Sofa Buying Guide

Sofa Buying Guide

7th Dec 2020

Posted by Laura Rich on 7th Dec 2020

Often one of the largest furniture investments for your living room, it’s worth taking a bit of time to research and plan the buying of a new sofa. As well as being the focal point in your living room, a sofa is often something we expect to last for many years. So we’ve put together a Sofa Buying Guide, with tips on what to look for and how to find your perfect sofa


There’s so much choice when it comes to the shape or style of your new sofa. We’ve narrowed down 4 different styles you’ll see a lot when shopping for a sofa. 

1. The Chesterfield 

Iconic with its low back and arms and deep button tufting, you’ll find this style in all materials and sizes. One for the long term; it will never go out of fashion! 

A chesterfield low back deep button sofa
The Ritz Sofa is a modern take on the classic Chesterfield Style

2. Mid-century 

Raised off the ground by tapered legs for a retro feel, this look is clean and streamlined with low arms and a streamlined, rather than deep-filled, look. 

The Milano sofa, inspired from mid century furniture design
The Milano Sofa takes inspiration from Mid-century furniture design

3. Contemporary 

With the introduction of metal details (such as feet) and loose seat and backrest cushions, the contemporary look is sharp and boxy. It can be tailored with fabric choices to suit any room and is often affordable. 

A contemporary red Ikon sofa
The contemporary Ikon Sofa with its clean lines.

4. Traditional 

Think country cottage, deep filled plump cushions, rounded armrests and often wooden feet, sometimes on castors.  

A traditional Piper sofa with deep filled plump cushions
Sink into a traditional style sofa such as the Piper

Many of the designs you’ll see combine the best elements of these styles.


We suggest applying the following questions to every home purchase: 

Who? Where? Why? What? When? 


Who is the sofa for? Do you have children? Pets? Lots of visitors? Are any of the regular users tall? If so taller backrest cushions are a must! Children and/or pets? A forgiving and durable fabric is recommended. Busy household? Buy big enough to accommodate everyone. 

A small dog laying on a sofa cushion
Make sure your sofa suits the whole family!


Where will you place the sofa? Is the décor in the room contemporary or traditional? Perhaps a mix of both? Have you measured the space to see what you can fit in? We highly recommend measuring out the maximum space using newspaper on the floor so that you can visualise the space it takes up and the space left around it.

Top tip – if your living room is small, a low back sofa will help to give the illusion of space, as will one that is lifted off the floor on taller legs.  The more floor space you can see in a room, the bigger it will feel. Try not to squeeze a large sofa into a small space, a better option might be a modular sofa or a smaller sofa with an accent chair. 

The Ritz chesterfield style armchair
An accent chair is great for a small space

Also make sure that you can fit the sofa through the doorways to get it in! Is there an element of self-assembly. such as adding the legs, which make the sofa able to fit through a standard doorway? Will it need to be carried up a flight of stairs? Are there any tight angles to navigate? Measure the doorways – and then measure again!  


Why are you drawn to a certain design? Try and work out the most important elements to you. Is it how it looks? How comfortable it is? How it’s made? (we’ll get to materials later).  


What problem is the purchase solving for you? Do you need an occasional guest bed? If so, a sofa-bed can be really useful. Do you work from the sofa? Eat your dinner on it? Nap there? Is money tight and you need to be budget-aware?  

A 2 seater sofa bed in grey decorated with blue cushions
A sofa bed is great for guests


When do you need it? Many sofa companies work on a made-to-order system with a lead time of up to 12 weeks. Our range of sofas are available on a 7-14 day lead time and we’ll deliver free on a day convenient to you. 


As well as choosing the right covering fabric to suit the use, consider what is inside the cushions. You’ll want to ensure that the sofa you’ve got your heart set on will last as long as possible. 

Most modern sofas are filled with either foam, fibre or a mix of both. Feather is also used but does tend to be on the pricey end of the sofa-buying scale (think Fairy liquid – expensive outlay but will last and last because the cushions can be plumped into shape over and over). 


A fibre-filled cushion is great for comfort. Made from man-made hollow polyester strands pumped full of air it is often used to create that ‘plumped-up’ look. Top for comfort but does require a bit of TLC with regular plumping and turning of the cushions to maintain the shape. 


Probably the most common filling as it provides great support and shape so it’s perfect for those modern designs. Foam filled cushions will require less plumping and should spring back into shape as you stand up but will lose volume over time. Expect foam filled cushions to feel quite hard initially as they will lose up to 15% of the structure during the first 6 months of use until the foam settles and it’ll become a bit softer. Still a good idea to turn the cushions occasionally for even wear. 

Many sofas are now designed with a mix of fibre and foam to get the best results for maintenance. 

With the introduction of man-made fibres being used for luxury fabrics such as velvet and faux-leather, modern sofas are much easier to keep clean and looking in top condition. Read our blog on ‘Why Velvet Is On Trend And Here To Stay’ or ‘How To Remove Ink From A Leather Sofa’ to see why you can afford to splash out on the sofa of your dreams from Furniturebox.  

Infographic of a room planner

Need some more inspiration? Try our free room planner to help choose the perfect sofa for your dream living room.