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Things to think about before you buy a new sofa 

Depending on your interests it could be the television, the bookshelf, the games console or maybe just the company, that brings you to the living room in your free time. Different people use the room for different things, we decorate it differently, and even call it different things — the living room, sitting room or lounge.

There’s one thing that we’re all likely to agree on however, that one of the most important items the room contains is the sofa. It’s a communal, functional piece of furniture, that brings the entire household together to spend quality time with one another.

Sofas also tend to be one of the most expensive items of furniture we purchase, and you therefore ideally would like it to last you for many years, picking the ‘right’ sofa then for your home is not something to be taken lightly. Here’s our top tips for things to think about before taking the plunge and investing in a new one.

 Image Credit: Darlings of Chelsea. £3239.  http://www.darlingsofchelsea.co.uk/amata-range

Think about size

One of the first things to consider before you even begin looking at sofas is how much available space you have in the room. You don’t want to start looking and fall in love with a piece of furniture only to find that it’s too large to fit where you want to place it, or that it’s too small to fill the area you had in mind.

One of the key things to avoid is so called ‘dead space’ which is where placing a piece of furniture creates areas in the room that are awkwardly sized — too small to fit a side table, floor lamp or other gap filler and also not wide enough to act as a walkway around the room. In these cases it’s better to go for either a larger sofa that will completely will the space, or a smaller one to make these awkward gaps practical. It’s a good idea to measure things like door/window widths to make sure you’ll actually be able to get your new sofa in the room in the first place.

If you’re going for a three birth sofa or greater a good rule of thumb for finding the ideal size is to consider if it would be long enough for tallest member of your household lie flat across it, this way you’re sure everyone in the house will be able to take a nap comfortably on it on those days where they’re worn out, feeling sick or just a tad hungover.

 Image Credit: Darlings of Chelsea. £5626. http://www.darlingsofchelsea.co.uk/fabio-range

Next consider shape

While straight backed sofas as still the most common type of sofa, there’s been a marked rise in popularity of curved back and sectional sofas.

As a general rule, sectional sofas are obviously best positioned around a corner to make the best use of space, straight backed sofas can be put anywhere but similarly look best pressed up against a wall, whereas unless you live in some kind of refurbished lighthouse or windmill, you’re likely going to want to place a curved sofa in the middle of the room.

 Image Credit: Darlings of Chelsea. £2040.  http://www.darlingsofchelsea.co.uk/melrose

Then how it will interact with the rest of the furniture

Are you going to be primarily using the new sofas to watch tv or play video games? In which case you’re going to want to make sure that the television is sufficiently close to the TV to make for decent viewing, make sure however there will be enough space between the sofa, TV and coffee table for people to easily move around.

Whereas if you’re primarily going to be using the sofa to socialise and entertain you will want to make sure that other pieces of furniture such as arm chairs, love seats and poofs all face the sofa so that you’re guests can easily make eye contact with one another.

Modern open-plan apartment. Living room in foreground with kitchen to the rear and dining are on mezzanine deck above.

Finally, think materials and colours

Lastly, before you start the quest to find the perfect new sofa for your living room you should think about what materials and colours would actually work for you. While you of course want your new sofa to be beautiful in of itself, ensuring it doesn’t clash with the rest of the room’s decor and will fit with your lifestyle.

Light coloured sofas made from textiles such as linen, velvet or suede can be stunning. But may not be the best choice if you have young children, allow pets on the furniture or tend to eat on the sofa. If this sounds like you, make sure you pick a sofa with cushion covers that can easily be unzipped and are machine washable.

Darker coloured sofas, and ones made from leather (real or faux) are much more robust, and can either be easily wiped down or simply will not show any stains.

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