Sofa Photo: Thinkstock
A sofa is a big purchase that affects the function of the lounge room. If you’re redecorating, the professional stylists advise buying the sofa first and working other elements around it.
When buying for an established room consider the space, how the sofa will be used and whether matching furniture like chairs, ottomans or side tables are needed.
TIP Look for package deals when buying a matching set.
A. DO THE RESEARCH
No matter how much you love the look of a sofa, if it’s too big and obstructs a door or walkway then you’ll regret the purchase.
Accurately measure the length, depth and height of the space where it’s to be positioned, especially below a window, plus the doors and passages it will need to fi t through.
Browse magazines and catalogues to research styles and check out design sites online for inspiration.
Head to the shops and photograph styles for a wish list, making it easier to compare between stores.
B. CHECK OUT THE STRUCTURE
A strong frame is the foundation of comfortable and long-lasting furniture. Softwoods like pine are inexpensive but may warp. Pricier
hardwoods such as kiln-dried oak, ash or beech are more durable.
LOOK FOR A FRAME built with timber dowels or corner blocks, or metal screws and brackets.
Staples or nails are used for reinforcement but a sofa held together solely by staples, nails or adhesive isn’t as stable.
TIP To test the strength of the frame, lift a front leg 150mm off the floor and check the other front leg has risen too. If it’s still touching the floor then the frame has too much give.
ENSURE GOOD SUPPORT by opting for hand-tied springs or serpentine springs that follow an S shape.
Cheaper sofas tend to rely on web suspension where bands of webbing are secured across the seat and back. Webbing may also be found in better quality sofas and secured with a tensioner.
UP THE COMFORT by buying the best quality cushions you can afford.
Luxurious feather or down cushions stay soft but are costly and need to be looked after properly.
The weight of a cushion is an excellent guide to how well it will perform over time.
Lower quality seat cushions can lose up to 40% of their initial support in the first three months and feel like they have collapsed.
Polyurethane foam is the cheapest and least hardwearing. High-density foam is a better choice but also loses it’s shape and resilience with time.
C. THE FACTS ON FABRIC
Tough coverings are essential, with woven patterns wearing better than printed fabrics. Make sure the design is aligned where edges meet and that cording is straight.
MICROFIBRE has a resilient suede-like texture with a luxurious feel. It’s stain resistant and easy to care for.
CHENILLE is tactile and adds interest and dimension to a sofa. It’s low maintenance and stain resistant.
COTTON and cotton blends are good natural choices but loose weaves can snag and they’re high maintenance.
LEATHER features variations in grain, colour and markings to make each sofa unique. It’s highly durable, softens naturally and with proper care it should last indefi nitely.
WOOL is hardwearing and naturally allergen free. Pure wool is a luxurious choice with a price tag to match.
SILK has lustre and feel appeal but can be fragile and expensive.
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