Today’s sofa is the ultimate multi-tasker, providing somewhere to kick back at the end of the day, entertain friends and even store your vacuum cleaner. It’s also probably one of the most expensive purchases you’ll make for your living room, so it pays to do your research and find a design that fits your needs perfectly.
A good quality sofa should last upwards of 10 years, so it’s important to seek out a style you’ll love for years to come and one that won’t date quickly. There’s no shortage of options; a quick trawl of the shops will reveal everything from versatile modulars and chic, tailored sofas to slouchy, low-slung ones that are all about relaxation. Many of the latest designs also come packed with impressive features, including auto-extending seats, built-in lights and side tables, and even recharging stations for your smart phone or tablet.
Consider your needs
To help narrow the search, ask yourself a few questions. Where will the sofa be located? For small living rooms, slim line sofas with exposed legs work best as they won’t swallow precious floor space and will visually maximise the space you’ve got; while for spacious, open plan rooms or to accommodate large numbers of guests you might like to consider a generous modular. Do you have children or pets? If so, you’ll want fully removable covers that can be washed or even replaced, in a durable fabric that will stand up to wear and tear. Will you need to accommodate overnight guests? If so, a sofa bed might be your best option. Do you require extra storage space? Seek out a sofa with a concealed storage compartments in the base.
You should also pay attention to what the cushions are filled with, as this will determine how comfortable the sofa will feel. Feather-filled cushions feel incredibly soft, but if you don’t want to spend your life plumping cushions, you might prefer feather-wrapped foam core ones, which are soft and inviting but hold their shape well. Foam-filled cushions come in different densities, ranging from low to high, to provide as much or as little softness as required.
Construction is also important, as the better made your sofa is, the longer it is likely to last. Quality sofas will be made with galvanized steel or solid timber frames, which are at the upper end of the price bracket, but will hold their shape for years and provide good back support. MDF frames are cheaper, but are less supportive and tend to sag over time.
When it comes to colour and pattern, the latest sofas run the full gamut from neutrals and pretty pastels through to bold patterns. Textured neutrals are still the most popular choice, and it’s not hard to see why; they’re easy to live with, blend in with most decorative schemes, and you can update them as often as you like with colourful scatter cushions.
Leather is losing none of its appeal as an upholstery material, but expect to find more than just standard black and brown on offer – think pale grey, rich burgundy and even lime green.
Sofa arrangements have also evolved. The traditional matching three-piece set is giving way to a more eclectic arrangement, where you might mix a neutral sofa with a bright patterned armchair and a leather chaise – all designed to add individuality to a space.
You can save yourself considerable time and hassle by going to the shops armed with all the information you’ll need to narrow your search. This includes measurements and photographs of your living room, flooring and fabric samples, and pictures of any existing pieces that need to be incorporated into the arrangement. And once you’re there, take the time to sit down on any design you fall in love with to make sure it provides all the comfort and support you need.
Georgia Madden is a freelance interiors journalist and writer. She is a regular contributor to House & Garden magazine and a number of interiors websites. Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum is her debut novel.
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