Planning to buy a Sofa? Read this.

As you know last year I teamed up with Love Your Home to share their advice on how to buy a sofa and other useful tips. In my final post with them I wanted to show you my four favourite pieces from their collection and to point out that sales are now ON. So go and have a browse round their showroom – either virtually or really – it’s in Surrey and they’ll give you a cup of coffee while you try all the seating options in their barn.

Apparently the local pub The Stag goes a good lunch if you’re making a day of it. And, it has to be said, there is something rather appealing about returning to the old fashioned way of shopping. That is to say – trying something out and seeing it in real life before you buy it.

orange modern sofa by loveyourhome
orange velvet sofa by loveyourhome

Of course, if Surrey isn’t convenient, you can absolutely buy online and they will send out lots of samples for you to touch and feel. I have them all and I can tell you that there are lots of lovely grey velvets although that gorgeous orange is also calling to me, as is the green  – both of which would look so beautiful against a dark grey wall.

Anyway, these are my favourites. I have recommended them to clients and I recommend them to you. Everything is designed in house so they can lengthen a bed if you are tall or shorten it if space is tight. And they use solid beech not chipboard and bolts not screws so it’s all built to last.

Now, I also know that buying a sofa is one of the biggest decisions we make – along with (in my opinion) the kitchen table. After all, when it comes to buying a bed, yes you want it to look good but the comfort is all about the mattress which is a separate issue and one which, if you like, I can go into in more detail at a later date – just let me know in the comments below.

navy blue velvet armchair by love your home

But sofas are trickier. You need to combine price, size, comfort and style and the order of those elements will be different for each one of you. In the link above,  I talked about the key things to look out for in terms of quality and material but I think more of you are worried about getting the style right for your room. Am I right?

Now I can’t choose for you but there are certain things to consider. Firstly who’s going to be sitting in it and when? I mean, if it’s a family sofa for Saturday afternoon family films and evening boxsets then clearly it needs to be comfortable. Narrow arms will give you more sitting space but make sure they are padded for head resting. If it’s more for sitting up and chatting then something more upright with no extra cushions might fit the bill.

grey velvet corner sofa bed from loveyourhome

Sofas with loose cushions will provide more lounging comfort but you will need to plump them up every day. If an unplumped sofa drives you wild (I’m looking at The Mad Husband here) then consider a buttonback or something slightly more formal.

When it comes to size there are two schools of thought; a large sofa in a small room plays with the scale and will make you feel that the room is bigger than it actually is because you have big furniture in it. This is tricky to pull off if you want armchairs as well as they might end up looking like they’re only fit for the children in comparison.

lola high headboard bed from loveyourhome
lola upholstered high headboard bed from loveyourhome

A good two seater – with narrow arms – is probably a better bet – rather than a fat overstuffed number. Also legs are good. The more floor space you see the bigger the room appears, so just a gap between the sofa and the floor will help. See the orange velvet one above to understand that point. And while I’m on the subject of narrow arms, I think that is going to be a trend as we move into 2017. Furniture that is thinner, more elegant – a little more grown up is the way we are going. It looks a little more refined as I say and  – do the measuring – you won’t lose that much space if you opt for a sleek two seater as opposed to a padded three seater.

One of the questions I am most often asked is whether there is room for an L-shaped sofa? In a Victorian terrace or a flat? Probably not. But if you have a large square room a modular sofa is a great way to divide up the space.

maximus grey family sofa from loveyourhome
maximus grey family sofa from loveyourhome

In my Victorian terrace -which has a knock-through reception room, it’s not wide enough for an L-shaped sofa but we have put a chaise longue across the middle instead. That acts as a divider between the two spaces and creates a square sitting space that makes for sociable chatting. Well it would if it hadn’t been colonised by Enid Cat who pretty much refuses to let anyone else sit on it but that’s another story.

Finally remember if you have a square boxy sofa then think about contrasting with a round or more curved coffee table. A fat sofa will work well with a sleek minimal table in front.

By the way, thank you all for your comments and suggestions about the blog. I am reading them all and taking things on board. I have already had a couple of ideas I think you will like and I’m thrilled that you love the blog and that you all cared enough to comment. Thank you XX

Now, are you back in the swing of things yet? You will be soon. Drop in tomorrow to see my ten best desk lamps.

Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Re: mattresses
    A mattress salesman once told me that what determined the softness or firmness of a mattress was the box spring; I thought this rather odd.
    Was it a sales line? ??
    Thank you for such a lovely blog!
    Pacifica, California

  2. We are lucky enough to have a fairly large lounge and since moving 4 years ago we have yet to buy new sofa’s because I do not know where to begin, especially with the space being so much larger than our previous house! This blog is super helpful to me. I don’t suppose you know if there is anywhere you can go where you could take your room dimensions and picture and they can suggest to you ideas……I’m stuck!?

  3. This is a very helpful post. I am currently shopping for a sofa or sectional and will make note of your suggestions. I would also love your input on mattresses. Springs or foam and if there’s a specific brand you like, etc. Although I’m in Texas and we might not have the same products.

    1. Hi Karla, we may not have the same products but the principles remain the same. For example – most people say they want a firm mattress but choose one that they are not heavy enough for and it pushes their back out of line. Your hips and shoulders should sink in a little so that your back remains straight when you are lying on your side. When you are on your back you should be able to slide a hand between the small of your back and the mattress. On another note perhaps if you live in a house in Texas (as opposed to an apartment) you have a big square room and can have a sectional sofa with ease! XK

      1. My husband is considerably heavier than me and it makes the mattress slope on my side. So I was thinking on getting a firm(ish) mattress and top it with a feather bed. Have you had any experience with that? We have an Ikea malm bed with the sultan faväng matress. Do you think a taller matress would look silly? And btw, thank you for your advice 🙂

  4. I bought a grass cotton velvet sofa from last year and it’s the most beautiful thing I own bar none! Velvet sofas – hugely impractical but beautiful. I teamed it with the leaf table from Ikea and keeping with the mid-century theme, I have a Mad Men style typewriter found in a charity shop which works well on said table. Bliss! And the sort of lovely bliss that you want when you walk into your home.

  5. Great read. The right sofa can really change the feel of the room you create. It can modernise it, funk it up or have a negative effect. It is important to give consideration as to the shape of your room along with the colour of it – you want it to be in harmony with the room, not working against it.

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