Sit to buy

Check out your new sofa for size before being seduced by looks or fashion, says Carol O’Callaghan.

Sitting uncomfortably? Not surprising is it, given the bashing our sofas are taking this season with on-going slouching on wet evenings rather than wine sipping on the patio.

After our beddy-byes, the sofa is the next most comforting piece of furniture, or should be. Hasn’t it always been the spot for slobbing, snoozing, snacking, and soothing heartbroken friends, although our new-found desire for the furniture statement piece and getting an on-trend look play as important a part in the buying decision as comfort.

Consider your personal style. Do you like contemporary, characterised by neat, minimally-upholstered arms and a low back? Although it’s unlikely to overwhelm your room, it will lack a high back against which to rest a weary head. Traditional styles emphasise upholstery of the seriously stuffed variety, with scrolled arms, buttons, finials on corners for decorative effect, cords and tassels for a touch of over-thetop, and sides rather than arm rests which look cosy but leave the sitter without a spot for resting an elbow, or for perching a derrière when there’s a shortage of seating.

Before being seduced by looks or fashion, sit down before deciding to buy. A sofa is a pricey purchase so a test drive of sorts is a must. Bounce up and down and see how much ‘give’ there is on the seat cushions. Too much and you’ll know what a sore back feels like if you’ve slouched your way through the Olympic fortnight. Over time, comfortably firm will pay dividends to your posture and the appearance of the piece, so be sensible.

Do sit on it with someone else to check you don’t roll toward each other, and if you’re shorter in the leg make sure you can sit right back comfortably, otherwise you’ll be looking for scatter cushions which might ruin the sofa’s appearance.

Consider the chaise longue. It’s aspirational with an open-ended arrangement which gives it a lighter feel for small spaces and the elegance of a bygone era that has never faded from fashion. But it’s not much use if you have a family of four to seat in comfort.

Love-seats, rebranded as the funsounding snuggler, are the must-haves. This highly-stuffed arrangement is designed with comfort in mind and, as the name suggests, snuggling. It’s one that tends to be smaller than an average two-seater, so probably best left to a slender couple or for sitting in front of the tv with child or cat.

Modular sofas are seriously back in vogue. Like an interior jigsaw puzzle for grown-ups, those of us who never grew out of playing house will find this one of particular appeal, being able to break it up and reconfigure as and when we fancy a change of look.

If you already have the most comfortable sofa known to man but are mortally ashamed of wear and tear, consider reupholstering. You can choose just about any colour, pattern and texture you desire to make your own bespoke statement piece and finally bin the throw that crumples like a rag as soon as you sit on it. ¦ Next week it’s the timely revival of clocks


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