A sofa is probably going to be around for a long time and, apart from your bed, you will probably spend more time on it than anywhere else in the house.
Buying a sofa is like buying a car. You need to give her a test drive. Don’t feel shy – lie down on the sofa for a while, and crash in your usual position. Get people to go with you to see how many you can fit on there. This is going to set you back a lot of money – so you want to get it right.
All style and fancy fabric look lovely in the showroom – but get home and what happens when you want to crash with your feet up and a big bowl of messy pasta.
Good quality sofas are expensive – but they stand up to long-term use – sometimes as long as twenty years.
Also a quality-made sofa can be reupholstered several times, so try to think long-term and if possible don’t let price dictate your choice. Even if you have to save for a while until you can afford a quality one – it will be worth it in the long run.
Checklist for Buying a Sofa
- Sofa should sit squarely on the floor without wobbling.
- With a good sofa you should not be able to feel the frame or the springs through the upholstery
- Frame – how the frame is made will dictate how long it will last. The best sofas are made from hardwood frames with coil springs. Oak or maple withstands reupholstering better than pine or spruce. Avoid plywood, particleboard, steel, and plastic as they crack easily.
- Frames should be glued and screwed together at critical joints and stress points. Inexpensive furniture often is stapled and has no support blocks.
- A well-made wooden frame is held together by metal screws or metal brackets – not nails.
- Filling – The main choices are foam-filled, feather-filled, feather-filled with a foam wrap or fibre-filled. Fibre fill and foam backs are soft enough to sink into and sturdy enough not to sag. Feather is the most comfortable but the cushions will require lots of plumping.
- Upholstery – Ensure the fabric is durable and won’t mark too easily. Chenille, suede and corduroy are popular choices but leather is still the firm favorite among many buyers – and, like smoked salmon was once the preserve of the rich.
- However, by using softwood and chipboard for the frame, moulded cardboard for the arms and foam rather than horsehair for the stuffing, the cost of producing them has fallen.
- But it really is wise to spend money if you are buying a leather sofa as a good one should be broken in after around a year and it will only improve with age.
- In Eoin Lyons book ‘Style Source Ireland interiors’ designer Maria MacVeigh says that superior construction is why some sofas are more expensive than others and look better, feel more comfortable and last longer.
- She advises to choose a sofa with discreet legs, as anything too obvious will date quickly. Ms MacVeigh adds that in a small room one sofa is often better than a small couch and two armchairs as a single piece means less clutter.