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Key Piece: Sofa

I have been working as an interior designer for 15 years and I can tell you that sofas are a crucial decision to be made for your place. You will spend most of the time there, reading, watching tv, relaxing or sharing with friends and family.


Budget and Plan

Plan how much you can spend and go to the stores you can afford. Research online for the available brands, their reviews and prices. Go and sit on them. Feel. When you sit, can you feel any of the structure? If you do, my suggestion is to keep looking since that can only get worse with time.

Is it too tight or too soft? Do you like it with legs or without?

Size and shape

First measure your space and pick your sofa based on what it can handle. Also, decide if you prefer a sectional or a single piece.


The piece that sets the tone in a space.

Which style is it?




Is it for watching TV? Is it for sitting formal guests or older people?

These two questions are very important to think about.  Ideally couches where you relax are deeper, softer and lower. On the other hand, couches for formal guests or older people are the opposite because guests will need to be able to stand up easily.

Research about the foam for the filling of the cushions. For a firm seat, you should look for a high density foam. To give them a softer feel and look, the cushion should be wrapped with polyester fibers and/or down.

There is also the option of filling them only with down for a very soft look, but this is more expensive and the cushions tend to sag.

Be sure to ask the vendor about the quality and warranty of the piece.

Fabric or leather

This is one of the crucial decisions. A stain on your couch may last forever.

“Children? No, only my nephews that come to visit on the weekends so I will take the white linen couch.” Result: PB&J stain that has to be hidden under that strategically located blanket.

“Party? Not often, but when friends come over we really party…but since it is not that often I will take that delicate fabric anyway.” Result: wine spill that has to be explained to every single guest who visits.

I am not saying not to pick light color fabrics since white is a beautiful color for upholstery. Just be aware of the risks.

Ask about the composition of the fabric: how can it be cleaned and how many double rubs it has. This is the number of times a sample of the fabric was set for an abrasion test before getting distressed; therefore, the more DR, the more resistant. A good number for a family room fabric would be 15,000 DR.


You can stay with neutral or pick a brighter color to make a statement.

I know it is a big decision. Just think about it as an investment (just like your mattress). Give it a good thought and go and see all of your options.

If you decide to go vintage, don’t forget to budget for whether it needs to be re-upholstered.

I hope you find the sofa that makes you smile when you arrive home. It should be calling you to come and relax.

For related articles, visit our DESIGN page.

Author: Daniela Olmedo

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