5 things to consider... when picking a sofa
sofa in my central park west project

so you need to pick a sofa, but where do you start?

one of the many hats that i wear as an interior designer is that of an educator. it’s a role that i don’t take lightly.  if i have successfully done my job then my clients will be left with a feeling of confidence and clarity throughout the design process. i’ve blogged about interior design tips, myths about interior design, and even bedroom design tips to help insomnia — now i’m here to help with your sofa!

so you know you need a new sofa: your current one is no longer comfortable and you’re wanting to update your current style to something that is, well, more current.  a sofa is such a big piece – both in size and in price.  you will want to make sure you’re getting the perfect piece for your space and not making a costly mistake!

here are 5 of my top tips to consider when looking to purchase a new sofa:


1. overall construction of a sofa

i’m making this the first tip as i think it is the most important.  a person may often be drawn to a sofa because of how it looks – which, don’t get me wrong, looks do matter! (hello dating world!) – but looks can also be deceiving (hello, again, dating world!). while a sofa may woo you with it’s sexy shape and looking all dressed up in a fun fabric, one really needs to consider how this flirty looking sofa is made – from the inside out!

what are some of the things you should consider?  i’m so glad you asked!! here is a snippet of what to look for/ask about when considering the interior quality of a sofa: what is the construction of the frame? is it made with kiln-dried wood? are the corners constructed using blocking that has been double glued and screwed? what type of springs are used to support the seat cushions?  speaking of the cushions, are they made with a durable foam core that won’t turn into a pancake within a year of sitting on it? or, if it’s a down sofa, are the cushions made with good quality feather and down or synthetic material?

phew! so many things to consider, right?!? ok, now that you’re all set with what to look for regarding the interior of a sofa, let’s move on to the exterior of a sofa…..

2. arm style

t-seat or extended arm, squared, rounded or somewhere in-between, mid-height or full height – the size, shape, and dimension of the arm can really play into the overall look of the sofa which will then play into the overall look of your space.  i always ask my clients to think about how they sit.  whether they lay or canoodle on their sofa. having the proper support and a sofa arm that is comfortable to them can make all of the difference in the world! style-wise the shape (square? rounded?) and whether or not the arm comes to the front of the sofa body is one of the things that will directly impact the look of the sofa. i typically specify a sofa with a squared, extended arm for my clients as my design aesthetic is decidedly more contemporary and tailored.

sofa arm style - how to select a sofa

a. the no.2498 by a.rudin perfectly highlights the look of a t-seat cushion styled arm.

b. the gryphon sofa from holly hunt features a squared, mid-height, extended arm.

c. the guild sofa from holly hunt has an extended arm that also wraps around and is the same height in the back of the sofa

3. base style

now that we’ve covered the arm style options, it’s time to consider the style options for the base -or bottom – of the sofa. there are two main considerations when thinking about the base: do you want to see the base or not see it?  exposed legs make the sofa visually appear lighter – not as bulky – whereas a sofa with a skirt or solid base tends to feel larger and heavier. 

picking your perfect sofa base style: 5 tips

i love the details on the base of this bauhaus sofa from maxine snider inc! the simple, skinny bronzed patina metal base is so crisp and chic and keeps this sofa looking light and airy. and check out how beautifully and thoughtfully the mitered upholstery meets the sofa base!

picking a sofa base style

a. this pampa sofa from holly hunt is heavier looking with it’s solid base.

b. the whitley sofa from dennis miller is a perfect example of a sofa with a tailored skirt and t-seat arm.

4. cushion count

the third thing that plays into the overall look and the personal comfort of a sofa is the number of seat cushions. three cushions? two cushions? bench seat? oh my! once again, this is where i ask my clients a lot of questions surrounding how they like to “live” on their sofa – do you like to sit up straight, lounge with your legs tucked to your side, layout flat in preparation for a netflix series marathon? oftentimes, the more seat cushions there are the less likely one feels as if they can truly stretch out without feeling like one is sitting on a seam.

cushion count plays a big role in selecting the perfect sofa!

a. 3 seat cushion sofa from custom kravet

b. 2 seat cushion sahalie sofa from charles stewart 

c. bench seat cushion parkview sofa from dennis miller

5. where is it sitting?

one last thing i’d like you to consider when picking out a sofa is where in the room the sofa will be sitting. is it backed up against a wall or is it floating in the room? when sitting with its back close to or touching a wall, the back of the sofa can be fairly simple. if the sofa will be floating in the room or more visible from different angles of the room, consider highlighting the lines and showing off those flirty curves!

chic sofa backs for floating sofas!

a. i love the crisp tailored detailing of this caspian sofa from holly hunt

b. look at the curved back corner and top rail design of this hamilton sofa from dennis miller

c. this minerva sofa from holly hunt is beyond sexy! am i right?!?

bonus: fabric

i realize that the title of this blog post is about the 5 things to consider when picking out a sofa but i thought i’d throw in one last tip – let’s call it the bonus round!

if you’ve done all your homework and found a perfectly constructed sofa with a style that conveys your desired design aesthetic, now’s the time to consider what you’d like to dress her in. look for a fabric that is durable yet soft to the touch, preferably one that is somewhat neutral and with a bit of texture or depth to it. why neutral? the sofa is most likely going to be the largest piece in the room and, if well built, an item that you should have for several years. you want to make sure that the fabric on the sofa will “grow” with you as your tastes change or evolve. you may love a hot pink floral today, but what about 2 years from now? i’d save the patterns or fun and flirtatious fabrics for your throw pillows. 

how to pick your perfect sofa
central park west living room

oh my goodness, have i overwhelmed you? i sure hope not! who knew there was so much to consider for just one piece of furniture?!? not to worry! if selecting the right furniture for your home feels like it might be too much to handle, allow me to give you the permission to relax, shake that cocktail shaker of yours and enjoy a liquid concoction while my team and i find just the perfect perch for you to sit. we are here for you if you need us!

cheers ~ darci