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Design Dilemma: Finding the Perfect Sofa

I tend to work with a lot of new homeowners and one of the most common requests for their space is almost always a new sofa. Finding the perfect sofa is a bit like finding the perfect partner and can be equally as daunting a task. What fits one person doesn’t necessarily fit another, so it’s important to consider as many options as possible before making your selection. Not to mention sofas have a way of becoming permanent fixtures in our lives. What began as a temporary fix can eventually become primary seating in your den or basement. If your relationship works out as well as your sofa purchase, it may even end up in your child’s first home or dorm room.

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Here are a few important tips to avoid buyers’ remorse when committing to your perfect sofa:


Although not always synonymous, the cost of your sofa – not unlike the cost of a good mattress – does tend to reflect its quality. This isn’t to say you need to spend a small fortune at Montauk etc. Good value is available at many stores across the GTA and the best way to find it requires a simple investigation of the sofas construction. Quality sofas should feel solid and heavy! A good way to test this is by lifting the corner of said sofa and shaking it to ensure it isn’t flimsy or poorly built. I also highly recommend sitting, lying down etc. before purchasing as what feels good to one person may not to the next. Look for hardwood frames, solid joints, hand tied springs, dense foam - ideally wrapped in batting and/or down - and a solid base. Although not as common in higher end furnishings, removable feet do make for easier maneuverability when moving. Rule of thumb – always buy the best sofa you can afford and can’t live without – it’s almost always cheaper to reupholster later than buy a new one of similar quality!


If you’re style is more traditional look for a sofa with rolled arms and a tufted back or cushions. If you prefer something more sleek and modern, choose a sofa with clean lines and understated upholstery. Most sofas come with either a tight back or detached cushions – the latter of which tends to be more casual and inviting. This isn’t to say all styles of sofas can’t still be fussy. Personally, I tend to prefer sleek sectionals or tuxedo sofas for both their style and comfort. When in doubt stay classic as your sofa should stand the test of time given its inevitable staying power and upfront cost.


Are you a tall or short person? Do you like to sit up or lay back on a sofa? Furniture tends to come in different sizes, depths and angles to meet the needs of different rooms and people. I always recommend drafting a quick floor plan to test your furniture’s depth and width. That said, height is the most commonly over looked element when purchasing furniture and the most unforgiving given its huge impact on your space. When working with less square footage, I always recommend regular furniture over condo size options. Instead of shrinking the scale, consider low back sofas without arms to make better use of your limited space.


Comfort is of upmost importance when buying a new sofa. If it isn’t a place you want to sit most of the time, chances are you’ll regret buying it. If you plan to lie on the sofa or host out of town guests, make sure it has enough space between the arms to lie comfortably. A hid abed is another great alternative although it can increase the cost of your sofa by 20 to 50%. Another important question to ask is how many people you want or need to sit comfortably? The number of seat cushions tends to reflect the number of people a sofa will accommodate while the height of its back has the most impact on its overall comfort.


Whether you prefer leather or fabric, solid or patterned, it’s important to choose a neutral colour that can stand the test of time, passing trends and the natural evolution of your own personal style. As a rule, manufactured fabrics tend to be more durable than natural fibers. As does higher grade fabric and leather. Try to avoid high maintenance fabrics like velvet, satin or linen unless you like the natural patina that occurs over time. Contrary to what many people believe white or light coloured sofas can be practical even if you have or are planning to have kids. This is especially true if they are slip covered and can be machine-washed. Whatever your preference, always ask for a sample of the fabric or leather to try in your space. Not unlike choosing a paint colour, fabrics can look different depending on a room’s surroundings and the amount of natural light.

A sofa is an extremely important investment and complicated purchase given the level of commitment required. Keep in mind it can also take anywhere from 8 to 12 weeks from down payment to delivery so be sure to order early after following the tips above. Doing so should help ensure “the one” you choose is truly the right one!

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