The last couple years have been a pressure-cooker of sorts for shaping your home—a very last-minute invitation to cram a gym space into your 600-square foot apartment, start renovations on that sad square of patio, and stockpile kitchen gear—all things spurred by a dramatic increase in time spent pacing your space and stretching its limits. With the world reopened, there’s a little more breathing room to let your freak flag fly, take up room, reassess your current holdovers, and get more frivolous and targeted with your interior fixations.
Thankfully, the accommodations for such demands are numerous, whether you’re going long on a conversation pit formation in your lounge, squaring up your hardwood floors with an artpiece rug, or investing in a MoMA-worthy espresso maker or vacuum cleaner. For the 2023 GQ Home Awards, we vetted and tested everything for practicality as always, but also had a lot of fun surfacing fresh, extremely now picks that will upgrade any meh setup: bright and doubly-thick glassware, squiggly tables, Memphis-y bathroom accessories that you don’t need to hide from the view of guests, and sharp tech innovations that can help ensure that you’re in for a good time and a long time in your current digs. Feast your eyes on all the best stuff to buy for your imminently swagged-out home. (Oh, and if you’re trawling this list going, “Where’s all the sleep stuff???” know that we did a giant deep-dive on bedding and mattresses this year, which is easily perusable over at our first annual Sleep Awards).
The GQ Home Awards Table of Contents
In case you’re looking for something specific:
The Living Room
The Best Sleeper Sofa: Gus Rialto Sofa Bed
There’s sleeping on a saggy skeleton of a T-bar-supported pull-out couch and then there’s passing out on the Gus Rialto, a five-star accommodation as far as sleeper sofas go. When your guest is ready to wind down for the night, the base pillows of this Scandi-style loveseat (whose curves resemble Herman Miller’s “Chiclet” sofa) flip down like a sports car to reveal an entire memory foam mattress within its innards. Good old Gus’ stainless steel frame gets an extra assist from a set of bent plywood slats for supporting all types of strays, and the arms and back even slide off, so you don’t have to play Tetris to squeeze your Transformer into your door.
The Best Sectional Sofa: Sarah Ellison Float Sofa
Deep and sprawled out, the new Float sofa from Sarah Ellison (maker of some of the coolest, most coveted couches out there, including last year’s Home Award-winning Muse) is technically designed to be sat on, but is even better suited for fully vegging out. Its sunken-in style calls to mind the decadent conversation pits and two-level sofas from the ’70s, like Ubald Klug’s Terrazzo, except a bit more muted and versatile. Since it’s shaped like a nice, normal couch, too, it fits in right between those permanent collection pieces and something useful, all while doing away with the loucheness that’s characteristic of so much design from that era.
The Best Affordable Sofa System: Burrow Range Sofa
Even in a crowded flatpack market, the choice was obvious when it came to picking a bang-up sofa system for around a grand. The Burrow Range is by far the handsomest, and well-built thanks to bent plywood joinery (no weak-sauce MDF here), cushy shredded fill, and a tightly woven, stain-resistant fabric that will put up a fight against your cat’s claws. The open-ended seats are also endlessly configurable depending on how many units you’re jonesing for, whether it’s an ottoman at one end or a whole conversation pit layout. If you’re buying something with that new couch smell (not bartering for someone’s leftovers on Craigslist), this is one of the surest bets in the modern seating game.
The Best Armchair: Le Mura Armchair
Who wants to sit and read in a hard, theoretical chair? Don’t we deserve something more comfortable? Tacchini’s re-do of the Le Mura, a 1970s masterpiece, makes the case that we do. Designed by Mario Bellini—whose Camaleonda is an Italian all-timer—the chair slots in well with the best of anything designed in Europe. It’s immediately digestible, with welcoming lines done up in timeless materials, and just enough flair. It’s also modular, so it can work as a sofa.
The Best Floor Lamps: Mitzi Whit Floor Lamp and In Common With Calla Floor Lamp
Glass lamps have come a long way from the Edisons of yore, and modern iterations are getting wavier and wavier, by way of sculptural forms that play with S-shaped curves and delicately detailed shades. On one hand, there’s Mitzi’s take on the bulb lamp, with its gently sloping stand that turns illumination into an art form. And you can’t get much more picturesque than glassmaker Sophie Lou Jacobsen’s collab with Brooklyn design studio In Common With. Don’t call it any old mushroom lamp: It’s a dimmable brass beauty that looks like something CGI’d from a fantasy epic into the comfort of your home.
The Best Side Tables: James William III for Lichen Side Table and Areaware Side Splat Table
Side tables are perfect design experiments. Their job is so small that they can do it looking like anything. Two new fun instances: James Williams III’s LT4R, for Lichen, and the Areaware Side Splat, stretch out this theme. At first glance, the pair shares their shape with Pierre de Rougemont’s ‘80s cloud top designs; on a closer look, it’s a remix. Lichen’s rendition is minimal, with a slick, muted feel, while the bright, bubbly Areaware is the life of the party. Both are low-effort ways to include more experimental shapes in the home.
The Best Coffee Table: Sabai Coffee Table
Coffee tables primarily act as storage and foot-proppers in your living room, often playing second fiddle to whatever’s resting on top of them. In the past, we’ve crowned practical coffee tables of modest proportions and low prices in the Home Awards, but Sabai’s recycled steel and wood model steps it up with a gently curved base in a trio of colorways (including crisp white and this polished army green). Thankfully, it’ll be located at the center of your living room: all the better for it to assume the role of the number-one conversation starter at your next house party.
The Best Shelving System: Hem Zig Zag Shelf
Lusting after a midcentury Danish modular shelving system but don’t have an empty wall or the shipping hookup to get there? Consider Hem’s Zig Zag shelf, a worthy successor to that style. It brings to mind Poul Cadovius’ great Cado shelving system—the dark walnut wood, the crossed pattern—but in a more compact, flexible silhouette. Stack them, or set one up solo for more of a Copenhagen look.
The Best Benches: Sun at Six Temi Bench and Eny Lee Parker Bench
Besides a place to park your bottom, benches should be long enough to squeeze at least two people on, and cushy enough that your glutes don’t want to take a nap on them. This year, the humble bench (typically anesthetized in woods and metals) leans into delicate textures. Sun at Six’s velveteen, chubby-legged Temi is anchored by ancient Chinese joinery techniques so that your kids and your kids’ kids can still enjoy the merits of its splashy design down the line. Meanwhile, designer Eny Lee Parker‘s collab with Lulu & Georgia imagines what might happen if you were seated on a literal cloud (well, at least one simulated through oodles of creamy bouclé fabric).
The Best Art Piece Rug: Giancarlo Valle for Nordic Knots Collection
Giancarlo Valle, the elegant New York design company, seems to be everywhere lately—or it might be we’ve caught up to its vibe. A new collaboration with Scandinavian rugmakers Nordic Knots adds an even more vibrant dimension. The rugs, inspired by crafted furniture in Valle’s family’s South American home, are a lively tweak on NK’s summery formula. The best ones, like the Big Bud, command the eye and elevate their surroundings. Have yours center a room, or throw it up on a wall.
The Best Workhorse Rug: Revival Jute Rug
Entering the rug game can be daunting: Good vintage is endless, classics run super expensive, and new collaborations can sell out in a jiff. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a solid entry level pick out there that was kept in stock and had options? There is; it’s Revival’s Jute. Available in a handful of smart color options—we like natural fiber and black—it’s accessibly-priced and, thanks to its materials, should last about a decade. Snag one now and rough yours up with disdain.