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Sofa Buying Guide: 10 Tips on How to Choose a Sofa

Sofa Buying Guide: 10 Tips on How to Choose a Sofa

According to our research, people spend an average of 52 hours searching online and instore for their perfect sofa! This comes as no surprise to us as sofas are often one of the most expensive items in our living rooms and become the focal point of the room. Getting this purchase right will set the tone of the room and will be the centerpiece for many a movie night and lazy day to come.
With so many sofas out there to choose from, finding one which ticks all of your boxes can become a tricky process. Where should you even begin when it comes to having to choose your perfect sofa? From budgetary constraints to aesthetic preferences, functionality, size, shape, and texture, this sofa buying guide aims to match you with your perfect sofa more easily.

Why buy a new sofa?

Your sofa is the centrepiece of your living space, and frequently transitions between being decorative, comfortable, and functional - often all in the course of a single day. 

The addition of a new sofa to your space can instantly transform the room bringing a new feel, purpose and style all in one.

In terms of when the best time to buy a new sofa is, this depends on a number of factors. Often waiting until periods such as Black Friday or January sales will mean you’ll bag a bargain but they could also mean that there will be longer lead times on your new sofa so bear this in mind if you want a sofa within a matter of days or weeks rather than months. If bagging a bargain isn’t a priority for you then the perfect reason and time to buy your new sofa will be personal and may be focused on a new home, room makeover, the need for an extra sleeping arrangement (hello sofabed!) or your old sofa may have seen better days. 

Whenever and for whatever reason you decide to buy your new sofa, what should you be looking for when making this purchase? 

In this sofa buying guide, we’re sharing 10 of the top questions to ask yourself when looking for and buying your perfect sofa.

1. How will you use it?

Although this may seem like a silly question it’s important to consider what the main purpose of your new sofa will be. Is it going to be used everyday by your whole family? In this case you’ll likely need a sofa which can withstand a lot of wear and tear and which has room for the whole family to get comfy. Do you require a sofa bed function to accommodate guests? There are a multitude of sofa bed designs out there which conveniently act as a great place to curl up and relax during the day and become a great place to rest your weary head at night. Do you want to create a focal point in the room? Maybe a smaller, statement sofa is what you need. 

Make sure you weigh up the requirements of your sofa before deciding on which one to purchase.

2. How do you measure a sofa?

Before you begin your hunt for your new sofa be sure to measure up! There is nothing worse than buying furniture which doesn’t fit in your home. When measuring a sofa there are a number of key considerations.

Often when measuring the space we have in our living room for a new sofa we can forget to measure the doorway into our home, the corridor or hallway width and the width of the door into our living room. If access to the location of your new sofa is limited you may need to opt for a modular design sofa that can be delivered in sections or a sofa which has a low-back style or removable legs. 

The width refers to the measurement across the back of the sofa while the depth refers to the measurement from the back of the sofa to the front. Another possible consideration will be the height especially if you have shelving or radiators which will be located above or behind your sofa location. Finally, it’s worth noting that for a more aesthetically pleasing effect, you should leave a 2 inch gap from the wall to the furniture to avoid the room appearing ‘flat’. Be sure to factor in this extra 2 inch depth when deciding on a sofa.

3. Choosing a sofa fabric

Fabric is so much more than just colour. The choice of fabric has a huge impact on the finish of your room and will also impact the lifetime of the sofa and how you care for it. 
While linen and natural materials are popular for their soft and sustainable outlook, they are prone to fading in direct sunlight - therefore opt for something synthetic for a bright room. Similarly, if your sofa is used every day you should opt for a durable fabric like chenille, which combines comfort and style with a long-lasting finish. If your new sofa will form a focal point in a home office for example and will be seldom-used then you can afford to choose something a bit more luxurious such as velvet or a high thread count cotton which look beautiful but aren’t suited to high demand and daily use.

Another consideration is the users. In homes with pets and/or children, an easy to clean fabric like leather is a practical choice. Alternatively, selecting a sofa with removable covers will allow for easy washing.

4. Which sofa shape is best?

Once you have your measurements, desired fabric and understanding of the space that you are looking to furnish, it’s time to think about the shape of your ideal sofa. 
This decision will depend on a number of things, from the floor space you have available to the way you want the sofa to fit into the room and around your other features and furnishings. 

