How to Choose the Perfect Sofa for Your Living Room

Post: How to Choose the Perfect Sofa for Your Living Room

There aren’t many items of furniture as central to the workings of a home as a sofa. In no other singular piece is there more to think about. Not only do we need them to be multi-functional – which is putting it lightly – but we expect them to look great too. Added to this is the fact that every household is different. This is true in the physical layout of the property as well as its occupants. Some have children; others have pets; plenty have both. So, they also need to function in slightly different ways from home to home. And that’s before we even consider personal stylistic and aesthetic tastes and those of the room it will be placed in… A lot to bear in mind then. The good news is that for every variation of taste and circumstance, there’s a perfect sofa out there, just waiting to be found. Here’s how to go about finding yours:


Before getting bogged down by the world of choice out there, it’s a good idea to think about your particular circumstances and what the sofa will be used for day-to-day. Going into the process of searching for the perfect match will be a lot easier if you have a clearly defined set of must-haves and deal-breakers. If there are children or pets in the household, stain-resistant fabric might be a good idea for the upholstery. Equally, retrieval of toys or cleaning of pet hair may make a sofa with longer legs and a seat raised from the floor a sensible idea.

Size and Scaling

Getting a sofa the right size is about more than just whether or not it will fit in the room. It’s a process of visualising what it will look like in the space. A sofa can be too small just as easily as it can be too big. Here’s how to ensure the choice you make corresponds pleasingly with your living space:

Length: the 2/3 rule – An interior designer tip to remember. Measure the length of the room that you plan to fill the sofa with and use two-thirds of that as a benchmark for the length of the sofa you will need.

Depth – A sofa that comes too far into the room will easily make the space feel cramped. If your living space is a fairly shallow one, a more traditional, upright shape might be the better option.

Height – The height of the back of the piece and the size of the gap between the floor and the base of the seat are both important considerations. An item with a tall back might be a bit cumbersome for the middle of a room; pieces that are flush to the floor might not suit everyone’s cleaning habits.

Arms – The style and shape of a sofa’s arms can make a big difference to how it fills a room, particularly if space is limited. Its general use will also dictate the type of arm you might want to look out for.


Choosing the right fabric is a multi-faceted dilemma. As mentioned above, the lifestyle of the people using the sofa will determine a lot about the type of material you might want, but even when you’ve done that there’s also the need for it to match the colour scheme and general aesthetic of the space it will be in. Most fabrics are available in a range of colours and many offer options of patterns and finishes. Once you have an idea of the types of fabric you might want, ask for samples – known as swatches – to see how the finished product will look in the room. If you have a particular store in mind, but they don’t offer this service, there are plenty of others that do. There will be a small charge, but it will be worth the peace of mind knowing it will look exactly as you expect it to.

Style and Shape

Most standard sofas can be split into five main categories: traditional, country, mid-century, contemporary and Chesterfield. A lot of the variation in style comes from these groups. The main features of each are as follows:

Traditional – Available in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. Lawson and Howard are 2 common variants of the traditional style, identifiable by their rounded and short arms that are lower than the back and stop short of the seat cushions.

Country – Also sometimes referred to as a Bridgewater, these sofas have distinctive valances covering their feet. Armrests are lower than the back and often reach the end of the seat. Cushions tend to be removable from the seat and back.

Mid-century – Mid-century sofas have clean lines and a sleek shape. Cushioning is usually tight-fitting and the legs tend to be splayed – or angled outwards – and made of wood.

Contemporary – Characterised by the same minimalist design principles found in other modern branches of style. Contemporary sofas often have metal feet and legs, loose-fitting cushions and deep arms.

Chesterfield – One of the most easily recognisable styles of sofa. Chesterfields have rolled arms and back that extend at the same height. Leather is most commonly used, often with pinched-button detailing.


The type of cushioning a sofa has will make a massive difference to its functionality. Loose cushions provide flexibility but may not look as smart and formal as fixed ones. The one-cushion-per-section design is good for several people but often not quite as comfortable to stretch out along.

Test before you Invest

This isn’t always practical or possible, particularly if you’re ordering online, but if the possibility is there, be sure to take advantage of it. Equivalent shops within travelling distance may not have the exact model you want, but the nearest alternative will give you a pretty good idea of the comfort of the design.

Sofa, So Good…

A well-chosen sofa is more than the sum of its parts. TV shows like SOAP, The Wire, The Simpsons and Friends wouldn’t be the same without their respective iconic pieces of furniture. Now all that’s left is for you to choose yours…

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