Nearly all designers agree that the first piece you should buy for a room is the sofa. The sofa sets the tone for a room’s design direction it is also the place where you spend the bulk of your time.
Interior Designer, and the author of Interior Bliss, Jonathan Hopp, shared his tips for deciding on a sofa that's right for your family.
STYLE - This is one of the most important decisions you will make when determining a room’s look. From contemporary to traditional there are a multitude of options within those categories. As I always ask my client’s to do – choose pictures of rooms that appeal to you. What captures your heart? Create a design file and use this as a guide when you start to make selections and it can even have an impact on where you go to shop.
PLACEMENT - How is your sofa situated in a room? What is the rooms focus or function? This is very important in narrowing down your options. Does it float in the room? Is it anchored against a wall? Is it a single sofa? All these questions can impact everything from the width depth height as well as what the outside back looks like and arm style.
SIZE - I prefer the largest sofa you can fit in a room. I tend to choose sofas that don’t have large arms so there is a large sitting area, but more important to me a larger area to lie down. I rarely sit up while watching tv, so a place for me and my partner and dogs to sprawl is important. When looking at size don’t forget to consider not just over all width, but also inside seating width, depth and of course height. Some rooms can handle taller sofas than others.
SHAPE - This relates to placement and size. Do you want a sectional? Do you want 2 sofas? Or are you in a room that can handle a sofa / chaise combo. There are even curved sofas which are a smart solution in rooms with bay windows or when the sofa is floating in the middle of a room.
COMFORT – To me this is the second most important feature of a sofa. I suggest you never buy a sofa that you don’t sit test first. Some sofas are deeper than others, and some have more pitch. It’s like Goldilocks and the three bears This one is to hard, this one is too soft this one is just right! Part of comfort has to do with the seat and back cushion fillings. My personal recommendation is a spring / down blend. Meaning the seat cushion is a spring instead of just foam. The spring bounces back when you get up… And a down blend is a perfect solution for a back cushion though it will require fluffing.
FABRIC - What is the purpose of your room? Do you have kids? Dogs? Do you mind maintenance? All these questions are important when selection upholstery. I love color and if you can commit to a color scheme for year, I suggest you do! If not a neutral toned sofa is a smart solution for most homes. The advantage of a neutral sofa is that its easy to change its look by simply switching out pillow covers. Leather is great if you have dogs, but it may scratch if they climb on the sofa. The latest thing on the market is outdoor fabrics being used on interior sofa. They aren’t organic but you can literally use bleach or soap and water to spot clean them. And spills generally don’t seep in right away, so you have time to clean up the mess.
CONSTRUCTION: Generally the better the construction, the better the higher the price. If the sofa is a longer term commitment look for eight way hand tied springs. They are the most expensive and the longest lasting. Next up are sinuous springs which are becoming more common and found on a lot of mid priced sofas. The cheapest construction is webbing which will stretchin a short time and not last very long. Feel the frame. If you feel any wood through the fabric that means its not padded well. Ask about the wood used for the frame. Ony kiln dried woods are acceptable.
PRICE –I heard a quote once – “Buy the best you can afford and then you only cry once.” It’s very simple. A cheap sofa is a cheap sofa. Will it last? It all depends on one’s lifestyle. A quality sofa will last years and when you look at the life long investment in a quality piece of furniture, its well worth the investment.