What comes to your mind when you hear “sofa”? A lush, comfy, inviting piece of furniture that adds style, warmth and an inviting look to a living room? Or it is something that lets you sit, sleep and relax all in one go? Sofas and couches are versatile pieces of furniture. They are often the first thing you see when you enter a house. For the average homeowner, they are what creates that first impression about your home’s persona in your guests mind. To the minimalists, they might be the seating, relaxing and sleeping arrangement all rolled into one. But everyone agrees that they are a must have and that they are an investment that requires much thought.
Before we begin discussing how to buy a sofa and the likes, let’s first understand what the structure of a sofa is like. Trust us when we say this, a lot goes into making a good, durable sofa and what you see is just a tip of the iceberg. Here’s a near medical dissection of an average sofa.
How The Average Indian Homeowner Shops For Sofas
“Does it look good? Oh yeah, it does. And it’s on sale too! Let’s buy it!”
Sounds familiar? While most homeowners shop for sofas the way they would shop clothes or anything else for the home, what they are overlooking is the fact that if you pick a sofa mindlessly, you’ll not only end up disappointed, you’ll also end up losing money. Here are some of the chief mistakes you make while buying a sofa for your home.
1. Not paying attention to the material that goes into making the sofa
You must always enquire about the materials that went into making a sofa. How else can you know how long your sofa will last or how to care for it to make it last long? The quality and life of any furniture product depends on the materials that were used in manufacturing it. Read about the types of wood, upholstery and fabric that goes into making a sofa to help you understand how long they’ll last and how to maintain them. Overlooking this detail is the biggest and most grave mistake homeowners make.
2. Not picking the right structure of sofa
L-shaped, 3/5/7 seaters, sofa beds, futons – the furniture market is flooded with different types of sofas in all possible colors and shapes. Always ask yourself what you expect out of your sofa – a mere seating arrangement for the occasional guest? An extra bed? A rearrangeable seating option that can be moved within the house? Asking yourself these questions will help you pick the right type of sofa. There is a whole range of sofas that can be switched to function as a bed. And then there are futons which are seats by the day and beds by the night. Our point is, always be clear about the function you expect out of the sofa. Never buy furniture for the looks alone.
3. How long do you want to use the product?
Unless you plan to leave the sofa behind for your kids, and their kids and their grandkids, you need to decide the exact span of time you plan to use a sofa for. This would determine which type of wood or upholstery you should pick. Eg. as a general rule, for anything longer than 5 years, stronger, denser woods are the best pick. For anything between 2-3 years, a medium density wood should be ok. And for anything less than a year, you might as well consider renting.
If you are planning to buy a sofa for your home and you haven’t asked yourself the above questions yet, now would be a good time to give it some thought. And once you do, the remainder of this article will guide on how different materials, structures and parameters should be selected based on your requirement.
Identify Your Requirements & Get Started
To recap, before you set out to shop for sofas, here’s the list of answers you need to arm yourself with.
- Measurements of the space where you plan to place the sofa
- Nature of use expected from the sofa
- How long you plan to use the sofa for
- Decor/ color theme
Have the above answers figured out? Let’s get started! Since we cannot give you a concise guide for the endless color and decor themes, we’ll tackle the material and longevity part first.
Sofa frame – The foundation of it all
When it comes to sofa frames, the two most commonly used materials are – Wood and metal.
Here’s a more detailed look at each.
Metal: Wrought iron, steel and sometimes even aluminium are the most common metals used for making furniture parts. Metal frames give a light but reasonably sturdy frame for mounting the filling and foam. Sofas with metal frames are often lighter than their wooden counterparts. Metal sofas also provide the benefit of being free of pest infestation ( at least, no pest has so far eaten through metal) while also being durable and less pricey. However, they score a little less than wooden sofas in the looks department and overall popularity.
Wood: We have an explosion of wood types in today’s market! Teak, oak, rosewood, neem, acacia, silverwood and of course the cheaper options like plywood, spruce and pine. While teak and oak may be the most dense and durable ones, they are also super pricey. In a medium budget, neem and silverwood are decent options. They last roughly for a decade or so and more if maintained well and kept free of pests.
