Your first (or not) sofa. It’s not particularly fun or easy and often a time-consuming process, whether you prefer to meander from store to store being badgered by hungry sales assistants or spend hours browsing online furniture stores from your old, pilling couch… purchasing and installing a very large piece of furniture isn’t a walk in the park. With all the associated effort it’s crucial you do it once and do it well.
Your couch is the centre-piece of your living/ sitting room. Depending on your lifestyle it’s where you and your family/ pets cuddle up to watch Netflix on, where you send your partner if they act up or your makeshift ‘dining table’. It’s an investment and unless you plan on purchasing a sofa purely for aesthetic purposes (say for a formal sitting room), making sure you get adequate use and quality is a natural consideration.
Avoid cheap sofas.
By this I don’t mean filter your search functions high to low – rather avoid cheaply made sofas. Look for quality materials with the functionality you require. Just because a sofa is priced well, doesn’t mean it can’t give you exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t be fooled – always read the item description and don’t be afraid to grill your sales associate about the frame, fill and fabric of your potential couch to make sure you know exactly what you’re purchasing.
Upholstery is the 'materials' of furniture
These include fabric, padding, webbing and springs. When choosing a sofa based on upholstery materials think of your lifestyle and how you use your furniture already – the couch suits you, you don’t suit the couch. Think about the longevity of your investment and always keep in mind how you want your piece to wear in 5-10 years’ time.
Let’s start with the frame – the bare bones. Generally, avoid materials like particleboard or plastic may warp and crack over time. Metal frames (steel) are great because they usually aren’t as expensive as a hardwood frame but won’t warp, crack or knot, like wood. Hardwood frames are also a practical decision as they are not only durable but when sustainably sourced, a very environmentally conscious choice. Check out our furniture painting post to see the benefits of buying and refurbishing wooden furniture. Be sure to take note of each manufacturer’s warranty and consider before investing.
Fabric is not only encompassing the function and durability of your sofa but also the appearance and design satisfying your personal taste. Generally, if you plan on wearing and tearing your couch for years to come, steer away from bold, delicate, light or trendy colours. Whilst pink sofas and décor have been a massive style hit for 2019, its trendiness may turn gaudy in 4-5 years – when you’re looking for a long term furniture piece, go for the classic, timeless styles. Ultimately, when it comes to appearance, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so if a bright pink couch captivates you – go for it!
Now onto fibres and materials...
this is arguably one of the greatest considerations is the fabric itself will endure more contact wear than any other upholstery component. Here’s a quick breakdown of common sofa fabrics for your consideration:
- The tighter the weave of the fabric, and the higher the thread count, the more durable it is.
- If you’ve got a fur baby in your life, consider going for a ‘worn’ leather couch, it will not only disguise imperfections but also wear with a beautiful patina over time.
- Take note of any potential allergies you may have and if those could be present in the fabric – some people react poorly to synthetic fibres.
- Linen is a gorgeous textured, breathable natural mould and mildew resistant fabric that lends a stunning earthy tone to your sofa whilst being partially stain-resistant.
- Polyester may be looked over as cheap. But it actually contains quality properties such as great tension strength, scratch resistance and when combined with natural fibres like linen and cotton, adds stability and stain resistance. Ideally, look for a blend of natural fibres and polyester.
- Loose covers (removable fabric covers around the cushion) are an excellent family-friendly option –they’re washable!
Feathers or Foam?
The answer is both! It’s your personal preference as to the feel of your cushion (whether you like a soft or firm feel). Feathers usually clump up and require too much fluffing and rearranging, whereas foam can often be a little uncomfortable and not supportive so finding a mix of both may just work for you.
Make sure you measure the depth and height of your potential buy, see if you’re comfortable lounging around on a super deep sofa or prefer to sit and read on something more shallow. Compare it to your existing sofa to see how much space you’re losing or gaining. Typically, low-rise couches go very well in open-plan spaces as they do not disrupt the line of vision and continue the depth of space across the room. Read our Feng Shui article to become an expert on furniture arrangement for the soul – colours affect your mood would you believe it?
As much as possible, try before you buy and ask as many questions from your sales assistant or online store as till you're satisfied and content with your decision. This is your investment and purchase. Enjoy!