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4 Expert Tips To Choose A Sofa

Choosing the right sofa for your home is a pretty big decision, with a lot of factors to consider. You'll need to know how to make your sofa fit the style of your home, as well as what the best model is for your needs, and which materials are the most beneficial.

It's easy to get caught up in all the details and forget all about the bigger picture, which is why we've put together some expert tips to help you choose the sofa of your dreams!

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What type of sofa should I buy?

The most important factor you'll need to consider when choosing a sofa is what type will match your needs and the décor in your home. This will then help you decide on the material and color of your sofa later down the line. While most types of sofa are pretty universal, not all of them work with certain materials or colors, so pay close attention to the tips below.

Want something cheap and simple? => Standard sofa

  • This is the simplest, and usually the cheapest type of sofa available on the market.
  • They have a straightforward 'minimalistic' design, with a straight back and armrests.
  • Standard sofas can be found in a range of sizes, but the most popular is the 3-seater.
  • The most common upholstery materials for standard sofas are cotton and linen, though they appear in almost any sofa material imaginable.

Love having extra comfort? => Reclining sofa

  • Reclining sofas let the occupant lower the back and raise the front of the sofa, and often have an extendable footrest.
  • They let you relax with very little effort and are particularly great for individuals who may struggle with back pain when sitting in an upright position.
  • Manual reclining sofas are the cheaper option, but they require more physical effort to use than the more expensive, automatic reclining sofas.
  • The most common upholstery materials for reclining sofas are leather, PU leather, and acrylic.

Have a taste for vintage furniture? => Chesterfield sofa

  • A Chesterfield sofa is characterized by its large size, rolled armrests that are the same height as the back, and deep button tufting all over the upholstery.
  • They give off an air of luxury and vintage, and so only match with décor that fits those aesthetics.
  • These sofas are usually very expensive because of their real leather upholstery, though cheaper alternatives made from PU leather and acrylic do exist.
  • Since these sofas are usually quite large (4 or 5 seaters), you'll need to make sure your living room has enough space to accommodate -- there's nothing worse than ordering a piece of furniture you love and not having enough space for it!
  • Chesterfield sofas are almost always found in dark colors, like black, dark brown, dark red, and even dark green.

Need flexibility in your home? => Modular sofa

  • Modular sofas are the most versatile type available on the market -- you can put together countless combinations of the different seating units to create your perfect sofa.
  • The individual units range in size from single-seaters to large, L-shaped corner pieces.
  • They're a great option if you ever decide to rearrange the living room, or move house -- simply change the combination of seating units until you're satisfied with the look, or purchase additional units to make the sofa bigger!
  • Most retailers sell these sofas in sets, but you can also pick individual pieces to make this sofa super custom.
  • Modular sofas come in practically every upholstery material out there, from cotton to leather to velvet.

Want to save money and space? => Convertible sofa/sofa bed

  • Convertible sofas fold out to form a single or double bed and usually have some sort of storage compartment for bedding and additional pillows.
  • They're a great option if you're short on space or money as you only need one piece of furniture to serve as both a place to sit during the day and to sleep during the night.
  • They have become incredibly popular amongst students and young adults living in small studio apartments.
  • You can find convertible sofas made form pretty much any material, though fabrics are more popular than real and faux leather as they are cheaper and a bit more comfortable to sleep on.

Which upholstery material is best for my sofa?

When choosing the upholstery material for your sofa, you'll need to consider the durability and upkeep of each option. Some types of sofas are only available in specific materials (as mentioned earlier), so make sure to keep that in mind if you're after a specific style.

  • Leather is a classic choice for those wanting a more luxurious-looking sofa. The material is highly resistant to scratches and stains and can be easily cleaned with a sponge and water. However, it is one of the more expensive options so make sure you're ready for that sort of financial investment.
  • PU leather, also known as faux leather, lets you have the luxurious look of real leather for a much lower price. While it's not as resilient as real leather, it can still withstand stains and some light wear for at least a few years.
  • Acrylic is the cheapest alternative to leather upholstery. It comes in lots of different, unique, and bold colors, and fits in best with a futuristic aesthetic. The material is easy to clean and fairly durable, but it can melt if it's subjected to excessive heat. It can also cause an allergic reaction, so we recommend choosing a different material if you're worried about that.
  • Linen sofas come in varying qualities. Cheaper linen upholstery will be quite thin and will wear out quickly, so it's not recommended for families or those living with pets. However, if you invest in higher quality linen, you'll have a comfortable and breathable sofa that will last for quite some time.
  • Velvet is another expensive option, which we only recommend if you don't have children or pets. The luxurious material is quite vulnerable to direct sunlight, spillages, and pet hair, though it is unlikely to snag or tear as easily as other fabric materials. Overall, it's more of an aesthetic material than a practical one, so be very wary of that!
  • Cotton is one of the cheaper fabric options, but is by no means the worst! It's soft and durable, making it the perfect choice if you're strapped for money but need something that will last. However, it is susceptible to wrinkling, and any spillages may stain or ruin the material if not cleaned up properly. Also, you'll likely only find sofas made from a 45% to 60% cotton blend rather than 100% cotton, though that really doesn't make a huge difference.
  • Wool isn't a super popular upholstery fabric, but can still be found in some models. It's a quite durable fabric, though it tends to be scratchy and uncomfortable if it's not part of a blend. Also, it's pretty difficult to clean and risks felting, so it's not the best option if you have children or pets living in the home.

