Taking the “ouch” out of buying a couch.

You thought it was Spring season, but it’s actually Furniture Buying Season! New furniture designs debut in spring, so retailers are clearing out old styles to make room.”, says Dan Butler, vice president of retail operations at the National Retail Federation. If you’re in the market, now is a good time to buy! But don’t just buy anything! Buying a couch or upholstered chairs is an investment. Make sure you’re getting good quality and exactly what you want!

couch, sectional

Designed by Mandeville Canyon Designs

The old adage is true, “You get what you pay for.” That’s certainly the case when it comes to furniture.  Since this is a major investment you should know the facts! There are many important things to consider before you purchase your new piece of furniture. The quality of the construction should be one of them.

So how do you know if it’s good quality or not? Start by testing the frame. Lift the item by one of the legs. By the time you’ve raised it 6 inches, the other leg should have followed. If not, then the frame is too weak. Look for frames made of kiln-dried wood, such as maple, poplar or oak as they will be more durable. Be sure the legs are held on by screws or dowels, not glue.

couch, sectional

Designed by Mandeville Canyon Designs

Next up is cushions! There’s much you should know, besides look and comfort, before you buy. Your designer may throw out terms that you’ve never heard of, but that are important to know. Ever heard of the term eight way hand tied? Me neither until I got into the design industry. Simply put, eight way hand tied means quality. It’s a construction method where a series of coils are each tied from front to back, side to side, and diagonally, eight times all by hand! It’s quality is built to last!


Photo source: www.shofers.com

While eight way hand tied cushions will provide proper support, what about the squishy stuff? This may be a matter of preference. Do you like a firm cushion, soft or super soft, (which may result in endless fluffing)? My favorite is somewhere in between…a down wrapped cushion gives you the best of both worlds!

Here’s a good furniture testing tip: Feel the springs through the upholstery. They should be close together and firm. Sofas with no springs, just webbing or mesh, will be flimsy and uncomfortable.

I love a good “cheat sheet”. Here’s one I found on Wayfair. It’s a good explanation of your furniture innards.

couch construction

As seen on wayfair.com

Keep in mind that your cushions may feel a bit stiff when your piece arrives at your home. Don’t fret! They just need to be worn in a bit. In time, they will loosen up and feel great.

I have had lots of clients who think they know what they want in a sofa or chair, but then look like a deer in headlights when I start asking a few questions like, how many cushions do you like? What type of arm do you prefer? Do you want the cushions attached or loose? Surprisingly, there’s lots to think of, isn’t there?

Consider how you use your current sofa. Or perhaps think about what you don’t like about it. For example, if you are the kind of person who likes to throw a pillow at the end of the sofa for that impromptu nap, then I’d suggest a low profile arm style such as an English roll arm or track arm.

English roll arm sofa

English roll arm sofa found at Restoration Hardware

Track arm sofa found at Bassett Furniture

Track arm sofa found at Bassett Furniture

Choosing how many cushions you like can be perplexing too! Two cushions on a large sofa can mean that someone has to sit in the crack, a position everyone in my family often fights about (no one wants it)! My favorite is a bench seat, as it eliminates that problem all together!

bench seat sofa

Bench seat sofa with lots of pillows via Crate & Barrel

bench seat sofa

Bench seat sofa without pillows via West Elm.

Then of course, there’s the age old question…sectional or no sectional? Two sofas or one sofa with two chairs? I find that families who still have kids at home gravitate toward sectionals, as they are great for snuggling, especially if you claim the corner spot, and they can accommodate lots of people. I’ve also learned that sectionals aren’t as appealing for the older set (think or grandma stuck in the corner seat…feet not touching the ground!).

sectional sofa

Sectional sofa vis Apartment Therapy

couch and two chairs

Couch with 2 chairs via bhg.com

two couches

Two couches via Carla Aston

Here we used a nice big comfy sectional in this renovated 1850’s barn. Our vision was that it would be littered with kids at any time of day or night. Our theory proved true! Thank goodness for lots of comfy seating!

1850's barn renovation by Mandeville Canyon Designs.

1850’s barn renovation by Mandeville Canyon Designs.

This was a beach cottage we designed knowing that much of the day would be spent outside enjoying the weather and that this cottage would welcome visitors often. A couch and two chairs offers up some nice seating options for when you entertain or have guests. It’s perfect for conversation, but also versatile enough to use every day for tv watching, reading or napping.

couch, sofa

Desgined by Mandeville Canyon Designs

Always consider who will be using the couch and how it will get used. That will help you determine what style is best for you and your family.  I always choose a high quality, stain resistant upholstery because let’s face it, no matter what your age is, spills happen!

Come back to our blog next week and we will help you pick the best furniture placement for your needs.