Designer Tips: How To Buy A Sofa, Part Three

Assistant design editor Jennifer Koper shares expert advice on shopping for sofas.

Jennifer-Koper-Thumbnail-HH_NO16Now that you have a grasp of the styles you like, and the basics of quality, it’s time to figure out how your favorite sofas would work in your home. At this point, you can consult a professional interior designer, but if you’d prefer to do things on your own, here are some steps to take that will ensure smooth sailing.

1. Measuring your space is essential. If you have an existing sofa that you’re replacing, write down its overall width, depth and height, arm height and arm width, seat height and depth. It’s also helpful to think about what you like about it, and what you’d like to change. Are its arms just the right height? Do you wish it took up less floor space? These measurements and details will help you visualize any proportional differences between a new showroom sofa and your old one. (If you have no sofa to use as a reference, measure your entire room, as well as the furniture that will live around the sofa.)

2. Remember that measuring is a two-part process. Once you’ve found what you think is the right sofa in a store or showroom, you’ll want to take its measurements home and tape off the area that the sofa will occupy with painter’s tape. This is also an ideal time to assess the upholstery fabric you’ve chosen. Bring a fabric swatch home to lay beside your existing furniture, looking at it during the evening as well as in daylight.

3. Know your path. Aside from knowing the dimensions of your room, it’s vital to consider the path your new sofa will have to take to get there. Before you buy, measure door and hallway widths, ceiling heights, elevator dimensions, and any turns or corners the sofa will have to pass through. If you have any doubt that the sofa will fit, consult the delivery staff. You want to avoid having a new front-porch sofa!

4. Go shopping. It’s finally time to head out, armed with information and ideas. Now, your main job is to sit in as many sofas as possible to find the one that fits your style, quality and comfort needs. Sit in them as you would at home — don’t be shy! And feel free to bring along any family members that will be using the sofa regularly to ensure they’ll be comfortable, too (everyone has a different body type, and will find different seat heights and depths more or less comfortable). Quick Tip: To streamline things, you may want to go “scouting” first to narrow down your potential selection before you bring your whole entourage to a store.

5. Double-check all measurements and envision the sofa in your space. Once you’ve settled on a sofa, and have double-checked all your measurements and fabric choice, go ahead and pull the trigger! Lead times vary, but be prepared to wait for your sofa, especially if it’s being made in a custom fabric. Four to eight weeks is typical, but it will be a rewarding feeling once the sofa arrives and is just right. Enjoy!

Check out Part One and Part Two of this series.

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Jennifer Koper
Colin Way
Nam Dang-Mitchell
House & Home March 2016