5 things to consider before buying a sofa

Buying a sofa is one of the most important investments you're likely to make for your home. In the living room it's a piece of furniture where we lounge, read, eat and drink, entertain family and friends, watch TV and, even sleep, so it makes sense that we take the time to invest in one that's going to last for years to come, right?

From taking measurements to choosing a good frame, these are 5 things you should consider before buying a new sofa.


You know when you're on the hunt for a new mattress and you do the age-old bottom test? Well, the same theory applies to a sofa. 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 definitely 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 again, try before you buy to make sure it suits the whole family.

Sarah Humphreys, Senior Buyer at DFS, says it’s also important to consider how you like to lounge. 'For example, if there are two of you and you both like to sit with your legs up, then check that the sofa is deep enough to accommodate you both. Or consider a chaise end or recliner sofa, if you have the space to accommodate one.

'If you prefer to lie down on your sofa, make sure that it’s long enough for you to stretch out. Taller people may also like to consider a sofa with a higher back to offer extra support.'


Spend as much as you can afford on a quality frame – it will see you through many years of lounging. A solid hardwood frame is a good option, but be wary of a particleboard or metal construction. Also, take note of the guarantee before you commit – always opt for manufacturers who offer at least a 15-year guarantee.


Remember that what's inside a sofa is just as important as what's used on the outside. When it comes to the sofa back and seat, 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 perfect solution? The team at Sofa.com recommend choosing a combination of feather and foam as 'feathers give the squish while the foam provides structure'. Back cushions filled with feathers and seat cushions filled with foam or fibre works well.


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. In this case, loose covers are worth investigating, as they can be removed for cleaning and some are washable too.


There is honestly nothing worse than buying furniture that doesn't fit into your home (remember Ross Geller's iconic 'PIVOT' sofa scene in Friends?), so before you do anything, 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.

According to Sarah Humphreys at DFS, it’s important to note both the width (the measurement across the back of the sofa) and the depth (the measurement from the back of the sofa, to the front). 'Pay attention to the depth of the sofa if you’re buying for a smaller room, as the depth of the seat rarely changes from the larger to smaller size sofas,' she says. 'And consider the height of the sofa, particularly if your room has radiators or shelving.'

One tip for making sure that your sofa will fit in your space is to cut out the shape of your sofa from newspaper and place it on the floor in the room. Sarah says: 'This allows you to check that you have enough space to walk around it with ease and that you’ve left enough room for shelves, radiators and other pieces of furniture, as well as the opening of cupboards, doors and windows.'

Finally, check the dimensions of any doors and stairways the sofa will have to pass through on delivery – your unscuffed walls will thank you.

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. Or if you have a small room, consider a two-seater or a snuggler. You might have your dream sofa in sights but you have to be practical too. The good news is that it's never been easier to customize a sofa to make it really work for you and your space.

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