With approximately 150 years of experience between them, furniture companies Ethan Allen and Sherrill Furniture manufacture high-end, investment-quality upholstery. They sell numerous frames you can customize with your choice of fabric or leather. Though both are primarily known for "grown-up" furniture in classic styles, they also offer a range of contemporary and transitional styles. All pricing, cover, model and option information is current as of 2013.
Ethan Allen Bennett Sofa
Kiln-dried, seven-ply, engineered wood frame Reinforced mortise-and-tenon joints Sinuous spring back Tempered, heavy-gauge, drop-in coil-spring units in seat High-resiliency, soft-foam topped foam-core cushions with polyester fiber wrap Loose seat and back cushions, three each Available in 86- and 94-inch widths 37 inches high and 37 inches deep
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Sherrill 3131-3 Sofa
Kiln-dried hardwood frame Double-doweled joints with glued-and-screwed corner blocks Sinuous spring back Eight-way hand-tied springs in seating deck High-density urethane cushion core wrapped in two-ounce polyester fiber Three loose seat cushions, three semi-attached back cushions 84 inches wide, 37 inches high and 38 inches deep
Ethan Allen Kendall Sofa
Kiln-dried, seven-ply, engineered wood frame Reinforced mortise-and-tenon joints Sinuous spring back Tempered, heavy-gauge, drop-in coil-spring units in seat High-resiliency, soft-foam topped foam-core cushions with polyester fiber wrap Three loose seat cushions, tight back 89 inches wide, 35 inches high and 37 inches deep
Kiln-dried hardwood frame Double-doweled joints with glued-and-screwed corner blocks Sinuous spring back Eight-way hand-tied springs in seating deck High-density urethane cushion core wrapped in two-ounce polyester fiber Loose seat and back cushions, three each 100 inches wide, 34 inches high and 42 inches deep
What the Products Do
Ethan Allen's Bennett and Sherrill's 3131-3 are both Lawson sofas, with low rolled arms and moderately low backs. The classic lines adapt to nearly any interior decorating style -- from casual contemporary to formal traditional -- as long as you choose a style-appropriate cover fabric. Ethan Allen's Kendall and Sherrill's DC48, which both feature low, sleek lines and squared track arms, are better suited for contemporary interiors.
Both companies offer sturdy, durable sofa frames. Though hardwood frames are often considered superior to engineered wood products, Ethan Allen laminates and kiln dries its engineered wood panels, which makes them closer in quality to hardwood than the engineered products offered by lower-end manufacturers. Though both companies use helical coils in their seating decks, Sherrill's eight-way hand-tied springs are superior to Ethan Allen's drop-in spring units. Eight-way hand-tied springs provide more movement in more directions, which means more comfort and support for people of all weights. An upholsterer can also retie Sherrill's springs if necessary. With drop-in springs, you have to replace the entire unit.
How Do the Products Differ?
Ethan Allen's version of the Lawson sofa, the Bennett, comes in both 86- and 94-inch widths, which makes it suitable for different room sizes and floor plans. Sherrill's 3131-3 is only available in an 84-inch width. You can rotate the Bennett's loose back cushions for even wear, but the semi-attached back cushions of the 3131-3 stay tidier without fluffing.
At 89 inches wide, Ethan Allen's Kendall works with a wider variety of room sizes, but Sherrill's 100-inch-wide DC48 is roomier if you need to seat three people. The Kendall has a 21-inch seat height, which makes the sofa comfortable for adults of average to tall heights. The DC48's lower 19-inch seat height looks sleek, but tall adults may find the seat uncomfortably low. The DC48's loose back cushions feel softer than the Kendall's tight back, but the tight back provides a cleaner overall look.
Both Ethan Allen and Sherrill let you choose from more than 1,000 fabric covers and more than a dozen finishes for exposed sofa legs. Both companies allow you to customize your sofa further with contrasting welt or throw pillows, upgraded cushion cores, finish options for exposed wood, skirt styles and in-seam or applied fringe or braid. Sherrill Furniture lets you add nail-head trim in your choice of finish, size and spacing. You can also have decorative tape made from any of Sherrill's fabrics and applied to pillows, cushions or along the sofa's bottom hem.
With both Ethan Allen and Sherrill, sofa pricing depends on the frame, cover and options you choose. Each frame has a starting price based on the lowest fabric grade and standard features. The prices increase if you choose higher fabric grades or design options that add to the cost.
Sherrill Furniture's starting price point is typically higher than Ethan Allen's, even on similar sofa styles. For example, Ethan Allen's Bennett sofa starts at $1,499. The starting price on Sherrill's version, the 3131-3, is $1,929. Sherrill Furniture's DC48 starts at $2,429. The similar Kendall sofa by Ethan Allen starts at $1,799.
You can only buy a new Ethan Allen sofa through the company's website or from an Ethan Allen store. Sherrill Furniture sells upholstery through many retailers, most of which also sell furniture from other manufacturers.
Ethan Allen rarely sells sofas from the showroom floor, even if the floor model has the exact fabric and features you want. The wait time on custom orders ranges from nine to 12 weeks. Individual Sherrill dealers may sell sofas off of the showroom floor. If you place a custom order, expect to wait six to eight weeks.
Who Is It Best For?
Ethan Allen's sofas are a good choice for people who want good quality and some customization without paying top dollar. Sherrill Furniture sofas are a better choice for design-oriented people willing to pay for the highest quality and the ability to specify nearly every detail.