The Key Arm Sofa

Sherrill Key Arm Sofa, 2126

The Key Arm Sofa

I confess that I am always curious about the origin of the things.

Yes, I have gotten past the chicken or the egg question (It’s the egg, of course), but other questions go unanswered. Why is the sky blue, the grass green? Why is sand on the beach so small? Why are all babies cute? Why does it rain on weekends?

I can’t answer those questions, but I can tackle the mystery of the Greek Key sofa.

A close cousin and derivative of the Rolled Arm sofa. Blockier, yes, more Geometric, a shape that gives pause. Euclid would have this sofa in his home, but he would call it a couch.

Modern design theory points us to Art Deco, an architectural and decortative arts style that appeared in France before World War I. Art Deco was in turn influenced by Cubism Movement in Art. Painters like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque broke their subjects up into compartments and reassembled them into a unified whole. Indeed, in the Key Arm sofa, the back, the seat, the arms, and the legs are visually separated, but the sofa exists as a complete unit.

But the Greek Key is an ancient pattern.

It is a pattern that when repeated mimics the wandering (one should insert “meandering”) Maeander River of Asia Minor that flows into the Aegean Sea with its many twists and turns. (This raises the question of why rivers meander, but that question is better answered elsewhere.) The essence of the Greek key design is an interlocking rectangular pattern constructed from one continuous line. The ancient Greeks of Achilles day and on often featured it in architectural friezes and pottery vases. The Romans copied the Greek design, and by the 18th century, all of Europe adopted it into their design vocabulary. The individual “key” adds an aura of mystery, the key being associated with a lock, and a lock with a puzzle. Thus, the key opens up a lock, revealing an answer to a puzzle.

One of the benefits of Greek Key is that it adds architectural interest to a room. A room is for the most part consists of lines and right angles. Floors and ceilings, windows and doors, are rectangles. The Greek Key sofa throws a twist into this regularity, offering a puzzle that even Euclid might ponder. The nail head trim featured on the Sherrill 2126 sofa accents this twist.

A look that is sophisticated and modern, if not intriguing.

Available at Traditions Home in Wichita and Overland Park.

a thing of beauty

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
John Keats, 1818

That goes for the stylishly and strangely contemporary Tuxedo sofa that has been around since the start of the 19th century.


The Tuxedo sofa traces its beginning to the tony village of Tuxedo Park in Ramapo mountains just north of New York City. New York, the same place that created the formal suit. Credit for the suit is given to wealthy tobacco manufacturer Pierre J. Lorillard IV, who swapped a summer estate at Newport called “The Breakers” for a luxury estate of 13,000 acres around Tuxedo Lake. Lorillard would combine with William Waldorf Astor and other wealthy friends into building a get-away 40 miles from New York City and hired architect Bruce Price to design the clubhouse. Notable residents of the fashionable Tuxedo Park included banker J.P. Morgan, railroader John Insley Blair, and writer Mark Twain. Later residents who graced the grounds included Emily Post, the grand dame of good manners, and colorful interior designer Dorothy Draper.

Simple and clean

Who deserves credit for designing a sofa where the arms are the same height as the back is lost to pages of history. The style is modern, the lines geometrically simple and clean. There is some similarity in the Big City architecture of Bruce Price whose buildings combined classical Greek forms with modern construction techniques. But there is no evidence that Price was a designer of furniture.

The style reminds us of the more opulent Chesterfield sofa, but the Chesterfield is grander in scale. The Tuxedo is more in line with the distinctively American designs of Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright, or with Scottish designer Charles Rene Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald. But all these designers prominently featured the wood frame.

Modern Times

No, I think that we will have to accept he idea that the Tuxedo sofa sprung fully formed like Athena from Zeus.

A scaled back sofa, straight and slim, one that suited “modern” times. Following the lead of the flappers of the 20s, a new generation of liberated women who wore short skirts, sported short hair, listened to jazz, and redefined what was considered acceptable behavior.

Strangely Contemporary

The Tuxedo sofa continues today as a fashion statement. It may be eclectically casual as this sofa by Rowe Furniture. Like the suit, sported at Hollywood by the likes of George Clooney and Bradley Cooper.

