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Sofa Buying Guide

Everyone will have their own ideas about what a comfortable sofa means to them. If you are thinking about replacing your sofa for something new, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know. A sofa is one of the largest purchases that you make and it’s one that you don’t make very often so it’s important to make the right decision.

How many hours in an average week do you spend on the sofa, with friends, with family or watching movies with the kids? Comfort is one of the things that we look for first and foremost. But there are so many other things to think about too. From the material and filling to the arms and sizing, the sofa must be just right to fit your home.

So, without further ado, let’s begin our buying guide with one of the most important considerations, the size of the sofa.

Types of Sofa

When it comes to sofa shopping there are so many choices, often to the point where it can become overwhelming. Luckily our handy guide has summarised all the different types of sofas that you can buy:

Two seater sofas

Best suited to smaller living areas, ideal for couples or those living alone. This type of sofa will often have two seat cushions and two back cushions giving plenty of space to comfortably seat two people.

Three seater sofas

This is very much the same as the two seaters, but slightly bigger to accommodate three people.

Modular sofa

This type of sofa can be tailored to suit the space. Typically, this type of sofa will have three or more seats making it perfect for large families or spacious living areas.

Corner sofa

Two seating areas usually in an ‘L’ shape making them a great choice for large families perhaps with limited space as they are designed to make the most of corner space

chaise sofa

A chaise sofa is similar to a corner type, but it has a seat that is slightly longer than the rest which is perfect if you love to lounge or you put your feet up often.

Sofa bed

Serving a dual purpose, the trusted sofa bed doubles up as both a sofa and a bed. There are two types of sofa bed, click clack and metal action. They are available in lots of different styles and are great if you often have guests staying over.

Sofa Filling

The filling of your sofa can make all the difference between something that you think is comfortable and a sofa that isn’t. It’s also important to remember that different fillings will require different levels of maintenance.

For a firmer feeling sofa, foam fillings work really well, but they do lose more than 10% of their firmness after just six months.

A feather filled sofa is a luxury option that offers a more comfortable and relaxed seating option, and if they are well looked after they can last for a very long time. Feather filled sofa cushions will need to be plumped regularly, usually every few weeks to keep them at their best for the longest time.

When it comes to choosing the right filling it’s important to be clear about what it is that you want from your sofa.

Foam filling is best suited to those who prefer:

  • A firmer and more supportive seating area
  • A sofa that can be tailored to you
  • A low maintenance option that requires occasional cushion turns for even wear

Fibre wrap sofas are typically the best for those who:

  • Require sufficient support with the added benefits of a softer top layer
  • Require a softer look and feel
  • Prefer little to no maintenance with the occasional need to plump cushions

Feather filled is best for those who:

  • Love to curl up on the sofa and who prefer a more casual, relaxed look with a softer seating area
  • Wouldn’t mind plumping the cushions regularly to maintain comfort and longevity

As well as the different types of filling for the sofa seat, they can also be either cushioned or fixed and this will depend on your comfort requirements.

Fixed seat – Upholstered and sprung, providing a tailored appearance with little to no maintenance. When cushions can’t be turned, the wear can be focused on one spot and fabrics which are not as robust can stretch causing a puddle or ripple effect as the insides of the sofa start to settle.

Cushioned Seat – Usually this type of seat can be removed and reversed on fabric sofas. The seat quality will depend on the filling. The softer the cushion, the more maintenance the sofa seat will need to retain optimum condition.

The arm of the sofa can also affect the comfort with many arm types available depending on the style of sofa. Narrow arms will maximise the seating space while wider arms can add greater presence to the sofa. Here are just a few different arm types:

Scrolls – Often used on designs with a classic element, sometimes featuring pleating or insert panels for a more traditional appearance. Often higher than the other types of chair arm.

Flared arms – Flare outwards from the base and can make the sofa look inviting.

Howard arms – Classic style with a low arm usually featuring a T cushion. Commonly used in period properties

Square arms – One of the most popular shapes for modern furniture pieces. Ideally suited to smaller spaces and they are available in a variety of widths depending on your living area.

The legs of the sofa are typically wood and are available in a variety of colours. Sofa legs can be designed in many different shapes and many are removable for easier transit. Types of sofa legs include:

Glides – The feet of the sofa are not visible, usually built into the design and they are added to make the sofa easier to move into place.

Sabre legs – Elegant appearance usually forming a curved wooden design

Bun feet – Shallow and round shaped feet offering a more discreet look for contemporary sofa designs.

Plinth – The design of this leg will appear as though the sofa is sitting on a wooden platform. Streamlined and contemporary appearance.

Turned – A sofa featuring turned legs will reflect a classic style which have been turned on a lathe to create a rounded design

Stiletto – A very fine, contemporary leg usually manufactured from metal


An upholstered sofa is ideal if you want to choose from a larger range of colour options and you are looking for something that can be cleaned with water. Most stains can be removed from fabrics using water and most modern fabrics are designed to withstand everyday wear and tear even with everything family life can throw at it.

For a more luxurious look you can opt for a woven chenille which is a beautiful, soft fabric which is made from either natural or man-made fibres. This type of sofa will flatten over time particularly on frequently touched areas such as arms and seat cushions.

Woven velvet is another option, and this can be made from cotton, synthetic fibres or silk. This type of sofa is best suited to less frequent use, so it probably won’t be the best choice for everyday family use.

A linen or linen mix sofa offers a more casual feel which is great if you don’t mind natural creases. These will soften over time though.

Woven wools are rich fabrics which create both warmth and texture. Pilling and bobbling are natural characteristics of this material

Leather Sofas

Leather is one of the most popular sofa choices because it offers an easy to maintain surface and has a soft, natural finish which is easy to clean and hard wearing. Leather is a natural material and there can be slight variations. Larger sofas can contain as many as four hides so no two pieces will be the same.

There are different types of leather including:

Aniline – Natural blemishes or marks enhance the overall appearance of the sofa, colour variation is common

Semi Aniline – The natural beauty of aniline but with a thin surface coating, natural marks and lines are present and will help to create a unique appearance

Full grain – Although the natural properties of the leather may be noticeable, the leather will feature an embossed decorative grain to bring greater consistency to the overall appearance.

Antique – Milling process to intentionally crack the leather to create an antique appearance

Bonded leather fibre – Man made material including between 80% and 100% leather fibres. This type of material is very similar to genuine leather but is a fraction of the cost.

Top Tips for Sofa Buying

Low backed furniture can create an illusion of space while high backed sofas would work well in rooms with high ceilings.

Make sure that the sofa sits evenly on the floor to prevent rocking. This will reduce damage to the frame and prolong the life of your sofa.

Maintain the shape of scatter cushions by plumping daily and avoid sitting on sofa arms as this can distort the shape of the sofa.

Where they can be removed, rotate the back and seat cushions to ensure even wear

Follow care instructions for upholstery and attend to spills immediately using water only.

Be careful of sharp objects such as belt buckles, studs and toys which can tear fabric


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