Choosing the perfect sofa for your home can be a bit of a headache. We demand a lot from our sofas: from lounging to napping to the resting spot for the lazy dog or cat (or chicken?). They become a tumbling apparatus for toddlers, a bed for the sick, and a place to entertain guests. Yes, the sofa gets a workout day in and day out; plus, it’s almost always the most significant piece of furniture in the room. So, it’s important to choose your sofa with a lot of care.
Today, I’m sharing my favorite tips for finding the perfect sofa that will fit in beautifully with your farmhouse and your lifestyle!
Most Sofas Have a Distinct Style
When I was just out of college, my roommates and I bought two big Papasan couches and called it good. When I lived on my own for a while, I found a sleeper sofa on Craigslist and brought it home. It was comfortable enough and looked good, but overall it was cheap, plain, and didn’t offer much to the room’s aesthetics. I didn’t know that sofa style mattered. Now I do.
You want to consider specific “names” when finding the perfect sofa for a room. Here’s a rundown of some of the classic sofa styles:
- English roll arm
- Mid-Century modern
Check out design magazines or websites that offer more details about the above distinctive sofa styles, and keep in mind the ones you like.
The Frame Matters Most
First and foremost, I implore you to avoid a frame made from MDF (medium-density fiberboard). You will be lucky if you get two years out of a sofa made from this cheap material. MDF is glued wood fibers rather than actual pieces of wood, and it simply cannot hold screws and staples as dense timber does. Instead, make sure your sofa is built with furniture-grade plywood (grade A). Typically, the denser the wood used to construct the sofa, the more expensive it will be. Hardwoods like alder, maple, teak, and walnut are best. Although pine is better than MDF, it’s softer and might not hold up as long as something made with a harder wood.
Stronger, more expensive frames are made with traditional and often time-consuming methods known as mortise-and-tenon joinery, which involves connecting pieces of wood with routed tenons that fit into holes called mortises. I know, I know, maybe this is a little more than you need or even want to know! But, if you’re looking for a sofa that will last, these are good things to be aware of before you make the final purchase!
Fabric Matters Too
Some designers swear by using outdoor grade fabric from companies like Sunbrella – it’s very washable and very forgiving! And although a nice cream-colored sofa looks quite lovely at first, remember that it will likely become dingey over time, especially if you have children and pets (we had a beautiful cream sofa custom made that eventually couldn’t help but turn a dusky beige). My current favorite is leather. Yes, leather. It holds up very well, doesn’t look bad as it ages (in fact, it looks better), and offers a cool resting spot in the summer months, and I cover it with lambswool pads and quilts in the winter.
The various styles mentioned above can come in an array of prices. Since you’re investing in a huge piece of furniture that you want to be comfortable with and last for many years, it’s important to realize that it will likely cost anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 or more. That said, you might luck out and find the perfect sofa at an estate sale or Craigslist. And since we’re talking farmhouse living here, a vintage sofa found secondhand can be perfect in your farmhouse living room. So while searching the shops, keep an eye out for a well-made secondhand sofa too! You never know – you may luck out.
Try Before You Buy
Now I know you might be tempted to buy that pretty sofa on Wayfair. It’s the style and fabric you were dreaming of for your living room, and the price is right! Wait! STOP! I highly suggest not purchasing a sofa before your try it out. I know it’s tempting and easier to purchase directly from the Internet, but trying out various styles in person makes a world of difference. Bring the whole family. Get feedback from everyone since everyone will be using the sofa. Does it accommodate dad’s long legs? Is it wide enough for at least 3-4 people to sit on comfortably? Most designers recommend a 7-9 foot sofa. It doesn’t need to fit everyone on it at once, that’s what secondary and tertiary seating is for (which we’ve discussed in a previous post), but at least a few of you should be able to snuggle up comfortably.
If you have any great tips for purchasing a sofa not mentioned above, please share in the comments below!