Sitting pretty – buying the right sofa

PUBLISHED: 10:30 05 November 2013 | UPDATED: 10:30 05 November 2013

Bowmore sofa

Bowmore sofa

Gabrielle McMillan Photography - 2012 All Rights Reserved 

With so many options, choosing the right sofa to match your lifestyle can seem complex. John Darling, of Darlings of Chelsea in St Albans, gives a guide to

making it work for you and your family

There are many things to consider when purchasing a new sofa in what can feel like a minefield of choices. But there really is no priority of importance. Each person and family has different needs and you simply need to work out which are more important to you.


Modern or traditional, sofa, sofa bed or corner sofa? Work out what design and décor matches your home and lifestyle. We have, in recent times seen a resurgence of Chesterfields, and they are now upholstered in colour-block modern leathers, giving them a fabulous contemporary twist.

If the sofa is for a family room, you may want to be all together on a large corner sofa. How tall you are is also going to affect how the sofa sits. Tall people need a deeper sofa such as the Sloane (pictured right), which is a generous 101cm deep.

Leather or fabric or a combination of both? Trends do change from one to the other and then back again. Recently, we have noticed an increase in fabrics, with some clients wanting a fabric chair to accent a leather couch. 
This approach can add interest to a room. When looking at the options of fabric or leather, things to be taken into account include durability, texture, feel and overall look. If you have younger children or pets, fabric may not be the ideal option, as you may struggle to keep the finish clean.

Similarly, some leather finishes may not work either. Aniline leathers have no protection on them and

are naturally finished, so they will absorb stains and little sticky and greasy finger marks. On trend at the moment is wool fabric, used on

the Skye sofa (pictured above). This sofa is upholstered in a variety of Harris tweeds.

If the furniture is going into a very sunny or light place, you need to consider the fade factor when looking at colour and type of leather. All leathers and fabrics will fade over time and, with increased exposure to sunlight, darker colours and Aniline leathers are more susceptible than fully corrected leathers.

Fully corrected leathers have UV protectors in their finish and will still fade, but at a slower rate.


Be realistic. If you want a large corner sofa to sit nine people or more, it is going to cost more than a standard three-seater sofa. Ask about finance options to make it more affordable by spreading payments over 12 or 24 months.


With modern living, very few of us sit in a formal stance. We use our furniture to lounge around on. If you sit or curl up in this way, then kick off your shoes and, within reason, sit on the showroom furniture how you would at home. It is the only way you will really know if it works for you.

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