Sofas: How to Find Your Perfect Style
Sofas are often taken for granted – most of us blithely walk through life just expecting there to be a plush seat waiting for us when we return home or visit a friend’s place. But, when it comes down to designing your living room from scratch, or replacing your old faithful with a newer model, it’s undeniable that the process of choosing a sofa can be complicated.
Sofas are a huge contributor to the overall feel of the room, and carry a lot of responsibility when it comes to visual impact. So, it’s important that we get it right – which means investing time into your decision. Keep reading and we’ll take you through the top things to consider when you’re searching for the right sofa style, from colour and pattern to physicality, function and everything in between.
The purpose of a sofa
Lots of us simply purchase the first sofa we find on sale, in fear of heading down a long and winding road filled with far too many decisions. Or, we drag the same worn-out stalwart of a couch from home to home, never considering whether it fits correctly in our new space. Although there’s nothing wrong with either of these approaches, if it’s time to level up, the first thing you’ll want to mull over is purpose. How you use your sofa, who uses it and when are all crucial factors that’ll influence your choice.
A sofa can do a lot more than just offering a place to sit and watch television. It can set the mood for a cosy night in with family, or help make a space feel more inviting to guests. It can draw the eye visually, control the flow of traffic, and act as a multipurpose piece – the possibilities are endless. So, identifying your ‘why’ is undoubtedly step number one.
Many of us, when possible, love to invite guests around for a meal or just to relax after a long week. If you’re a master entertainer, and foresee using the sofa for this purpose, there are a few things to consider. You’ll likely want something on the bigger side, with at least three seats, if not four or five. Chaise longue pieces come in handy here, too; they create an additional space for other guests to sit and are equally as useful when it’s just your family, as a place to stretch out.
If your new sofa isn’t located in the main living room, but is more so designated for dinner parties, events and more, then you’ll have more freedom and flexibility with colour and fabric. Where a sofa that gets used every day needs to be intensely durable, a sometimes spot offers more opportunities for luxe fabrics like velvet or leather, as well as out-of-the-box colour choices. For instance, a stark white sofa won’t hold up particularly well if it’s where you regularly eat snacks and binge-watch your favourite show, but it could create a clean and chic feel in a formal sitting room or stylish second living room predominantly used by guests.
Facilitating everyday use
On the other hand, if you’re positioning the sofa in your living room for the whole family to chill out on, then other considerations should be made. Converse to something more formal for entertaining guests, in this scenario, your sofa can be cosy and welcoming.
Something to think about when purchasing a new sofa is the other elements in the space, and how they’re already suited to (or perhaps, aren’t suited to) your household. Is there an armchair, ottoman or occasional chair already in the living room? How often do you use this versus the couch? Are there enough seats for everyone in the home to relax and watch a movie or play a board game? Ask yourself these questions and identify anything that might influence your choice of sofa. If you’re struggling for space, and have a small household, maybe you’ll select a loveseat-style sofa. Or, if you have the opposite problem, you’ll know to pick a piece that seats everyone comfortably.
Many people – especially the frequent hosts among us – find that they need additional sleeping space in their home, whether they’re in a small apartment, don’t have a guest bedroom, have a big extended family, or simply want to prepare for all occasions. So, another consideration you might like to make is the potential for a sofa bed to sleep guests.
If you’re not sure whether this is the right option for you, ask yourself a few questions: do you have a guest bedroom? Do you or your kids have friends who stay over regularly? Where does your extended family stay during the holiday period? If you’ve established the need for a sofa bed, don’t stress – gone are the days of the ugly pull out couch. There are so many gorgeous options available in a huge range of colours, fabrics and styles, giving you flexibility with what you select and how you accommodate it in your space.
Accommodating kids and pets
Finally, families with children or pets might like to add a few other considerations to their list before they bite the bullet on a new sofa. Children, especially young kids and teenagers, can generate a lot of wear and tear on furniture pieces, which is why you’ll tend to see more utilitarian pieces in big family homes. Pets are similar, depending on the size and breed of your animal. Whether they’re using the couch cushions as a fort, slumping down on the sofa and putting pressure on the frame, or bringing in dirt from outside and rubbing it all over your beautiful upholstery (both a kid and pet problem!) it’s pretty clear you’ll need a sofa that can take the heat.
