Buying The Perfect Sofa (without the headache) – Part 1

Unless you know the rules of the road, buying a sofa can be a real pain the cocktail table! And so, this Bucks County interior designer is here to tell you that knowledge is power, so have a little on me.

Interiors by Donna Hoffman/David Van Scott Photography

You can spend under $1,000 or over $12,000 on a sofa. You can buy something totally under engineered or highly over engineered. There is no right answer, but there are the right questions I must always ask clients to consider – will it hold up, hold its shape, provide comfort, continue to provide comfort after the first 1-3 years?

Consider Quality and Price

Pick one because you can’t always seem to have both. The $4,000 sofa is simply going to sit exponentially more comfortably and last a decade or more as compared to its $1,000 cousin. It’s the construction:  frame construction and suspension system, cushions and fabric.

To a sofa, you and I are nothing more than “load.” We’re the dead weight that has to be supported over and over again, whether gently placed on the same cushion each evening, or whether plopped and sprawled in all manner over what is just a bunch wood, fill and cloth.

I am not for or against any price points. Budget always guides design. But you do need to go into the exercise knowing upfront your quality and performance expectations so you can weigh these against quality, performance and price.

The Upper Price Points:  What You Get and What It Means: (Sofas @ $3,300 and Up)

  • All wood construction with the longest lengths of AAA grade wood that has been seasoned and kiln dried. These processes eliminate warping (and thus sagging). Corner blocks, which are wood reinforced corners, are found here and these structurally reinforce the frame to hold its shape over time.
  • Eight way hand tied spring up systems that provide great sit and resilience. This insures that “things” move back into their original shape after you arise from your Sunday nap, during which you compressed and stressed the construction.
  • Seat cushions are made of inner coil springs which are then wrapped in foam and down (called Spring down blend cushions.) These provide superior support and comfort and shape recovery (vs. all foam which crushes over time). You know that smashed looking saggy sofa you’ve had for about 3.5 years? It doesn’t have these bells and whistles so far mentioned.
  • Fabric. This is tricky. At the luxe level, you can get whatever fabric your heart desires. At the upper price points, if you want fabric that is durable, something different, something in a particular shade, a particular texture, tone or even print – you’ll find anything you want here.
  • Shape.  As with fabric choice, when it comes to sofa shape in this price range, you can have literally any shape, size, arm, leg, detailing, and all with unlimited customization and if you prefer, unique, sleek “don’t see it everywhere” silhouettes.

The downside of the finding a sofa at this end of the price spectrum:  you will part with more of your dollars at purchase time. The upside: in exchange for the additional upfront cost, you gain exponentially in longevity, last, performance, comfort, durability, and style. It will likely look far newer far longer and in 13 years from now you’ll have a great frame that will be worth reupholstering rather than purchasing new if you’re ready to make a change. Go a step further at that future time – by reupholstering a better frame, you’ll spare long term a whole new purchase as well as the landfill.

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon.