Interiors blog: Five vital questions you need to answer before buying a sofa

Dark red corner sofa from B&B Italia with polished chrome legs

Dark red corner sofa from B&B Italia with polished chrome legs - Credit: Archant

As the founder of Hampstead designer furniture business NW3 Interiors, Carly Madhvani has the inside scoop on many of London’s best kept interior design secrets. In the latest post of her exclusive blog series, she shares her tips for buying the perfect sofa to fit your home.

1. Which shape and size, and with or without legs?

• The size and shape of your sofa should come from how many ‘bums-on-seats’ you need in relation to the proportion of the room. (A sofa should never be more than 25% of the space available.)

• If you have high ceilings, buy a sofa with tall, narrow legs.

• If your ceiling is low, look mostly at no-leg sofas.

• Is this an opportunity to include an extra bed for a guest? (This can be achieved by using a sofa bed or a day bed/chaise.)

2. Do I have the access?

It’s the worst sinking feeling when your beloved new sofa arrives but won’t fit through the door.

• Measure the door width and height and consider sharp angles. Take the plan or dimensions to the retail shop (or ask for your furniture consultant to do a quick site survey) to guarantee installation success!

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• Buy a modular sofa if space is an issue and make sure the legs are removable - usually they are.

3. Fabric or leather?

• Fabric is the more popular choice, albeit less practical than leather. Not only can you enjoy the comfort of durable fabrics, but due to the vast area of a flat surface, the weave of fabric can really give the look of movement. It’s also possible to include your interior colour pallet with fabric, whereas with leather you’re limited to a singular colour.

• Check the ‘Martindale’ rub number on the fabric specifications: this shows how many times a piece of fabric can be rubbed before it will bobble and wear. If it is 30,000 or above this is suitable for heavy residential use.

• Put fabric samples to your cheek to feel if they have the softness-factor suitable for you

4. Is it a movie sofa or a sitting-up sofa I’m after?

• All sofas are made with a practical use in mind, for example the Osgerby and Barber sofa was designed to be used as a family movie sofa and the Florence Knoll sofa is for sitting and waiting. Always buy for the purpose the designer intended.

5. What should I pay?

• Sofa and dining chairs are where you should put your money first. This is where we sit most of the time whilst at home so they need to be comfortable.

• A three seater fabric sofa for less than £2000 could be comfortable for maybe two years, but after this the stitching will start to lose its straightness and it will start looking more tired.

• Expect to pay around the £5000 mark for a high-quality three seater sofa which will last for over 10 years, while still looking and feeling as fresh as it did on day one.

For more secrets visit, sign up to their newsletter or contact them for a free consultation at your home.

Previous blog: Carly has a look at some of the most iconic, modern and collectable dining tables on the market. Read here.