Buying a new sofa is an important decision. Not only are they an expensive purchase, and one you’ll be living with for years, they can also make or break the whole room. Here’s our guide to what to look for.
Sofas come in all shapes and sizes from sleek, contemporary and minimal to huge and squashy. If your living room is small or dark, a sofa on raised legs where there’s light and space underneath will help to maximise an airy feel.
Choose clean, simple lines, with a low back, a plain, neutral colour and low arms for a feeling of space. If that style’s too modern for your decor, you can add lots of scatter cushions in traditional fabrics such as tweed and velvet for instant cosyness. If you want your new sofa to be the focal point of the room, you can afford to go bigger – consider traditionally-styled sofas with solid arms and a high back. A new sofa is also a great opportunity to redesign your room.
Cloud sofa from Loaf, prices start at £1195.
Would a corner unit offer more seating than a sofa and separate armchair? Would two two-seaters suit the space better than a three-seater and an armchair?
To help you work it out, cut out brown paper templates of the footprint of the sofa(s) you’re thinking of buying, and see how much space it takes up on the floor. Think about how you use your sofa, as well – if you like to curl up on a Saturday night with a film, you’ll need a sofa that’s long and deep enough for you to lie down comfortably. Make sure every member of the family sits on the sofa before you make a decision – what’s comfortable for you may be too high/deep for someone else.
The Pimloco sofa from Sofas and Stuff. Prices start at £716.
If you’re planning to keep this sofa for years, then think long and hard before splashing out on too vibrant a colour scheme. That aquamarine three-seater may have been 50 per cent off in the sales – but do you really want to work with a blue colour scheme in your living room for the next 15 years?
Neutral shades such as grey never go out of style, and you can add colour and character with lots of bright throws and cushions. If you’re yearning for something more individual, lots of companies offer textured upholstery, so you can show your style with some subtle stripes or patterning. Using patterned fabric will also mean those everyday scuffs and stains won’t show up as much.
Bigwig studded black sofa from The French Bedroom Company. Prices start at £840.
Over the years, your sofa will see a lot of traffic! Choose a fabric that will keep up with your lifestyle.
If you have young children, washable, synthetic upholstery in darker colours is a practical choice. If you have pets, think about whether you’re prepared to put the time in removing hair from that dark velvet or wool finish! Linen and cotton look great but can show up wear and tear over the years.
Leather sofas are practical to keep clean and tend to look better the older and more battered they get. If that’s not your cup of tea, then look for fabric that’s a wool/polyester mix or even 100% polyester. Manmade fabrics tend to be easier to keep clean, and can usually be kept looking presentable with a little judicious sponging. Some sofa retailers have fabric swatches available, if possible take one of these home and try it with the existing colour scheme.