Customized Furniture Without Compromise by Gene Sanes

    Sofa! Sofa! Sofa! showroom

    Known for their innovative designs, gorgeous upholstery, and forward-thinking techniques, Gene Sanes & Associates has once again found a way to adapt to their clients’ changing furniture needs with a creative approach. Harriet Zion, the owner, has recently expanded the business to include a new custom-furniture venture in the Strip—aptly named SOFA! SOFA! SOFA!—and there is nothing like it in the area.

    “Fashion, function, and flexibility” is the mantra here, with the emphasis on customized furniture without having to compromise on style, comfort, or size. And with housing thriving in the Strip, Lawrenceville and Downtown, SOFA! SOFA! SOFA!’s arrival couldn’t have been better timed. It’s just what Pittsburgh residents need to furnish a new loft apartment or house exactly the way they envision it.

    With over 35 years in the custom upholstery and furniture business, Harriet is a bona fide expert in the field. Having worked with her father, Jack Zion, who owned Custom Craft in the West End, she honed her knowledge in made-to-order upholstered furniture. In the 1990s, when Custom Craft closed its doors, Harriet opened Mill End Fabric in the Strip. Soon after, Gene Sanes asked her to manage his upholstery business, which she did; she later acquired the business when Gene retired due to health reasons in 1997.


    Under her direction, a staff of approximately 20 skilled craftsmen, designers, and upholsterers are in demand with projects for both residential and commercial clients. Throughout the years, with Harriet at the wheel, the company has applied its creativity and skill on many unique projects such as the Conan Hugging Love Seat, a bright orange, robotic hugging couch fashioned after Conan O’Brien’s iconic hair. They also manufactured train-sleeper-car seating for the feature film Abduction and count most of Pittsburgh’s restaurants and Pittsburgh Public Theater as clients.

    Residential customers, too, are at the heart of the company, whether it’s bringing new life to antique family heirlooms or tirelessly coming up with fresh ways to bring comfort, style, and reasonably priced furnishings into their lives. Gene Sanes also offers a great selection of stunning special-order area rugs and Hunter Douglas window treatments—both always at a discount. With the creation of SOFA! SOFA! SOFA! the company takes its vision even farther.

    “Buying a sofa is like buying a pair of shoes,” explains Harriet. “People are looking for comfort—and the right blend of fashion, function, and flexibility.” And this is what SOFA! SOFA! SOFA! offers. Customers will work directly with the experienced design staff to develop their customized sofa, loveseat, or chair. The furniture is American made, with hardwood frames and eight-way high tied springs. Everything is made to order: the size, configuration (sectional, chaise, ottoman, etc.), arms, base, back, cushions, and legs. Even the seat depth can be adjusted. The fabric selections are wide-ranging and high quality, with thousands of options to choose from.

    “Customize, don’t compromise” is what Harriet knows is so critical for her customers to embrace and understand. This is a quite different experience than your typical furniture store. From deep, roomy sectionals to apartment-sized sofas and loveseats—the options are vast. Whether you live in a small apartment, large house, or something in-between, you can’t help but feel enthused at the thought of an affordable, chic sofa or chair made specifically for you and your space. Each piece takes about six to eight weeks to be made, and can be delivered anywhere.

    The full-time interior designer on staff, Laura Sklover, has over 20 years of applied experience. Before relocating to Pittsburgh in 2012, Laura worked in both New York and Greenwich, Connecticut, with a client roster that included such well-known names as Joan Lunden. Laura’s trained eye coupled with her ability to understand her customers’ requirements enable her to expertly advise on all interior design needs.

    SOFA! SOFA! SOFA! is a welcome addition to the Strip’s Penn Avenue. Stop into the showroom and visit Harriet and her staff when you are ready to “customize, not compromise.”

    SOFA! SOFA! SOFA! and Gene Sanes & Associates are conveniently located in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Strip District at 1645 Penn Avenue; 412-471-8224;

    Katie Salvi is a freelance writer, artist, and proud mom to her 10-year-old son. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and native New Yorker, she now lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son.
    Photography by Greger Erickson