It’s the crash pad after a long day and the center of your evening with friends. It’s your seat for watching the big game and the place for making Christmas morning memories. A sofa is an important investment in your home, not just because it’s one of the biggest furniture purchases you make, but because of how much you use it.
A high-quality sofa or sectional will last for years, so finding one that you not only love but that is well-made is key to making the most of your investment. Elizabeth Brumbaugh Quirk has learned a thing or two over the years about what makes an exceptional sofa. Below, she shares her top sofa shopping tips to remember when looking for your next piece.
If you’re in the market for a new sofa for your Texas home, focus on the 5 “C”s of sofa-buying:
There’s a lot more than meets the eye with a sofa. What’s underneath the upholstery has a lot to do with how long it will last.
High-quality sofa frames are usually constructed of hardwoods such as oak, maple, walnut, or beech that are kiln-dried for maximum strength and durability. These woods can last much longer than softer wood varieties like pine, which can bend or warp with time.
When it comes to suspension, you can’t go wrong with eight-way hand-tied springs, the classic standard for quality sofa construction. However, furniture manufacturers are increasingly using alternative spring methods such as serpentine springs (or tightly connected S-shaped springs). Either is a good choice, as spring-constructed suspension will last longer than sofas assembled without metal springs.
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how a sofa “feels”. Some people like a soft, deep cushion, while others want more support. Whichever you choose, ensure the cushion structure is high-quality.
Cushions are made from the inside out. Opt for cushions that use high-density foam as the inner filing (as a rule: the higher the density, the firmer the cushion) since it will last longer and sag less over time. Typically, foam is then wrapped in feathers, down, or batting for extra comfort.
Sometimes, cushions are further supported with encased spring coils in the very center, before being wrapped in high-density foam. This is another great option, as this construction offers premium support and allows cushions to maintain their shape over time.
How many people do you want to comfortably seat on your sofa? The seating capacity of a sofa is important to remember, as a sofa that’s too small (or large) probably won’t be a wise long-term investment. But it’s not just about a sofa’s length; pay attention to seat depth, too. If you’re looking for a spot for conversation or reading, a shallower seat can offer more support. But if you’re looking for a place to watch tv and doze off on a weekend afternoon, a deeper seat can be more comfortable.
Think about what daily wear and tear your sofa may face. If dirty paws or a kid’s spilled drink could be in your sofa’s future, pick a durable fabric that holds up. And remember: patterned upholstery or darker leather is best for hiding stains.
Some people think fabric is preferable to leather when it comes to durability, but that isn’t always the case. Don’t be afraid of choosing a leather sofa for your family or living room; leather is very durable, and with the right care, it can actually look better as it ages. Also, leather sofas typically have a longer lifespan than fabric sofas, meaning you’ll save more in the long run.
The size of your sofa should be determined by the size of the space it’s going in. Go for even proportions; for example, if it’s a large, open-concept family room, a big sectional may work best to fill the space. Make sure you know how you’re going to arrange your furniture before shopping and measure the area so you can look for the right size and shape.
Buying a sofa is a significant purchase; take the time to shop in-person and “test drive” each option to determine their level of comfort and support.
One of our final sofa shopping tips? Don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s a significant purchase, so always ask about the construction of the piece. The furniture store you’re shopping at should be able to answer questions about the materials used in the sofa, its cushion construction, and other information about what’s underneath the upholstery.