A sofa is the centrepiece of your living area. It’s the main piece of furniture everyone’s eyes are drawn to – and it’s also probably the most practical element in the room. You need somewhere to sit and feel comfortable as a family, yet you also want your living room to look stylish.
Most of us don’t realise the effort that goes into buying a sofa until it’s time to get one. There are lots of different things to take into consideration before making a purchase. I want to make sure you get the best sofa for your home. So, here’s the only sofa-buying guide you’ll ever need to read!
Keep on reading, and this guide will teach you what to look for when buying a new sofa and how to make the right decision.
Determine your budget
Right away, we need to get the boring stuff figured out. Nobody likes thinking about it, but a budget is necessary when buying a sofa. I’m not going to tell you how much money to spend on a sofa – it’s completely up to you.
What I will say is that you should think about your budget from a long-term perspective. Look, I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking too short-term before. Oh, I need a sofa, let’s just pick a cheap one to save money. It sounds like a good idea, but less than a year later and the cushions have sunk, everything is misshapen and you’re throwing it out for a new one.
Most designer furniture can be bought on finance these days. My suggestion is to think about how much you could afford to spend each month on finance payments. Also, figure out how much you may be able to pay upfront. This should give you a ballpark figure for how much money you can spend on a decent sofa that will last for many years.
Put quality first
The quality and craftsmanship of a sofa should always be the first thing you think about after setting a budget.
Again, I’ll hold my hands up and admit I got this wrong in the past. I bought an affordable sofa from a company that shall not be named. It seemed like a wicked deal, but the craftsmanship was so poor. Immediately, it was obvious why the sofa was so cheap!
Instead, pay close attention to the materials. What is the sofa made out of? Does it have a sturdy metal or hardwood frame? Is it covered in high-quality fabric that’s stain-resistant and can be cleaned easily? These properties are the hallmarks of things like made in Italy furniture that’s all handmade to order. You know that every piece of the sofa is of high quality, so it should be built to last.
Pay very close attention to the cushion too. You want a top-quality sofa that has a long-lasting filling so the cushions don’t sag and basically deflate after regular use. This is often what sets good sofas apart from bad ones. We won’t talk too much about cushion fillings here as they do come up at a later point!
Measure your living room
In a moment, we’re going to talk about the different types of sofas and the styles available. Before this, there’s an important step to take: measure your living room.
If your room is completely empty as you’re renovating a new house, measure the entire space. You need to know how wide and long your living room is as it largely determines what type of sofa you can opt for.
From here, look at sofas online or in person and take measurements. When shopping online, companies will always tell you how big a sofa is and usually provide a nice snapshot image with all the different measurements. You can now take these and apply them to your living area.
Plot out where a sofa is going to sit and see if it can fit in your room. Is there enough space for other items of furniture? Will the sofa put you too close to the TV? This is where a lot of chopping and changing happens. Take the sofa measurements and see if you can make them fit in your living room. If not, you may need a smaller sofa. In some cases, you might want a bigger one as the sofa is so small it looks silly in such a wide living area.
Here’s an extra tip: if you have any boxes in your attic or garage, use them to create a faux sofa. Make them match the measurements and it gives a slightly better view of how much space is taken up when the sofa is in.
Pick a sofa style
Depending on who you ask, there can be anywhere between 15 or over 20 types of sofas to choose from.
Now, this can seem intimidating, but most of you will quickly establish what type of sofa you want after measuring your living room. For example, if you have a relatively small living area, you’re unlikely to opt for something like an L-shaped sofa that takes up quite a lot of room.
I would say this is definitely the hardest part of buying a sofa as there are so many things to keep in mind. You don’t just have the sofa shape to think about, you have other elements too, such as:
- The number of seats
- The seat depth
- The arm shape
- The back shape
- The legs
It’s impossible to talk about each individual element as it all comes down to personal preference. My advice is to have a look at a sofa store, see the different styles and pick whichever one suits your space, fits your living room and gives you warm tingly feelings when you look at it!
Oh, one other thing to think about is storage. This can really influence your sofa decision as some come with great storage features. If your living room or home just generally lacks storage, it could be smart to get one with either internal storage or space underneath for sliding storage.
Don’t neglect comfort
I’m going to call some of us out here and say we often neglect comfort in favour of style. This is particularly true when it comes to sofas. Some designer sofas look utterly fabulous, yet feel horrendous. Still, we buy them because they look good and we want people to be amazed by the aesthetics.
Remember, you’re going to sit on this sofa all the time. It needs to not only be durable, but also comfortable. This is where the cushion firmness and quality come into play. Most of the time, sofa cushions are filled with one of the following materials:
Feather sofas are more traditional but cost lots of money and the cushions must be plumped every day or they look deflated. However, this filling is usually very comfortable and you can choose how firm it is based on your preference.
Foam fillings are the most durable and will ensure sofas keep their shape with minimal maintenance. Normally, they feel firmer than other fillings but you can choose different densities as well.
Fibre sofas are more affordable alternatives to feather sofas and are great if you’re allergic to feathers. They mould around your shape when you sit in them, making it feel like you’re sinking in.
Already, you can see how each filling could be better or worse for you. Generally, if you want a sofa with more support – perhaps you have back issues – then foam is the best. Feather or fibre both work if you want a more sunken sofa to collapse into every day.
Also, you can get blends of multiple materials. Many feather/foam or foam/fibre sofas are popular as they bring the benefits of both materials to a sofa.
The back height and support should be another comfort factor to consider. Low-back sofas don’t tend to be the best for comfort as you can’t really sit back in them. Again, this all comes down to YOUR feelings and preferences; I’m just pointing out things to focus on when buying.
Test sofas before buying
Finally, this isn’t something to think about, but rather something to go out and do.
You could buy a sofa totally online without seeing it once, but it’s better to test them beforehand. Head to physical furniture stores so you can see sofas in the flesh and sit on them. Even if you find a sofa online and it’s exclusively online, furniture stores may have similar designs that give you a general feel for how the sofa will be.
Also, plenty of sites offer money-back guarantees these days. Check if there’s a way to order your sofa and send it back before a set period. Some will have a 7 or 28-day guarantee where you basically get to test the sofa and keep it if you like it or have it collected for a full refund.
That seems like the perfect place to end this guide! You should now know how to buy a sofa and what you need to look for. As a result, you’ll make a better decision that suits your home and makes the whole family feel comfortable.