A sofa or sectional is often the cornerstone of a living room, if not the entire home. Not only that, a good sofa can be quite an investment - especially if you want one that’s comfortable and made to last. Let’s face it - buying the perfect sofa for your space is daunting. You want comfort, you want style, and you don’t want to waste money! Maybe you want a mid-century modern sofa, perhaps sleek Scandinavian furniture is your style, or there’s a possibility you’re figuring out your personal interior design look (or even starting fresh with a new look). All of these thoughts need careful consideration when updating your home decor. Let us guide you on what to look for when buying a new sofa or sectional for your home.
Nailing down the style of sofa you want in your living space will narrow down the possibilities in a snap. You might already be aware of the design style you’re going for with your decorations, or maybe you have no clue which direction you want to go.
Take a look at what each style has to offer and find the ones that suit your home best.
Mid-Century Modern Sofas
Mid-century modern furniture is characterized by clean lines, deep, rich colors, and natural, dark wood. It’s practical, functional, and uncomplicated.
Sofas that fit this style are generally boxier than others, with a simpler rectangular shape. They have straight, firm arms and level backs all the way across. These sofas will often feature thin wooden legs that hold them well above the ground. At most, mid-century modern sofas have tufted backs but no intricate designs or patterns. They come in a singular, striking color anywhere from white to yellow to purple.
Scandinavian furniture is the epitome of simplicity. It features a minimalist design and a neutral color palette that fits well into almost any setting.
When it comes to picking out a Scandinavian-style sofa, keep it simple. Think of your new sofa as a blank background on top of which you can add any decor you wish. More often than not, Scandinavian sofas come in shades of white, beige, and grey. However, you’ll often find a navy hiding among the neutrals. With their unobtrusive wooden legs and blank canvas feel, Scandi sofas allow you the flexibility to change your style without losing out on the investment.
Japandi is a combination of Japanese and Scandinavian designs. It combines natural touches, comfort, and understated luxury to make you feel calm and relaxed in your own home.
Sofas that fit into the Japandi style are simple but not lacking in style. They are upholstered in natural materials that have plenty of texture. These sofas are often low to the ground with big, soft cushions that invite you to sit after a long, stressful day. You will find Japandi sofas with wood, rattan, and wicker elements blended with the fabric to add more of that sought-after texture. Just like Scandinavian sofas, these come in neutral colors. However, Japandi sofas come in a lot more interesting shapes than other styles.
Farmhouse style is characterized by comfort, simplicity, and rustic charm. You will find a lot of exposed wood and metal put to use in practical ways. Even new pieces have an intentionally worn, weathered look to them.
A farmhouse sofa is simple and comfortable. There are many different styles of sofas in this category that feature special touches such as tufted backs, skirts, and slipcovers. They usually come in creamy off-whites and beiges in simple, cotton fabric. When you see a farmhouse-style sofa, you think of comfort above all else. Many of them have big, comfortable cushions accented with lots and lots of pillows.
The traditional style is decadent. It turns on all your senses with color, pattern, and texture. Traditional furniture pieces are inspired by the 18th and 19th centuries and look like they come from a bygone era.
You will know a traditional style sofa when you see it. Also called antique sofas, settees, and camelback sofas, they most often feature beautifully curved backs. These sofas are as intricate as the design style itself, with tufted backs, ornate wooden legs, rolled arms, and rivets along the edges. You can find traditional sofas in neutral colors, deep jewel tones, and covered in floral patterns. They are made to stand out in a space that’s already filled with elaborate decor.
The material of your new sofa or sectional is just as important as the style, size, and color. What covers the cushions on your sofa will determine the durability of your new seating and how long it will last in your home.
When picking out a sofa, ask yourself what’s most important to you. Do you need something resistant to stains? Do you want something easy to clean? Are you in search of luxury over all else? Is having texture in your fabrics the most important thing to you? And what material can provide for your needs the best?
The most common materials used for sofas include:
- Cotton: Natural and durable, standing up well to wear.
- Linen: Aesthetically pleasing but difficult to maintain. Requires professional cleaning.
- Wool Blend: Durable and great for hiding stains but difficult to care for.
- Silk: Sensitive to light and easy to wear down. Not for everyday use.
- Leather: Easy to clean and incredibly durable when full-grain leather is used.
- Velvet: Luxurious and offered in rich tones and a variety of blends from silk to synthetic.
- Synthetic: An affordable way to mimic natural fibers like silk, cotton, and leather.
- Performance: Ideal for kids and pets, easy to clean, and stain-resistant.
The size of your sofa depends entirely on the size of the space you want to put it in. While you’re researching sofas to buy, it’s helpful to know the standard size of different types of sofas going in. That way, you know exactly what to search for to fit in the space you have.
