Sofas are one of the hearts of the home - where we slouch, lounge, surf and even snooze - and choosing the right one is all-important.
There’s little point having a slimline model if, in reality, its high-end design will disappear under a pile of cushions, kids and pets, while deep, squashy high-backed sofas probably suit informal rural or period settings, rather than streamlined urban lofts.
“It’s a good idea to spend time deciding what you really want. A rushed decision could mean you’ll end up with that little something missing, which keeps your sofa from being the safe, warm and cosy centre of your living room that it can and should be,” says Rebecca Snowden, interior style advisor at Furniture Choice.
“When it comes to picking the perfect sofa, think of all its many functions - something you can curl up on at the end of a long day, or sprawl out on for a lazy weekend. Ask yourself whether you want it to blend in seamlessly, or stand out and be a centrepiece. “
Comfort, of course, is also key. According to research by sofa specialists Sofology, the average Brit spends three to four hours a day on their sofa (though for some, this figure is much higher!), while one-in-five also use the settee as a setting to do work from.
Matching a sofa to a room can be as tricky as choosing a new partner - and it’s crucial to get it right, as you’ll have to live with your choice (or mismatch) for years.
“If you’re trying to style a small space, don’t chose an oversized sofa, no matter how comfortable it looks,” advises Rick Petini, creative director at Delcor.
“Slim, high legs and plenty of space between the floor and sofa base will allow light to flow around the room, and give the illusion of more space. If you have a larger space, opt for a medium or three-seater rather than a smaller sofa which may be dwarfed by the room’s dimensions.”
SOFA SMART: Consider how a sofa will be used and pick upholstery accordingly - is it a sanctuary space for adults, or will it have to cope with sticky hands and muddy paw prints? Leather’s easier to clean, but fabric adds depth and texture to a room.
Stretch out in style on a Boxer Corner Sofa, from £2,982, or opt for a modern take on Seventies style with The Monaco, from £1,670, Delcor, which has bold lines and chic contrast piping.
Similarly, DFS has a French Connection Slate Sofa, from £998, in a white combination which would blend into any decor scheme, but would particularly match a pared-back rural or Skandi style.
SUPER SEATS: Hunker Sofa (available March), from £1,245, and scatter cushions from £20 each, Loaf. Willow & Hall has a classic collection, and my favourite is an Alderton Chaise Sofa which, upholstered in the gentle Dove linen cotton, from £1,572, would suit any setting.
MIX & MATCH
Sofas come in an array of shapes, from curvy to boxy - and even ones that can change their form.
“For me, modular sofas are probably the best of all worlds, as they’re good for any size of home and any room within it,” says Arianne Keeler, upholstery buyer at Habitat. “They’re an excellent option for those starting small, who want a sofa which can change and grow as their home or family expands.
“For a bit of fun, you can mix up modules in different colour options to create an edgy, individual look, or go for a unified colour option but use different module styles to create a truly bespoke feature.”
SOFA SMART: Always order a fabric swatch and ‘live’ with it for a few days before confirming your choice, so you can view it in different lights and also, if it has a pile, check its look after you’ve sat on it. If you’re looking for a hard-wearing fabric to withstand the punishment of a family, polyester Accor fabric is particularly durable.
Several Jakob Modular Single Units, £400 each, in red or charcoal, could build into a sofa layout you desire. Or opt for a leather look; a Newman Tan Leather Corner Unit, £1,600. Alternatively, invest in a Kasha Right-arm Corner Sofa, available in a variety of upholstery colours, £1,700, all from Habitat.
SUPER SEATS: Sofa Workshop seems to have taken inspiration from Downton Abbey with some of their sofa names - and these could certainly sit easily in a grand country pile. A Grande Dame Sofa, from £1,989, can be upholstered in an on-trend blue Moon Earth Airforce, or if you want to make a statement, plump for the Lady May three-seater, from £1,699, upholstered in the rich gold Dusky Mustard.
BUTTONS AND BLOOMS
Catwalk trends impact on decor and seating too, and it’s important to avoid choosing a sofa that will date quickly.
“Botanicals - floral patterns - continue to dominate and are in tune with our desire to ‘bring the outside in’. We’re also seeing interiors take a darker turn, with inky blue set to be one of this year’s most popular colours, with blushing pink for those who want a more feminine look,” says Philip Watkin, director at DFS.
“Classic designs are set to make a comeback and the most coveted pieces are embracing button detail, which we’ve interpreted in Chesterfield-inspired silhouettes with a modern twist.
“Velvet, a classic material, is still riding high in the style stakes, and to update your look, be bold with vibrant colour-blocking hues, or introduce linear panels in plush velvet or high-definition devore.”
SOFA SMART: Make sure your sofa will fit into your home by measuring every access point - doorway, stairwell and lift that it has to pass. A template made from newspaper, or masking tape on the floor marking out the amount of space it requires, will give you a good idea of how a sofa will fit a particular room.
A two-seater Pompeii Sofa, £1,299, and matching Armchair, £998, is a deep-seated generous take on a Chesterfield. Fancy florals - a Chiltern Floral Grand Sofa, £1,549, available in five floral colours, could suit a cosy country cottage style interior. For a rich luxury feel, try a Bailey Velvet Maxi Sofa, in fashionable Royal Blue or Dusty Pink, £1,599, all from DFS.
SUPER SEATS: Loaf’s new range includes a fabulous Butterbump Sofa, upholstered in velvet, from £1,495 (available March). Furniture Choice has a Rio Fabric Corner Sofa in slate, a bargain at £449.99.
TAKE A SEAT
Delcor: 0191 237 1303/delcor.co.uk
DFS: 0808 1595 535/dfs.co.uk
Furniture Choice: 0800 035 0070/furniturechoice.co.uk
Habitat: 0344 499 4686/habitat.co.uk
Loaf: 0845 468 0527/loaf.com
Sofa.com: 0345 400 2222/sofa.com
Sofa Workshop: 0808 278 8379/sofaworkshop.co.uk
Sofology: 0800 140 4040/sofology.co.uk
Willow & Hall: 0845 468 0577/willowandhall.co.uk