Choosing a new couch can be trickier than it seems. To help you pick the sweetest seat for your space, check out these expert tips
How to choose the perfect sofa for your home
Buying a sofa can be a daunting task with so many options on the market. One of the largest items of furniture in the home, a sofa is generally an investment piece that is kept for many years and can dictate the style of your living area. A little research beforehand, along with these styling tips from our stylist Vanessa Nouwens, will help you focus your search for the perfect new sofa for your place.
One of the most common mistakes people make when buying a sofa is choosing one that is either too big or too small for the space. To avoid this, measure the area the sofa is going into before you hit the stores. Also look carefully at your space and any existing furnishings and think about scale. A sofa should be of the same scale as your other furniture so it doesn’t seem too big or too small alongside the rest of it. Keep in mind that you may need to allow for side tables at either end as well.
Now think about how many people you need to accommodate on the sofa on a regular basis, and their size – just as your sofa shouldn’t be too big or too small for your space, it shouldn’t be too big or too small for the people using it. If you are tall, make sure the seat is deep enough for you to sit comfortably. If you are shorter or have bad knees, look for a shallow seat that allows you to rise out of it easily and doesn’t cause your legs to dangle. When looking at sofas in the stores, always sit, lounge and lie on them as you would do at home. If you like napping on the sofa, make sure the arms are well positioned for this.
The sofa you select for your living space should coordinate with the rest of your furniture. Each home has a predominant style, so it’s important to ensure your sofa will match and preferably elevate your home’s decor.
If you have a very clean, modern look (such as the room pictured on the previous page), a square-armed sofa with simple legs is going to be more complementary than an ornate one. If you have an open-plan living space, a popular choice is a modular or chaise sofa. As the back of a sofa is generally on view in an open-plan space, make sure you have a good look at a sofa from the rear before buying.
Try to coordinate the sofa legs with other furniture in the room. In our vintage-styled room (pictured on this page), the gold legs on the sofa tie in with those of the coffee table and console.
Inside the sofa
Ask store staff for details on what your sofa is made from. In most cases it’s what’s inside the sofa that determines its quality. For instance, a lot of cheaper sofas don’t contain extra strapping and wood on the frame. Ask how it was constructed, what the frame is built from and whether it was made locally or overseas. Ask how the sofa wears over time, whether the cushions lose their shape, and if there is a warranty.
Selecting the wrong fabric for your sofa can be an expensive mistake. In some stores the choice has already been made as the sofa design and the fabric have been chosen to work together, so all you have to do is pick a colour.
If you get to choose the fabric, it is important to make your selection based on how the sofa will be used in the home and where it will be placed. If you are buying for an area that is heavily used or you have young children, a delicate fabric or colour will be destroyed before you’ve even had a chance to enjoy it, so it’s best to go for a heavy-duty textile.
A bonus to look out for is couches with removable covers, which can help keep things looking fresh and clean.
Selecting the wrong colour for your sofa can be just as bad a mistake. It is always a good idea to take a swatch home to look at it in relation to all your other furnishings and wall colours, and in different lights.
Remember to choose a colour you can live with for a long time. If you opt for a neutral hue, you can always add colour through cushions, throws and accessories.
Words by: Vanessa Nouwens. Photography by: Wendy Fenwick.