What To Consider When Buying a New Sofa
A sofa is one of the biggest furniture investments you’ll make — and one of the most permanent. Even if you’re just buying one for a temporary fix, it’ll eventually get demoted from the living room to the family room to the basement and, finally, the dorm. Before you know it, a decade or more has passed, and that impulse purchase has become part of your life. So give some thought to it before you buy.
Quality sofas should feel solid and heavy. Flop around on one to test its sturdiness, then lift it up by the corner and shake it a bit. If it feels light or wobbly, take a pass. Look for a frame made from a kiln-dried hardwood such as oak, alder, birch, maple or, alternatively, high-quality hardwood plywood or marine plywood. Eight-way, hand-tied springs are a hallmark of fine furniture, but sinuous S-shaped springs can provide nearly as much comfort. Drop-in coil springs are a less costly alternative.
Most cushions have a core of polyurethane foam; the denser the foam, the heavier it is and the longer it will last. In the cheapest furniture, the cushion is filled with just the polyurethane foam core. In better furniture the core is wrapped with Dacron batting. Higher-quality options include poly-down cushions, which have down mixed with the batting; spring-down cushions, which feature a core of springs surrounded by foam and feathers; and all down, which is all feathers (and all work, so avoid this unless you have servants).
The best sofas have joints that are double doweled and fitted with corner blocks that are both glued and screwed (not stapled) into place. Quality pieces have legs that are part of the frame, not just attached to it (although removable feet do make it easier to get items through doorways).
Buy the best-quality sofa that you can afford. Your purchase will be amortized over many years. Plus, it’s usually cheaper to reupholster a good sofa than to buy a new one of comparable quality.
So How Do You Choose The Best Sofa For You?
Sofas are a big commitment – both literally and figuratively. On the figurative side, they’re expensive, and they need to last for a long time. And literally, well, they’re big. They take up a lot of space in a room and often anchor a decorating scheme. Like everything else in this era of endless choice, there seem to be infinite options when it comes to choosing a sofa. You might think you know exactly what you want, but once you walk into a shop or browse images online, the styles, shapes, and customization alternatives can become overwhelming. Save yourself the time, money, and potential buyer’s remorse and use these tips to get a clear idea of what you want (and what you need!) before you start the hunt.
Choose a Sofa That Complements The Style Of Your Decor
Take your overall room decor and your personal style into consideration when choosing your sofa as the lines of a sofa are an important element of the overall look. If your interior is traditional, look for a sofa with rolled arms, a contoured back, skirting or tufted cushions. Contemporary sofas tend to have cleaner lines, fewer flourishes and understated upholstery.
Consider Room and Sofa Size
Size is a major consideration when buying a sofa. Consider the proportions of the room and determine what height, length and depth of sofa would look best in the space. If you’re uncertain, mock up a footprint on the floor using masking tape or blue painter’s tape. Or consider “building” a sofa out of empty boxes — then live with it for a few days to see how it feels. You shouldn’t overwhelm or underwhelm it. If you plan to spend a lot of time lying on the sofa for reading or naps, make sure your sofa will have enough space between the arms. Don’t rely on overall length alone, as the width of the arms will affect the space between. If you’re short on space, think about buying a sofa with low arms or no arms — it’ll make your room look larger.
Think about how many people you will want to seat? That might sound like a silly question, but the truth is, nobody likes sitting on the crack between cushions. So if you get a sofa with two cushions, expect just two people to use it. To accommodate more people, get a sofa with three cushions or a single long cushion, called a bench cushion.
Decide on The Sofa Back You Want
Sofas generally come with one of two types of backs: a pillow back, which has removable cushions or pillows along the rear; or a tight back, in which the upholstery is tailored to the contours of the sofa’s back.
Pillow-back sofas are generally considered more comfortable and inviting, and look both casual and comfortable. But there’s a downside: unless you’re diligent with your fluffing, the cushions will usually look slightly askew. If you’re the kind of person who is driven to distraction by something like that, you may want to consider a tight back with tailored cushions which look more sophisticated.
It’s easy to get caught up in how a sofa looks – but don’t forget that a good sofa is comfortable, too. Seat size should be one of your most important considerations when choosing a new sofa. When it comes to sofas, one size does not fit all. The depth of the seat and the angle of the back will influence how comfortable you feel.
How do you know what depth is right for you? Let experience be your guide. If there’s a sofa that you find particularly comfortable, measure the distance from the inside of your knee to the spot where your lower back hits the back of the sofa, then buy a sofa that has similar dimensions.
Colour and Fabric
Since sofas are such a big investment, you’ll want yours to stay in fashion as long as possible. It’s tempting to go neutral when buying a sofa, so the piece works in a variety of different spaces that makes sense. But if you love colour, don’t be afraid of it – a sofa can be a statement piece and colour makes it exciting. You can always add colour and pattern with throw pillows. Plus, pillows are easy and inexpensive to change if you decide to redecorate. If you have kids and a neutral coloured sofa sounds like an invitation to disaster, consider a darker colour or a sofa with a subtle overall pattern.
As a rule, synthetic fabrics are more durable, colorfast and cleanable. Tightly woven fabrics and fabrics that are heavy will stand up to wear and tear better, as will leather. Avoid satins, brocades and damasks unless the sofa won’t get much use. Whatever fabric you choose, ask the store for a sample or cutting that you can take home on approval before you buy. (If no sample is available, ask for a cushion.) That way you can see the material under the light in your room and with other pieces of furniture. When you’re spending this kind of money, the last thing you want is a surprise.
At Thomson Brothers Furniture we’re committed to helping you find the best sofa for your home. Come in to see us with your ideas and we’ll help you find the ideal sofa for your home and family.
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