How to Pick the Perfect Sofa for Your Living Room
Christy Grove | On October 19, 2016
My husband and I bought a new home last year to make room for our growing family. As our kids grew bigger (and more of their hungry friends started coming over) our old house seemed to shrink, so we were thrilled to find a home that had everything we wanted: a finished basement, a larger family room, and a guest room. Once the dust settled and the boxes were unpacked, reality sank in that once you have more space, you’ve got to have more things to fill it.
Now luckily I work at Huntington House Furniture, a 30 year-old family owned North Carolina furniture manufacturer (that simply ADORES our partner Nebraska Furniture Mart by the way), and I am a total furniture nerd. So filling all of that space has been exciting and rewarding. BUT even for someone in the business, furniture shopping can be down right stressful–and one of the hardest stages is getting started. If you’re in a similar situation and don’t know how to begin, here are some tips that have helped me through the process. I’ll be focusing on the living room here, but many of these are applicable for any room in the house!
Tip 1: Find a look you LOOOOOVE and matches all the feels
It’s not just a couch. (True, my husband may think so, but it’s seriously not.) Your home is an extension of you; it’s part of the impression that you project to others and sets the backdrop for the most important things in life: making memories with the people you love. So put some thought into how you want your room to feel to them—and to you. These emotions will be influenced by the colors, patterns, textures and architecture of the pieces you choose.
Once you define the feel you want, use that to frame your search for a look that matches it. Dive into shelter magazines, websites like Pinterest, Houzz and design blogs like this one, or view our own Huntington House room inspirations–and don’t overthink it. Just save the ideas that jump out at you, and soon you’ll notice that patterns emerge, and you’ll start to get a better idea of your own design style.
Tip 2: Comfort = Quality
To say that I am frugal is an understatement, but I also want to point out that there are times when it makes sense to invest in quality and other areas where you can get away with going a little cheaper.
When it comes to furniture, there are two categories in my (humble) opinion where you’ll be happier in the long run if you upgrade the quality: upholstery (sofas, chairs, sectionals, etc.) and mattresses. This is because:
- You don’t just look at them–you actually sit/lie on them and therefore you can feel when they’re not up to par.
- A large percentage of these products is made of foam which can very quickly make your room look old and sloppy if it starts to flatten prematurely.
Here are three things your sofa (or sectional or chair) MUST have. Yes, I said must.
- Make sure the furniture is eight-way hand-tied. (Not sure what eight-way hand-tied means? Check out this video. Or this one.) Eight-way hand-tying is to upholstery what a carpet pad is to carpet – it provides the shock absorbance, weight distribution, and foundation to keep those cushions from going flat and frumpy, AND it makes it super comfortable and longer lasting.
- Hardwood frame. Let’s think logically. If the skeleton of the thing you’re lounging on day after day (and your kids and pets are likely abusing) is made of the equivalent of cardboard, how long do you think it’s going to stay stable? At Huntington House we use American kiln-dried hardwoods for our frames, which are then joined by glue and double-dowels to strengthen and reinforce the frame–with padding all around so it still feels super soft. I know, this stuff sounds boring, but it is so very important to make sure that the product lasts and stands up to real life.
- 360 degree tailoring. When you’re at the furniture store shopping, examine a piece that has a pattern on it. A stripe or plaid is a great example. If the piece is well made, the stripes (or other pattern) will line up on all sides of the piece: down the front, sides and back. This is no easy task to accomplish in the manufacturing process because each panel is a separate piece of fabric that had to be hand-cut and hand-sewn exactly where the stripes would match up. This is a very time-consuming and highly skilled process, but the companies that achieve it not only result in better looking products, but you can also trust that they don’t skimp on other important details as well.
Tip 3: Personalize the easy way
I know I don’t want the exact same living room as my next door neighbor…and quite honestly I am pretty picky, so I like to have options. Thankfully, gone are the days when we were forced to buy whatever was sitting on the furniture store floor. Now we have an infinite variety of colors, patterns and textures to customize our pieces. But that can also get overwhelming…and expensive.
I recommend finding a nice solid neutral fabric to put on the body of your sofa or sectional, and then get more creative with patterns and colors on the pillows and/or chairs. It’s much easier to change out smaller pieces as time goes by and seasons and trends change. At Huntington House we offer over 1,300 fabrics for our furniture (or you can even provide your own), but since we know everyone is not a furniture designer, we’ve created a couple of handy tools for narrowing down the look you want.
- Visit our Fabric Inspirations Page to view coordinating fabric packages that our design team has already put together for you. It could not be easier to get a designer look!
- We also display all of our fabrics individually on our website fabric page, and if you click on one, you’re likely to see correlating fabric suggestions.
And by the way, all of our pillows are complimentary so you can go as high-end as you want on the pillow fabrics all for the same price. Yay for FREE pillows!!
As you might be able to tell, I could go on about this stuff all day, but I hope this has provided you with some ideas for living room furniture shopping and some helpful resources along the way. By the way, Nebraska Furniture Mart has an excellent staff who can help out if you get stuck.
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