The market also has sofas where a combination of metal and wood is used to make the frame. They offer the durability of wooden ones and are less expensive than a completely wooden frame. If you’re looking for a sofa that many generations of your family want to use, shell out the big bucks and get something in oak, teak or similar dense hardwoods. They are difficult to crack and will be an asset.
Upholstery – The look & feel determinant
Upholstery is the outermost or the external cover that covers the frame and filling beneath. It decides the look and feel of the sofa. Good upholstery is appealing to the eye, doesn’t tear or fray easily and doesn’t accumulate too much dust and debris. Upholstery can be further classified into natural and synthetic materials. Here are some common types of natural and synthetic materials used for upholstering sofas.
- Leather: Expensive, long lasting and oozes luxury. It may not be something everyone can afford but well treated leather lasts for years! Leather has further subtypes based on treatment, grain and grade.
- Jute: A more affordable natural fabric that gives a very rustic look to furniture. Jute is a breathable, easy to maintain and is excellent when paired with wooden furniture.
- Silk: Yet another elegant, soft and super classy fabric. Silk is not as widely used as the other fabrics. They are expensive, difficult to care for and stain super easily.
- Velvet: Velvet is very popular owing to it’s affordable pricing and super soft, luxurious sheen. It may be a little hard to keep velvet clean but it still beats other fabrics in the price and looks department.
- Faux leather: The cheaper, man made alternative for folks who cannot afford natural leather. Fake leather is typically a type of PVC material treated to give the look and feel of leather, but with less durability and a not-so-kind footprint on the environment.
- Microfibre: A knit blend, polyester fabric that is very easy to clean and is slightly softer than suede. This material has very densely woven fibres and that makes it durable and even moisture resistant some extent. Microfibre is every economic and is one of the most popular synthetic materials used for upholstery.
- Polyester: A very high performance synthetic fibre that is cheap, easy to maintain and strong enough to last long. Polyester is even resistant to fading and wrinkling, making it very popular.
Clearly, the synthetic fabrics last longer and have more resistance than their natural counterparts. But it would be wrong if we don’t mention that they are not very kind to the environment. If you are conscious about leaving no footprint on the environment, natural fabrics are the best bet.
Fill it right
Between the frame and upholstery, rests the filling that provides the much needed sponginess which when absent would make for very uncomfortable seating. The filling decides the comfort of the sofa and also decides how the shape will hold up over the years.
Indian furniture market has the following three types of fillers
- Molded foam: easiest, inexpensive and most widely used type of filler in most sofas. They can be cut and fit into endless shapes and don’t damage easily.
- Sponge: A more affordable option than foam. Sponges have the disadvantage that they sag easily with constant use.
- Spring foam: This one has been popular for a very long time. Spring and molded foam make a good combination that gives a bouncy feel to the sofa.
- Feather: Feather filling is only for the most luxurious products ever. They are expensive, difficult to maintain but last a lot longer. Typically, feathers from ducks are used as filling.
- Fibre: Yet another inexpensive filler which can be packed as densely or as lightly as required based on level of firmness desired.
To summarize, here’s what we’ve discussed so far.
- For sofas that you plan to leave for your future generations, use a combination hardwood, molded foam and leather or tough synthetic fabrics. The filling need changing every few years or so, though.
- For sofas that you will use for a span of 5-10 years, use a combination of softer woods like neem, silverwood, rubberwood with molded foam as filler. And for upholstery, pick fake leather or jute/velvet.
- For shorter duration, less than 5 years or so, we would recommend renting or buying used products. If you still want to purchase a sofa, go with softwoods or manufactured woods and inexpensive fillers and upholstery fabrics.
Need Something Made Specially For You? Guarented Crafts Customized Furniture!
As a company that excels in the field of furniture and appliances, we realized that there is enormous potential in furniture manufacturing space. While big brands stick to furniture that is mass produced, the end customer’s needs often get sidelined. We find that disappointing.
Everyone deserves to get a product that is tailor made for their needs. To get that done, we put together a team of skilled carpenters, craftsmen and designers from across the country and tried out some complex furniture designs ourselves. Today, we are finally glad to announce that we are equipped to create custom furniture for our customers.
So if you are on the lookout for something specifically designed for your home but won’t burn a hole in your pocket, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We promise to get a sofa beautifully crafted just for you!
Hoping that this article shed some much needed light on how to buy furniture, here’s wishing you a very happy sofa shopping experience.