A guide to choosing a new sofa

It seems so simple to say you are going to get a new sofa. A simple matter of choosing something you like, ordering it and then sitting back and relaxing until it comes. Well, as someone who once made a mistake with the sofa that I ordered, and then had to cancel and choose again, I can say that it is not as easy as all that. There are things to consider to make sure the choice is one that suits your house, and suits your family, and will last you for some years.

Things to consider when choosing a sofa

Style.

When you choose a new sofa it needs to fit with the style of the room. If your house has a old-world feel you may want to go with something like a Chesterfield sofa, a classic design that suits living rooms with dark wood and vintage style elegance. More modern settings may suit slouchy leather styles, more relaxed and less structured in their design. If you choose a style that is out of touch with the rest of your room, this was be jarring and just won’t look right. You also need to think about the colours and fabrics that you opt for. Leather can look modern and minimalist, especially if chosen in a neutral shade or classic black. Fabric sofas can be perfect if your style is chintzy with a slightly vintage feel. Bright colours can make your sofa a focal point of your room, giving your room a theme, particularly if the rest of your decor style is minimal. If you love Art Deco style, which has certainly grown in popularity this year, look at a tan or an antique gold velvet sofa with legs for a retro look. Check out interior design magazines and Pinterest pages for inspiration.

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Who lives in your house?

The style of sofa and chairs you choose are definitely influenced by the people (and pets) who love in your house. Do you have children? Or pets? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, then white or cream fabric may not be the best choice for your sofa, frankly it won’t stay that colour for long. A new sofa has to be a practical choice too, and a wipe clean leather may work better with young children than something that will show every stain and spill. How much you spend on a sofa may be affected by whether you feel it will be a stop gap until your children get older, or an investment piece that should last for years. Another factor could be the actual size of the sofa, whether it is a two or three seater, whether you might opt for a corner sofa, or a pouf as an extra seating option. Your family must always be at the centre of your thoughts when choosing a new suite.

Size Matters.

But size is also important in other ways. When you choose your sofa you need to look at the dimensions of the room it is going to live in. Large sofa’s with corner units are great for big living rooms, but put these in a smaller room and the effect will be ruined and the room will look swamped.  Many three piece suites now come with two sofa’s – can your room take this much furniture? Will you be able to move around the room once the furniture is all in? Size really does matter when it comes to furniture, less is more and can make your room seem far more spacious than if you have literally shoe horned everything into a room.

Order A Sofa Swatch

Buying a new sofa is a big expense so you need to make sure your choice is right, especially if you are not planning to redecorate the whole of your living room. One way that you can test out your choice is to order a sofa swatch so you can test out how the fabric and colour will look with your current furniture. Most online stores allow you this option and this is a great way to check out your design ideas before you commit to buy. It may also help you to choose some accessories for your new sofa before it arrives.

 

When do you need it for?

Most sofa’s have to be ordered, and then there is a waiting period before it is delivered.  This is something you really need to remember if you need your sofa by a certain date. Many people order a new sofa in the Autumn that they want to be in place in time for Christmas, as this is a busier time of year it may pay to order earlier to avoid disappointment.

Do you have any tips for choosing a sofa? What is your preferred style of sofa – something traditional, or something with a more modern feel?

 

An Old World Feel in Your Living Space

Do you watch shows like “Downton Abbey” or travel to Europe and yearn for that Old World feel in your living space? When most people think of the Old World, they hark back to the 17th to 19th Centuries, when parlours and great rooms were quite different from the living rooms of today. Here are six tips for creating an Old World atmosphere in your home, using carefully selected antique furniture and a few key facts about days past.

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Look at getting a wooden floor

If you are opting for an olde world style, that carpet just has to go. Wooden and stone floors are far more in keeping with the style, and these can then be softened with the addition of rugs. The best, and most stylish form of flooring, and one that is highly desirable in even the modernist of homes, is parquet flooring, that stunning tongue and groove style that has an highly stylised, antique look. For an authentic feel go for a walnut oak design, or something that has been brushed and oiled and has those inimitable chevrons.

There Were No Sofas Just chairs

During the same time period discussed above, there were also no sofas like you know them today. The sofa was just being invented in various iterations, and any seating for more than one person was in the form of a love seat or chaise

Instead, groups of chairs were the primary form of seating. In trying to create an Old World style for your home, consider adding antique chairs around your hearth. They’ll add interest and flexibility to your furniture arrangement, as well as a touch of verisimilitude.

