Qualities of a good sofa?
August 25, 2006 9:02 AM   Subscribe

What makes for a comfortable, long-lasting sofa, and where can I get hold of one (in the UK)?

About 3 years ago we bought a new sofa at what seemed like a keen price. Alas it now developed the sort of sag that leaves its occupants staring out at their kneecaps. We are considering replacing it with another - preferably leather with, hopefuly,greater longevity. We could opt for another cheap sofa- perhaps from Ikea or DFS, we could seek out a model from a more obscure supplier or we could go for something high-end. The problem is that I don't know what clues to look for in frame construction, filling, covers, manufacturing, etc. I don't even know how long a good quality sofa may be expected to last. Finally I don't know the extent to which paying a price premium might help get a better product.

We do have a (reasonably non-scratchy) cat and I have seen the previous discussion on potential leather carnage.
posted by rongorongo to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I've had good use out of my sofa, which I got from Sofa Workshop. I opted for feather filled cushions which need to be pumped up every few days and the feathers do tend to escape a bit. However, it is very comfortable. Sofa Workshop are certainly more high-end, but they are very flexible, you can have your favourite design made to any size you want and even any fabric you supply.
posted by markdj at 9:42 AM on August 25, 2006

look for cushions which attach to the base (so they don't slide when you sit on them) but are not permenantly attached (using hooks, rather than velcro, is best because those are usually attached at the back corner to accommodate flipping, velcro is usually on the bottom, which doesn't) so that they can be flipped for even wear and removed for vacuuming out the couch.

that is my only advice for sofa-purchasing.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:56 AM on August 25, 2006

This page has some information about what makes a good sofa. This page is more of a detail explanation of how a sofa is made. Neither one, unfortunately, gets into pricing, but these might give you the right jargon to use with the salespeople when you shop.

In the meantime, you could try reinforcing the sofa you have. There are products like this and this out there, although I got good results with heavy cardboard. Also, are the covers on the seat cushions removable? When I got my new couch, I took the covers off and wrapped plastic around the foam inner core to protect against, er, my cats' occasional litterbox lapses. When I put the covers back on I noticed that that had made the cushions much firmer, although a bit noisy.
posted by JanetLand at 10:56 AM on August 25, 2006

If you can, go to a high end furniture manufacturer and dress like you can afford one of their pieces. (I recommend Montauk or Knoll Residential if there's one in your area.) They will try and sell you something and tell you why you should buy, along with "the competion/cheaper sofas are/do..." and you'll know what to look for.

Mostly, you should be concerned with

- frame (what it's made of and how it's assembled)
- fabric
- what's in the cushions (will be a personal preference--foam, feathers, springs, combo, etc.)

The frame can be glued, screwed, hammered, joint-work, or even stapled (avoid). Examine it and make sure everything is solid and looks good (screws are centered, glue isn't dripping down inner leg, joints are solid, etc.).

Lift the sofa (or one end of it)--the heavier the better, usually, as it speaks to quality and no skimping. Again, when you look at Montauk's and Knoll stuff, you'll notice that it is SOLID. (For instance, I have a pair of chairs in this model (Suzanne Lounger), manufactured by Knoll in the early 70s and the seats, backs, and frames are good as the day they were born. They're heavy as the bottoms are steel. A local store in Toronto called Structube makes similar-styled furniture (knock-offs). I lifted one in the store one day and the difference between it and mine was astounding.)

I can't say I agree with crush-onastick about the cushions, though. I think if you get a high enough end couch you won't have that prob. My last sofa, which I had to get rid of because it wouldn't fit thru the door of my new apartment, had a "felt" on the underside of the cushions. They didn't shift at all. This weekend I'm purchasing another sofa that was designed by the same person as I'm moving again next friday. There's no felt on that but the cushions appeared in mint condition and didn't shift when I threw myself on it.

As for your cat... anyway to keep it off the sofa altogether? I have a dog and he's no longer allowed on the sofa. However, he used to get on my ancient sofa so when I ditched that piece, I kept the cushions for him and he now sleeps on those on the floor.

Lastly, if you can, look for something that is unique. Your sofa can bring your living room to a new level. If you can afford to get something custom made for your space, do it. I think it's worth it.

Try and find designers that specialize in custom stuff. Some of my favorites are Gau, Broadbent, Fute, Roche-Bobois (especially Christophe Delcourt and Tapinassi/Manzoni.

In addition, if you're looking for used and like Danish Modern, check with Design.Addict, an eBay seller who ships world wide. He has nothing right now but will probably add within a week. He sells stunning stuff.
posted by dobbs at 2:34 PM on August 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

« Older Don't hate the playa, hate the game   |   Cool case studies of transformative technologies. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.