Like a car, buying a sofa is an investment and both purchases should last for years. And like a car you want comfort, good mileage (durability) and maybe a splash of color.
When you buy a sofa the most important question to ask yourself is “where is the sofa going to go”? Of course you know what room it will go in but in answering the “where” question think about who will use it, how often and for what purpose.
Will your toddlers be bouncing around, will your teenager be napping or will you use it for holidays only? In other words do you want to sit on the sofa or in the sofa?
Once you answer those questions you should start thinking of the style of sofa you want to buy.
Style – use the internet or magazines to help identify your preferences.
- Tight back or loose cushion back – Tight backs provide firmer support and tend to look a little more tailored or formal. While loose backs tend to be cozier and inviting.
- How many seat cushions – One cushion looks more modern while two or three looks more traditional.
- Arm size and style – An english arm is smaller and very traditional but very trendy right now. A rolled Lawson arm is larger and might be best for napping. Finally a straight arm has clean lines and is more modern.
- Skirt or no skirt – Sofas with legs (non-skirted) are very popular these days. Some of the most traditional sofas have legs, and so do some of the most contemporary. Skirts add softness and warmth to a room.
Construction — the key to comfort and longevity.
- Frame – The best and most durable are constructed of kiln-dried hardwoods. The joints should be double wooden dowled (as opposed to glue, nails or staples). The base of the sofa should be made of heavy-gauge steel springs supported by steel bands and 8-way hand tied.
- Cushion – Depending on the firmness desired, cushions can contain springs, foam, synthetic fiber, down/feathers or any combination. The illustration below, curtesy of Lee Industries, shows cushion cores. The top cushions are the firmest and the bottom the softest.
Fabric — possibilities are endless.
- Match fabric and lifestyle. Leather is long-lasting and great for a specific look. Cottons and linens are durable and can be treated for stain resistance. Wool is also very durable. Silk is lovely for little used rooms. A textured fabric will be more resilient than a flat fabric.
- Color is a big consideration. Choose a color you can live with (remember buying a sofa is a long term committment). If you are starting a room over, find a rug first. Then buy the sofa (and other upholstered pieces). Paint should be last. It is the easiest and least expensive element in the room.
- How about neutrals? Neutrals are a great choice for almost everyone. A great textured neutral is very forgiving. While colors come and go your neutral sofa will stay in style. And if you love lots of color splash your sofa with pillows and a throw.
Don’t forget to take a test drive – always try a sofa before you buy it, it’s the only way you will know if it is comfortable, for you.
Buying a sofa can be a little overwhelming. But just like any other large purchase you make the more research you do up front, the easier and more fun the purchase will be for you