Tips on Buying a Sofa

image from freshhome.com

Buying furniture can be a very stressful endeavor, as it can be a large amount of money for many people. Unlike clothing, where you can change on a whim, major furniture cannot be switched so easily, plus it will be used on a daily basis for many years and must withstand the time through constant use.  Therefore, it is very important to really think this through.  Major furniture pieces should not be bought on an impulse, or you may regret it.  Also remember that custom made sofas, in most cases, cannot be returned.  To many, the major furniture pieces are;

  • the family room sofa
  • dining table
  • dining chair
  • coffee table
  • master bed

With the variety in styles, materials and colors to choose from,  it becomes very difficult for anyone to make a decision. Sometimes with more choices we become more confused.  But, before you even get to style and color there are other characteristics that I think are very important to your purchase, that should be considered.  Today, let’s start with the Family Room Sofa. This could also be called the rec room/den sofa or the sofa that is placed directly in front of the TV.  This is a more casual sofa that requires comfort.   If you just consider the length of a movie plus commercials, one could easily spend up to two hours at a time on this sofa..  If you’re like me and enjoy munching and snacking while watching TV,  the sofa needs to have easy maintenance:  i.e., easy to clean.  Lastly, the sofa’s overall size must be  proportionate to the scale of the room.

Comfort: What promotes comfort in a sofa?  How do you use the sofa?  Do you just sit upright, do you lie down to watch TV, or curl up with a loved one?  What are the things to look for? 

  • Seat depth. I don’t know if it’s because we are getting larger as a nation but, seat depths are increasing and to me, the deeper the seat the more comfortable the sofa.  It is also easier to curl up with a book or a loved one, even a pet.
  • Backrest height. The higher the backrest, the more support.
  • Armrests. Do you rest your head on the armrest when you lay down?  How do you use the armrest?  Those are things to keep in mind.  It may not be so important to some who do not watch TV horizontally.
  • Cushioning. This is really about firmness.  How firm or how soft you like your sofa is a matter of preference, but I was told by the sales lady that the firmness breaks down over time, so go on the slightly firm side.
  • Fabric texture. Part of comfort includes temperature and texture.  One thing to consider is the climate in your area.  Leather or ultra suede may not be too suitable if you live in the humid tropics and leather can also be very cold if the temperature in the room is low.  You want to make sure that if you skin is exposed, you know how the fabrics feel against your skin.

Maintenance: Depending on how the number of people using the sofa, their ages and their uses, the issue varies.  However, you want your sofa looking good for a long period of time.  Make sure the fabric can withstand time.  Unfortunately, many of the stronger polyester or olefin fabrics are not very soft.  This type of fabric is often used for commercial purposes, but in a home, you want it to be comfortable too.

  • Basically, the man made fibers are better on wear and tear.  Microfibers are very good for maintenance.  The fibers are tightly woven so you have less chance of a spill going through the fibers that stain the fabric.
  • Usually a blend of polyester and nylon is a good choice and of course ultra suede is too.  Just make sure you rub the fabric on your skin or better yet sit in the sofa with the fabric you want.  I had a cotton arm chair that was so beautiful when I bought it, but it really tore to shreds with three young children jumping on it.  Not a good choice.
  • The thicker the fabric, the stronger it is.
  • Get it sprayed with a stain guard.

Size: This is important for the aesthetics and energy of the space.

  • Make sure it can fit through your front door, side door, deck or anywhere.  If you have to haul it up a stairwell or elevator, that’s something else you must think about.  It has to fit through all those spaces to get in your home.  Also, once in your home, you have to make sure you can get it around the walls and doors too!  Measure, measure, measure!
  • If the room where you place the sofa is small with a low ceiling, you may want to get a smaller scaled sofa.  In Asia, where space is a premium, the furniture is smaller in scale and lower to the ground.  This creates the illusion that the room is bigger than it is.  If your sofa dominates the room, it will make your room feel and look much smaller.  So remember to measure not only the sofa but the room.
  • Remember to leave enough space in front of the sofa so you have ample room to stand up and move.  In feng shui, this is very important because it allows for the “expansion” of energy.

Once you have these considerations narrowed down, you can start to look for the style of design and color of your choice!  Good luck in finding your new sofa!

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