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Tips on choosing the most important seat in the house

We all spend time thinking about how to furnish our homes – it’s natural that we should want to make them as welcoming and as comfortable as we can. When we’re in our own space, we can escape from the world, relax and be ourselves with the people we love.

Our house is also the place where we welcome our friends and family to spend time with us, so when we choose furniture and décor, it’s not just our own comfort we should consider – we need to think about creating an entertaining space too.

One of the critical furnishing decisions for any home is the sofa. For many reception rooms, the sofa and armchairs are the focal pieces of furniture – whether it’s a room that you use for entertaining or the snug that is just for the family to use. A sofa doesn’t just have to look good, it needs to be comfortable for you and your guests to sit on and relax.

If you’re about thinking of buying a new sofa, bear these points in mind.

living room sofa
One of the critical furnishing decisions for any home is the sofa. Image credit:

Sofa first or room first?

Are you simply replacing the sofa in a room that is already decorated or are you starting from scratch with the whole room? This will dictate whether your colour and pattern choices for the sofa are limited, or whether you have free rein and can choose the sofa you want and then decorate and furnish the rest of the room to go with it.

British interior designer Nina Campbell advises anyone wanting to buy a new sofa to draw a floorplan of their living room, noting where windows and doors are positioned. This will help give the room a sense of balance, with furniture in proportion that’s fitting to the space. But, it’s not just about the look – in an interview with the Bath Chronicle, Campbell said, “Be honest about how you really want to live in the house – do the dogs live on the bed, do you want to lie full length on sofas or simply tucked up in an armchair?”

You may decide to go for a bold pattern in the sofa fabric, or perhaps you want the classic look that a leather sofa can give. Similarly, decide if you want the sofa to be the focal point for colour in the room, or whether you’ll opt for a neutral shade instead. Campbell’s preference is generally for a plain sofa, which can then be used as a canvas for colourful accessories.

Don’t sacrifice style over function

It’s easy to get seduced by the look of a stylishly designed piece of furniture, but then end up with something that doesn’t fulfil half its designated function – a comfortable place to sit. Think about how the sofa will be used. Is it destined for a room that is only used when you have guests, and people are likely to be standing up and chatting for the main part, only sitting down for a few moments at a time? In that case, you might choose a sofa that’s all about style, but it might not be one you’d be comfortable stretching out on. A matching pair of sofas might work best in this kind of room, whereas if you’re buying a sofa for a family room, you might want a sofa that has a cosier vibe to it.

Shape is another consideration. For instance, a corner sofa where, by default, everyone inevitably sits quite close together is great for the family, but if you’re entertaining guests, they might appreciate that little bit extra personal space that separate sofas and armchairs offer.

 Mapello 3 Seater Leather Sofa Electric Recliners, Light Brown
Retailer Vivendo sell a wide range of luxury Italian sofas

Of course, some sofa retailers manage to achieve both design perfection and functionality. Vivendo’s range of beautiful and individually-styled pieces of furniture include sofas to sit on and relax, as well as designer sofas that will add a touch of style and sophistication to any living or drawing room.

As well as style and shape, give texture some thought. If you want people to feel relaxed a plush cushion allows for this, but a firmer model will better withstand wear and tear. You don’t want your guests to feel nervous about that glass of wine they’re holding as they sit on your sofa!

No piece of furniture that’s chosen in a hurry is likely to be just right for your home. When it comes to choosing a sofa, which plays such a vital role in most family homes, it’s definitely worth putting in some time to do your research. That way, you’re far more likely to end up buying a piece of furniture that ticks all the boxes you need it to – those of style, design, comfort and functionality.