Whether you’ll be sharing the sofa with your family and pets, enjoying it all by yourself, cuddling up with a partner or require the option to create an extra sleeping space these factors will all influence your choice of sofa shape. Some general points to bear in mind are that small sofas can look out of place in a large space while large sofas cramped in tight spaces will give a claustrophobic feel to a room. If you decide to purchase a recliner or a sofa bed you will need to consider the additional space that these retractable elements will require. 

Consider how you prefer to sit when relaxing. If you like to lie down on your sofa then ensure it's long enough for you to stretch out. If you or your family members are tall then consider a sofa with a higher back which will provide extra support and prevent slouching. Also consider who in your household likes to have their legs up and if the sofa is deep enough to accommodate this or if you’d prefer a sofa with a chaise or reclining functionality.

An L-shaped corner sofa is great for lying back and relaxing or fitting more people in to watch a movie. Meanwhile, a U-shaped sofa is perfect for entertaining and conversation. 

5. Which colour is best for a sofa?

As the centrepiece of your living space, you need to decide if you want your sofa to stand out or blend seamlessly into its surrounding space.

As a general rule, neutral sofas integrate well into minimalist modern homes, while darker and more colourful sofas complement a cottage-style or rustic home. For example, if your living room is decorated in shades of white and cream, then an equally neutral coloured sofa will create harmony and if you decide you want to add some seasonal pops of colour, you can always add cushions and throws!

A more rustic home, meanwhile, with wooden furnishings and brick walls may benefit from an injection of colour - such as a yellow to soften the space, or a blue to create a feeling of luxury. 
A striking coloured sofa such as emerald green or mustard yellow can help to create an eye-popping focus of the room and works well with an art deco theme.

6. Is the quality good?

Sofas are considered an investment item, so whether you’re updating your interior style or replacing an outdated and worn model, choosing something that is high quality will prove to be a high-value investment in the long run. 

And remember, you can always reupholster a good quality sofa to change its aesthetic finish - so don’t write a good sofa off just because it’s not the right colour. If you do decide to fully replace your sofa rather than have it upholstered, a good quality sofa can fetch a high resale value through auction or online marketplace.

7. Choosing a sofa style

While our sofa buying guide can share some of the main points  to focus on when choosing a sofa, only you know your ideal style. 

One of the best ways to find your perfect style is through the use of online resources such as Pinterest and Instagram - looking at how different sofas are finished and integrated into a living space, and how the different shapes and sizes work together to create a harmonious space. A quick Pinterest search of your ideal sofa style or goal interiors theme will quickly return a large volume of inspiration.

8. Consider the filling

Foam or fibre - that’s the big question! When establishing the best filling for your sofa, you need to decide if you want your sofa to provide a supportive and firm base (foam), or that sink-in feeling that oozes luxury and comfort (fibre).

There is not much difference in terms of cost, so this really is a matter of personal preference. Consider if you’ll be using your sofa solely for relaxing or if it needs to double up as a desk and dining table from time to time in which case the firmer support offered by foam will be your best choice.

9. Know your space

We touched on this point earlier but knowing your living space and establishing a layout prior to purchase is key to making sure you select the right sofa (or sofas). You should be looking to hit that sweet spot in terms of size - making sure that your sofa(s) remain a focal point without completely dominating the space. 

This is where arranging your sofas in an optimum way is key, so spend some time finetuning those measurements and draw out various layouts to see which enables the best access to and around the sofa. We always recommend testing out the size of your sofa using true to size pieces of card or paper within the room to get an idea of how much room its going to take up and how much space will be left for movement around the sofa. If you decide to choose more than one sofa for your space then look at the positioning of your coffee table, fireplace, tv and windows to ensure you, your family and guests will be able to comfortably reach for their coffee, see the tv and won’t be eye-level with the sun as it comes in the window.

10. How much to spend on a sofa?

Finally, to the budget. Sofas are an investment purchase, but you don’t have to pay top dollar to get something which looks great, ticks that important comfort box, and is practical too. Here at ufurnish.com we make finding your perfect sofa easier than ever with price range filters and a wide variety of retailers to choose from.

For more style inspiration to create your perfect home, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest, or to search and discover over 110+ furniture retailers across the entire market, simply click here.


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Our passionate and dedicated team at ufurnish.com love all things home interiors. Everyday they bring inspiration and insight to the home furnishing market.

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