The Ultimate Guide To Buying A Sofa For Your New Home

It’s a bold statement to use isn’t it, the old Ultimate Guide title, but I wanted to pull everything I know into one blog post that will hopefully help you if you’re typing into your search engine, “what should I look for when buying a sofa?”.

It’s one of the biggest furniture investments you’ll have when furnishing your new home, hence why the pressure can feel overwhelming, especially with the amount of choice across all market levels.

With this guide to buying a sofa I’ve tried to answer all your questions, from practicality to styling your chosen piece, as well as sharing five of my favourite pieces from sofa specialist Darlings of Chelsea.

Consider Your Current Style

The starting point to buying any sofa is to determine what the overall style of your living room is going to be, especially if you’re working with a blank canvas like decorating a new build.

Or do you already have a defined aesthetic and you’re looking to continue that with, say, a Chesterfield in a more traditional setting or a bold statement sofa such as the Malvern (pictured above) for your colour-filled home.

With its low fluted back and small curved arms, this design gives a classic style a modern twist, especially in this vibrant shade.

When measuring a sofa for your room, you’re looking for more than how big the space is within the room. First of all, measure the front door, entryway, any stairs the sofa may have to go through and the door to the living room itself.

Make a note of any corners the piece will have to be turned in (pivot!) and don’t forget any low hanging lights that could potentially be damaged in the move.

If you’re wondering how to choose the right size sofa for a room, the beauty of a piece like the Harrow is that it is designed for tight spaces with removable legs and low curved arms.

Handcrafted in the UK, this classic piece comes in a range of sizes from a love seat, to petit, to midi, making it the ideal choice for smaller living rooms.

Decide On How Practical The Sofa Is For Your Home Life

One of the biggest deciding factors to buying a sofa, is how practical it is for your home. Velvet, for example, is a great choice for cat owners as it proves hard for them to get their claws into. It’s also the perfect fabric for sofa’s that might not get as much use, such as an office sofa, or placed in the bedroom.

Robust and durable sofa fabrics such as leather or cotton, meanwhile, are ideal for families, and can be wiped down and cleaned.

One of the most common mistakes in buying a sofa is not realising where the sun will hit it. Dependant on placement, if natural sunlight hits the sofa, a neutral colour will disguise fading overtime, while care cover for spillages and accidents is always worth the investment in my opinion – take it from the girl who spilt curry on her new sofa and had the cushions replaced, no questions asked.

How Long Does A Sofa Last?

With the average person owning a sofa for 7-15 years, the build and quality is paramount, right? Which is why you not only need to consider how good it will look on your Instagram feed (I see you), but you also need to carefully choose the frame.

A solid hardwood, glued, screwed and dowelled frame, which is the base of the Darwin sofa from Darlings of Chelsea, forms a sturdy and solid base. The Darwin also includes a 10-year warranty on its internal frame, indicating quality craftsmanship.

Plywood and metal frames, however, have proven not to retain their shape over time, especially those held together with nails and metal connectors.

Comfort Comes First

Choosing your sofa is up there with choosing a mattress when it comes to comfort levels. Cushion quality is super important as it’s the part of the sofa you interact with the most, whether you’re looking for a squishy sofa to curl up on (which will need regular cushion fluffing), or a firmer design (which could look flat over time if you buy a foam filled sofa).

The ideal balance is to combine the two, with foam seat cushions alongside feather back cushions. But when you’re shopping for a sofa, be sure to unzip the cushion to see if any feathers are popping through. If they are, this can be a sign of poor-quality manufacturing.

To Follow Trends Or Not To Follow Trends

That is the question. I had a reader contact me recently to ask my opinion on a pink velvet loveseat, and whether it would be too “trendy” to purchase?

My answer was this. If you’re absolutely in love with something and can see it fitting into your home for the next 5 years minimum, then purchase it. Maybe go away and have some time to think rather than an impulse buy, and if in a month’s time you still feel as strongly? Purchase and enjoy your gorgeous new pink sofa.

I’m a huge believer in breaking the rules with interior decorating; I follow my heart when it comes to my own home so why would I advocate people to do anything else in theirs.

If you’re looking for a traditional piece with a modern twist, something like the Rocco in brown Italian leather has a contemporary silhouette, but the ability to age well. With its clean lines and deep seating, this could be the perfect addition to a new build family home.

Tips For Buying A Sofa Instore

When you’re choosing a sofa instore (Darlings of Chelsea have stores in Birmingham, St Albans, Surrey, Parsons Green and Fulham), one of the biggest tips I could give you is to ask for a piece of fabric larger than the usual swatch if possible.

Once your home, place that where the sofa will live and view it in different lights – both daylight and artificial lighting. You’ll be able to see how well the colour works in your scheme.

I’d also recommend more than one person sitting on the sofa in the showroom, to see how the dynamics work – if you can bring the full brood along (maybe not the cat), then do.

Would A Sofa Bed Be A Better Option?

If you’re tight on space, a piece like the Corby Sofa Bed with added storage could be a great alternative if you’re struggling to host guests. Traditional sofa beds looked just that – squishy, pull-out beds that were banished to the spare room, but with something like the Corby, you’d be hard pressed to realise it had a dual use. Triple use if you count the under-seating storage in the chaise.

How To Style Your Sofa Once It’s Arrived

So you’ve chosen your sofa, got it through the front door and now you’re wondering how to style it. Here are some useful interior styling tips I’ve picked up along the way.

  • Make sure you consider the size of your cushions. Anything too small and they can look disproportionate to the sofa, but anything too large and they can dwarf the furniture.
  • The biggest cushion should always be placed at the back, and if you have a light-coloured sofa, consider a darker block colour first. However, if you have a darker sofa, then a large light cushion can look striking.
  • Mix textures such as velvet, linen and mohair to really add depth to the sofa.
  • And while you’re mixing textures, don’t forget to add a couple of prints in there too. A block colour cushion should always be used at the back to act as a backdrop.
  • If you have a traditional sense of style, create symmetry with your cushions on each side of the sofa. Mixing clashing prints and patterns, however, can add an eclectic twist to the room.

There you have it, my ultimate guide to buying a sofa for your new home. Be sure to bookmark this post for future reference and share below with anyone you think could find this guide useful.

Thank you to Darlings of Chelsea for partnering with me on this feature, and thank you for always supporting the brands that support Apartment Number 4. Visit their website to discover more about this British family-run business.

About Victoria

Hello! I'm Victoria, the founder of multi-award winning interior design blog, Apartment Number 4. I can't wait to share my tips and tricks on creating a beautiful place to live on a budget, regardless of whether you're living in your forever home or your home that's perfect for now.

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  1. 3.10.19
    Sarah said:

    This is amazing! I hate our sofa at the moment (it’s softer so, as you said, takes a lot of fluffing up). I’ve been dying to get a new one but can’t justify the price at the moment. There’s so much great advice in here that I’ll be sure to use your guide when we do buy a new one!

    • 3.13.19

      Thank you so much lovely, I really hope this helps when you get to choose your new gorgeous sofa! 🙂 xx

  2. 3.10.19
    Ellen Miller said:

    Buying my sofa a year ago was unbelievably stressful… if only I had this guide then! Trying to find something comfortable, long lasting and beautiful (that my boyfriend and I BOTH liked) literally took months!

    • 3.13.19

      It’s such an overwhelming buy isn’t it! I really hope this guide helps someone who felt like you and I! 🙂 xx