5 tips for buying a great sofa
When it comes to buying a good sofa, the trick is having a keen eye for detail. Anyone can sit down and declare themselves comfortable, but knowing you’ve got a purchase that’ll last you years is something of a fine art.
It’s all to do with really examining the quality of the frame, fabric and craftsmanship. When all these are done right, they will give you an incredibly high-quality product that you’ll be proud of.
So, whatever you call it - sofa, couch or settee - these handy tips from bespoke furniture experts James & Rose will help you get more sit for your cent.
1. Measure, measure, measure
One of the biggest buying mistakes people make is that they visit a showroom, fall in love with a sofa and place their order, only to realise that it won’t fit in their living room. Make sure you take a good look at the space you have available and consider what will go where. Do you have enough room for a corner sofa? Would an armchair or snuggle seat be better suited to that empty space? Accurately measure the space you have to play with, and take these dimensions with you when you go exploring for options.
Remember to be realistic with your expectations. A sofa that is too big can make your living room look a lot smaller and cramped - the opposite of what you want.
Don’t forget to measure all the doors that your sofa will have to travel through to reach its destination. You don’t want to get the sofa of your dreams back only to return it when it won’t fit through the frame.
Top tip! If you don’t have a great deal of space, a sofa with low arms and high legs that raises it off the ground gives the illusion of more space.
2. Check the frame
The sturdiness of the frame is one of the most important things you should be looking for. Avoid soft wood such as pine or spruce as these are more susceptible to warping and weakening over time. It’s also wise to avoid materials such as metal, plastic or particleboard; it may be cheaper, but they may crack over the years. Hardwood like teak, birch, oak, mahogany or cherry is far more durable and will last.
Top tip! Lift one corner of the sofa up off the floor. Once you reach six inches the leg next to it should also have lifted. If it’s not, the frame has given way - meaning it’s not as sturdy as it should be - it’s too weak to sit on.
3. Ask about joinery
Second only to a solid frame, good joinery should be the next thing up for inspection. Never ever buy a sofa that is held together only by glue, nails or staples. Good signs are: wooden and double dowels, wooden corner blocks, brackets and metal screws.
Top tip! The salesperson should be able to provide you with written information from the manufacturer or the joinery.
4. Is it practical?
Think about who is going to be using your sofa, and the environment it’s going to be situated in. Remember that a white suede sofa may sound great in theory - and look fantastic on Pinterest - but in a house filled with children and pets, it’s not exactly realistic.
Leather is a very practical fabric; the mess shows up and it can easily be wiped away, but it’s not necessarily the best choice for pets. If you simply have to go for leather but want to hide any cat claw marks, distressed leather or microfiber does the trick. For pets that leave a trail of fur, avoid velvet, wool and satin.
Top tip! Plan in advance of what boxes your sofa needs to tick. Pets, kids, food, wooden floors… They’re all things to consider.
5. Consider the aesthetics
Thankfully, sofas come in all shapes, sizes and, indeed, colours, so don’t be afraid to take some time and get it just right. The last things on your list to perfect are the colour and fillings.
When it comes to filling, polyester fibre is nice and cheap, but it go flat incredibly quickly. Feather fillings - goose and duck for a luxurious finish - are very comfortable but need regular plumping to keep their shape.
Think about how the colour of your new sofa will fit in with the rest of your decor. Does it suit the colour of the walls and the other furnishings like bookcases and coffee table? Unless you’re going for a full room revamp, it’s important to fit your sofa around the rest of the room rather than vice versa.
Top tip! When it comes to colour, ask for samples of available fabrics to take home and compare with your existing decor. Place your sample where you want the sofa to go and examine it in various kinds of light and from all angles.