Whether you call it a couch, settee, chesterfield, divan, davenport, or canapé, your sofa is one of the absolute most important pieces of furniture in your home. Your sofa is the centerpiece of your living room and is going to be one of the most used furnishings you purchase. Most people want a sofa that is going to be well-made, comfortable, and long lasting. If you are looking for a new sofa, it can be overwhelming when you begin the purchasing process. There are many styles to choose from, which can be confusing at first but there are several considerations that will help you make a better informed final decision.
(Pictured: Living Room Sets)
Rooms and Use
Will you be purchasing a sofa for a family room or a living room setting? Is it the focal point of the room? Will you use it for everyday activities in a family room such as watching TV, relaxing, sharing a cup of coffee with friends? Or will the sofa be the center piece of a more formal living room which seldom has visitors? Will the sofa be a launching pad for active kids and pets? Knowing what sort of wear and tear your sofa will see is going to be one of the most important factors in choosing. One thing that is common when buying new furniture is the expectations versus reality. Many people will envision buying a new, fancy sofa that will remain in pristine condition but reality is usually different depending on who will be using the sofa. If you are the kind of person who likes to entertain, know that spills from food and drinks are probably going to happen. Or if you have kids, pillows and cushions are often going to be strewn across the room. Knowing who exactly is going to be using the sofa and what sort of wear will be put on your sofa is going to help you make the decision on what product is best for you.
Choose a sofa that fits the theme of your home. Is your style hip, traditional, contemporary or somewhere in between? The simpler of a style you choose, the longer your sofa will remain in fashion. If you are looking for a sofa that you will be able to keep for 5-10 years, go with a transitional style in a neutral color. Choosing something simple also allows you to easily change out throws and accent pillows for when you feel like redecorating. If you are absolutely set on having a sofa that is a bright color or pattern, know that there is a greater chance of it looking dated or out of style much quicker.
When you are buying new furniture, you should measure the space first and get rough dimensions that you can work in. After you have narrowed down the selection, tape the outline of the sofa where you plan on placing it to make sure you like how it will fit. Are you just looking to add a new sofa or all new living room furniture? If it’s just a sofa, then it will be easy to map out the flow of the room. Otherwise, measure and map out every piece you are planning to purchase. Just because it fits, does not necessarily mean you are going to like how everything fits together. If you are having a hard time fitting in enough pieces to seat the entire family, consider a sectional sofa which you can often custom configure to fit your space.
A sofa with deep seating and cushioned arms is going to be one of the most universally comfortable options. For older folks who may have a difficult time climbing off a large sofa, consider a smaller scale, shallower sofa with a tight back and firmer cushions. The average seat height of a sofa is 20-21 inches and is measured from the floor to highest center point of the seat cushion. Most sofas are between 6-8 feet in length and 30-40 inches in depth. Contemporary styles are generally a smaller scale and can be uncomfortable for taller people.
Consider color and pattern. Are there pieces in the room you need to work around? Would you prefer a color statement or a neutral? To get the patterns and trends of the season into your décor, consider using them on an ottoman or as a pillow pattern rather than an allover fabric. A pattern may hide stains more easily and should be scaled to match the size of the sofa as well as the scale of the room. Choose the type of fabric for its durability; ease of stain removal, or for its tactile nature. For instance chenille may be soft and durable and great for day to day living. Leather is consistently in style and ages beautifully – another benefit of leather furniture is the Mayo Clinic has suggested it is good for people with allergies. Kid and pet friendly options are microfibers, polyesters, performance leathers and leather alternatives such as polyurethane. Also, knowing the fabric content lets you know cleaning requirements and helps you decide how much of an investment you will need to make for upkeep.
(Pictured: Living Room Sofas)
There are several options of back and seat cushions. Attached (or tight) cushions are sewn into the body of the sofa and will require occasional fluffing to keep their shape. Loose cushions can be taken off and flipped. Semi-attached will have the same appearance as a loose cushion but are sewn to the body. The most common materials for cushions are coils, down and feathers, and high-density foam. Down and feathers are going to be the softest, most plush option but are also more high maintenance and require daily fluffing to keep their shape. You can also find cushions with a blend of down, feathers and polyester fibers, where pads are wrapped over foam for a more luxurious feel. High-density foam is the most commonly used filling and the higher the density, the firmer it will be. This is usually wrapped in cotton or Dacron (synthetic fiber) for a softer sit. Coils or springs are very resilient but also soft and comfortable. Springs are surrounded by high-density foam and wrapped with down filled pads for the best of all worlds.