Or to the manor born, like debonair Daniel Craig, as this Tuxedo sofa designed by Stickley Furniture. Either way, the Tuxedo, sofa or suit, is a great conversation piece, and at home a great way to celebrate the joy of family and friends.

A joy forever

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” is the opening line from John Keats poem Endymion which goes like this:

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

And there I will rest.

Sofa Trends

What’s new in sofas, what looks good? Is it long or short? Is it rounded and curved? Or straight and tight? Is it blue or green, is it white? A button down, tuxedo, tufted, Fred Astaire fashionable and elegant, are we “Putting on the Ritz”? Please, make it velvety and soft?

What will you do for your favorite lounging spot?

Traditions Home is your best resource in Kansas for sofas in all shapes and sizes, with stripes or spots, long or short. Locations in Wichita and Overland Park, since 1984.

Boden Sofa

Boden is a German word meaning ground. Bodensee refers to three bodies of water and one beautiful lake at the upper reach of the Rhine River between Germany and Switzerland. Rowe Furniture’s Boden sofa is a contemporary mix of modern, mid-century, and traditional that is customizable with your choice of fabric and wood finish, configured as a sofa or sectional, skirted or open.

It is wonderful in white, but you can get it in hundreds of fabrics and shades of white.

Feeling blue because winter is near, we can help.

Dreaming of a sail boat on the Bodensee is easy on the Boden sofa at Traditions Home.


Whatever happened to Eclecticism? That style stuck somewhere before Minimalism and Modernism, after Classicism.

Eclecticism – I know it when I see it.

The style for those who like a lot. Eclectics must be among the most interesting people in the world, fluttering about like butterflies from flower to flower, exploring the beauty of the world. Eclectics are the Magpies and Bowerbirds who collect baubles and trinkets in their travels to decorate their nests.

Below we have the Cleo sofa by Precedent in smooth feathery velvet. Casually draped over the back, a faux fur cozy enough for two. Art that defies explanation unless you are the bespectacled homeowner who smokes pipes, rides like the wind, likes Woody Allen films, and takes long walks along the shore looking for messges in a bottle. A home, after all, need not make sense to anyone else other than you.


Hail to the Eclectics, those who are not happy with the “Way the World is,” those would rather recreate to world as they want to see it – fresh and new, like a daisy.

ec·lec·ti·cism/əˈklektəˌsizəm/ noun. eclecticism

  1. the practice of deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

“Eclecticism within a home reflects a wide range of interest and a lifetime of travel.”

In philology we look at eclecticism as the study of various life experiences, thereby drawing conclusions as to the very best, or better yet, understanding that often there is more than one correct answer to a question. The lovely thing about eclecticism is that it can be defined and yet it is incapable of definition. I love chocolate ice cream in winter, strawberry in summer, vanilla in spring, and tutti frutti when I am feeling wild and crazy.

I am no Alexander, who having seen the breadth of my domain, will weep, and say, alas, there are no more worlds to conquer.

Learn More

Make it Easy

Easy Peasy

I have always been impressed with athletes who make the most difficult moves look easy. It is an art learned after years of practice and trial and error. Once learned never forgotten.

Stressless sofas and recliners have perfected the art of comfort. Once experienced never forgotten. One of the patented Stressless features is Balance Adapt. Balance Adapt is unique because it gives you a sense of buoyancy while you are reclining and almost feels as if you are spinning and floating in air. Since it responds to your body, if you don’t want to rock you don’t have to and the recliner or sofa will hold you stable.

Get Stressless

Relax and Win

Since I have your attention for the moment let me recommend Bud Winter’s book Relax and Win, an oldie but goodie first published in 1981.  The book relies on the US Navy’s classified WWII program to train fighter pilots to relax and to be more efficient.

Bud Winter reveals his secrets that helped his track stars at San Jose State College sprint through the intensity and pressure of high-level Olympic competition making it easy to break 37 world records. Bud applies these methods to life and tells you how to turn your most stressful situations into moments of peak performance.

You too can experience peak performance of comfort in a Stressless sofa or recliner. Just relax and experience the ultimate in comfort.


Make it Easy

It has taken a long time for me to understand the lyrics to the Eagles hit song, Take it Easy. Time makes for a new way of looking at things. Perspective makes for insight; insight a new understanding.

