Investing in a new sofa can feel like a daunting task as it requires forward planning and a certain amount of research. With so many options of sizes, styles and finishes to pick from, we’ve compiled a handy guide to talk you through the shopping process from start to finish
Choose a size
Low arms and deep cushions make this sofa a perfect reclining spot. Solenne retro four-seater sofa in ochre, £1,645, Out There Interiors
Depending on the proportions and layout of your room, deciding on the dimensions of your new sofa should be the first consideration. Think about whether the room is best suited to a regular linear sofa—either a two, three or four-seater perhaps—a corner sofa, or a smaller design such as a loveseat which is ideal for more compact spaces. Play around with different configurations in the room to explore all the possible options as to where the sofa could be positioned and which size would be best. Always measure up carefully and use strips of masking tape on the floor to mark out the size of the sofa and help you visualise how it will sit within the space.
Two, three and four-seaters are as the names suggest and will comfortably seat this number of people. If you prefer to stretch out on your own, a three-seater will generally be long enough and most designs are available in the different sizes so you can choose the most suitable. Corner or L-shaped sofas also come in a range of sizes and are a good choice if you like to put your feet up, thanks to their extended design at a right angle to the main body. Similarly, a chaise sofa has an elongated section for lounging and both usually come with left or right-hand options to suit any room layout.
Choose a style
A classic Chesterfield-inspired design will stand the test of time. Windsor three-seater sofa in yellow velvet, £1,399, DFS
Once you’ve got your head around the dimensions and best type of sofa to fit your room, now comes the fun part of selecting your style. Because sofas are typically a high price-tag piece of furniture and a long-term investment, it’s generally advisable to avoid placing too much importance on trends and instead go for something that you truly love the look of and that offers the comfort you’re looking for. Keeping it classic means the design will stand the test of time and can remain the focus of your living room for several years, even if the décor is changed around it.
Choose a shape and style that reflects your personal tastes. If you’re after something traditional, consider a classic Chesterfield design with a detailed button-back and scroll arms; for a more contemporary feel, look for a sleek body with a low frame; or, for a retro-inspired look, go for a mid-century design featuring tapered wooden legs. Always bear in mind the all-important comfort factor and be sure to test out your sofa in the showroom before purchasing to make sure it not only looks great, but also fits your practical requirements too. For example, deep sofas are great for snuggling into, but if you want something with a little more support, make sure the cushions are firm and the back is high enough to support your neck.
Sleek metal legs and a grey leather finish make this design ideal for a contemporary interior. Milano leather chaise sofa with adjustable headrests (three units), £5,660, Darlings of Chelsea
Choose a finish
Chaise designs are a great alternative to corner sofas in smaller homes. Aria three-seater chaise end sofa, £895, Furniture Village
Most furniture retailers nowadays offer a plethora of materials to cover your chosen sofa, so narrowing down the perfect finish and colour isn’t always an easy task. Think about what this sofa will be used for in everyday life as well as what your personal preferences are; if it’s going to be used by kids or pets, perhaps opt for a fabric that is durable and easy to clean or has changeable covers. Darker colours are also generally best for sofas exposed to a lot of wear and tear. Leather offers a firmer feel than fabric upholstery, although it can feel cold in the winter months compared to other options. Ask the retailer for sample swatches so you can see and touch the materials before buying and check it fits in with your existing décor at home; never rely solely on online images to judge the final finish.
Seat the whole family on a generous corner design. Izzy medium corner sofa in dove grey smart velvet, £3,810, Sofa.com
You may decide you need more from your sofa than simply a lounging spot, particularly in smaller homes where dual-purpose furniture comes into its own. If your living area often doubles up as a spare bedroom, for example, look for a sofa bed with either a pull-out mechanism, or a more modern design where individual segments of the sofa can be rearranged into a double bed. Some sofas are also available with handy built-in storage, perfect for stashing away books or magazines to keep the living room clutter free.