How to choose the right sofa for your home

The Bailey velvet maxi sofa, royal blue, £1,599, available from DFS. PA Photo/Handout.

The Bailey velvet maxi sofa, royal blue, £1,599, available from DFS. PA Photo/Handout. - Credit: Archant

Sofas are one of the hearts of the home – where we slouch, lounge, surf and even snooze – and choosing the right one is all-important.

There’s little point having a slimline model if, in reality, its high-end design will disappear under a pile of cushions, kids and pets, while deep, squashy high-backed sofas probably suit informal rural or period settings, rather than streamlined urban lofts.

“It’s a good idea to spend time deciding what you really want. A rushed decision could mean you’ll end up with that little something missing, which keeps your sofa from being the safe, warm and cosy centre of your living room that it can and should be,” says Rebecca Snowden, interior style advisor at Furniture Choice.

“When it comes to picking the perfect sofa, think of all its many functions – something you can curl up on at the end of a long day, or sprawl out on for a lazy weekend. Ask yourself whether you want it to blend in seamlessly, or stand out and be a centrepiece.”

Comfort, of course, is also key. According to research by sofa specialists Sofology, the average Brit spends three to four hours a day on their sofa (though for some, this figure is much higher!), while one-in-five also use the settee as a setting to do work from.

Size matters

Matching a sofa to a room can be as tricky as choosing a new partner – and it’s crucial to get it right, as you’ll have to live with your choice (or mismatch) for years.

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“If you’re trying to style a small space, don’t chose an oversized sofa, no matter how comfortable it looks,” advises Rick Petini, creative director at Delcor.

“Slim, high legs and plenty of space between the floor and sofa base will allow light to flow around the room, and give the illusion of more space. If you have a larger space, opt for a medium or three-seater rather than a smaller sofa which may be dwarfed by the room’s dimensions.”

Mix and match

Sofas come in an array of shapes, from curvy to boxy – and even ones that can change their form.

“For me, modular sofas are probably the best of all worlds, as they’re good for any size of home and any room within it,” says Arianne Keeler, upholstery buyer at Habitat. “They’re an excellent option for those starting small, who want a sofa which can change and grow as their home or family expands.

“For a bit of fun, you can mix up modules in different colour options to create an edgy, individual look, or go for a unified colour option but use different module styles to create a truly bespoke feature.”

Buttons and blooms

Catwalk trends impact on decor and seating too, and it’s important to avoid choosing a sofa that will date quickly.

“Botanicals – floral patterns – continue to dominate and are in tune with our desire to ‘bring the outside in’. We’re also seeing interiors take a darker turn, with inky blue set to be one of this year’s most popular colours, with blushing pink for those who want a more feminine look,” says Philip Watkin, director at DFS.

“Classic designs are set to make a comeback and the most coveted pieces are embracing button detail, which we’ve interpreted in Chesterfield-inspired silhouettes with a modern twist.

“Velvet, a classic material, is still riding high in the style stakes, and to update your look, be bold with vibrant colour-blocking hues, or introduce linear panels in plush velvet or high-definition devore.”

Make sure your sofa will fit into your home by measuring every access point – doorway, stairwell and lift that it has to pass. A template made from newspaper, or masking tape on the floor marking out the amount of space it requires, will give you a good idea of how a sofa will fit a particular room.

Always order a fabric swatch and ‘live’ with it for a few days before confirming your choice, so you can view it in different lights and also, if it has a pile, check its look after you’ve sat on it. If you’re looking for a hard-wearing fabric to withstand the punishment of a family, polyester Accor fabric is particularly durable.

Consider how a sofa will be used and pick upholstery accordingly – is it a sanctuary space for adults, or will it have to cope with sticky hands and muddy paw prints? Leather’s easier to clean, but fabric adds depth and texture to a room.