Tips for choosing the right sofa

I was on the precipice of buying a new sofa a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t have been closer to hitting the ‘buy it’ button. Jules then caught sight of what I was doing and gave me a good talking to and I had to admit he had a point that we do have a lot of big costs at the moment and our current sofa, though ruined by Otto, will do for another few months. Boring!

To get to that point though, I had gone through a thorough decision making process to ensure I had chosen the right sofa for us so I’d like to share my top tips here today.

Firstly, you need to know where to look for your perfect sofa. I have recently discovered Darlings of Chelsea, which is a great place to start as you will find such a wide range of different styles. Find your nearest store and you MUST try out your sofa before you buy.

1. How will you use the sofa?

This is the first thing I thought about when considering what style of sofa to buy. I know that our main use for a sofa is full-on lounging. I always like to have my feet up and usually lie on the sofa whilst watching TV. Both of us (as well as Otto) like to be on the sofa at the same, too. Therefore, I was looking for a long sofa, at least 2m long and with a good seat depth. Ideally, I wanted a chaise sofa so that we could both be on it at the same time and lie down but we don’t have enough space for that.

Some things you may need to think about: how do you sit on a sofa? Do you need a sofa bed for guests? How many people need to be able to sit on it at the same time?

2. Seat depth

If you want an occasional ‘seat’ rather than a ‘loungey’ sofa you need to pay particular attention to the seat depth. A seat depth of anything less than 1m is more a seat rather than somewhere to put up your feet and sink into. I would never buy a sofa with a seat depth of less than 1m otherwise you can’t lie down comfortably.

3. Cushion type

Again, depending on what you want from your sofa, you need to pay attention to the type of cushions on the seat and back of the sofa. If you want ultimate comfort I think it’s best to get fibre wrapped feather filled cushions, which don’t require plumping. From my experience, don’t be fooled into thinking 100% feather filled cushions are wonderful because they are not; they are hard, solid and require daily, if not hourly, plumping. Be mindful about a hard backed sofa, with no back cushions, as this feels very different.

4. Feet

Have a good look at the feet of your chosen sofa as these can affect the whole look and style of the sofa. Think about whether you want a skirt or feet. Personally, I prefer feet as I think this has a positive impact on how spacious a room feels. I currently have a sofa that is basically a big block and has no feet so it feels heavy and bulky. Just be careful that the feet match or complement the style of your room.

5. Style of room

I know it may seem obvious but it is important not to get swept away by the beautiful design of a sofa even though it doesn’t work in your living room. You don’t want to end up having to completely overhaul your decor to work wth the sofa (although that sounds quite fun to me!).

6. Height of sofa

My mum made a huge mistake when she bought her sofa, which is a very cool retro leather low sofa. It is fine when she wants to sink into it and watch TV but she entertains a lot and none of her guests can get in or out of the sofa as it is so low. They all avoid it and end up with nowhere to sit! When deciding on the height of your sofa also think about the heght of your ceiling. A room with a high ceiling needs a high sofa and a room with a low ceiling benefits from a lower sofa to achieve balance.

7. Arms

Think about the arms of your sofa as these can really affect how comfortable it is. Do you want large, square arms useful for resting books/remote/delicately balanced drinks on? Or do you want low arms, which are better for lying out on? High arms can make the sofa feel more imposing, which is better for larger rooms.

8. Fabric choice

And lastly, once you have decided on the style of your sofa you can think about the fabric choice. This is going to depend on who you live with (children? pets?) and the style of your room. When I chose my sofa, that I didn’t end up buying, I ordered a sample of the fabric and not just a teeny, tiny square, a whole metre. Small squares are never representative of what the fabric will look like and it is really important to lay it out on your sofa and watch how it changes in the different light throughout the day and evening. I also put the fabric on Otto’s bed (I took the whole sofa buying thing really seriosuly!!) and let him sleep on it. This helped me figure out how it would cope with his fur and drool (gross, sorry!). My point is don’t choose fabric on the spot, you need to consider it seriously as it will make a big difference to your room whether it be a pattern, light, dark, leather, wool, cotton, velvet. From my own experince of a velvet loveseat, be very mindful that velvet marks like you wouldn’t believe. It is the one piece of furniture in our home that Otto is not allowed anywhere near. However, it still has marks all over it from friends’ babies who have drooled over it.

Hope these tips are helpful – do you have any good ones? I’m just going to go back to dreaming about the sofa of my dreams…

Katy x

*This post was written in collaboration with Darlings of Chelsea




  1. 15th July 2015 / 12:19 pm

    I really enjoyed this as I’m currently in the market for a good armchair and my family give me funny looks when I talk about things like squishiness. It’s so hard though to find something that ticks all the boxes. Basically I want to be able to curl up, be uber comfy, do the delicately balanced drink thing, and spend all day reading a book.

