The sofa is the most important element of a living room. Not only is it where you lounge, nap, entertain, and watch television, but it’s also a large piece that has a substantial effect on the room’s overall style. When you are decorating a living room, your first priority is choosing a sofa.
Because the sofa has such an impact on the space for more than one reason, you don’t want to wing it when you go shopping for one. This is one piece you definitely want to give a lot of thought to beforehand and make sure you know exactly what you need. Answering that question isn’t always as straightforward as we’d like it to be, though. There are so many options!
Recently, House Beautiful asked top designers to share their decorating ideas, tips and secrets on choosing the perfect sofa and they delivered a treasure trove of information. I picked out 12 of the best tips that are sure to help you make an informed and confident decision the next time you shop for a sofa, along with some of my favorite sofas on the market right now via affiliate links to give you some ideas.
Designer Tips for Choosing a Sofa
1 Most of my clients ask for sofas to be “long enough for a nap”. So I make them at least 90” long, or even longer if the room allows. ~ Ginger Barber
2 Cut a template from brown paper in the size of the sofa you’re considering. Place it on the floor and see how it looks before you buy. ~ Chandos Dodson Epley
3 Apartment dwellers, beware. Your sofa should never be longer that the ceiling height of your elevator. Measure once, then measure twice, and, just to be triply sure, have your building’s super measure, too. ~ T. Keller Donovan
4 The perfect sofa is 40” deep, 60” long, and 36” high with a 19” seat height. For a traditional sofa, I like a scroll arm, and for modern, I love a square arm, both with the same overall measurements. ~ Mary McDonald
5 I never use big patterns or trendy colors for large upholstered pieces. The punch of pattern or hot splash of trendy color should come from the throw pillows so they can be easily substituted when you need a change. ~ Tom Stringer
6 My dad taught me that to ensure the sofa you are buying is sturdy and well-built (he’s an engineer), you lift up one of the front legs 5” to 7” – the other leg should lift as well. If it’s still touching the floor, the frame is week. ~ Katarina Rodman
7 If you have 8’ ceilings, you’ll want a low sofa, which gives the impression that the ceiling is taller than it is. In a room with a high ceiling, you want a high-back sofa to be a weighty presence that can hold up to the room. ~ David Easton
8 I like very deep and loungey sofas. My standard is 32” deep with back cushions and 42” deep overall, allowing plenty of space for throw pillows. ~ Martyn Lawrence Bullard
9 As a mother of three, my sofa needs are few, but firmly formulated. I needed my sofa to be comfortable and maintainable. So, I selected a tight-back Bridgewater style, because it requires minimal fluffing (just the seat) to appear tidy. The saddle arm cradles my neck perfectly during naps, and although tufting is a detail I love on sofas, I avoided it because, with young children, tufts collect crumbs. I may turn to my sofa for naps, but I don’t want to turn to it for snacks. Yuck! ~ Alexa Hampton
10 I like arms that are flat and large enough to perch on, so a stray guest can come and join in the conversation if the sofa is full. ~ Jean Larette
11 I like curved sofas in square rooms. ~ Vicente Wolf
12 I never use two seat cushions, because then three people won’t sit on the sofa. I’ll use three seat cushions if a sofa is 7’ or longer, and if it’s 6’ or less, I use just one cushion. ~ Rose Tarlow
When choosing a sofa, keep in mind how you plan to live on it and choose something that you will love not only while looking at it, but while using it, too. You can find both beauty and comfort. Keep looking until you find the one that’s perfect for you. Trust me – it’s out there!