Your sofa will probably be one of the biggest investments in your home, and the most used and most permanent piece of furniture you buy for your home. A good quality sofa will last for a very long time (15 years or more), so it’s important to get it right – no pressure!
I can emphatically say that all sofas are not created equal! Buying a poor quality sofa could mean that it will lose its shape, looks and comfort fairly quickly – sometimes in a matter of months. My advice: buy the best quality you can afford.
1. SIZE MATTERS
It’s so important to get the size right – unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes people make is choosing a sofa that’s too big or too small for the room. It’s hard to get a good idea of how the sofa will look in your living room when you’re in a showroom, so make sure you tape out the footprint of the sofa with some painter’s tape to see how it fits in the room.
A sofa with low and narrow arms or no arms will make a room look larger. The same goes for skinny legs. In a bigger space you need to ensure the sofa has scale in the room and is not too small.
2. COMFORT & QUALITY
You spend a lot of time sitting on your sofa so you need it ensure it’s the best quality and that, above all, it’s comfortable. Quality sofas should feel solid and heavy. If it feels shonky, light or wobbly, take a pass. The best frames should be made from high-quality New Zealand timbers or metal.
What’s inside the cushions has a big impact on comfort and price. Most cushions have a core of polyurethane foam – the denser the foam, the heavier it is and the longer it will last. In lesser-quality furniture, the foam can start breaking down pretty quickly, causing sags – and the fabric does not stay taut when this happens. In better quality furniture, the core is wrapped – with batting, feathers or a mixture of the two. My favourite combination – memory foam for the seat cushions, and feather and fibre wrapped back cushions – seriously comfy!
The only way to find a sofa that you think is supremely comfortable is to visit showrooms and sit on them! And remember – don’t be worried if your sofa feels a little firmer than it should when it first arrives – the showroom sofa will have been sat on by many people before you.
Fabric can make or break a sofa – it has to be up to the task and it has to look fabulous.
It is critical that the sofa you’re investing in has durable fabric that will withstand daily family use and the harsh New Zealand sun. Generally, fabrics with a good dose of synthetic fibre are going to be more durable, colourfast and cleanable. Heavier, tightly woven fabrics will better stand up to wear and tear, as will leather.
And while I’m a big advocate of bold and beautiful pieces of furniture, unless your sofa is going to be the stand-out feature in a space in your forever favourite colour, I generally recommend choosing a neutral fabric with minimal or no pattern – this will go with most decor styles as your taste evolves over the years.
Big tip – when choosing the style of your sofa, ask yourself, will I still like it in five years? In ten years?
The look of the sofa you choose needs to complement your decor. Traditional with rolled arms and buttoning; or contemporary with sleek, clean lines.
Remember, in a small room a sofa that sits off the ground on legs will give an illusion of more space. When it comes to arm width, remember that a wider arm will take up valuable seating space. Also, look at the seat cushions and consider how many people will be sitting on the sofa – no-one likes to sit on the crack, so a single seat cushion may work best. And in open plan spaces, think about the back of the sofa – lower backs that still look gorgeous from behind are the best pick.
5. CUSTOM MADE
I’m a huge fan of custom sofas – they mean you don’t have to compromise on anything! And for an investment piece that you’re likely to have for 10 years or more, custom sofas offer practical benefits that no ready-made will deliver. Being able to choose the perfect style of sofa for your home, customising the size to fit your space in a fabric that suits your tastes and your lifestyle – that’s what you should expect from the investment that you’re making in this piece of furniture. I also love and appreciate that each piece of custom furniture involves a level of care and attention to detail by craftspeople here in New Zealand, which can never be matched by mass-produced pieces.
6. MAKE IT YOURS
To make a sofa truly yours, layer up cushions and throws. Buy fabrics and colours you love – these are the accessories that you can change up as your taste and trends evolve.
by Kirsten Ford