Seating support is made of web support, sinuous springs, or eight-way hand tied springs. With eight-way hand tied, this method is constructed by hand typing each coil spring to the other spring and to the frame. Twine is used to connect each spring and the crosses resemble a figure eight. Sinuous springs are “S” shaped wires running front to back of the seat and are spaced every couple of inches. Additional support is added by laterally crossing wires. Web support can be used along or in conjunction with coils. Cushions are held in place by hammock-like webbing that are two to three inches wide and are tacked to the frame. Eight-way hand tied springs are considered to be the best quality and worth the investment if your budget allows for it.
There are several shapes you can choose for the arms of your sofa. Most of these are just for aesthetic purposes but pillow arms are going to be the plushest and best for those want to use the arm for napping. English/track arms have a square appearance but are slightly flared out. Rolled arms are going to be an exaggerated rounded shape.
(Pictured: AICO Lavelle Tufted Sofa)
The majority of sofas will have exposed legs but more traditional styles can have a skirted base. Exposed wood legs can range from delicate Queen Anne or intricately carved to chunky bun feet or there are also modern looking metal legs. Skirts may be fabric or made of trim such as bullion. The style you are trying to achieve is going to dictate whether you choose exposed or skirted as the base of your sofa.
Notes on Frames
The overall quality of a sofa greatly depends on the construction and materials used in creating the frame. Corner-blocked, double doweled, kiln dried hardwood frames are going to be of the best quality and can potentially last 10 years. These techniques help prevent and cracking, splitting, or warping of the wood that can occur from years of use or overly rambunctious kids or pets. If you have questions on the exact construction of a sofa, contact the retailer you want to purchase from and they can provide the specifications from the different manufacturers.
If you have occasional guests but do not have an extra guest bedroom, a sleeper sofa is a great option. People usually think of sleeper sofas as being ugly and uncomfortable but there are plenty of attractive options that will complement your living room. Many manufacturers offer several mattress options in sleeper sofas to give you the best level of comfort. To get the specifics on mattresses, contact the retailer you are looking to purchase from and they will be able to give you information on individual products. Sleeper sofas are often full or queen size and come in all different styles.
Complete the room
The majority of people purchase a sofa as a furnishing for their living room to be used everyday. And you are going to need other pieces to complete the look of your living room - a coffee table, end tables, console table, upholstered chairs, entertainment center, etc. If you are looking for a new sofa consider if you will be purchasing these items new as well or if you are going to use what you already have. Whichever you do decide, you need to measure how the sofa will flow with the other pieces. The last thing you want is to order a new sofa and upon delivery find that is does not fit or complement the rest of the room.
General Information on Choosing Furniture Pieces
Deciding where to shop online is only the first step in finding the best deal on furniture. Once you decide on a store, start perusing their website and choosing your favorite pieces. Finding the furniture you want to buy is fun and stressful at the same time.
Although buying new furniture is exciting, the risks involved can make it a nerve-wracking venture. Cut down on the stress, and make sure you pick the best pieces, by checking over each online listings and pictures carefully before you buy.
(Pictured: Chelsea Home Furniture Hudson Sofa)
In the fabric dyeing process, there can be some color variations between each bolt. Most of the time this is not an issue but it is a possibility. On larger upholstery items, like sectionals, where a patterned fabric is used there is a slight possibility that sides, back, and cushions may all be covered with a different bolt and the color could potentially be off. Most manufacturers take great care in ensuring that all pieces are covered with the same bolt but it could be different. This is more of an issue if you have purchased an upholstery item and then decide a few months later to purchase a matching piece. After a certain period of time has passed, manufacturers will naturally have purchased new bolts to use and this is when a color difference is more likely to have occurred.
Care and Cleaning
Be careful using cleaners not specifically meant to be used on wood for when you need to clean the frame of your sofa. Non wood cleaners that used to not harm finishes can now strip the newer finishes or damage them. Stick to products meant for wood for cleaning and overall care. As for upholstery, be sure that you know the fabric content and proper way to clean it before making a final purchase. Some fabrics are fine with just an at-home spot treatment, while others require a professional job. If you decide to purchase a leather sofa, know that most of the times you can clean spills with mild soap and water but you will have to purchase a leather protector/conditioner as well.