Practicality is key when choosing upholstery

Has your cat wrecked your sofa? Or your dog chewed up your cushions? 

As I type this, I’m sitting in the very comfortable home of dear friends who take a novel approach to pet-friendly sofa buying.

Last time they went on a spree they prioritised matching the upholstery, as far as possible, to the colour of their cat’s hair. One would think that choosing something to fend off the effects of vigorous bouncing by children would take precedence, but as my friend pointed out, the bouncing eventually stops while the cat with its hair shedding and scratching — is for life— all nine of them.

Now that the sales are on you have the opportunity to indulge in that pink velvet sofa you’ve longed for, and why not? If you have the funds — and the inclination and the décor to work with — indulge yourself.

Practicality is key when choosing upholstery

But if practicality is paramount, or at least an important consideration, start by counting how many people need to be seated comfortably on the new purchase.

As we’re barely out of the season of slothfulness, you’ll have no trouble recalling the fights for prime seating positions from which to watch the Christmas night movie.

Think about practicality also when it comes to choosing upholstery — not just for animals and children but for the very obvious reason that it will get grubby from repeated use, and some colours and textures are more forgiving.

Loose covers, especially the machine washable variety, can make your sofa look like new after a wash and an iron. You can even leave out the ironing part altogether as the wrinkles will be stretched from pulling and hauling of the covers onto the sofa frame, and any others will fall out of their own accord in just a few days.

Practicality is key when choosing upholstery

Loose arm covers, too, are a practical accessory worth considering to prevent wear and tear. If washed and replaced regularly, the sofa will wear better and save your upholstery from the rigours of elbow friction. (Order at the time of buying, as most companies can provide a set to match — leave it too late and your fabric or style of sofa might be out of production).

Ikea provide a range of covers for their standard sofa shapes, so that’s an added bonus when buying from the flat pack retailer.

Then there’s the all-important consideration of comfort which can be impacted upon by the inclusion of a sofa bed mechanism. Loose cushions replacing a proper upholstered sofa back can be problematic too.

While an integrated bed is extremely useful, over time— admittedly a long time — you may find your sofa seat slopes backwards.

The fashion in recent years for loose cushions in lieu of a substantial sofa back means having to work at keeping it from looking messy as each sitter must plump and rearrange the scatter cushions before they can sit comfortably.

If, however, you don’t mind the cuddly feel of excess cushions and love to play at rearranging them, then re-covering them in years to come will give your sofa a completely new look, and without too much expense.

Now all that’s left in planning is how to negotiate the sofa through your front door and into the sitting room. The thought may hinder you from choosing sofas big enough to accommodate all the family, but the answer is the in-vogue modular system which comes in sections and reduces the challenge of narrow halls.

* Next week we’re cleaning out a few cupboards to make room for all the new household gadgetry and wares Santa brought.


Kya deLongchamps meets the man who is opening a new chapter on his native FermoyVintage View: Opening a new chapter on Fermoy's story

More From The Irish Examiner