Sofa Buying Guide - Expert Tips To Choose Right
Ahh, the humble sofa – everyone’s favourite spot in the house to kick back, forget about the day that was, and complete their day-to-day activities, from bingeing the latest show to devouring a good book, chatting with family, or even taking a nap. Every living room has one, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy feat to find the perfect fit.
There are a lot of factors that go into finding the right sofa to suit your home, family and style. To help you on your buying journey, we asked the experts their top tips for nailing down a sofa that not only does its job, but fits your needs, and looks gorgeous in the process.
Understanding your needs
Start off your sofa buying journey by really taking some time to work out what you and your household want and need. There are many different types of sofas – as many as there are families – so it’s only natural that your needs might differ from the next person’s.
Ask yourself what you use the sofa the most for. Is it watching television or eating dinner? Does it become a hub for homework, or the go-to meeting place for deep conversations with friends? Once you’ve answered this question, consider the number of people using the sofa at any given time. Do you tend to host intimate gatherings or large family shindigs? All of these factors and daily habits will help you to determine the key facets of your sofa, including its size and number of seats, as well as the colour and material – so carry them with you through this process.
Types of sofa
Although they might all seem pretty similar to the naked eye, there are actually quite a few types of sofa on offer. So, let’s get some of the go-tos out of the way to bolster that decision-making process. As well as the multitude of sofa styles available, sofas come in various configurations and sizes designed to suit different lifestyles, and some even offer helpful value-adds like storage and extra sleeping space.
The smallest of the bunch, the aptly-named loveseat provides a cosy fit for two people with a compact, generally light frame.
While they technically seat the same number of people as loveseats, 2-seater sofas offer a little more breathing room with defined space for each occupant.
One of the most common choices out there, the traditional 3-seater sofa is found in homes worldwide, and provides a roomy fit for three people to sit with their feet on the floor – or one to two people to stretch out!
The modular sofa is popular amongst big families and anyone with lots of space. Ultra flexible and easy to adapt to your tastes and requirements, modular sofas usually feature a chaise element, and can be configured to seat any number of people by adding and moving the ‘modules’.
A chaise sofa is one that features an extended portion conducive to max relaxing and lounging around in total comfort. You’ll see the chaise element at one end of the sofa while the rest of the piece looks like your average 3-seater.
Perfect for a large, sprawling living room, the corner sofa says family-friendly luxury like no other. They nestle into the corner of a room comfortably, providing between six and 10 seats depending on size.
If you’re an avid multitasker, then a sofa bed might be the right fit for you. A comfy sofa by day, these versatile pieces can be transformed into double, queen or even king-sized beds come nighttime.
Sofa dimensions guide
Not sure which sofa size is right for you? Let’s break it down by the numbers – here’s a handy guide featuring approximate sofa sizes that you can refer to if you get stuck.
|Sofa type||Seats||Average measurements (cm)|
|Loveseat||1-2 people||L 135 x W 80 x H 80|
|2-seater sofa||2 people||L 160 x W 100 x H 80|
|3-seater sofa||3 people||L 220 x W 100 x H 80|
|3-seater with chaise||3-4 people||L 260 x W 160 x H 80|
|4-seater sofa||4 people||L 370 x W 110 x H 80|
If you need a little more help sussing out the size of your future sofa, we’ve got a handy sofa sizing tool that’ll get you started.
Selecting your material
With your size and type of sofa down-pat, it’s time to think a little more about the elements that make up the way your sofa looks and feels in the space. The material your sofa is made out of can totally make or break your experience, as it’ll affect its comfort level, how easy or difficult it is to clean, the amount of maintenance it requires, and its overall aesthetic. Keep reading for our comprehensive sofa material guide…
Luxurious and lovely to look at, a leather sofa screams opulence. This is an ideal choice for anyone who really values aesthetics, as well as longevity – leather sofas are some of the most long-lasting in the business. However, on the flip side, they’re not great for anyone in hot or humid climates (no one likes that sticky feeling…) and shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight. Caring for a leather sofa is relatively simple if you’re equipped with the right tools, including leather wipes and protectant spray. If you spill something, cleaning it up quickly will ensure no permanent damage is left behind.
Cotton or linen
A popular choice, soft, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen make great sofa upholstery. They’re light and comfortable all year round, and can take a fair bit of use before they begin to scuff or look less than quality. Cotton and linen are much more absorbent than leather, so will need some additional care when accidents happen – be sure to mop up spills quickly and to use fabric care products or some good old soap and water to ensure stains don’t linger. Many sofas upholstered in these fabrics also feature machine-washable slip covers, which makes them an ideal choice for anyone with messy kids or pets.
