  Nut

slope-lounge

Definitely a stylish, mid-century modern kind of look, but not really comfortable.  West Elm says it's 'built for lingering' so probably not a great chair for heavy usage. 

Axel Leather Armchair

Price:  $1499
Color As Shown:  Nut

axel-leather-armchair

Hands down the most comfortable chair I tried out at West Elm. While I really liked the Austin chair, this would be the one I'd go for if comfort is your thing.  Note, also a contract grade chair, and made in China. 

Dennes Leather Sofa

Price:  $3099
Color As Shown:  Burnt Sienna 

dennes-leather-sofa

Probably my favorite sofa at West Elm, love the mid-century design with the circular pillows. And by the way, West Elm's accent designs are so on point; if I were buying this couch, I think I'd need that blue blanket and the accent pillows. 

So, as for comfort, the couch didn't at first feel all that cushiony but then once I leaned back into the couch, the back seat cushions were really comfortable. It gets a 3 out of 5 from a firmness perspective.  

Lucas Leather Swivel Chair

Price:  $1299
Color As Shown:  Nut

lucas-chair

Stylish chair for sure, but ultimately not really all that comfortable.  This is also a contract grade chair. Probably for those that are looking for something that would make a beautiful accent chair. Maybe not as purposeful as a chair that is designed for comfort. 

I hope my reviews and in store photos help!

But what do the customers say?

What Do Customers Say About West Elm?

This is where things got sort of ugly, and a bit surprising to me - I was a bit surprised with the overall negativity towards West Elm.

To start, West Elm does not offer reviews of its products on its website, similar to say a Joybird for example, which I'm more supportive of, since any reviews on a retailers website are bound to be filtered in some way.

However, once I started to review West Elm on other review sites, this is when things went south. As I previously noted, West Elm has over 100 physical stores, so I explored different locations on Yelp. The ratings were consistently between 2 and 2.5 stars; one example in Brookline, Massachusetts.  

west-elm-brookline

The overwhelming concerns/complaints?

1. Long Waits For Furniture
2. Quality Control Issues 
3. Poor Quality

So, this really had me discouraged, so I tried to hunt down anyone that maybe had experience with one of West Elm's leather sofas. 

This YouTube user reviewed his West Elm Hamilton Leather couch.  Although he only had owned it for two months, he seemed quite happy with the purchase, noting nice quality and I must agree with him, that the middle leg support would likely help with any bowing of the couch. 

And then I went over to my other favorite source for true, unbiased reviews--Reddit.

One thing I discovered is that Amazon had replicas of many West Elm sofas through its own Rivet furniture brand.  Something, I've definitely noticed before with the other online manufacturers, so I often wonder if there are just a few overseas manufacturers that are distributing the same exact furniture to multiple retailers.

Note that a few one of the Interior Design subreddits was also littered with complaints about West Elm.  This one commenter was pretty harsh in their complaints.  

It is just about the same as Ikea if not 5% better. Just like Ikea, they are great at styling their furniture in rooms so you buy it, but when you get it the fit and finish is terrible, and it just feels and looks cheap. I've had the same issues with shipping, things taking MONTHS and never fucking shipping, calling customer support and it's just ridiculous answers. It's the same for the sister companies CB2/CB, etc. For me, if it's not in stock at the store I just don't buy from any of them.

This same sentiment was echoed in this piece from CNBC which notes the Peggy Sofa, which was an unmitigated disaster for West Elm.

peggy-sofa

What's The Warranty On West Elm's Leather Furniture?

"Eligible items can be returned for a refund of the merchandise value within 30 days of receiving an order or 7 days for Quick Ship upholstery items. An original receipt or gift receipt is required."  

That's the tagline from West Elm, but no mention anywhere of a warranty on their website. So I reached out to customer support..and I didn't really get the answer I was looking for. Here's the exchange:

Hi, do you offer warranties on your leather sofas?

We here at west elm do not offer warranties on our product but we do stand by our product.

Hmm...what exactly does that mean?

If there is an quality issue we will certainly provide a replacement or an exchange

So if something were to go wrong with the sofa in a year...or two, would you take care of it?

Depending on the issue we will offer a replacement or credit.  It will be determined on a case to case basis, through Quality Care team.  

My thoughts---this leaves West Elm with a lot of wiggle room and grey area---given the amount of complaints, I really wonder how well they live up to their word.

Will West Elm Ship Internationally?

International shipping restrictions prevent them from shipping Furniture and oversized items to some countries outside of the U.S..  Canadian customers may purchase select furniture items online and in their stores. Delivery restrictions exist.  

Canada: 1.855.860.1082

Other Countries: 1.405.717.6122

I would suggest emailing to see if there is any possibility to ship if you live outside of the US or Canada.

Email international@westelm.com

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  • They have stores in toronto and won’t ship to thunder bay. Crazy. I will not buy from them after reading this blog so thanks much for saving me the headache of ordering from this redic overpriced low quality store

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