Design

Couch Convention: Five Important Considerations When Buying A New Sofa

So it’s time to buy a new sofa.  Between brick and mortar stores and online retailers there are more options than ever before, which is a good thing!  But it can also be a bit overwhelming.  Where do you even get started?  While there will still be a lot of sofas to choose from, we put together this list of important factors to take into consideration when looking for a sofa.  Hopefully it’ll help narrow down the selection a bit and help you get the best sofa for your space.

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Size

Before you start your sofa search you need to measure, measure, measure.  Measure the size of your current sofa (if you have one), measure the space available, and make sure to measure doorways, hallways – any place the sofa has to pass through to get to its final destination.  There’s no worse feeling than buying the sofa of your dreams and then not even being able to get it into your home.  Besides physically being able to fit, size is an important consideration because it affects the proportions of the room as well.  The sofa can often be the centerpiece of the living room, but you don’t want it to overwhelm the space.  If you have low ceilings look for a sofa with a low profile to help the ceilings look taller; if you have high ceilings consider a sofa with a higher back so it has more of a presence in the room.  For those living in smaller spaces look for apartment sized sofas which have been scaled down to fit in smaller homes.  They’ll usually seat the same amount of people as their full-sized counterparts but have a trimmed down profile.

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Style

Since the sofa will likely be the largest piece of furniture in the room, it partially sets the tone for the room itself.  The style of the sofa should match what you want the style of the room to be (or what it already is).  If you want a sofa that can work with multiple decor styles, look for a transitional or contemporary sofa since they often have more timeless designs than sofas tied to specific periods or trends.

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Construction

Sofas are expensive, so you want to get one that’s going to last a long time.  When looking for a new sofa be sure to check its construction.  Look for sofas with frames made of hardwood or metal as they are the strongest materials and least likely to warp or break.  If made of metal the frame should be securely welded.  If made of hardwood look for a frame that features doweled frame assembly and isn’t just stapled together.  Check the springs to make sure they feel firm and close together.  Any creaks or cracks when you sit on the sofa are a bad sign; if it’s already making noises new they’re not going to go away with age and points to one or multiple aspects of the construction being low-quality.  Depending on personal preference look for cushions filled with high density foam, down, or a combination of the two.

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Textiles

The first choice you need to make in terms of textiles is what kind of material you want your sofa to be covered with.  The two general options are leather or fabric.  Which you choose really comes down more to personal preference than anything, but whichever you do choose, make sure to get the highest quality you can afford, because reupholstering a sofa that has had its covering worn out isn’t cheap.  If opting for leather look for top grain or aniline leather; if going for fabric cottons and wools will hold up best.  You’ll also have to decide if you want your sofa to be upholstered or slipcovered.  Upholstery will generally give you a cleaner, more tailored look, but slipcovers allow for easier cleaning and maintenance.  They also allow you to easily change up the decor of the room with the seasons or just as you please if you keep multiple slipcovers on hand.

The last aspect of textiles to consider is color and pattern.  Especially if you go the upholstery route, make sure you choose a color and/or pattern that you’ll enjoy for a long time.  A bright, bold sofa can look great, but if you’re nervous about falling out of love with the color your safest bet is to opt for a neutral and add pops of color later with pillows and throws.

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Comfort

It’s important to keep in mind what this sofa is going to be used for.  If it’s going into a more formal living space that doesn’t get much use except when company is over comfort doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge factor.  But if it’s going into the main living space and will be sat, lounged, and napped on on a regular basis, comfort is very important.  Make sure the seat is deep enough for comfortable lounging, and that it’s long enough for everyone in the household to stretch out on.  Look for cushions that have enough give to be comfortable but still provide support for your body.  You want to get a sofa you can look forward to coming home to and snuggling up on at the end of the day.

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Buying a sofa can be a big decision and commitment, so don’t feel bad if it takes you awhile to find the right one for your space and lifestyle.  A really good sofa can last 25 years or more; you don’t want to rush into that long term of a relationship.  But with some knowledge, which we’ve hopefully provided, and some patience you’ll soon be bringing home the sofa of your dreams.

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