Couch Designs

The Great Debate: Are Couches With Cupholders Stylish?

Understanding the ins and outs of couch style with Rebecca Hay

Can you Style a Cupholder Couch? Understanding the Ins & Outs of Sofa Style with Rebecca Hay

At first, it may sound like a joke. Cupholders? In an interior design article? Rebecca had the same question when I first asked her about it in our interview. What if I told you that roughly 30% of all couches sold in America had recliners in them, many of them with cupholders... now are you listening?

Couches with cupholders are generally looked down upon in the design community. After all, most designers are known for building beautiful magazine-worthy rooms for their clients, most of which do not include a sectional sofa with cupholders, seat warmers and usb chargers in every armrest. And yet, many of us seek these delightfully functional couches for our own mancaves and family rooms alike- so, why not make them look as magazine-worthy as they possibly can be?

In my exclusive interview with esteemed interior designer, Rebecca Hay, of Rebecca Hay Designs and host of the popular interior design podcast, Resilient by Design, we pondered this question and discussed the merits and potential challenges of owning (and designing for) a couch with cupholders. Great for holding a beer for the big game, surely, but great for holding together a great design? Rebecca wasn't too sure. Here are some highlights from our conversation depicted in the video above:

Exploring Couch Choices

Rebecca discusses the key considerations for selecting the right couch, emphasizing the importance of both form and function. Whether you're contemplating hiring an interior designer or just seeking expert advice before making a purchase, Rebecca’s guidance is invaluable. She breaks down the process of identifying what type of couch best suits your lifestyle and home.

Understanding Couch Types

One common challenge for customers is distinguishing between different types of couches. Rebecca advises starting with broad categories: the cozy movie-watching couch versus the stylish cocktail-perching couch. She explains the significance of understanding different shapes, such as skinny tapered arms versus rolled arms, and how these details impact the overall look and functionality of the couch.

Function-First Design Philosophy

We dive into the importance of function-first design. While aesthetics are crucial, a beautiful couch must also serve your needs. Rebecca shares her insights on considering the couch's purpose, whether it's for maximizing seating, accommodating family activities, or fitting your personal lifestyle. She emphasizes that a couch should not only look great but also work well for your daily life.

Balancing Style and Practicality

Rebecca highlights the balance between aesthetic appeal and functionality. She often helps clients find a middle ground, steering them towards choices that not only look great but also are practical for their needs. It's about asking the right questions and prioritizing practical needs without compromising on style. This balanced approach ensures a couch that is both stylish and functional.

Rebecca Hay Interview: Transcript of our Discussion on How to Understand Couch Style Like a Design Expert

Alex: Have you or would you ever place a couch in a design installation in a client’s home that had a cup holder?

Rebecca: Ummmmm...

Alex: Hey everyone, it’s Alex with and I’m here with my new friend Rebecca Hay from Rebecca Hay Designs. She is the founder and chief Rebecca officer. Love it! I just came up with a new title. And also a popular podcast host of Resilient by Design. I was a guest recently, and thank you so much again for having me there. Amazing lady, gentlemen, Rebecca Hay! Here she is, woohoo!

Rebecca: Thank you, thank you so much for having me, Alex.

Alex: My pleasure. You have agreed to come to and tell our users about certain things that they may be curious about, that they may want to hire an interior designer to discuss, but maybe they should just think about these things first prior to doing that or prior to going couch shopping.

Alex: So, one of the questions I think we get all the time is, and here’s a yes or no question for you. You mentioned sitting down on the couch and watching a game with a beer. Have you or would you ever place a couch in a design installation in a client’s home that had a cup holder?

Rebecca: I have not done it. Would I? Is this a trick question? I’m going to say—what’s the right answer? I’m going to say no. That’s just a personal choice.

Alex: A lot of interior designers are placing reclining couches with cup holders in a lot of homes, which is interesting, right? Because it does serve some purpose, doesn’t it? Like from a design perspective, or do you feel like it’s an absolute no-no if you’re concerned with design?

Rebecca: I mean, I don’t love the look of it from an aesthetic standpoint. Take that or leave it, take it with a grain of salt. But what I would also say is think about functionality again. Sure, it functions—you can put your glass or your beer in it—but who’s going to clean it? How can you clean it? Is it removable? What happens when that beer explodes and it goes all over? Like, these are the things that I’m always thinking about. Maybe it’s because I’m a parent and I have two young children, but functionality when it comes to cleaning, that to me would be a no-no. So I would say no.

Alex: Yeah, kids are gross, and I know too from personal experience. So yeah, totally. Maybe you’ve got to think twice about certain elements that you would not have originally. That’s a great point.

Alex: Rebecca, thank you so much for being with us and sharing your insight. This is incredibly valuable, and I genuinely appreciate it.

Rebecca: Thank you for having me.

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Alex Back is the founder and CEO of Previously, he was the co-founder and COO of the popular furniture brand, Apt2B, which was acquired by a large US retail furniture chain in 2018. He worked to integrate Apt2B, one of the very first online furniture retailers on the Shopify platform, into the operations of the 100 year old larger business entity and was deeply immersed in the business operations of both online and brick and mortar retail for 4 years before leaving in 2023 to start Working in various parts of the furniture industry since 2004, he has 20 years experience in retail sales, e-commerce, marketing, operations, logistics and wholesale manufacturing and distribution. He has worked extensively with partners such as Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon and his work has been highlighted in many publications such as Forbes, CNN and HGTV, among others. Alex is delighted to bring his experience and authority on couches and the furniture industry to this platform, along with many of his industry colleagues who are helping him keep the audience informed and engaged on a daily basis.
Alex Back CEO & Founder