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Full leather, Half leather, Fabric, Cane, Wooden, Reclining, Sectional, Tuxedo, Chesterfield, Camelback ….whoa, the choice is almost limitless & often one is lost selecting which sofa will be “right” for one’s home. Since buying a sofa is a fair amount of investment & stays with you for almost a lifetime it’s important to do a bit of homework before choosing this companion for your home. The next few paragraphs will attempt to provide simple tips on things to consider when deciding the “right” sofa for you.
You would have noticed some homes have a nice warm feel to them and surprisingly, the reason for it is something that you really cannot pin point – such homes have what I call a “thematic alignment” i.e. they have each piece of furniture, lighting, colours, textures etc. that aligns with an overall theme of the home. The theme can be anything from Contemporary to Rustic to Victorian, the key is blending everything to this central thread; sounds something similar to notes in a musical symphony doesn’t it?
When selecting a sofa set, thematic alignment is perhaps the most important factor to keep in mind. The sofa should blend with the overall theme of the house and not clash with it. For example a Sectional (L Shaped) sofa may look great in a contemporary styled home but will be an eyesore in a traditional themed one. Similarly cane or wood sofas go well with traditional Indian as well as a laid back modern theme while a Camelback or Chesterfield with a Divan will be great in a Victorian or a traditional English theme. Thematic alignment just doesn’t end with the design of the sofa but extends to the choice of fabric and colours as well. While silken fabrics go well in a traditional theme, you may be better off with cotton in a classic or woody theme and with leather in a modern theme. Similarly if your living room is in a contemporary western theme with white & light grey walls you may go with a sofa in a darker colour just to add some balance.
As the bean counters will tell you, always measure. The wrong size of the sofa is the most common mistake that folks make during selection. This makes the living room look either too crammed or too empty. A person sitting on a sofa seat occupies approx. 7.5 square feet of real estate – 2.5 feet in width and 3 feet in depth. Add to this a center table and sides. As a rule of thumb the square/ rectangular area where your sofa set is kept should have minimum 20 % open space. Additionally when going for recliners do measure the total stretch size of the recliner to ensure that you have enough space both in the front and behind the recliner
If on the other hand you have a very large living area, be sure not to overwhelm the space with the main sofa set. A good idea is to use a combination of seats by throwing in some puffys, a divan, high back chairs or a couple of low seats along with the main sofa set.
Traffic and usage
Is the sofa meant to house the teenager who loves to spend oodles of reading hours on this couch, your husband watching the match along with his plate of food or just the occasional twice a week guest that comes in – that’s what I mean by traffic and each kind will need a different perch (missed mentioning the 9 year old looking for a trampoline).
The traffic will primarily determine the type of fabric that you need on the sofa and trust me, the choice is not easy. While cotton may be the most comfortable, it wrinkles & fades quickly, leather looks great and can withstand a lot of abuse but is expensive and difficult to repair, artificial leather or vinyl will resist stains & spillage but starts to peel off in a few years. There are fabrics that attract dust and those which resist moths and no matter what you choose it will have both its advantages and its drawbacks.
Cognizance of “The Traffic” that your sofa needs to host will help you determine what matters most to you and to zero in on a fabric which delivers on that while being light on the negatives
Build and durability
Last… but not the least, it’s about the basics. If you visit the local sofa maker and see the wood that’s used for most sofas you will have second thoughts on whether your money is well spent. Though it’s next to impossible to make out what has gone into making the sofa once it is finished there are some basic checks to confirm if all is well inside.
Sofas that use good quality wood should “feel” heavy, so when you are at the furniture shop, try & lift one up by its corner if it feels light then this is not the right one for you. Also when you lift the corner by some distance, the adjacent corners should also lift up – if that is not happening that means that the wooden frame has too much play and is not constructed well or with the right wood.
If you are looking at leather sofas – look for the quality of the stitch and any open knots. In half leather sofas (leather on top & art leather on the bottom) check the quality of the art leather by looking at the seam where the art leather meets the real leather – the art leather should not be peeling in places around the stitch. And if you are looking for sofas in Fabric – check whether the fabric is thick enough & can be removed for dry cleaning. If you are the lazy recliner type, ensure that you check and recheck that the reclining mechanism works smoothly and effectively before cutting the cheque.
And just to ensure that you are covered even when you have not covered checking on everything or for any defects that pop up despite all the checks – look for the fine print on the guarantee card. Ideally any defects, if found, should be reparable on – site rather than you having to ship the sofa all the way back to the store.
I guess this is as comprehensive as it gets, happy shopping and wish you a lifetime of comfortable hours on your new pew.
As always, will welcome your inputs & comments
6 thoughts on “Selecting the “right” sofa for your home. My article in Deccan Herald today”
Loved your blogs and your work. Will you help me do my wood work for my new house. how do I speak to you and share the details.
Hi Vidya, You can reach me at email@example.com
Am planning to use rubber wood finger jointed boards for my internal staircase. Is this wise? Also is rubber wood board a good material for beds and dining tables? Thanks in advance. Rajesh
I assume in the staircase rubber-wood is intended for the treads – if that is so then it is not recommended – rubber-wood is soft wood and cannot take much physical wear. You should ideally use any hardwood.. For Beds & Dining table Rubberwood will be fine.
Hi, I have a victorian sofa set with high back in faux leather that I want to get refurbished. Can you suggest a dependable place to get it done where the craftsmen can retain its shape? Most people that I have inquired said that they are not confident that they will be able to do so…
You can try Augusta, Stanley, or Marvin on Mission Road.