Like everything else in this era of endless choice, there seem to be infinite options when it comes to choosing a sofa. You might think you know exactly what you want, but once you walk into a shop or browse images online, the alternatives can become overwhelming. Sofas are expensive, and they need to last for a long time. Also, they’re big and take up a lot of space in a room and often anchor a decorating scheme.
Save yourself the time, money, and potential buyer’s remorse…we share with you 10 tips to choose the right sofa. Let’s keep in line and begin the hunt!
1. Size. If you have a bigger living room, you’ll need to decide exactly how much of the living room you want your couch to fill.
Do you want to include other couches or chairs?
Do you want a coffee table?
If so, a simple sofa, or one with a slight L-shape is probably the best fit.
If you’re looking for a sofa that will be the focal point of your living room, look for rounder couch shapes that take up a bit more room and provide a lot of seating.
If you have a small living room odds are you’ll need a smaller couch. First follow Chandos Dodson Epley rules “Cut a template from brown paper in the size of the sofa you’re considering, place it on the floor, and see how it looks before you buy“.
With less space, any couch or sofa is going to be in the spotlight, so it’s important to pick something that is practical, but is also of a strong design that carries and complements the rest of the space.
2. Decide exactly how the sofa will be oriented. Successfully organizing a living space starts with analyzing your lifestyle. What do you do the most in that space? Do you like to wind down in front of the TV? Make sure your couch faces that direction.
Love hosting game or wine nights? Create a semi-circle (or even full circle) around a central table.
Does your family use the living room to lounge, relax and read? Surround your sofa with chairs and cushions to create multiple seating areas that can be enjoyed individually, or as a large group.
3. Determine which shape will suit the room best. Now that you’ve decided your sofa’s function, it’s time to figure out which shape will help it fulfill that purpose. A clean L-shape is great for open areas that need to be divided — such as separating the living room from the dining room.
A rounder shape is a bit more conducive for a smaller space meant to serve as a gathering area for groups of people.
If you want to implement more chairs and tables in your living room, a chaise or a daybed could be a good alternative to a traditional couch. It still provides seating for several people, but is compact and can work as a more sophisticated version of the futon.
“I like curved sofas in square rooms!” Vicente Wolf
4. Research upholstery materials. Which will be best for you? Aesthetic is important, but functionality is key when it comes to choosing a material for your sofa. A lot of us that would love to indulge in a plush, white suede sofa —they’re so gorgeous, but so dangerous. Suede can be a poor choice if you have pets or small children who will cause some serious damage.
Leather — particularly in darker colors — is consistently in style, generally wears well with age, and can be fairly easy to clean.
Another choice is to opt to have your couch upholstered in an outdoor fabric. Many companies now carry Sunbrella fabrics, which resist stains, water and fading from the sun. Many outdoor furniture companies also have outdoor couches and love seats that are so simple and classic in design that they could easily be used indoors.
5. Choose a style that complements your home. It can be a little hard to nail down your own personal style, but go with your gut instinct when picking the type of couch that will fit naturally in your home. If your style is sleek and modern, pick something that reflects that in clean lines and dramatic colors.
If your home is an eclectic mix of colors and designs, a couch that combines several styles (such as a vintage couch re-upholstered in a colorful fabric, or a more modern shape with traditional accents) could be the perfect expression of your taste.
If your look is a little more traditional, a classically structured sofa in a durable and neutral fabric will stand the test of time and will work well with various colors and complementing pieces.
6. Pick a color: bright, printed, or neutral? Re-upholstering furniture has become a relatively inexpensive option for anyone who wants to personalize a piece of furniture.
Don’t be afraid to choose a couch with a fun or unique print! It can add a surprisingly personal touch and quickly transform the feel of the entire room. Urban Outfitters has a similar chaise in beautiful fabrics, at a perfect price point.
If you’re too nervous to experiment with bolder colors and patterns in your sofa, you can always opt for a funky ottoman that can double as a coffee table. It’ll add a more subtle sense of diversity to your living room, while complementing more classic couches and chairs.
7. Arm style. Sofa’s styles are heavily influenced by their arms. This sofa’s rolled arms add a feminine Art Deco element to a sofa that would look much more masculine and modern with straight arms.
“I like arms that are flat and large enough to perch on, so a stray guest can come and join in the conversation if the sofa is full.” Jean Larette
8. Legs. You don’t have to see a sofa’s legs, but if you do, the style and material of the legs adds to the overall look of the piece. Steel? Modern. Ornate wood? Traditional. And so on.
“I prefer sofas with skirts because it allows me to introduce other lighter pieces with exposed legs into the space without the room becoming too leggy”. Kevin Isbell
9. Frame. A solid frame is an essential element of a good sofa. You don’t want it to crumple under you! Sit and move around on the sofa before buying it- you’ll get a feel for the construction and how well it will hold up.
“My dad taught me that to ensure the sofa your are buying is sturdy and well built, you lift up one of the front legs 5’’ to 7’’ – the other front leg should lift as well. If it’s still touching the floor, the frame is weak.” Katarina Rodman
10. Fabric. Lifestyle is an important consideration when deciding on a sofa fabric. Sensuous fabrics like silk and velvet are perfect for grown-up, sophisticated spaces…
“I love a silk-velvet tiger or leopard-print pillow – just one – in the center of a sofa. Very sexy, mysterious, and romantic. It picks up on the woods, in the room and adds an extra layer.” Alex Papachristidis