Sofa, So Good: Your Deets to Purchasing the Right Style, Quality and Size

joy of nesting

do your walls, ceilings, floors and sofa have in common? They are the biggest
surfaces in your living room and therefore have the most visual impact on its
appearance. Like most big surfaces in the home, choosing a sofa requires a
little thought.
are several decisions involved with a sofa purchase: cushion material and
configurations, style of skirt, style and weight of fabric, and style and
quality of frame.

are available in widths ranging from 75 inches for a small sofa, also known as
an apartment sofa, 80 inches for a medium sofa, and 90 inches for a large sofa.
A sofa measuring below 75 inches is called a loveseat. Sofas over 100 inches
are usually sectional sofas. I prefer sofas with three over three loose cushions on standard
sized, 80-92 inch sofas. I find this configuration to be comfortable,
gracious and visually attractive. Four loose cushions work well better on loveseats
and apartment sofas. 

Cushions are where many companies cut
corners. You can identify a quality cushion by its firmness when sitting on it.
It should not fold or buckle underneath your weight. Cheaper cushions will also
lump and break down. Cushions should be made of a high density foam core with a Dacron
or down blend wrap. Keep in mind, down wraps require more rotation and manual
redistributing than Dacron wraps. This is an important consideration if easy
maintenance is a priority. You’ll have to decide what’s more important to you,
comfort or time. Good news: if your cushions don’t hold up, they can be
replaced without reupholstering the sofa. Quality cushions cost around $200 to
$400 wholesale per cushion and are available through most upholstery workrooms.

Back and seat cushions can be referred
to as “loose” which means cushions are unattached; “tight” which means no
cushion at all, just an upholstered back; and “attached” which means cushions
are not removable, usually seen on leather sofas.
There are several types of skirts to
choose from. Box pleated skirts, or skirts that have multiple pleats across the
front, are formal and add material and labor costs to the overall price.
Shirred (ruffled) skirts are best suited to feminine spaces. Flat skirts with
pleats at the corners are tailored and crisp. If the fabric is lightweight,
they need some type of inner lining or backing such as Pellon.

the room is small or awkwardly shaped an un-skirted sofa is the most forgiving.
Because light runs underneath the sofa and through the legs, it creates more
space visually. For large rooms, a skirted sofa has an anchoring effect. It
creates a cozier atmosphere than an un-skirted sofa. Two facing loveseats are
flattering to long, narrow spaces.
may not initially determine the appearance of a sofa, but if longevity is a
priority inquire as to the manufacturer’s information and warranty. Two main
features to look for are hardwood, kiln dried frames that don’t split or warp.
The supports on the frame located beneath the seat cushions, should have a good
quality coil system with steel coil springs which are eight-way hand-tied. Sustainably
procured wood is thankfully, increasingly important to consumers.

styles are considered to be part of the frame. They are typically squared,
rounded or gently rolled. Generally speaking the cleaner the sofa design, the
more it lends itself to a contemporary, casual home. A rounder, heavier arm
leans more toward a formal, traditional style space. Choose a frame with a
classic, timeless arm that won’t “date” too obviously.
When choosing fabric for your sofa,
consider quality, color, style and fiber content. Some fabrics pill, others
show spots or stain.  Consider your
lifestyle. Do you entertain? Do you have kids and pets? What style is the rest
of your furniture? Where will you place the sofa in relation to your windows?
I often choose fabrics with texture and
a subtle pattern. This type of fabric may be harder to choose but using solid
fabrics, particularly solid print cotton is a mistake if you have children. In
this case, a better option might be slipcovering. Slipcovers, are great in
solid cottons because they are cleanable. They do require reshaping but if you
don’t mind this, a slipcover is a good option. I prefer dry cleaning my
slipcovers to retain their color and shape. I know this sounds a bit elementary
but always stipulate dry cleaning to your dry cleaner. I’ve had a few serious mishaps
where they’ve opted for wet cleaning without consulting me first.

Double rubbed upholstery fabrics are standard
choices for upholstery. While stylish and attractive, upholstering your sofa in
light weight cotton is not a good investment because it will fade quickly and
will not retain its appearance or condition. Lightweight fabrics are best when
used for slipcovers, window treatments and bedding. If there is an extreme
amount of sunlight, consider a light color to counteract fading. Otherwise,
choosing a double rubbed upholstery fabric with a medium value (darkness to lightness),
slight texture and subtle print is best for concealing stains and pet fur.
purchasing a sofa from a designer we have what’s called “program fabrics” or
“COM”, customer’s own material. Program fabrics are the fabrics that sofa
manufacturers provide. They are usually more cost efficient than COM. You can
choose from grades A to Z, A being the least expensive and Z being the most
expensive. Always choose from the highest grades. The less expensive program grades
don’t have the best appearance or wear. 
COM may add to the overall price of the piece but it gives my client and
me more control of the design scheme and quality. It has a personalized, custom
effect. Where program fabrics are lacking, COM fabrics fill the void. Expect to
spend a minimum of $85 a yard for a good quality COM upholstery fabric.
purchases are a large expense for most households. I always encourage my
clients to consider reputable, made in the USA, bench made products. Fine brands manufacture products that
are high enough quality to be reupholstered and will last for generations to

For more in depth design advice, get my free book Shiree’s Design and Lifestyle Tips. It’s an easy step by step guide to building a room or home that has your own unique look. 

August 3, 2020

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Sofa, So Good: Your Deets to Purchasing the Right Style, Quality and Size

Sofa, So Good: Your Deets to Purchasing the Right Style, Quality and Size

Sofa, So Good: Your Deets to Purchasing the Right Style, Quality and Size