When furnishing a living room, the sofa shouldn’t be an afterthought but a major furniture investment, and the one that will last for decades. While style preferences are a personal matter, choosing a great sofa includes objective criteria that guarantee you’ll be happy with your purchase for many years. Here are eight expert shopping tips.
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Make sure it fits
There’s little sense in considering a sofa that doesn’t fit you well. Seats should be comfortable for all your family members, and if you’re looking for a recliner sofa, make sure it’s comfortable in all the positions. The most important fit consideration is the seat depth. Depending on your height, you should choose deeper or more shallow seats so that your feet are flat on the floor and the back of your knees just a bit forward of the lower seat cushion. If you’re going to use the sofa for naps, make sure it’s comfortable for afternoon snoozing as well.
Feel the upholstery
Although quality-made upholstery may not be critical to the comfort of your sofa, it’s essential to its visual appeal. Just like with a well-tailored suit, patterns and stripes should match the seams, as although you may not notice it immediately, mismatched patterns and seams will give you a sense that something’s not right. Patterns should be centered, with all the seams and welts running straight. Seams that lean to one side or another, as well as uneven welting, are another sign that the cover was tailored in haste and without much attention to detail.
Test the mechanism
If the sofa in question is a recliner or sleeper, make sure to operate the mechanism multiple times to make sure it operates smoothly every time, without jerky action. Recline or unfolding furniture is more expensive, so you want to make sure you’re paying for a smooth mechanism that will run easily every time. Any mechanical glitches you encounter in the store will only become more pronounced over years of regular use at your home.
Check the frame
While the upholstery and cushion can be replaced when they get worn out or damaged, the frame is considered an integral piece of every sofa. If you’re looking to buy a good sofa, skip the cheaper options with frames made of particleboard, plastic or cheap metal. A good-quality sofa will have a galvanized steel or solid hardwood frame. The new collections by King Living, for instance, come with Postureflex® Seating System that provides the ultimate support for the body and seating suspension similar to the one used in luxury cars. The hardwood should come from oak, beech, or ash. Pine frames are less expensive but known to warp within five years.
Ask about the joints
The method by which the frame parts are held together might not be your first consideration, the salesperson or the technical specification should have this information. You should look for frames that are joined with wooden dowels, double wooden dowels, wooden corner blocks, or steel bolts and brackets. While staples, nails, or glue may provide additional reinforcement, don't buy a sofa that is assembled with these only.
Look into the springs
The springs that hold the cushions on a sofa are made in three levels of quality. The least expensive springs are the least durable ones, as well, and they're not even springs but a wire webbing or mesh. Most sofas use what has become known as serpentine springs, that span the gap between frame members. They offer good support, but unless the metal isn't heavy-gauge, they may sag over the years. High-end sofas, on the other hand, are fitted with “eight-way hand-tied springs” which provide an ultimate comfort but at a premium price. There are experts who claim that these aren’t different then serpentines, but let the customer be a judge of that.
Inspect the cushions
The seat cushions on a sofa need to be firm and resilient while fitting snugly within the frame. A cushion is resilient if it returns to its shape after being pressed down and let go. A cushion that stays down when you apply pressure will end up looking unsightly and feeling uncomfortable in no time. Cushions that don’t fit snugly within the frame will also lose their shape quickly as the edges will start overlapping. When it comes to materials, polyurethane foam is the most common, but more and more luxury sofas have cushions made of high-resilient foam or goose down mixed with feathers.
Consider the size
No few sofas have been returned to the store because the delivery service couldn’t get them through the doorways. Luckily, many sofas come with legs that can be removed to make the delivery easier, and many doors can be unhinged to make the doorway opening large enough to squeeze a large sofa through. Make sure to measure the height, width and diagonal of all relevant doorways in your home and take these numbers when hunting for a perfect sofa.
Apart from the style that may or may not fit into your living room décor, a quality sofa has features that make it last for many years. Apart from the frame and joints, perhaps the most important features are the actual fit and comfort.