Friday, June 17, 2016

How to Chose and Style Your Sofa?

Would you argue with me when I say that the sofa is the most important element of your living room? After all, you live your life on it: take a nap, drink coffee, watch TV, make phone calls, read books, use your laptop and entertain guests. 
What do you have to consider when you are thinking about buying a sofa? A lot depends on the size and shape of your room, and thankfully most sofas are available in many sizes and shapes to meet various needs. Today I am going to write about comfort and style only. 
First, take your time to find out what do you expect from a sofa. It sounds simple, but it is not. You will realize that sofas comfortable to you are not comfortable to others. Let's take an example, point number one, regarding seat depth. Tall people tend to like sofas with bigger seat depth; not so tall people prefer narrower seat depth. This is a tendency, but do not rely on it all the time. I am tall enough, yet the best sofa I ever tried was a narrow one. It supported my back like no other sofa did. Which leads to our second point, back hight. 
You might need proper neck support if you watch TV, which means you have to consider highback sofas (can be visually overwhelming) or adjustable ones (usually more expensive). It depends on the placement of the TV and your habits whether you actually need highbacks. The best for your neck is when the screen is placed just below your eye-level, so the head is bent down a bit. If this is the case, you might not need that extra support, but a higher back might still be adviseable. 
The third point is about the armrest. Many armrest shapes and styles exsist. You can even sit on a wide arm, or place a tray on it. A high armrest is more convenient to put your arm on, a low armrest enables you to place a cushion on it and take a nap. Thin armrests may be uncomfortable, but do not take up much space visually. Lounge units lack armrests, but beware of all open-end sofas - they might be inviting, make the space look bigger, they are stylish, but at the same time they do not offer the same comfort. Sloped armrests are useful if you take a nap really often, otherwise stick to the normal ones. Other armrests tell a lot about the style of the sofa, like rolled arms, pleated arms, etc. 
Seat hight is also of vital importance. Elder people like it higher, while young ones find lower sitting more appealing. This one is really up to you, there is no optimal height. 
The filling of the sofa can be varied. Some sofas are very soft, others are a bit more firm. Even sofas with thinner seat cushion can be surprisingly comfortable. However, the quality of the filling is important. Foam is popular filling material, comes in various density and quality and is made of chemicals. Some foams are more resistant and regain their shape more easily, like High Resilient foam, others, like PUR foam collapse a bit over time on areas you sit frequently, as your weight presses the air out from the cells. Some fillings contain feathers or down - consider this in case of severe allergy. Other sofas have fibres making them soft. Cushions filled with fibres of feathers need plumping often so that the air can return back to the fibres. Some fillings have mixed ingredients of the three above. It is a good solution, as this way the benefits of the ingredients are combined. 

As you see, there are no strict rules on sofa comfort, but there are guidelines. These are:
- seat depth
- back hight
- armrest hight and shape
- seat hight and
- filling
(Remind me I need to write more about sofa choosing tricks later.)

Visually, the sofa can be the focal point of your room. If it stands against the wall, make sure there is something eye-cathcing above (interesting painting, eye-catching shelves) or behind (textured 3D wall or wallpaper). If it is free-standing, it creates visual entity with the rug, the coffee table and the armchairs. I usually recommend using freestanding sofas as a room divider or in spacious rooms. Two freestanding sofas can be facing each other and form an island. You can higlight it with a dramatic chandelier hung above the coffee table.
Big surfaces, like rugs, wallpapers and paintings can pull the colours of the room together. In this moodboard this task was given to the painting. You can accessorize your sofa with cushions, plaids, but consider choosing a good reading lamp, magazine holder or a side table. These days there are many tables with storage function, they help you to keep the room tidy.
For some time the beautiful blue rug above has been my favourite, it goes well with the pastel shades. This colour combo oozes elegance and tranquility -the perfect place to wind down after a hard day.


  1. Very helpful. Thinking about buying a couch has taken me down a rabbit hole, so many factors to consider.... I have two great mid-century chairs that I re-uphostered and I want a couch that works with the MCM aesthetic and is also inviting. And is affordable and durable. Argh.

    1. Hello Tracy, thank you for your comment. I am glad if I could be of any help. Take your time to find the best sofa - I would never dream of buying one without trying. With over ten years experience with furniture, I became a bit fussy anyway. MCM is just great, I love that era! I personally think that lighter, thinner sofas work very well with Mid-Century Modern, especially if the seat is tufted, and the legs are higher (around 15 cm). Something like this even with wooden legs or thicker armrest. Tufted seat gives the otherwise modern sofa a retro twist. Good luck with the sofa hunting! :)