The key here is finding both a sofa style and fabric that can handle a little wear and tear. Softer, overstuffed styles of sofa are likely to bear the brunt better than spindlier frames and thinner cushions. When it comes to fabric, you’ll want something that is easy to clean and doesn’t show marks easily, such as a basic cotton or durable faux leather. Similarly, you may want to opt for darker or more neutral colours (think black, brown and tan) rather than those that can show stains. Some sofa styles offer slip covers, which are a failsafe option for anyone with messy family members, as they can be removed and thrown in the wash when you’re in a pinch.
The style of your sofa
With purpose established, and perhaps a laundry list of specifications already growing, it’s time to talk style exclusive of functionality. Colour, pattern, texture, shape and physicality are all huge factors that can give your sofa a unique point of view and aesthetic. They’ll help it to stand out as a focal piece, or blend in with your existing decor, and will work to complement the style you’ve already brought into your space.
Colour is one of the most critical things to consider when picking out a new sofa, as it can really establish the tone of the room, and will determine whether the piece slides stylishly into the existing theme, or adds a bold pop of contrast.
Neutral colours are subtle yet effective, and suit a huge variety of styles, from modern to coastal, to Scandinavian and back. Opt for a colour like white, cream, grey, tan or brown to position the sofa as a gentle addition to the space rather than a standout feature. Of course, neutrals are also incredibly versatile, meaning you can dress them up or down as you see fit – think cushions and throws in whatever colour and style is currently taking your fancy.
Alternatively, a bold colour choice means it’s all eyes on your sofa. It’ll quickly become the key centrepiece of the room, and probably elicit some oohs and ahhs when people see it for the very first time! If you’re opting for a bolder hue, it’s important to always find ways to tie it back into the space. Highlight your colour of choice with accents around the room in the same colour and other complementary shades. Decor is the best way to do this, but if your living room is particularly vibrant, you might also be able to incorporate it through other furniture pieces. Popular bright hues include green, orange, blue and purple. Another way to create visual interest is with patterns – a very daring choice but, if it fits your style, a great means for adding some excitement to the room.
Selecting your shape and size
Although size will ultimately be determined by the dimensions of the room, it’s also a way to make a statement, or conversely, hang back a little when it comes to your design. A bigger, bolder piece provides lots of room for relaxing and dominates the space, whereas a smaller sofa with additional armchairs, ottomans or benches will have a softer and more intimate feel with less of a specific focus.
Shape is another consideration to make that’ll really influence the style of the sofa, and the room itself. Squared-off pieces with sharp, clean lines evoke a modern feel, and look more structured and sleek. On the other end of the spectrum, something with lots of curves is warm, welcoming and cosy, with a more classic or mid century modern vibe. If you’re unsure, it’s usually pretty safe to play in that middle space and look for a sofa with a straight yet soft design.
Complementing your style
Finally, the last item to check off is style. It’s always one of our first considerations, but generally, you’ll find that all of these other decisions you’ve had to make have only worked to confirm and emphasise the styles you like. Our advice if you’re ever struggling with style is the same – look at what’s in the space already, identify the pieces you love, and work out why. There’ll likely be features that stand out to you and subsequently evoke a specific style, such as geometric shapes for mid century modern, light wood for Scandinavian, whitewashed tones for Hamptons, and so on.
These are the things you’ll want to recreate with your choice of sofa. There are lots of opportunities to do so, including your choice of shape, curve and lines, legs, upholstery, colour and pattern, curves, complementary decor and more. Importantly, when it comes to style, trusting your gut is the best thing you can ever do – and when paired with the other tips you’ve just learned, will ensure you’re equipped to make the right decision for your home.
Choosing the perfect sofa that fits just right shouldn’t be a difficult task, but often, it’s a daunting one. However, once you understand your needs and goals, the process becomes a super fun one that’ll let you express your style and find that perfect piece you’ll have for years to come.
If you’re feeling unsure about sofas, we’re here to help. Shop our huge range of 2-seater sofas, 3-seater sofas, modulars and sofa beds today, and get personalised styling advice from our experts – as well as Australia-wide delivery, flexible payment options and more.