Jackson Browne started writing this song but didn’t know how to finish it. “Writer’s block,” we used to call it. “Paralysis of analysis,” my Millennial daughter says.

At the time, Browne was living in an apartment in Los Angeles’ scruffy Echo Park neighborhood. Upstairs neighbor was Glenn Frey, who needed songs for his new band – the Eagles. The rest is history.

Of course, “take it easy” means many things to many people. “Make it easy” is much the same. We are in a digital age. With a multitude of social media sites available all of which is accessible through a single pocket device 24/7, the way we interact with each other has completely changed.

Communication is easy, it is just that there is so much of it.

It has become a new way of life.

ease-a-way-of life

Make it easy

The designers at Traditions Home in Wichita make it easy to customize a sectional or sofa for your loft apartment or home.With a multitude of styles available like Vanguard’s Ease Collection, we design with you in mind.

As for me, give me a place to listen to my old vinyl records, to the scratches and pops.

the future of things to be

Forecasting the future has never been easy. Why even the weatherman seems to get tomorrow’s weather wrong half the time. As for furniture and fashion, time honored classics will always hold a place in our hearts. They are a link to who we were and a statement of who we are.

But that said, nobody wants grandmother’s old sofa.


We millennials seek a brave new world and a style that reflects modern life.
We are fashion-forward. Avant-garde, as the French like to say, as if recalling a Napoleonic charge at Austerlitz.

I pause here and reflect. I am decidedly pro-French, my grandmother was French, born in a tiny village in Lorraine called Graffigny. Though Napoleon’s armies were finally defeated, it was only after five coalitions of European armies were thrown against France and defeated.


Vive la France, or, at least, long live the spirit of France – equality, liberty, and brotherhood. Toujours France, notre premier et plus ancien ami.



Coco Chanel, famous for haute couture, perfume, and the little black dress, said of fashion:

 “[It]is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, [in our homes and living rooms], fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.”



And what is happening is a revolution in technology and travel. The world is shrinking my friends. Information is at our wrist with an Apple watch and on the bridge of our noses if we wear Google glasses.



And yet, we must guard against a constant digital presence. At the end of the day, the home is place to gather with friends and family. The home is a place of refuge and a place of comfort, a place to sit and stay, a place to escape the digital revolution.

In an age of mass technology, a glimpse is enough, no more, for the future of what is to be is not yet revealed.

The power of plaid

The power of plaid can be subtle, and it’s always classic; a soft woven feel and you don’t have to be Scottish to love it.


the power of plaid


The best fashion advice we can give is be yourself and just to do what makes you feel comfortable, and that’s how you’re gonna be your best because when you feel your best, everybody else feels it too, especially when it is a soft woven flannel plaid.

Plaid – good in any kind of company.


Sherrill tufted sofa with plaid pillow




Hancock & Moore

Your home is a retreat, a sanctuary and place of peace from the troubles of the world.

For the past 30 years, Hancock & Moore has been creating custom-made furniture for the discriminating home owner. Artisans in North Carolina spend up to 80 hours on each Hancock & Moore original, and each piece, from sofa to chair to bench, bears the signature of the craftsman who created it.

City Sofa by Hancock & Moore
City Sofa by Hancock & Moore

The City sofa by Hancock & Moore is ideal for traditional settings, three cushions seating and back makes for a relaxed seat. A rolled arm is at the right height for resting an elbow, and just the right height if you want to recline and read a book.

Henessey Chesterfield sofa
Henessey Chesterfield sofa

If your style is English, why not choose the Henessey with its classically English Chesterfield look. It is a standout in any room. Hancock & Moore has multiple leathers and dozens of colors to choose from to catch your spirit and reflect your taste.

Sundance sofa by Hancock & Moore
Sundance sofa by Hancock & Moore

To continue on a theme, perhaps the Sundance sofa with its English curved arm is right. Gentle curves, rich and luxurious leathers, a seat for a king or queen.

Do you want to see more Hancock & Moore, come to Traditions Furniture in Overland Park and in Wichita, Kansas. Or pick up the July 2015 Architectural Digest to see their ad or log onto to see more.