Muddy asks: How do I buy a sofa?
The small sofa in my sitting room was already five years old when we got it (a kind donation from a friend after our house fire 8 years ago) and since most people keep their sofas for seven to 10 years the Muddy House is definitely due an upgrade. But I’m the first to admit I feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes to interiors decision making. So, this Saturday, I spent a good couple of hours perching my posterior in Sofas and Stuff, in Eridge, and grilling the very helpful staff because – if I know one thing, it’s this – choosing the right sofa begins with asking the right questions. And I’ve managed to whittle it down to a few pertinent pointers. So if, like me, you’re in the market for a new model, here’s the 5 ultimate top tips to consider before you take the plunge:
1. Think about shape
Find a shape you really love but also think about how it will fit in with the space you’ve got and your requirements. For example if you want it to be long enough to nap on it will need to be at least 90″ long. Or maybe it needs to fit a snug space, in which case a sofa with wide rolled arms might not be for you. Do you want to sink in or sit up straight? Do you like it so deep that you can curl up, or shallower so it offers more support? Sofas and Stuff, for example, offer two depth options for several styles of sofa or chair and can make special sizes for some other ranges as well.
2. It’s all about comfort
Now sit on the sofa for a while. Is it soft enough? Or firm enough? Does the depth of the sofa’s seat feel right (that is, do your feet touch the floor with your knees comfortably bent)? Do you like the angle of the backrest? Lean on the armrests. Are they a comfortable height and width? Can you tuck a pillow into the corner so you can lie down? Ask your shopping partner (or even a salesperson) to hop on, so you can evaluate how the sofa feels with two or more people on it.
Bounce on it! This tells you whether the suspension system is right for you. Is it springy enough? Firm enough? Does it squeak? Conduct a lift test have someone lift one sofa corner while you hold down the corner diagonally opposite. If the sofa twists or bows, keep looking.
3. Focus on fabric cover
Next, choose the fabric. From Sofas and Stuff it can be any upholstery fabric in the world…literally. Who will use it? Will it be the first stop for kids after school? Or the anchor of a living room that’s just for entertaining? Since a sofa is one of the key pieces of a room, it makes sense to keep the look as classic as possible. ‘It’s easier to be bolder about using big patterns or trendy colours on smaller upholstered pieces such as stools and chairs,” says Nikki Showroom Manager. Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun – a pop of pattern or hot splash of trendy colour can come from throws and cushions which can be easily substituted when you need change.
4. Don’t be blinded by trends
Many of the vital signs of quality (or lack thereof) can be obscured by the siren song of style: alluring upholstery, svelte arms, and come-hither cushions, all piled atop sexy bare or skirted legs. Which isn’t to say that a sofa shouldn’t be seductive. But if its frame is constructed out of a cheap material, if its joints are weak, springs loose, and cushions flat, your passion for its outer beauty will quickly wane.
5. Go for quality
Most people keep their sofas for ten years—but a good sofa will last those ten years and still look great at the end. Look for a sofa that’s well-built, with sturdy fabric that doesn’t easily tear or rip, and it’ll last for a long time. Better to spend more money on a sofa that will live and grow with you than to buy a never-ending parade of cheap sofas. At Sofas and Stuff they hand upholster all their products in their workshops in Nottingham and Preston – everything from the first bit of wood for the frame, to the last upholstery stud or good old-fashioned hand stitching – and as a result they’re happy to offer a lifetime guarantee on all frames and springs.
Sofas & Stuff, The Estate Yard, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Tunbridge Wells TN3 9JR, Tel: sofasandstuff.com