Take a seat!
Buying a new sofa is a real investment, and one of the most important decisions you can make when it comes to decorating your home.
The sofa is a piece of furniture on which we lounge, read, eat and drink, entertain family and friends, watch TV and even sleep, so it makes sense that we take the time to invest in one that’s going to last for years to come.
Try before you buy
Try out different styles to ensure you get good back support. There’s no right or wrong height, so again, try before you buy to make sure it suits the whole family. Spend plenty of time sitting on sofas to test them for comfort, as what you see, and more importantly what you feel, is mostly what you get. That said, be aware that a sofa that feels wonderfully supportive now may sag over time.
Invest in a good frame
Spend as much as you can afford on a quality frame. A solid hardwood frame is a good option, but be wary of a particleboard or metal construction. Also, take note of the guarantee before you commit – always opt for manufacturers who offer at least a 15-year guarantee. Ask about the construction of the sofa’s frame.
A sturdy frame is usually a long-lasting sofa. A wooden frame is best, especially if it’s a quality timber that has been kiln-dried – be wary of cheap pine or green timber, which may warp over time. The frame should be secured together by dowels or nails; avoid those that are held together by staples and glue. The legs should be either part of the frame or solidly attached. Metal frames may be necessary when the seat of the sofa has a large span, but it may make the whole piece of furniture very heavy to move.
Check the cushions
Remember that what’s inside a sofa is just as important as what’s used on the outside. When it comes to the sofa back and seat, feather-filled cushions are high on comfort but they will need regular plumping, while foam or fibre fillings may flatten out and lose their shape over time.
Choose fabrics with patterns in the weave, as these tend to wear better over time. Ask the store you are buying your sofa from for a swatch to take home. Place in situ to see how the fabric looks in both natural daylight and under artificial light at night.
Focus on fabric
Whether you go for a bold colour, pattern or a neutral, your choice of fabric will have a huge impact on the room, so choose carefully. Natural materials may fade in strong sunlight so go for a synthetic fabric if the sofa will be near a window. It’s particularly important in a busy family home, and if you have a dog or cat, to opt for a fabric that’s easy to spot clean. If you want to keep your sofa for decades, choosing the right textile for your sofa is as important as making sure the construction standards are high.
When in doubt about colour, play it safe. If you’ve found your dream sofa but are unsure which colour will work in your scheme, or haven’t even decided on one yet, stick with a neutral. It will probably work with any of the colourways or patterns you introduce at a later date.
If your décor plan has a predominately warm palette, choose a beige, mushroom or cream sofa; a grey, charcoal or white sofa will work best with a cool colour palette. Punchy colour should come from cushions, throws or rugs as these can easily be replaced when the next new colour trend hits.
There is honestly nothing worse than buying a piece of costly furniture that doesn’t fit into your home, so before you do anything, make sure you measure up.
Get out the tape measure and make sure you’re certain of the maximum sofa dimensions that will fit your space. Pay attention to the depth as well if you’re buying for a smaller room, as the depth of the seat rarely changes from the larger to smaller size sofas.
Finally, check the dimensions of your doorways and any stairways the sofa will have to pass through whilst being delivered and installed – your unscuffed walls will thank you.
If access is limited, you may need to opt for a low-back style, one with removable legs or even a modular design that can be delivered in smaller sections. If you have a small room, why not consider a two-seater or even a snuggler?
You might have your dream sofa in your sights but you have to be practical too. The good news is that it’s never been easier to customise a sofa to make it really work for you and your space.
Make a modular work for its money
Modulars come in a range of sizes and have many benefits. As they combine various lounging pieces in one unit, they are relatively compact, maximising the space a room has available. They also offer more space to sit, especially if a chaise or fixed ottoman is attached.
Due to their flexibility, modulars can be set up in different formations. From the L-shapes of two- and three-seat corner sofas with chaise longue additions, to larger U-shaped modular which can be expanded by adding a corner or terminal, these are sofas well worth considering.
Buying antique sofas
Antique sofas come in many different styles and forms and buying sofas at auction or from dealers is all about look and comfort. Having said that, it is vitally important to check the structure and upholstery. What looks good on the outside can hide a multitude of sins. Make sure the legs and arms are steady and be aware that reupholstery, respringing and rewebbing can be costly.
The important thing is not to rush into an impulsive purchase, as your sofa will be one of the most-used pieces of furniture in your home. A high level of craftsmanship that delivers deep comfort and support is paramount, but then there are other considerations, such as sofa style and shape, upholstery type and durability, and the sofa’s suitability to your home and lifestyle.