Choosing the perfect fabric for your sofa
There’s no point in beating around the bush: choosing a sofa is one of the most important interior design tasks you’ll take on. Unless you plan to sit on the floor like a commune of unwashed hippies, the sofa will be the focal point of your room. It’s a ‘big’ piece in every sense of the word – it’s physically large, and therefore immediately draws the eye, and will be one of the most-used pieces of furniture in your home. You can’t risk getting it wrong.
Now that we’ve successfully raised your blood pressure, and gotten you so stressed out that living off the grid in a tent seems preferable to four walls and a roof, let’s talk about easing that interior design agony. Here’s how to purchase the sofa that’s right for you, with the minimum amount of angst and anxiety.
How To Choose The Right Sofa
Start at the very beginning, asThe Sound of Musicwould say, and make the sofa that beginning. The simplest course of action is to choose your sofa first and design the rest of the room around it. If that’s impossible, consider the space carefully (How will the sofa be used? What other furniture does it need to match?) before making your decision. Then follow these tips.
Do Your Homework
Imagine the anguish of finding what you thought was the perfect sofa, only to discover it doesn’t fit through your doorway. Spare yourself the pain and do all the necessary research beforehand. Measure the length, depth and height of the area it will go in, especially if it’s below a window, as well as all doors and passages it will need to fit through.
A strong frame is a must if you want your furniture to last. Softwoods like pine are inexpensive, but may warp over time. You’re better off investing in pricier, more durable hardwoods like ash or oak. Look for hand-tied springs or serpentine springs (in an S shape), which provide better support than web suspension.
The entire purpose of purchasing a sofa is to have a comfortable place to relax, so there’s no point in making any sacrifices. Buy the best quality you can afford and make sure you maintain it properly. Feather or down cushions are luxurious, but require greater upkeep. Heavier cushions generally perform better than lighter alternatives. Lower quality cushions can lose up to 40% of their initial support in the first 3 months.
Know Your Sofa Fabrics
Choosing the right sofa fabric is all about maximising form and function. Yes, it should look good and suit the space, but you can’t ignore practicality either. Your sofa will take a beating over the course of its lifetime, so tough coverings are a must. Some of the most popular fabric choices are below.
A fine, closely woven polyester that is soft but durable, easy to clean and competitively priced. It’s stain resistant but still luxurious to the touch.
A highly tactile fabric that adds dimension to a sofa. Chenille is elegant but strong, low maintenance and stain resistant.
Cotton is not as stain resistant or durable as synthetics, so although it looks good, it wears fast, is prone to wrinkling and tends to trap dirt. Note that a tighter weave results in a stronger fabric.
With similar characteristics to cotton, linen is a visually appealing choice but not the most durable option.
Feels good, looks good and ages well. Leather is strong and durable (except in the face of sharp objects), easy to clean and develops character over time.
Wool is hardwearing and beautiful, and naturally allergen free, but is fairly rare as sofa upholstery. Pure wool is a luxurious choice and it has the price tag to prove it.
If your sofa isn’t likely to be used often, silk can be a viable option. It’s a rich, elegant choice that both looks and feels opulent, but it’s fragile, difficult to maintain and expensive.
Acrylic fibres resemble wool but aren’t nearly as costly. They’re soft to the touch, durable, resistant to wear and tear, and affordable.
Expert Tip – Linda Byrne,
It is best to look for a sofa with a solid timber frame and robust steel spring system. Our sofas are mostly constructed from solid timber and eco-plywood.
Wear and tear is going to be most noticeable on the fabric so selecting a fabric with high abrasion and light-fastness testing is the best way to go. We like to use a lot of wool based fabrics on our products as they perform really well and are easier to clean. For a timeless look, select a neutral coloured fabric and add colour using cushions which you change season to season.
You also need to consider how you prefer to sit on a sofa. If you prefer to lounge or curl-up more you may want to go for a deeper, softer sofa. If you prefer to be more seated, you may want to go for something more shallow and supportive.
Also consider the environmental impact of your furniture foams – ones that are locally made, CFC free, very low in VOC emissions and 100% recyclable are all used in our range.
To see this amazing collection of sofas, start the slideshow below.
Video: Choosing the right fabric for your furniture
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