A sofa is one of the most expensive household purchases you can make, and most of us keep them for many years, so it’s well worth putting some thought into buying the right thing. We’ve put together our guide to what to look for before buying your new sofa.

Holburn two-seater sofa in taupe, £819 from MY Furniture.

Buy the best you can

Good sofas are expensive for a reason. They’re built onto a solid frame, expertly upholstered and covered in high grade material, which all pushes the cost up. Your new sofa should be solid, sturdy and sit squarely. If it wobbles a bit when you sit down, it probably won’t be durable and could quickly become uncomfortable. Cushions will be filled with either foam, feathers or a combination of the two. The foam should be dense and good quality, and the cushions should feel like they’ve got a bit of weight to them when you lift them up. Feathers tend to be more expensive and make a very comfortable cushion but can be more work – they require a lot of fluffing up!

Large Cloud Sundae corner sofas, from £2989 from Snug.

Choose your size

The first thing to think about is how big a sofa you want. Obviously you need to decide how many people it needs to seat, but also think about how you’ll get it into the room. There’s nothing worse than having a new piece of furniture delivered and discovering you’ve got to remove a window to get it in! Sofas are big pieces of furniture and can dominate a room, which is fine if you’re happy to make them the focal point. If you’d like something more low key, go for a low back or even something without arms.

Choose your style

These days, there is a vast range of options out there to suit every possible decor. More traditional styles tend to have rolled arms and possibly a shaped back. Contemporary styles are cleaner and more geometric.

Bagsie sofa (above and main image), from £1795 from Loaf.

Think about upholstery

The first thing most of us notice about a sofa is its colour. Choosing a bright colour can really make a room pop, but there’s always the danger that you may tire of it. Choosing a neutral is safer and you can always change the focus and colour scheme by adding different scatter cushions. If you have young children, probably best to avoid too light a colour! If you have pets, take that into account as well – white cat hair looks very obvious on a dark grey sofa.

Fabric such as velvet and brocade are difficult to clean, so best avoided if the sofa will be used regularly. Synthetic fabrics tend to wear better and be easier to spot-clean if necessary. Some sofas sport removable covers which makes cleaning easier, although some may be too heavy to go in a domestic machine and will require specialist attention. Leather sofas are durable and age well.

Helsinki three-seat sofa, from £899 from Pash Classics.

Make it comfortable

As well as a wide range of styles, sofas also come in a wide range of sizes. If it’s too low, anyone with reduced mobility may find it difficult to stand up. If it’s too deep, shorter guests may have to shuffle to the front before they can free themselves! When you’re shopping for a new sofa, try to visit a showroom with lots of different models in stock so that you can get a feel for what you find comfortable.

Brighton saffron two-seater sofa, £899 from Oak Furnitureland.

Finally, enjoy your new sofa – hopefully you’ll be together a while!

Main image shows the Bagsie sofa from Loaf.

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