Standard sofa sizes can be broken down by how many seats a sofa has.
- One Seat “Armchair”: 36” wide x 38” deep x 34” high
- Two Seats “Loveseat”: 63” wide x 38” deep x 34” high
- Three Seats: 90” wide x 38” deep x 34” high
- Four Seats: 117” wide x 38” deep x 34” high
- Five Seats: 144” wide x 38” deep x 34” high
- Six Seats: 171” wide x 38” deep x 34” high
As you can see, sofas most often differ in their width, but that doesn’t mean every single sofa is the same depth and height. You’ll find sofas in your hunt that are closer to the ground while others have taller legs. There are also sofas that offer deeper seating for even more comfort.
Pay close attention to all of the measurements given in the description of a sofa, especially when shopping online. Compare the size of the sofa to the size of your space as closely as you can before settling on anything so you know you’re getting something that fits.
Modular Sofas and Sectionals
Where the idea of a standard sofa in size or style ends is where sectionals and modular sofas begin. These sofas are unique in their build, allowing you far more seating options than the typical three or four seats in a row.
Modular sofas are comprised of multiple different pieces, usually in square sections that hook together to make one larger sofa.
These sofas are ideal for homes that have small entryways that standard-sized sofas just won’t squeeze through. You can customize the seating arrangement any way you want — from a simple straight line of seats to an L or U-shaped sofa.
Sectionals are a little more straightforward. They are larger sofas that come in big pieces that form an L-shape or U-shape, depending on the sectional.
There’s usually only one way to put together a sectional with the exception of some sectionals that can be mirrored. These big sofas offer you far more seating than a standard sofa in a design that fits into just about any living room. Sectionals are not small space friendly, but they are perfect for larger families or people who do a lot of hosting.
When buying a sectional, there are a lot of measurements involved, so make sure you map everything out to ensure it will fit through your doors and in your space.
Maybe you’ve been in the market for a long time and just can’t seem to find the perfect sofa for you. If the options online and in stores just aren’t doing it for you, it might be time to consider getting a custom-made sofa.
Always do your research when picking a custom furniture maker to bring your sofa to life. Think about your budget and what level of customization you need to realize your dreams.
Custom-made sofas can range from something as simple as changing the color or material of an existing sofa to picking every detail of the frame, legs, and upholstery. The deeper into the details you get, the more expensive your custom-made sofa is likely to be. But it’s an investment worth making for a sofa that will live in your home for years to come.
Whether your sofa-buying journey is just beginning or you’ve been at it for a while, these are a few things you should keep in mind during your search.
Measure Your Space:
Measuring the space you want your sofa to inhabit is rule number one. You need to know how wide and deep the space is in order to fit a sofa perfectly. Height is also important if you have shelving, low lights, or anything else that might cause people to bump their heads when sitting down.
One of the best ways to find out how a sofa will fit in your space before buying is to map it out using newspapers.
Create a perfect outline of the sofa you’re considering from paper and roll it out in the space you want to put it. This will give you an exact idea of how the sofa will fit. You might end up changing your mind about what size you need when you see it in action. Maybe there’s more wiggle room than you thought.
Measuring the entryways to your home is just as essential as measuring your living room. If the sofa won’t fit through your door, there’s no reason to buy it in the first place.
Do Your Research:
Research is the first step to any great journey.
If you think you know what you want, look into it. Do a search online for the style, color, size, or material of the sofa you see yourself sitting on in your living room. Chances are, you will find even more options than you even thought were possible.
Look into all the different makes and models until you narrow down exactly what you want from start to finish. Once you have all your notes together, it will make finding the perfect sofa that much easier.
Compare Products and Brands:
Don’t let the first sofa you come across that meets your criteria convince you to buy it right away. There might be something even better out there just waiting for you to find it.
Compare different sofas to one another based on their size, color, and style. Compare two virtually similar sofas from two different brands to each other. What makes them different? If they are vastly different prices, there must be a reason. They may differ in quality, materials used, or even where they’re coming from to get to you.
The only way to know you’re getting the best of the best is to look at everything before you settle.
Ask the Experts
When all else fails, there are people who know what they’re doing there to help you out. One of the best ways to take advantage of expert advice is to order swatches of every sofa you’re considering.
Swatches allow you to feel the material and see the color of a sofa in your home before you commit. You won’t have to guess if it will vibe with the rest of your room when you have a piece of it right there in your hand. Let it linger in your space for a few days to really get a feel for it under your lights so you know for sure.
And if all of this feels too overwhelming, ask an interior design or furniture expert for their input. They’ll have the best idea of what sort of sofa will suit your space just right.