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The 5 golden rules for choosing a sofa

Hayley Gilbert
Photo credit: Ikea

From House Beautiful UK

Buying a sofa is one of the most important investments you're likely to make for your living space. This advice will help you make the right decision.

1. TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

The average sofa has a seat depth of at least 60cm, which gives plenty of room to manoeuvre if you have long legs, and allows you to tuck them under if you're shorter. But seat depths do vary, so try out different styles to ensure you get good back support. When it comes to seat height most designs are between 45cm and 50cm high. There's no right or wrong height so try before you buy to make sure it suits the whole family. Finally, check the total width, excluding armrests, if you like to stretch out.

2. INVEST IN A GOOD FRAME

Photo credit: Rachel Whiting

Spend as much as you can afford on a quality frame – it will see you through many years of lounging. Take note of the guarantee before you commit, some manufacturers are so confident about their frames that they offer a lifetime guarantee. A solid hardwood frame is a good option, but be wary of a particleboard or metal construction.

3. CHECK THE CUSHIONS

Remember that what's inside a sofa is just as important as what's used on the outside. Feather-filled cushions are high on comfort but they will need regular plumping, while foam or fibre fillings may flatten out and lose their shape over time. The team at Sofa.com recommends choosing a combination of feather and foam as 'feathers give the squish while the foam provides structure'. A good combination is back cushions filled with feathers and seat cushions filled with foam or fibre.

4. FOCUS ON FABRIC

Photo credit: Rachel Whiting

Whether you go for a bold colour, pattern or a neutral, your choice of upholstery fabric will have a huge impact on the room, so choose carefully to ensure it fits with your scheme. Natural materials may fade in strong sunlight so go for a synthetic fabric if the sofa will be near a window. It's particularly important in a busy family home, and if you have a dog or cat, opt for a fabric that's easy to spot clean. Loose covers are worth investigating, as they can be removed for cleaning and some are washable.

5. MEASURE UP

Get out the tape measure and make sure you're certain of the maximum sofa dimensions that will fit, and suit, your space. Also, check the dimensions of any doors and stairways the sofa will have to pass through on delivery. If access is limited, you may need to opt for a low-back style, one with removable legs or even a modular design that can be delivered in sections.

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