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Interiors: Sofa so good

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Roche Bobois Gaultier tartan sofa

Roche Bobois Gaultier tartan sofa

Stockholm sofa from Ikea.

Stockholm sofa from Ikea.

Finline Furniture.

Finline Furniture.

Friheten corner sofa bed from Ikea.

Friheten corner sofa bed from Ikea.

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Roche Bobois Gaultier tartan sofa

"Marriage," stated the Victorian and Edwardian stage actress Mrs Patrick Campbell, "offers the deep, deep peace of the double-bed after the hurly-burly of the chaise longue."

Or was that the casting couch Pat?

Anyhow, given that 'Mrs Pat', as she was popularly known, came up with this perch of wisdom at the end of the 19th Century, it's quite possible that she didn't have a decently comfortable version to park herself on come evenings.

Now, we're spoilt for choice.

Ikea's Friheten corner sofa bed, for example, offers the combined functionality of a sofa, a chaise longue, and a double bed. And it only costs €525. There's quite a bit of flexibility built into the design too: the chaise longue section can be placed to the left or the right of the sofa, and there's space for storage under the chaise longue. Just don't break a leg arranging it.

But will it pass the Tip Test?

The weight of a sofa, according to sofa specialist Ken Jackson, is the easiest way of revealing its quality.

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Friheten corner sofa bed from Ikea.

Friheten corner sofa bed from Ikea.

Friheten corner sofa bed from Ikea.

Friheten corner sofa bed from Ikea

If you can tip it over easily with one hand, don't buy it. "There are a lot of sofas out there that are built to last . . . until the first person falls into them," he says. "If you think you're looking at a bargain check around the back. You should never be able to see a staple on a sofa."

There's no cheap way of buying a good quality sofa – however you look at it, it's a big investment. Irish-made sofas from Ken Jackson Interiors in Cork begin at around €1,100 for a standard three-seater, with most customers paying between €1,500 and €1,800, depending on the fabric.

In terms of pricing, this is not dissimilar to Ikea's classic Stockholm sofa, which costs €1,100 including a removable cover. The back cushions are the same on both sides, which means that you can turn them so they wear evenly. The same sofa in leather costs €1,600.

For that price you might as well buy Irish.

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Stockholm sofa from Ikea.

Stockholm sofa from Ikea.

Stockholm sofa from Ikea.

Stockholm sofa from Ikea

If you visit the showrooms of Finline Furniture in Emo, Co Laois, you can see yours under construction in the factory out back. The advantage is that, as well as choosing the style and fabric, you can have the length or height of the sofa adjusted to meet your needs.

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Finline Furniture.

Finline Furniture.

Finline Furniture.

Finline Furniture: 'About half the sofas we sell are bespoke'

"About half the sofas that we sell are bespoke," says Ciarán Finane, whose parents launched the company in 1979.

"A few generations ago, people went to the department store and they chose the sofa that they liked best out of the ones on display. Now they know what they want and are prepared to wait for it."

Anything beyond the norm does come at an extra cost, but not an exorbitant one. "A bog-standard three-seater costs between €800 and €1,500, depending on the fabric," Finane explains. "All our sofas are built on the same solid beech frame so the only difference is in the upholstery. If you're tall and want the sofa 6cm taller at the back it will cost about 5pc extra. Adding an extra half metre to the length will increase the price by about 10-15pc. You can also order the sofa in firmer foam at no extra cost."

Since a two-seater sofa costs between €750 and €1,450, the three-seater is better value. The increasing popular corner sofas range from €1,400 to €2,200. And, although you can get an old sofa re-covered, it will cost about 75pc of the cost of a new one.

It's also important to choose a sofa that suits the room. "The most common mistake is imagining that your room is bigger than it actually is," says Dorothy Power of Roche Bobois. "We always recommend that people take the measurements of the room, including where the door is, and bring those measurements with them into the showroom."

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Roche Bobois Gaultier tartan sofa

Roche Bobois Gaultier tartan sofa

Roche Bobois Gaultier tartan sofa

Roche Bobois Gaultier tartan sofa 

Roche Bobois offer high-end sofas (from €2,590 for a three-seater), Italian-made and conceived by some of the big names in international design, including Jean Paul Gaultier, designer of their latest upholstery fabric. A 1.5 seater (go figure) upholstered in Gaultier tartan costs €4,640. Hoots!

But since any decent quality sofa is a big investment, Power recommends plain upholstery.

"Tartans look great in the catalogue but do you really want to live with it for 10 years? If you like the look you might be better getting a tartan footstool that you can change in a few years when tartan goes out of fashion."

Sofas upholstered in wool, which is hardwearing and inherently cosy, have seen a surge in popularity over the last few years and this shows no sign of waning. Plain Jane fabrics can be lifted with brightly coloured detail in the stitching or piping.

In terms of design, Power suggests that you consider who is going to be using said seats before you even think about the styling. "Leather is very popular for family rooms because spillages are easily wiped, but you can also have fabric fibre-sealed." This is a treatment that, for an additional 5pc, renders the fabric resistant to liquids and sticky handprints.

Another consideration is that people in a formal entertaining area may want a sofa that allows for a bit of space between them.

Alternatively, you might need a sofa that can take a bit of hurly-burly.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Indo Property