How do I choose a color and pattern for my sofa?

A sofa that doesn't match or complement the décor of your living room is, frankly, pretty useless. The living room is a space that you'll be using practically every day, so you need to make sure your sofa will match with the overall aesthetic and it doesn't become an eye-sore.

Want to stick to a neutral color scheme? => Monochromatic

  • If you prefer to have your sofa blend in seamlessly with the rest of your décor, choose a color that appears in the room often.
  • Having multiple pieces of furniture and décor in the same, monochromatic color scheme will create a quite cozy and put-together atmosphere.
  • Common colors are brown, grey, and blue in a range of different shades, though you can go for any color as long as it doesn't break the monochromatic color scheme.

Want to create a focal point in the room? => Pop of color or bold pattern

  • If you'd rather stray a little from the typical colors of your décor in order to make the sofa the focal point of the room, try picking a bold color or fun pattern for your sofa.
  • This doesn't mean you should pick randomly though -- make sure the color or pattern you choose is still complementary to the rest of the color scheme.
  • Popular complementary colors include blue and orange, red and green, and yellow and purple.
  • Popular patterns that match with almost any décor are stripes, dots, and anything geometric.
  • If you want an even larger contrast, purchase some pillows in the same color as the rest of the room to put on your sofa and really bring it out.

Change your mind often? => Neutral colors

  • If you're the type of person that's constantly rearranging the living room, buying new décor, and changing the color scheme on a regular basis, you might struggle to make your sofa fit in with absolutely everything.
  • Your best bet is to purchase a sofa that has a very neutral color that doesn't stand out too much and complements most aesthetics.
  • These colors include tan/brown, white, grey, black, and blue, and they come in hundreds of different shades.
  • Avoid any patterns, regardless of whether they're simple or complex, as they clash very easily with other décor -- you don't want to limit yourself if you like variety!

What aesthetic will my sofa fit?

While not everyone has a super strict aesthetic that they follow when decorating their living room, most still have a general style or decorating scheme present. Regardless of whether you're choosing a sofa to fit an established aesthetic or if you're planning to decorate your living room around the sofa you purchase, follow the tips below to make sure everything works well together.

Like minimalistic designs? => Modern

  • The modern aesthetic is inspired by styles from the mid-1900s and involves minimalist silhouettes, refined lines, and neutral colors.
  • Many sofas can match this aesthetic pretty well, though the most popular ones are the standard sofas and sofa beds.
  • They'll most likely have a fabric upholstery material like cotton or linen, and will overall be very basic.

Like a cozy yet mysterious atmosphere? => Vintage

  • This decorating scheme is also sometimes referred to as the industrial aesthetic because of the exposed brick, the leather furniture, and metal accent pieces.
  • A Chesterfield sofa is the most suitable type for vintage-style living rooms, though modular and reclining sofas with leather upholstery can work too.
  • We've also seen examples of velvet sofas working really well with a vintage style, though that depends more on your personal preference!
  • The key with a vintage style is dark colors and furniture that looks aged and slightly worn.

Like to be carefree and adventurous? => Bohemian

  • Bohemian décor is full of bright colors, patterns, and textures, and is often quite eclectic -- though they somehow don't clash, there is always a wild mix of pattern and materials.
  • Colors like red and purple, and Moroccan, Southwestern, or tribal-inspired patterns are all super popular.
  • Modular, standard, and convertible sofas seem to be the best match for this aesthetic, although almost any style will fit if it has the right colors or patterns.

Want to be unique? => Futuristic

  • While many popular decorating schemes take inspiration from the past, the futuristic aesthetic goes against some of the basic rules of interior decoration.
  • You'll find lots of unique shapes and silhouettes, often combining jutting angles with curved sides, and making use of non-standard shapes like triangles and pentagons, for example.
  • Contrasting colors like black and white are pretty popular, but so are bold colors like pink, green, and orange against neutral backgrounds.
  • The best sofa upholstery material for futuristic-styled homes is acrylic -- the shiny finish and slightly plastic feel of this material really match with this aesthetic, and it can be found in hundreds of different bright and eye-catching colors.
  • You'll most likely find modular and convertible sofas that fit this decorating style, though standard-esque sofas with unique shapes are popular too.

Jessica started out as an interior photographer, but her love of pretty settings took her to the field of interior design, where she can combine two of her greatest passions, creating and then capturing the beauty of homes.