Your antique chairs don’t have to match each other (in fact, it’s more authentic if no more than two are the same); they just need to match the overall decor of your home. Whether you go for Spanish-style tooled leather with studs and wooden carved frames or more delicate brocade Louis XV seating, they’ll look more Old World than anything you find on the market today.

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Furniture Was Multifunctional

In all but the grandest of homes, tables in centuries past were not designated for just one purpose. The same table where dinner was served might have been used as a writing desk or place to prepare food, depending on which room it was in and the home’s layout.

Trunks were used for storage, but they also served as side tables, as the occasional table and coffee table as they are known today were, like the sofa, still being invented. Ottomans doubled as footstools and serving spaces for trays of tea or snacks.

When creating an Old World look to your home, try to capture that philosophy of furniture having multiple purposes. It makes it more fun to find alternative uses for your antique pieces, and it will actually help you with some of your storage needs.

There Was No Built-in Storage

Speaking of storage, historic homes had no built-in closets and had few, if any, built-in cabinets or bookshelves. These elements were all freestanding, which made for more interesting and changeable room arrangements.

If you’re looking for an Old World feel, think about using antique armoires, highboys and hutches to take the place of built-in storage or to complement the storage you already have. These pieces are a great way to tuck modern appliances like TVs and stereos out of the way and make for a more old-fashioned look.

Lighting Was Softer

Before the advent of electricity, homes used gas lamps or candlelight. For a truly Old World appearance to your living space, do away with harsh overhead lighting and bright bulbs. Replace them with table and floor lamps with soft incandescent bulbs or sconces and chandeliers that hold real candles. Your lighting will be softer and more flattering and will work better with the antique furniture in the room.

Giving your living space an Old World atmosphere can be fun and exciting as you comb antique shops and auctions for the perfect finds. Once you make over one room in this cozy, charming style, you’ll want to do your entire house!

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Sprucing up the living room

Question. What is your favourite room in your house? I’m guessing that some people will say the kitchen, which in many houses is a hive of activity. Some of you may say the bedroom – the place where you finally get to relax and sleep off the stresses of the day. But I think most of you may well have said the living room – the true heart of a family home. This is the room where you watch TV together, relax in front of the fire together, and generally spend most family time. Yes, the living room is certainly an important place for most families. And, if we’ve agreed that the living room is the most important room in the house, then maybe we can also agree that the sofa is the most important piece of furniture in that room.

Because, even in the most minimalistic living rooms, a sofa will take pride of place. It is an iconic item of furniture – think of Gogglebox without those settees to lounge on, or The Royle Family without that slightly threadbare sofa they seemed to spend their whole lives sitting on. But, in terms of sofa that is both classic and classy, there can only be one choice – The Chesterfield.

The Chesterfield is the oldest form of sofa, dating back to the 18th century, and supposedly named for Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield. With this in mind, it makes sense that many of the designs of Chesterfield that prove popular are distinctly vintage in their look, in deep maroons and brown and tan leather – giving a real feeling of opulence and wealth to them.  These look fabulous if your style is retro elegance, add a few chosen antiques into the mix (and I don’t mean the husband!) and you get a warm and homely look.

John Lewis Hayworth Medium Chesterfield Sofa from £1,700 click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Hayworth Medium Chesterfield Sofa from £1,700 click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Gable Snuggler from £1,500 click to visit John Lewis

John Lewis Gable Snuggler from £1,500 click to visit John Lewis

It would be wrong to dismiss the Chesterfield as just an antique style throwback however. Remove the trademark leather buttons and leather finish and you get an utterly modern piece, totally fresh and most definitely 21st Century. You also need to look at the other elements of your living room in order to keep the look modern. A solid wood floor in a lighter shade keeps the look minimal, giving it a more Scandinavian feel rather than an antique look. You can make the look of the flooring much softer by adding a scatter rug in a neutral shade, or one that matches the sofa.

Other accessories that will make the room look fresh and modern include using scatter cushions on the sofa that add to the comfort, adding soft lighting that will give the room a subtle glow, or using candles for both scent and atmosphere.

Make your sofa the centre of your room design, and then build around it in order to create your own personal, cosy space. Opt for classic pieces, and your style will stay in style long after fashion pieces have faded.