Buying the Perfect Sofa

Courtney Jones, co-owner & designer of Kohler Jones furniture in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, says the four Fs in sofa shopping are: form, frame, fabric, and fill.

According to a recent report by A.C. Nielsen, the average American watched 31.5 hours of television per week in 2010. Even those who don’t consider themselves to be couch potatoes log plenty of sofa time. All of that TV time requires a proportional amount of sofa time.
Sofas are also one of the most expensive pieces of furniture in the home, so it makes sense to have some guidelines when buying “the perfect sofa.” Courtney Jones, co-owner & designer of Kohler Jones custom furniture in San Francisco, say the four Fs in sofa design are: form, frame, fabric, and fill.

The general function, how the sofa will be used most often, design preferences, and available floor space help determine the ideal sofa form. An L-shaped sectional allows two adults to comfortably stretch out, while a curved settee is ideal for conversation. Pay attention to details like the height and style of the arm rests, back height and number of cushions, as they all affect the comfort and style of the sofa.

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The “bones” of a sofa, the frame, is the primary determinant in overall quality and durability. Kiln-dried hardwoods such as alder, maple, and oak are much sturdier than soft woods like pine and air-dried woods. Construction is also important. Sofas constructed with screws, dowels, and joints will last much longer than those that are stapled or glued together.

A sofa is one of the largest pieces of furniture in a living room, so the fabric choice greatly influences the overall design and mood of the room. While many choose a neutral fabric for their sofa, and change its look with a variety of pillows, others see it as an opportunity to create a room anchor and choose a bold or unique fabric.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the endless options from leather and micro suede to plush velvets and chenille, not to mention the countless textures and patterns. A professional interior designer can help people choose a fabric that is durable and that they not only love today—but can live with for years to come.

Goose-down-wrapped cushions are luxurious, but they require plumping and some people are allergic to down. Other options include foam core surrounded by Dacron and eco options like soy, latex, organic cotton, and wool batting.

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