Another luxe choice, a velvet sofa is sure to stand out in the right living room. This fabric brings with it a very cool, old-world flair, and in a bright colour, can make a huge statement. Because of velvet’s thick, low pile nature, it’s not the best choice in a super hot climate, but can be warm and cosy for those of us who experience more wintry days. Velvet upholstery inherently hides stains unless in a very light colour, but to clean, soap and water will do the trick. Just like every other sofa option, you’ll have a much better chance of completely removing stains the quicker you attend to the problem. Oh, and don’t forget to vacuum your velvet to keep it looking.
A great way to inject some fun in a neutral or serious space is with a textured couch in a fabric such as boucle or tweed. The impact your sofa can make will depend on your material of choice, but overall, unique fabrics like this can add visual excitement and incorporate a variety of colours due to the nature of the weaving. Cleaning and care will also be dependent on the specific fabric, but as a general rule, stains should be removed with a very gentle soap and water before employing specific fabric care products.
Colour is a crucial element to mull over when buying a new sofa. As perhaps the biggest item in your living space, the hue you choose will appear dominant and set the tone for the entire room. So, be sure to pick wisely, and really think about the mood you’re going for.
Traditional, somewhat modern choices like black, white and grey are still popular for a reason – they’re sleek, clean, and neutral without fading into the background. Whereas white is soft and pretty, grey is a little more contemporary chic, and black has impact. Opt for any of these tones and you’ll be creating a great foundation for further styling.
Neutral shades like brown, beige, oatmeal, cream, ochre and olive blend into the background in the very best way. Because they’re subtle, you’ll have the power to play up or dress down your sofa however you like by using cushions, throws and blankets. Neutrals are also conducive to any number of styles, including mid century modern, coastal and Scandinavian.
Of course, if you’re all about being bold, your only real choice is something a little more colourful. Whether you love jewel tones like royal blue, emerald green, purple and mustard, or prefer a pastel or darker shade, a coloured couch makes a stunning statement and will draw the eye of all of your guests. Just be sure to go easy with the other pieces in the space to create balance.
Complementing your style
We’re onto the final stretch – it’s almost time to go out into the unknown and find that perfect sofa. But, before we leave you to your own devices, let’s talk style. While sofas are often misconstrued as appropriate for any space, that’s not always the case. In fact, there are a few things to consider, and specific types of sofa to learn more about, before you make a purchase.
Some of the most well-known sofa styles of the past few centuries include:
- Chesterfield: Typified by rolled arms, tufting and dark, moody leather, the Chesterfield sofa provides an old-world charm that wouldn’t feel out of place in a gentleman’s cigar chamber.
- Cabriole: Named after its curved legs, the cabriole sofa folds inwards to create a cocoon-like feel. With a delicate trim and plush cushions, the cabriole is the epitome of 18th century elegance.
- Lawson: Overstuffed and cosy, the Lawson features soft cushions with a higher back and lower arms. Often dubbed as the perfect nap sofa, the Lawson is a go-to for anyone who prioritises comfort.
- Tuxedo: With its back and arms at the same height, the tuxedo sofa is square, straight and quite modern in its design. Tuxedo sofas don’t have back cushions, but of course, there’s always room for a throw pillow or two to make up for it.
If none of these styles take your fancy, a great rule is to simply select a piece you feel fits with your existing interiors. If you’re struggling to decide whether your new piece matches up, think about some of the ‘tenets’ of your design. Do you prefer light or dark wood? Square, straight lines or rounded curves? Sleek or overstuffed cushions? Ask yourself these questions, and any more you can come up with, to inform the style of sofa you opt for. The rest is up to your personal style, with a little bit of intuition for good measure…
Styling a sofa in your space
Now that you’re ready to begin the hunt for your dream sofa, it’s worth giving styling some thought. As the centrepiece of the room, styling a sofa might seem as simple as plopping it down in front of the TV and calling it a day – but, as always, there’s more to it than that.
Consider the way you’ll use the sofa and place those vital supporting elements like the coffee table and side tables around it as functionally as possible. It’s crucial that surfaces are easy to reach and provide ample surface area for beverages, books and everything in between. Don’t forget to think about the ‘walkability’ of the space, AKA how easy it is to manouevre.
The final piece of the puzzle when styling your sofa will be decor and homewares. The sofa itself will always benefit from adornments like cushions, blankets, and throws, which look pretty and serve a practical purpose. On the surrounding surfaces, dot essentials like table or floor lamps, candles and candle holders, vases, frames and more – whatever elements will help make your house feel like a home, and help your seating area feel natural and cosy. In completing this final step, you’ll have built a living room you love, complete with a brand-new sofa that packs a punch in exactly the right way.
While buying a sofa isn’t a simple process by any means, it’s a fun one, and worth every second spent agonising over material samples or colour swatches. Simplify buying a sofa by shopping online with Brosa – we offer everything from free swatch samples to premium delivery, virtual styling assistance, and Australia-wide shipping.