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Buyer's Guide to Sofas

Buying a Sofa

Sofas, beds, armchairs, garden furniture and other designer furrniture – they’re all big buys you want to get right first time. Here’s what to ask yourself before you buy your sofa.

Which Sofa Style To Choose?

You need to choose your modern sofa to fit not only the style of your home but also the rest of the furniture in the room. Find out which style and shape to choose by answering these questions:

  1. Want a contemporary feel? Look for a modern sofa that’s low to the ground, has a low back and small arms, on-show metal or wooden legs, such as the Stark. Or, choose one that’s self-consciously stylish: mid century modern sofas are bang on trend right now.
  2. After a more traditional finish? Scroll arms, deep cushions, a buttoned back, decorative turned legs and polished brass castors are all details to look for.
  3. Not sure which way to go? Opt for a classic style which can sit happily in both modern and traditional rooms, such as the George or Victoria.
  4. If you have a large living room and you like the contemporary look, a modular sofa, made up of lots of individual pieces that sit together in various configurations (from L-shaped to long and lean), is a flexible buy that will see you through several house moves.
  5. Living room on the small side? Look for a compact sofa, such as our Portland two-seater, with neat arms – or a modular sofa with no arms.
  6. Not sure which size to get? Choosing one in proportion to the room’s size is important. So, don’t be tempted to squeeze a three-seater into a space more suited to a two-seater.

Trying Out Your Sofa

If you can, try out the sofa first. Look for signs of whether it's well-made.

It should feel solid, its frame shouldn’t twist when you lean or push on it and, if two of you are sitting at once, it shouldn’t sag. As well as checking it’s a good buy, take time to work out if it’s comfortable, too. Don’t be shy in the shop – sit down and try it out.

Buying on the internet is harder, but you can compare a sofa’s dimensions against your existing lounge furniture and find out what materials the sofa is made from to give you a good idea. And it goes without saying that the designer sofas we offer at Out and Our are of excellent quality and built to last!

Find Out How The Sofa Is Made

High end sofa frames are made from hardwoods, and are dowelled, glued and screwed together. Individual coil springs might be hand-tied into the base and back. Mid-price versions use zigzag or serpentine springs. When it comes to the padding (that forms the shape of the sofa), quality modern sofas use wool, felt, hair or cotton wadding.

More affordable frames are possibly glued and stapled. Instead of springs, the cushions will be supported by webbing, and the padding might be made of heat-resistant foam. Make sure your sofa fabrics follow the UK Fire Rated Standard; simply ask your retailer if the fabric is "UK Fire Rated" and they should know exactly what you mean, this will protect both you and others if the worst case scenario does occur. 

Soft Cushion Choices

Just as you pay for quality when it comes to the sofa frame, sofa cushion fillings come in a range, from expensive to cheap, too. Feather and down-filled cushions will be soft, squashy and welcoming, but when you get up, they'll need plumping. Cheaper foam is firm and supportive for your back and good for seat cushions, but will compact over the years. Combinations such as feather and polyester fibre, or fibre-wrapped foam are mid-priced, and keep their shape better than feather cushions.

Which Upholstery Fabric To Pick?

Before you choose an upholstery colour or pattern, think about its longevity. If you are looking for a particular style or theme then choose a colour that will breathe life into your living area.

You might want a particular colour or design now but can you be sure you’ll still love it a few years down the road when you might have redecorated or moved house? The best way around this potentially costly problem is to buy a sofa in a colour that won’t date such as grey and then combine it with an accented side or coffee table that can be changed more cost effectively. Click here to browse our grey fabric sofa collection.

Upholstery is designed to be hardwearing. However, lighter colours will show up dirt more quickly than darker colours, so if you have small children, wipeable or washable covers are a sensible buy.

Leather is also a practical material. It comes in super-smooth versions and distressed, antiqued finishes for a retro look sofa. Semi aniline leather, which has been subjected to a process that removes most of the flaws, is a good choice for families, as it has a hardwearing finish.

Fixed or Loose Covers?

Fixed covers look smart, formal and crisp. However, because the cover can’t be removed, ensure it has been pre-treated with a stain resistant coating. Loose covers, if not well made, will have a more relaxed look, but most can be washed (although some have to be dry-cleaned), which is a must for families and pet owners.

This, however, will lead to fading, so make sure you wash the cover and cushions at the same time or the sofa will begin to fade in different degrees. Finally, if you can buy a second set of loose covers, you will extend the life of your designer sofa.

Will The Sofa Fit?

You may have checked the sofa will fit your room, but have you checked you can get it in your house? Some sofas will arrive in pieces to be assembled on site – but better quality sofas will come in a single piece that may be too big to manoeuvre from the front door, through the hall and into the living room.

Measure first and check when you order what will happen if you need to return your sofa. Most reputable companies will accept that sometimes the dimensions don't fit and will support you.

How Long Before The Sofa Arrives?

The Out and Out Original Sofa Range is available in stock and will be shipped to you within 3-5 working days. In the event that a sofa or armchair is not in stock you will be contacted to arrange the next delivery. It should rarely take longer than 8-10 weeks for any company to organise your new purchase!

Go to our sofa pages to see our full range and see our Pinterest boards for design inspiration

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