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:40 am

      I got a loveseat instead of an armchair and so I can curl up in it – everyone who comes to our house migrates to that chair x

  2. 15th July 2015 / 1:59 pm

    A really useful post with some great tips. One thing I discovered when sofa shopping was the need to consider how to get it into the house, so it’s always a good idea to measure hallways and doors etc first. We ended up having to buy a modular sofa that could be made up inside our living room, as it was the only way to get around a particularly tight corner in our hall! x

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:40 am

      Ooh, yes! Good tip. Some sofa shops will work it out for you if you give them the measurements x

  3. 15th July 2015 / 3:37 pm

    We’ve had our big, main sofa for nearly 10 years now but i’m determined to stick with it a bit longer until the kids are older because I don’t feel so bad about little spillages or rough and tumble. But when we do finally choose a nice new one I will be all over this guide. In fact I’m pinning it now so i don’t lose it, thanks! xx

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:41 am

      Good idea on holding out. Glad you found this useful x

  4. 16th July 2015 / 9:24 pm

    Ooh this is a great post, I was just talking about wanting a new sofa and these are some great tips here. I would love to invest in a dream sofa but I think I need to wait a few years for F to grow out of the felt tip pen on fabric stage! x

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:41 am

      Good idea! x

  5. 17th July 2015 / 2:41 pm

    This is really helpful advice, choosing the right sofa is so important! For me having a corner style so that I can put my legs up is so important, it’s the only way I’m comfy! x

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:42 am

      I wish we had room for a corner sofa or a chaise style one – that would definitely be my first choice x

  6. 17th July 2015 / 3:09 pm

    great tips – we’ve just bought new sofas when we moved house and i spent hours picking them out!

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:43 am

      I think the shop assistant thought I was mad as I’m pretty sure I was sofa hopping for at least an hour x

  7. 17th July 2015 / 5:31 pm

    Great post Katy, really helpful. I would add something else, though. We made a terrible decision with our choice of sofa and now we are stuck with it because we can’t afford to replace it. We chose a sofa bed as our main sofa, thinking it would provide plenty of room for guests. It’s SO uncomfortable after sitting on it for any length of time. We sat on it in the showroom (its a Habitat Porto chaise sofa bed) and it felt really comfortable. it’s a different story after an hour or so, though. I should have thought it through and focussed on our needs first, rather than our guests. We have a smaller sofa as well, which could so easily have been a sofa bed. If only I could go back in time! Now I want to sit on any possible sofa for at least an hour – wonder what the sales people will make of that?!!

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:44 am

      Very good tip! So sorry you made the wrong choice – maybe some squidgy scatter cushions may help? xx

  8. 18th July 2015 / 10:31 pm

    These are some really useful tips and we are actually looking at getting a new sofa for our living room as our current one (even though it’s not that old) has given way in the one corner and need to find something stylish but more robust for an active family home

    Laura x

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:44 am

      Maybe leather is the way forward – pretty good with kids and won’t give way x

  9. Denise
    19th July 2015 / 8:17 am

    One additional suggestion, to supplement the height point: height of the back cushions/height of the back generally. Friends have a stunning BoConcept sofa – low all round, stylish and absolutely the worst thing I have ever sat on… You perch on the edge because there is no support for your back, just this stylish but uncomfortable ledge at your back. I have sat on sofas with average height cushions which look great, but again, when you sit on it for ten minutes you realise that, as you settle against the cushions, the back is so low that there’s no real back or neck support.

    Sadly, the most comfy sofa I have ever sat on is my elderly mother’s high backed Parker Knoll – no good for lounging on, dull and old-fashioned but by jiminy, it’s a comfy sit down!

    For those in London, I’d highly recommend Highly Sprung on Tottenham Court Road (no connection to me or mine!). They do lovely sofas and make their own, so you can get more sizes to fit your needs. I have chosen one of their chaise designs and they are lengthening the chaise to accommodate 6ft nephews and widening the accompanying sofa to fit my space perfectly. They also have over 4000 fabrics. Best of all, instead of two cushions on the seats (and the back), I have specified “bench cushions” – one long cushion which I love the look of.

    Anyway – fab blog, I’ve come over from Houzz and shall be staying!

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:45 am

      Good tip about the height of the sofa. Yes, I know Highly Sprung, it’s very good x

  10. 19th July 2015 / 8:59 pm

    This is such a useful post. We’re not in the market for a new sofa just yet but will be looking at getting a sofa bed for our guest room eventually. I’ll definitely have to come back to refer.

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:46 am

      Sofa beds are the trickiest thing to choose as they can be very uncomfortable to sit on. Make sure you try them out well! x

  11. 22nd July 2015 / 2:22 pm

    I know you’ve written this post in collaboration with Darlings of Chelsea but I just wanted to highlight Sofa Workshop, from whom we bought our sofa and snuggler. We found them to have a great choice and really friendly staff who gave us a lot of help. Getting down to the animal nitty gritty we chose their option to Scotchguard the fabric and it’s held up brilliantly with our cat who has had a couple of small ‘accidents’. So I’d really recommend doing that if you can as it will help with dog drool no end!

    • Katy
      27th July 2015 / 9:47 am

      My sofa is from Sofa Workshop and orginally I had wool covers that we Scothguarded (good tip!). The only downside is that when it came to wanting new covers they had discontinued our model so wouldn’t make new covers, as promised when I bought it. It has been a very good sofa though otherwise x

  12. 19th August 2015 / 4:07 pm

    seat depth is so important! we had one we loved the look of but actually made for quite an uncomfy sit when it came to things like breastfeeding in the early days of motherhood because it was too deep. Some great tips x

  13. 2nd August 2016 / 3:28 pm

    These are some brilliant tips, and some lovely sofas! I had never truly considered quite how deep a sofa should be to be comfortable, but 1m does sound about right! The depth of a sofa is something people often forget, so great point!

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