To buy a sofa is one of the major investments you’re likely to make for your home. And one you may live with for decades, so it’s important to make the right decision. From fabric choice to seat depth and style, there are a few considerations to make. While style preferences are a personal matter, choosing a good-quality sofa needs to consider a few quality criteria.
A good sofa can be life-changing, but how do you shop for the right one? In this sofa buying guide we tell you everything you need to know about picking the right sofa for your home.
A good way to pick a suitable style is to ensure it matches with your home interior theme and lifestyle. How you use your furniture is one of the most important considerations. If you have children or pets, you need easy-to-clean fabrics and white is a no-go.
Choosing a sofa means that you’ll have to decide if the sofa will be neutral and fit into a balanced colour scheme or if it will take on an accent role. Therefore bold colours, luxury fabric or a colourful print would be a good choice.
As the centrepiece of any social area, a stylish sofa often serves as a functional focal point – it’s important to balance comfort with aesthetics to get the best possible effect.
Spending on a quality sofa can bring you many years of lounging. One of the things that make a high price worthwhile is the inner framework. Cheaper sofas may have frames made from particleboard, plastic, or metal, but a good-quality couch will have a solid hardwood frame – preferably made of oak, teak or ash. A solid hardwood frame is a good option, which can retain its stability for up to 15 years.
The legs of the sofa should be an integral part of the frame or joined to the main frame with screws or dowels. Avoid buying a sofa that is assembled with only staples, nails, or glue.
One easy test for solid frame construction is to lift one front corner or leg of the sofa off the floor. If the other front leg doesn’t quickly rise off the floor too, it’s a sign the frame is twisting, and is therefore weak. Any sofa that visibly twists or creaks under this test is one you should avoid.
There is no sense in considering a sofa if it doesn’t fit you well. It is important to shop with your preferred lounging style in mind. Seats should be comfortable for all members of your family. The primary fit consideration is the depth of the seats. Select deep or shallow seats, depending on your height – ensure you sit back adequately with your feet flat on the floor and the backs of your knees just slightly forward of the lower seat cushion. If you prefer to lie down on your sofa, make sure that it’s long enough for you to stretch out.
Quality upholstery may not be critical to the sitting comfort of your sofa, but it is critical to its visual appeal long term. When choosing fabric for upholstered furniture, remember that you will get the best wear from tightly-woven fabrics. A common misconception is that the thickness of the yarn used determines durability; higher thread counts indicate a denser weave and more durable fabric.
If there are any buttons or zippers, check that they are sewn on securely. Loose buttons will come off and quickly get lost.
And don’t forget the padding. The frame and all the corners of the couch should be well padded. Run your hand over all corners to make sure you can’t feel the edges of the frame through the upholstery. If you can, the upholstery may wear through quite quickly, and your couch will not be very comfortable to use.
Seat cushions should be comfortable, resilient and fit snugly within the sofa frame. It is important to find a balance between a firm foam that is long-lasting may be too hard, and a soft foam that is comfortable may break down too quickly.
The cushions should regain their shape after you press down and let go. A cushion that stays put when you press down will be flattened in no time, end up looking unsightly and feel uncomfortable when you sit on it. Cushions that do not fit snugly will also lose their shape quickly and the edges will start looking unsightly.
Choosing a combination of feather and foam as feathers give the squish while the foam provides structure. Back cushions filled with feathers and seat cushions filled with foam or fibre works well.
Don’t forget that a feather and foam seat cushion will need daily fluffing and plumping, if maintenance is not your thing than pass on the feather seat cushion.
To make the right fabric choice, think about how your sofa will be used and what style effect you wish. Whether you go for a bold colour, pattern or a neutral, your choice of upholstery fabric will have a huge impact on the room, so choose carefully to ensure it fits with your scheme.
For sofas with high traffic areas like your daily living room, the best fabrics would be ones that are durable and easy-to-care for like polyester or a mixed composition that would hold up well over years of lounging. It’s particularly important in a busy family home, and if you have pets, opt for a fabric that’s easy to spot clean. In this case, slip covers are worth the investment, as they can be removed for cleaning and some are even washable too.
There is honestly nothing worse than buying furniture that doesn’t fit. More than one sofa has been returned to the store because it could not get through the doorway. So before you buy anything, make sure it fits into your room and through the doorways.
One tip for making sure that your sofa will fit in your space is to shape the size of your sofa with tape on the floor. This allows you to check that you have enough space to walk around it with ease and that you’ve left enough room for other pieces of furniture, as well as the opening of cupboards, doors and windows.
Finally, check the dimensions of any doors and stairways the sofa will have to pass through on delivery.