How to Choose the Right Sofa

How to Choose the Right Sofa
This is a collaborative guest post.

When Neil and I moved into our first rented apartment together we bought the first sofa that we stumbled upon in SCS. Looking back now, with a toddler who loves rubbing his pasta stained hands all over it, choosing cream was probably a bad idea!

Today on the blog I’m joined by Roy from Dandelion Interiors who is sharing his best tips on how to choose the right sofa.

As designers, we believe that picking your next sofa is one of the most important decisions you can make, definitely regarding your living space. It takes up so much of the room and is one of the more expensive purchases we make, so we need to give it special attention. There’s a lot to consider too because it’s not just a visual part of the room, it also has a practical component. It needs to be comfortable and durable as a necessity. However, if we’re honest, if we think the sofa is ugly, we’re never going to buy it, regardless of how comfortable it is, or how durable the material is. So, picking a sofa you like is probably your first requirement.

When it comes to looking at different styles, it’s very difficult to write an article that offers any genuine advice, because it really depends on your preferences, room size and budget. With so many unknowns, it’s hard to offer any solid advice. However, when it comes to picking the right colours for your sofa, we can really help. We can point out some general rules, and some pitfalls to avoid. And that’s what we are going to do in this article.

How to choose the right colour of sofa: Where do we start?

Most sofas are on the large side. Even discrete little two-seaters. So it makes sense that they are the focal point of the room. Plus it’s where you’re likely to spend a lot of your time when you’re in the room.

If you’re looking to completely redecorate your living room, our first piece of advice would be to start with the sofa. Because of it’s size and importance to the room, it makes sense to choose it’s style, colour and location from the start, and then you can look at designing the rest of the room around it.

When we make the sofa our focus point, we want to accentuate it. One of the easiest ways to do this is to pick vibrant colours, hopefully with a luxury feeling (and looking) material. If not then a colourful print could work too. We want to accentuate the sofa.

However, if your room is not due a complete overhaul and you’re choosing a sofa to compliment the existing furnishings and style of the room, then you’re more likely going to want your sofa to play a supporting role in the room. Rather than attract attention, you’ll want to be complimentary. This is also is going to be your preference if you just don’t want your sofa to grab attention because you’d rather have a different focal point in the room, an elegant or antique fireplace for example.

In the case where we want our sofa to be a subtle addition to the room, the first decision we make is whether we want the sofa to be a neutral colour or be of an accented colour of our current room palette.

One strategy I know a lot of designers employ is to make the colour of the sofa match the colour of the walls of the room, especially if the wall colours a pretty neutral to start with, because later on, when you decide to change the colour of the walls, if you choose a relatively neutral tone, although the sofa no longer matches, it’s still is likely to fit the colour palette, with some clever accessories.

The result is that the matching sofa blends into the room, giving the room a real sense of space. We often want a room to feel larger. This works well with lighter rooms, but less so in rooms with darker walls. Also, the colouring of the floor is going to play a role too.

Dark or light side?

The next decision on our checklist is to decide on whether you want your sofa to be dark, or you prefer light. If you’re not sure, you need to consider your sofa and how it fits with your flooring. Is it going to sit on some dark wood or a thick light coloured carpet?

When you put a dark sofa on a dark wooden floor, it’s likely to “disappear” into the room. To the eye, it’s going to be difficult to differentiate between the flooring and sofa. One design trick is to pick a sofa would light wooden or wooden legs. It helps to provide the contrast needs. Another trick I see a lot of designers taking advantage of, is a good place light coloured rug, especially animal skin rug, like a sheepskin rug, because it adds another texture. The last tip is to pair the sofa with a light wood coffee table, or perhaps a metal framed table because it helps to give the sofa some contrast from the floor.

Many sofas are upholstered, and fabric tends to absorb light which sucks the light out of the room, making it feel darker. It should be a concern, and if you’re not sure on the effects of a going for a darker sofa, one tip is to check before spending your hard earn money. Simply find some material that’s the same colour as the sofa you’re looking at. If you don’t have any material, it’s worth the extra cost to be sure.

Lighter sofas obviously don’t have these problems, but they do come with their own issues. Primarily it’s the practicalities of life. Having a light coloured sofa around kids and pets are going to be tough. Wear and tear and stains will become very obvious soon. But, if you do use a light colour, it’s really going to help the room feel spacious and light.

How to pick the right colour?

Finally, it’s time to actually pick the colour. You’ve decided between light or dark, and neutral or accented, now it’s time to pick out the colour.

You’ve done most of the hard work. You’ve made your choice between dark and light, about neutral or accented, you’re ready to pick an actual colour. If you’ve decided to make your sofa a focal point a neutral colours works well because it’s easier to incorporate it into future colour schemes. Remember, you’ll want to get full value from your sofa, you’ll want it to last several design cycles.

Don’t be afraid of “boring” colours like beige or grey. Beige can really work with some reflections and depending what else in the room, grey can be dull, or it can be sophisticated, comfortable, cool or crisp. Open up your mind to the possibilities and explore textures too.

Often, you can accessorise the room with splashes of colour to match your sofa, which really helps the sofa to feel part of the room, no what the colour is. This really helps if you’re picking a sofa on a strict budget and you want it to feel part of your existing room without having to resort to a throw.


This is a collaborative guest post.

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