Buying Your First Sofa

Maxwell Sofa

Whether you’re upgrading your furnishings from mom and dad’s hand-me-downs, moving into your first apartment, or decorating a new home, buying your first sofa is a purchase you’ll always remember. The largest item in the room, a sofa commands attention. It’s also the piece that will serve as a landing spot for you and your friends. Sofas are important and you’ll want to take the time to choose yours wisely.

We’ve Got the Look sat down with Art Van Furniture Upholstery Buyer Sharon Gjertsen to get her advice on purchasing your first sofa:

1. What is the first step you should take when purchasing your first sofa?

Sharon: I’ll tell you what I tell my friends and family: the first thing to do is to sit down and think about what you want to get out of it. Sometimes people don’t want to invest a lot of money, and buying a sofa that will suit your needs for a couple of years is fine. Others want to start with something good and make an investment that will last. While everybody has a budget, it’s important to start out by getting the most for your money.

2. What are other things to consider when you’re in the showroom?

Sharon: What kind of use it will get. Will your sofa be in a family room with children, dogs and cats? Are you a single person and your sofa is a design statement? How the sofa will be used will dictate your best material choices.

Evan Sofa

3. Speaking of materials, what are the options?

Sharon: Today we have several options, including fabric or leather. Leather is very durable, but not everyone wants that look and feel. Microfiber, also called microsuede, has a little bit of a nap and is very durable. In fact, any kind of a man-made blend, such as olefin and nylon, will hold up very well. For someone who is interested in prints, cotton takes dyes very well and the prints are very crisp, but cotton isn’t as durable a material and wouldn’t be the best choice for a busy family. If you choose cotton, then you’re going for a look; understand that you’ll sacrifice durability for the visual presence.

4. How important is design?

Sharon: I suggest that people buy a sofa in a more neutral fabric and create contrast and interest with throw pillows. You should think about tomorrow, and not just today’s design trends. Right now, the big push is color, but we think colors should be the jewelry of a room, such as pillows, rugs and lamps. If you fall in love with a bright yellow or lime green sofa, understand that you’ll have to work around that color for whatever time frame you hope to keep it. Changing out pillows, however, will be a fraction of the price of replacing the entire sofa.

Kerry Sofa

5. What about comfort?

Sharon: Most people purchase a sofa due to eye appeal. If they like the way it looks, they’ll sit down on it to judge its comfort. Then they’ll check to see if they can afford it. Ironically, few people test a sofa in the way it will be used at home. I encourage people to take off their shoes and curl up on it. It’s rare that you sit at home with both feet on the ground. Test it in the way you’ll use it at home to see if it feels right. And make sure the size is right. In our big showroom, nothing looks as big as it really is. Think about where you’ll place the sofa and you’ll have a better chance at making the right decision the first time.


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