A new sofa can transform a room, but with big investments come big decisions. Here, Caroline Foran explains everything you need to consider to find the perfect fit for your space and your lifestyle.
We're all taken with a beautiful, pale-hued suede or velvet sofa, but does that mean it will lend itself well to our home life? No. If you've got sticky-fingered smallies at home, or indeed overzealous furry friends who have the run of the place, these luxury fabrics may cause you more stress than they're worth. If life is fast paced and spillages are likely, lean in the direction of leather. But these days, leather doesn't have to mean cold and clinical; there are plenty of cosy, buttery leather options that make a house feel like a home. And if you're worried about the soft touch, all you need is varying textures in your soft furnishings. The Balboa collection from DFS (above) is one of the most stylish, neutral and practical sofas you're likely to find.
Just because your square footage allows for a particular size of sofa, does not mean that said sofa will work in your room. You need to think in terms of proportions. While it may technically fit, is it going to overpower the room to such an extent that it dwarfs the space? Rather than rely on the measuring tape, your best bet here is to map out the dimensions of the sofa you're thinking of with masking tape on the floor. What happens to the rest of the furniture in the room? Mapping your furniture is a great way of avoiding a purchase you'll soon regret.
Think in terms of longevity
Whatever about soft furnishings that are easily interchangeable, you cannot apply a trend-led mindset to a purchase as significant as your sofa. As eye-catching a botanical print sofa may look in the showroom, this is the kind of thing that you will have to love with all of your heart, otherwise you will be over it within one to two years. When looking at a sofa, be it online or in store, ask yourself, will I be able to change the decor while keeping this sofa? Will I be able to live with it without it looking dated in 10 years? If so, then invest.
Work with what you've got
Unless you're planning an overhaul of the entire living space, look at what's already in the room. Do you love the paint? Is the coffee table a permanent fixture? Is there an armchair with sentimental value that you can't bear to part with? If so, shop for your statement new sofa with this in mind. It doesn't mean you can't strike out, but it will help to hone your focus in terms of a colour palette and fabrics. If you already have leather, you may consider introducing fabric, or vice versa.
Planning a refurb?
If you're starting from scratch with your living space, however, let the sofa be your first port of call. Don't even think of the paint on the walls at this stage. Allow yourself the freedom to fall in love with a sofa - not just the look of it but the feel and comfort of it too - and then take it from there, building your aesthetic bit by bit. If you're a play-it-safer, you will either keep the sofa neutral and allow for more experimentation elsewhere, or you'll strike out with a sofa that makes your heart sing, and allow the rest to fall in line.