It took me a year to buy the couch that worked for me. Yes, you read that right – one whole year! This wasn’t because I could not find the right colour or the right style. There are choices aplenty in the market to the point that it gets exhausting and even stressful. It took me this long because it took time to understand what functions I needed and wanted my couch to perform. Basically, picking the right couch was probably one of the most tedious living room decor tasks for me!
Choosing a couch is all about you or your family’s lifestyle. For example, here’s what I envisioned doing on my couch:
- Enjoy OTT marathons
- De-stress with my large pets
- Read and work on the couch
- Snuggling in a blanket on winter days with a hot bowl of soup
I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that a couch will need to be customised to fit all these demands. But customising a couch comes with its own challenges and may not be worth it. I would recommend customising only in three scenarios:
- When you want a very specific size that’s unavailable
- If you want a particular style that may not be in trend
- When you want a specific kind of upholstery
I sourced my sofa and made the selection by translating my lifestyle wants into what this piece of furniture needed to do. For example, since napping is on the list of my demands, I needed the sofa to have a certain amount of firmness.
To understand how to choose a couch, break your list of demands into function and aesthetics.
For function, keep these points in mind.
Measure the room to help understand the couch size that will work for you. For easy visualisation, use masking tape and mark the dimensions of the potential piece on the floor. Bear in mind that there should be enough space to move around and the walkways should not feel too tight. Live with the marking on the floor for a day or two to see if you feel comfortable with the measurements. Ensure the overall scale works well with existing pieces of furniture in the room. Pay close attention to the height of the back of the sofa in relation to the ceiling height of the room.
- Remember that the sofa has to be able to get in and out of the house with ease.
- Renters, please buy or build a sofa that’s easy to pack. It should not be a struggle to get the sofa through a corridor, the front door, or into the elevator.
In this context, orientation is basically the direction in which the couch will be facing. And this is related to your lifestyle. Do you love hosting and entertaining? In this case, the sofa should be a conversation enabler. Do you like to take naps or read or work on your couch? If yes, then maybe think about orienting it towards or near a window. Do you use it to chill with your pets and binge-watch? The obvious orientation is towards the TV. Do you believe in Vastu? If yes, the orientation is best done in consultation with the expert.
- Keep in mind that the sofa orientation is directly related to the size of the room and how the space is arranged.
- Orientation can also affect the size or the type of sofa. Do you need it to be modular in nature to fit different needs?
3. Modular or not?
Often, modular sofas are recommended to renters as they are easy to pack and move. But modular sofas are great for many other reasons too. If your lifestyle entails a lot of hosting, consider a modular sofa. The pieces can be moved around to create a conducive environment for conversations. If you often have people staying over, a modular sofa can double up as a makeshift bed. Love to put your feet up after a long day with a beverage in hand? A modular sofa might be just what you need. And if you have pets who love to cuddle with you on the couch, a modular sofa will be spacious enough for you.
- The whole point of a modular is to be able to play around with it, but you cannot do that if it is too heavy. A heavy modular sofa is counter-productive in every way. Keep it light.
4. Couch construction
A sofa is only as solid as its structure. Be it custom or sourced, it is important to understand what’s inside your couch. The material of the frame is important to know. Check if it is made of wood, metal, or MDF. Out of these, wood is the most durable material for a frame. Pay special attention to joineries. A few screws and glue are not enough to make your sofa a long-lasting piece of furniture. Check the kind of suspension that is being used. The spring is what gives the sofa its bounce. Know the foam or filling of the cushions. Foam comes in different densities and high-density foam is preferred for firmness. Adding fillers along with the foam can achieve more softness if that’s what you want.
- A well-built sofa is for life. Invest in top-quality materials for the structure.
The average depth of a sofa ranges from 22-24 inches. Today, if you go sofa shopping, you will find many that exceed the average. If the couch is your go-to comfort zone, you might want to choose something with greater depth than the average. I chose a couch that’s close to 28 inches in depth, no points for guessing why. The depth allows me to sink in, lay back, or put my feet up.
- If you have multiple people using the sofa, specifically senior citizens, ensure the sofa is not too deep. Stick to the average depth range for everyone’s comfort.
This may seem like a non-point, but here is why I am bringing it up. If you have young kids who love to play on the sofa or you love to lean against the armrest, do test the rest before buying the couch. The strength lies in the joinery and it needs to be strong.
- Pet parents should avoid wooden armrests. They make for tempting chew toys.
When it comes to aesthetics, keep these points in mind.
Diving into sofa styles can be overwhelming. From chaise to Chesterfield, track arm to roll arm, or divan to daybed, how do you know you are picking the right one? Again, think of the use of the sofa and the people using it. It should be able to tick most, if not all, requirements. Keep the design style of the home in mind. A mid-century modern sofa in a house that is rooted in contemporary design will most certainly be out of place.
- Avoid boxy or bulky styles for small rooms.
Fabric selections are always a tussle between the head and the heart. Your heart may fall for fabrics that your head will reject immediately because you have young kids or pets or have made your couch your permanent dining table. Performance fabrics are for people who need the couch to endure stains and clean easy. Leather, velvet, and synthetics are good choices. If your home has only adults who enjoy entertaining or have house help, linen, natural fibres, and wool blends might fit well in your living room decor. Whatever you choose, remember to check for the rub count on your fabric. A rub count of over 25,000 is a good place to start for upholstery that is for everyday use.
- This tip is for those who are forced to be practical in their fabric choice but would like the couch to be pretty too. Layer your couch by picking patterned cushions. Mix and match as you see fit. Practicality doesn’t need to dampen your living room decor.
3. Colour or pattern?
Should you play it safe with a solid colour or go all in with a pattern? The choices are truly endless when it comes to this aesthetic factor. Knowing a few things can make it less confusing. So, ask yourself:
- What are the other colours in the same space? Do you want to match or contrast with your living room decor?
- What is the design style of your home?
- What are your personal preferences and inclinations?
Once you can answer these questions, you will be able to filter out a lot of choices.
- Deciding on colours or patterns requires patience and may take time. Keep calm and sleep on it if it gets too much to handle.
One of the most important points in figuring out how to choose a couch is to remember the cleaning process. Once you’ve gotten through the hard parts of choosing a couch, buy one under which you can either slide a broom or a vacuum cleaner with utter ease. Living room decor is not just about beauty, folks.
All Images Source: The Aymuas Project