Choosing the perfect sofa

Interior designer Amanda Hanley gives her expert advice on how to choose the perfect sofa for your home, family and lifestyle.

Your choice of sofa is one of the most important furniture decisions you will make, so it’s worth getting it right and investing in a piece that will last you for many years to come - both in terms of style, and comfort.

Size and style

There are so many beautiful sofas available today - but before you start browsing and ordering swatches, consider first the space available; the ‘flow’ of your house, and how a new piece will sit with your existing flooring and against other pieces in the room.

You also need to decide exactly how much of your living room you want your sofa to fill. It’s a good idea to use a paper template to test the size, and position, of your new sofa in the allotted space. Getting the size wrong can be a disaster; too big and it will overpower the room. Too small and it will get lost.

With less space, any sofa is going to be in the spotlight. So it's important to pick something that is practical, but is also of a strong design or colour that carries and complements the rest of the space. Also, think about buying a sofa with low arms - it’ll make your room look larger.

Choose a style that complements your home - and go with your gut instinct! If your preference is sleek and modern, pick something that reflects that in clean lines and dramatic colours.

These days, more and more customers are opting for bespoke solutions that fit the space available in a style they love. It’s not just tailor-made, it’s built to last and in terms of comfort, the difference is considerable.

Shape and function

Successfully planning a living space starts with analysing your lifestyle. What do you do the most in that space?

Do your family like to relax together in front of the TV or fire? Surround your sofa with multiple seating areas that can be enjoyed together. A spot to snooze by the fire? Go for comfy and traditional.

If you love to host dinner parties or social events, consider how many people you entertain regularly and ensure you can fit them in with ease. A semi-circle around a central table can work very well or a clean L-shape or corner sofa is perfect for gatherings of any kind, as you can seat more people in a smaller space. In fact, corner sofas actually give the appearance of a larger room.

Colour and texture

Aesthetics are important, but functionality is vital when it comes to choosing a material for your sofa. Whatever fabric you choose, it is best to take a sample to test the colour with everything else in your living room.

A simple sofa shape can be an ideal canvas to show off intricate patterns and indulgent textures – this is ideal if you want to be imaginative about the way you use fabrics and enjoy the richness of colour.

If your home is an eclectic mix of colours and designs, a sofa that combines several styles (such as a vintage piece re-upholstered in a beautiful fabric, or a more modern shape with traditional accents) could be the perfect expression of your own personal taste.

Other seating options

If you have a smaller space to fill, a chaise could be a good alternative to a traditional sofa. It still provides seating for several people, but is compact and can give a more sophisticated feel.

And if you're too nervous to experiment with bold colours and patterns in your sofa, you can always opt for a fabric ottoman, cube or footstool that can double as a coffee table. It'll add another dimension to your living space, while complementing more classic sofas and chairs.

Find out more about Amanda and her projects at www.amandahanley.co.uk