Buying a Sofa

Follow these tips on what to look for when shopping for a sofa, including comfort, support and style.
Silk Sofa Highlighted by Bird Patterned Pillows

Silk Sofa Highlighted by Bird Patterned Pillows

Here's a list of things to consider before you go sofa shopping:

  • One of the first things someone looks for when buying a sofa is the arm style. There are three basic classic arm styles: the Charles of London (also known as English traditional), the roll arm and the straight (or square) arm.
  • Another option is no arms at all. A tight seat and tight back construction work well for this style because all the cushions are attached and don't need to be fixed after each use. Just know that these cushions aren't easily replaceable.
  • While solid colors are easier to decorate with, patterned sofas don't show wear as quickly. The most durable and practical material is leather, which wears in, not out; the longer you have leather, the more patina it gets, whereas a fabric, no matter how good, will become worn out.
  • The most important part of the sofa is the frame for the whole piece, which should be made of a kiln-dried hardwood such as maple, poplar, beach or oak instead of pine.
  • When thinking about support, look for durability. One option is coils that are tied together. Another durable and less expensive option is wire springs.
  • The cushions are what really make a sofa comfortable. The least expensive option is high-resiliency foam, which compresses during use and comes back to its natural shape. For real luxury, goose-down filling is the most expensive option, but it doesn't offer much support and needs to be fluffed up often. A good compromise between comfort and budget is an inner core of foam topped with cotton batting surrounded by a cover filled with goose down. The foam center provides support for the soft feathers.
  • When shopping for a sofa, sit in it the way you will at home or lie on it to test its comfort level.
  • Measure the sofa before leaving the store to be sure it will fit in the front door.
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