THE sheer lumpiness of a tired old sofa was never so patently obvious as during lockdown when we all spent more time prone on one for continuous hours of screen gazing.
Now with the shops open and well-stocked ones at that, there are bargains to be had if you’re in the mood for change. But before being seduced by a handsome model the experts have tips for us to mitigate the effects of impulse purchases and inevitable heartbreak, which according to Tracey O’Shea, Senior Sales Executive at EZ Living Interiors, sees 90% of their sofa returns being due to not fitting through the front door.
To avoid any such dramatic outcome and leave you without something to sit on, she says, “Make sure your sofa is size appropriate for the room it's going into. If you want a corner sofa think about the direction of the chaise, left-hand facing or right-hand facing. Also, make sure to think about where the TV will be positioned.
“Try out a few options as you need to make sure it’s comfortable. There are a wide range of styles to consider from high to low backs, recliners, foam-filled cushions or feather-filled.”
When it comes to the inevitable wear and tear in a living room, she also says, “Choosing the right fabric is very important, so think about the use of the sofa and who it’s for. It's better to go for a hard-wearing fabric if the piece has to endure high usage. Think about the colour as the lighter the sofa the more the stains will show up. Don't be afraid of velvet, it can take a lot more use than most people realize and is easy to maintain.”
There’s even something most of us won’t have even thought about and probably wouldn’t until we took delivery. “Consider the depth of your sofa,” Tracey adds. “If you want to sit back, relax and curl your feet up you’ll need to make sure you have enough depth.”
Getting down to post-purchase practicalities, Emmet Lyons, furniture specialist at Casey’s, says, “Opting for washable fabrics and furniture with practical removable covers can lengthen the lifetime of your sofa and lower your anxiety levels, especially with children and animals under your roof.”
Emmet also believes that a mistake we’re likely to make is thinking the fashionable corner sofa is space-saving and offers everyone a comfortable seat.
“A corner group can sometimes end up seating fewer people than a more traditional two- or three-seater combination. Don’t presume that you are getting more value for money. Think about your space and how many people will be using it on a regular basis. When having guests over it is often nice to sit opposite each other when having a chat and a coffee. And don’t forget about that awkward corner seat that more often than not goes unfilled.”
Practicalities continue with how the materials impact on all-important comfort and function. Who hasn’t sat on a feather filled seat which two years later is flattened and the chair lower as a result?
“With many manufacturers, they now give the consumer the choice of feather, fibre, and foam as a fill for seat cushions,” Emmet adds. “Try not to lose sight of what is going to hold up and be practical for an everyday piece of furniture. Feather-fill is luxurious and very comfortable but takes commitment and everyday maintenance to keep it looking its best. This choice can result in a lower sofa. Do you really want an elderly relative or friend struggling to stand up from their seat? A foam fill may be a less opulent option, but it is maintenance-free and offers support for all the family. It will also look its best and keep its shape more often than softer fills.”
He also notes that any colour you decide on will likely determine decorating decisions you make while the sofa is in your home.
“It is easier to change the colour of your wall than reinvest in a three-piece suite,” he says. “That pop of purple may have that wow factor in the showroom, but you may not be so enamoured when you reach the point of changing colours in your space. Neutral colours are popular for a reason and give you broad scope when it comes to re-thinking your living space.”