On the lookout for a new sofa? Here are 9 must-know tips from sofa.com.
According to sofa.com, the average British person only swaps their sofa once every 10 years. So, as well as a new purchase being a practical and financial investment, it’s an emotional one too.
To make sure you get it right, we’ve asked the experts at sofa.com – an award-winning, upmarket furniture retailer with seven showrooms across the UK – for the key things to think about when changing the most important seat in your home.
First things first. Before you fall head-over-heels in love with a sofa, you’ll need to know you can get it into your home.
“We can’t stress the importance of access enough,” says sofa.com’s Maeve Byrne. “Think about all door lengths and widths – not forgetting door frames – as well as any tight turns in hallways and staircases.
“If you live in a flat, the floor number you occupy is obviously important. And, while you might think you’re in luck if you have a lift, measure the height and width of the doors and the depth of the lift, to check the sofa will go in when tipped up on its end.”
Now is also the time to check whether the body of the sofa comes apart and can be reassembled in situ, as well as whether the legs are removable. You’ll need to make sure the largest sections of the sofa can be manoeuvred into your home.
Finally, if your plan is to get the sofa through a large window, bear in mind this will be your responsibility. Delivery firms are likely to refuse as they won’t be covered by insurance.
Pictured: sofa.com’s Izzy two-and-a-half seat sofa in Pumice house cotton blend and Izzy armchair in Heron Herringbone recycled wool
2. Sofa-to-room space ratio
There’s nothing worse than finally getting your sofa into your new home and then realising it doesn’t fit the space. “Depth tends to be the most underestimated dimension,” says Byrne.
To fully appreciate the size of your sofa and ensure it will fit proportionately to the room, map out its dimensions on the floor with masking tape or newspaper first.
While the shape of sofa comes down to personal preference, there are some practicalities to consider too.
“If the sofa is for a kitchen-living area, go for something with a low frame height to reflect the sense of space,” says Byrne.
“Corner sofas are also worth considering as you can put them flush against the wall. But check that opening doors won’t intrude on personal space.”
Byrne adds that modular sofas are a useful option for any space as they come in separate arrangeable units. “Just don’t fall into the trap of buying more pieces than you need,” she warned.
Pictured: sofa.com’s Aissa medium corner sofa in Lagoon brushed linen cotton
Traditionally, sofas are positioned flush against a wall – but time has seen this trend shift, particularly in the case of more style-led designs.
“Grand sofas, such as Chesterfields, can come with beautiful curved backs so people prefer to put them in the middle of the room,” says Byrne. “It also means the sofa can act as a divider in open-plan spaces.”
A sofa facing the main window or French doors will ensure a pleasant view. And, while iPads and laptops are used more than ever, a family gathering around the TV is still not an obsolete pastime, so bear this in mind when positioning your sofa.
Pictured: sofa.com’s Oscar asymmetrical corner sofa (with double and two-and-a-half seat) in Navy pure Belgian linen
Fabric choice should, first and foremost, hinge on the purpose of the sofa. If it’s intended as an occasional showpiece, you can have fun with upholstering in delicate velvets and fabrics with natural fibres such as linen.
Alternatively, if you're looking for a sofa to be at the heart of your day-to-day home life and in constant use, you’ll benefit from a fabric that’s more durable.
Distressed leather is the ultimate here, according to Byrne, as it’s great on spills and marks: “an absolute blessing if you have pets or young children!”
However, cheaper artificial fabrics are now improving, along with a range of Teflon-coated fabrics which are easy to wipe clean.
Practicality should also be at the forefront of your mind when considering colour. Beautiful white and cream hues are best-suited to more grown up spaces, as they are particularly susceptible to showing signs of everyday wear and tear.
Darker beige or grey shades are a great alternative for those who love subtle and calming neutral colours, but you need to think about children and pets. They are also the perfect choice if you like to chop and change more colourful accessories, such as cushions and blankets.
If you prefer to follow trends, then dark blue is the colour ‘du jour’, according to Byrne, while teal and darker yellows are also popular.
Every sofa and armchair design at sofa.com is available across a whole palette of colours, which you can view here.
Pictured: sofa.com’s Bluebell two-and-a-half seat sofa in Taupe brushed linen cotton
Although, once in situ, your sofa shouldn’t move around much, you may want to get casters, protective felt, rubber pads or even a rug to protect wooden floors or thick-pile carpets.
Most sofa manufacturers will offer an upfront free-of-charge guarantee.
At sofa.com this lasts for 12 months for the fabric, and a lifetime for the frame (against manufacturing defaults). You can also opt to buy a separate 5-year fabric protection guarantee, which protects against damage and stains. It costs around £70 for a two-seater sofa.
There are also steps you can take on your own to look after your sofa. “If possible, rotate the seat cushions to keep wear even,” advises Byrne. “And, even if removable covers are machine washable, it’s much better to dry clean them to avoid shrinking or colour fading.”
It’s also sensible to keep sofas upholstered in darker fabrics out of direct sunlight.
Pictured: sofa.com’s showroom in London’s Bankside
9. Getting rid of your old sofa
If you’re not selling your old sofa or passing it along to someone, contact a charity such as the British Heart Foundation. They will collect used furniture that’s in good condition with the original fire retardant sticker intact.
If your old sofa is really on its last legs, you can arrange for your local council to collect it on an allocated day for a nominal charge, usually between £20 and £30.
sofa.com also offers to collect your old sofa when they deliver your lovely new one, for a £50 fee.
While online is a great place to start your search for a sofa, visiting a showroom enables you to see, touch and try sofas out for size and comfort, feel the quality of the fabrics and see colours in the flesh.
To get the most from your trip, bring along photos, floor plans, measurements and even a mood board to show to sales team members.