What to Look For When Purchasing a Sofa


purchasing a sofa

SOURCE: Stephanie Kraus Designs

It’s almost spring and we all know what that means. Hibernation is over! Let the spring cleaning begin. It’s not just cleaning when you’re a design lover. Those of us obsessed with design start to look at our homes with new eyes as we unwind from our winter dormancy. We see all the areas that need updating and all the things we need to replace. If you’re contemplating new furniture and particularly about purchasing a sofa, there are some important things to consider aside from the aesthetics.





1/ The Depth of the Seat

purchasing a sofa

SOURCE: Anthropologie


This might be the most important aspect to the comfort of your sofa. The depth refers to the distance from the back of the seat cushion to the front where your legs hang. You’ll want to consider the type of use (formal or casual) as well as the height of the people using the sofa.

If you’re purchasing the sofa for entertaining you may need a more shallow depth. You’ll typically be sitting upright and if the seat is too deep you’ll have a hard time feeling comfortable. If you’re purchasing a sofa that will be used for watching movies, a deeper seat is better for lounging.

If most of the people in your family are tall you’ll want to go for a deeper seat. If everyone in your family is tall with the exception of one person you’ll want a deep seat as well as a chair for the shorter person. There’s no sofa that can accommodate the comfort of all heights so sometimes majority rules.


2/ Arm Style

purchasing a sofa


This is partly an aesthetic decision but it also affects how you use your sofa. Your design style will have an impact on the arm style you go for. A straight, angular arm is more modern. It can be very thin or very wide but not usually in the middle . If you’re purchasing a sofa for a transitional design, the arm style could be mid-range width and can have either straight lines or a soft curve at the front. Traditional arms tend to be more rounded and often have piping.

The way you live is also a factor in selecting an arm style. If you have limited space a wide arm can replace a side table and act as your coffee holder. 

Lastly you should also consider the height of the arm. If you’re on the short side you won’t be comfortable resting your arm on a sofa with high arms. 



3/ Leg Style

purchasing a sofa

SOURCE: Anna Peters


This is almost entirely aesthetic but it plays a big role in the style of your space and there are 2 factors to consider – the leg design and the finish. 

The leg design is going to reinforce your design style. If you have a very traditional home you’ll want to consider a short block foot or a high, tapered or turned leg. More modern design can also utilize a very short block foot but if you opt for a taller leg it should be very thin. 

The finish refers to both the material and the colour. Metal is always a more modern option and I would avoid that altogether if you lean more towards traditional. Wood legs go well with all styles but a lighter, more natural finish is modern whereas brown and black stain tend to be more traditional. 

The one caveat to all of this is who will be using the sofa on a regular basis. If you have friends or family who are elderly or have a physical disability the very modern sofa that sits low to the ground will be problematic. It can be challenging to stand up after sitting on a very low sofa so keep that in mind.

4/ Cushion Style

purchasing a sofa


When purchasing a sofa there are a few cushion style options for both your seat cushions and your back cushions. 

For the seat you can choose from 3 cushions, 2 larger cushions or a bench seat which is just one long cushion. You can also find that some have removable cushions while occasionally the seat cushions will be attached.

You will often have the decision between 3, 2 or just a single back cushion as well. Your back seat options can be removable or attached. If you have young kids and hate seeing the cushions thrown across the room, opt for the attached back cushions.. 

The decorative aspect of these cushions is also an important consideration. For instance, you may go for button tufting, channel tufting or piping on the cushions. You will have to pay for these extras as they’re considered upgrades but they can help define a design style so sometimes the upgrade is worth the expense.


5/ Extra Details

purchasing a sofa

SOURCE: Eyeswoon


One of the last things to consider when purchasing a sofa is cushion fill and fabric. One of the most important factors that impacts the cost of your sofa is the foam density. A higher foam density won’t crush as quickly and will look new for much longer. You’ll also have to pay for that higher density by shopping for higher end manufacturers. So while you may think you can save money on what appears to be the same sofa may end up wearing out and needing replacement more quickly. 

If you love to sink into your sofa you can also add a down wrap to the top of the seat cushion. Again, you’ll see a difference in the cost when you add in this luxury. If you are contemplating a down wrap be aware that you’ll be doing a lot of fluffing. Down settles quickly when you sit on it and will always need to be puffed back up after use.

When selecting a fabric look for one that can be spot cleaned and if possible, always opt for a high performance fabric. These are more common now and allow you to select lighter coloured fabrics without the worry of ruining a sofa with a red wine accident.


6/ Go For Locally Made 

purchasing a sofa

SOURCE: The Cross Design


If you live in Canada you’re lucky to have great, quality options when purchasing a sofa. Vangogh, Stylus, Marcantonio and Birchwood are some of the best known manufacturers but there are dozens. The benefit of purchasing a Canadian brand is that you don’t experience the offgassing that can occur with offshore sofas.

You will likely experience a faster delivery time as well since your sofa doesn’t have to cross a border. And of course, you’re supporting a local business.

If you’re purchasing a sofa for the first time in a while you may be overwhelmed with the options. The most important aspect you want to nail is the quality. No matter how great something looks, if the quality isn’t there it’s not a great purchase. Trust your designer as this is their area of expertise. He or she will get you the best quality your budget can afford. 


I hope this helps you get ready if you’re purchasing a sofa. If you need help shopping for that or any other furniture, reach out. We can discuss how I can help you with any of your design needs.


If you know your design style but you struggle with which paint to use, take a look at my Made-For-You paint palettes. They take the guesswork out and give you the confidence to get started.


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