Buying a sofa is a rite of passage that does not necessarily get easier but these tips will guide you.
A leather sofa is not just a sofa. It is a decision. And buying a sofa is rather like buying a car- except one probably knows less about buying the former than the latter. That makes the great hunt (and it should be!) even more daunting.
Quality comes from the choice of materials, skills, craftsmanship and technology. After all, the ubiquitous sofa is a necessary investment that is also a surrogate persona for the home owner and leather always, always makes a statement. Leather as a natural material has long held a fascination for humans. When it comes to the watchwords durability, comfort and ease of cleaning in sofa buying, leather also still remains uncontested. Leather possesses great tensile strength; it is virtually impossible to puncture or tear without great force. A seam in leather is 50 percent stronger than a seam in fabric.
Leather allows for the unimpeded flow of air and moisture, improving your seating affair. The choice of leather for your sofa also reduces allergens in your home.
The graining of leather is unique to each individual hide. Besides aesthetics, leather is also unique in its personality- and performance, as leather becomes suppler and moulds to your body without sagging or losing its form over time.
You probably already have an idea of what style you would like or what would fit into your decor, be it Scandinavian, classic contemporary, transitional and the list goes on. Your practical needs would be another important consideration in sofa hunting, as would your budget. For fine sofas, the initial investment in design and construction pays off in dividends over time; budget sofas tend not to hold up very well over time and you might have to repeat this entire process all over again.
Never skimp on the sofa’s frame construction; make sure it is made of solid hardwood such as oak, maple, walnut or poplar that has been kiln-dried. This is top-of-the-line sofa construction material and ensures that the sofa does not bow, warp, crack or pop. Ask if the traditional frame joints have been screwed or doweled and glued and if the sofa corners have blocks to reinforce the strength of the frame. Avoid softwoods and engineered woods such as low-quality plywood and particleboard and staples.
Superior craftsmanship is also evinced in the sofa’s suspension, which is like the engine of the car. Paying top dollar gets you the gold standard, the eight-way hand-tied spring system. The longevity of the tightly-spaced sinuous spring or S-system is comparable to that of the labour-intensive eight-way hand-tied spring system and is less likely to sag over time. These sinuous springs weave in an ‘S’ pattern and reinforce the frame as well as help to distribute weight and support evenly. Highly-tensioned webbing systems also provide a lot of support and will not sag.
The choice of filling is very subjective. Popular materials include feathers, foam, down and Dacron and various combinations of these materials are common. Down is premium and commands a premium price tag. A down and feathers blend is a great option. Check and avoid lower quality foam as it is not as resilient and will not provide good support.
Getting Your Seat’s Worth
If possible, try to shop around for a sofa with another person to get their opinion as well. Do not just sink down on the sofa for a quick seat- settle in, lean back and stretch out for a while like you would to get a proper gauge of how the sofa would handle for you. In fact, try out a variety of positions and really experience (and judge) the sofa’s depth, firmness of seat, height of headrest and angle of backrest. The sofa should not squeak or creak.
Get your companion to lift one corner of the sofa and hold down the corner diagonally opposite it; if the sofa bows or twists, move on. If you can torque the sofa, especially the back and arms, move on.
L-shaped sofas are incredibly popular because of their looks and versatility in seating options. Sofa design and engineering have produced luxurious, ergonomic sofas with excellent lumbar support that recline and are adjustable for you to customise your ultimate comfort.
It may seem obvious, but pick a colour that you will not get sick of. Likewise, pick a leather that is soft, supple and not too shiny; leather that is more matte is more understated and looks more elegant. Make sure the leather is dyed all the way through (a sign of good leather) so if it gets scratched, there will not be an unsightly white mark showing through. Check that the stitching is even and tight on the sofa and remember to look at the leather in both natural and artificial light.
Italian leather has traditionally been held up to be the best due to their strictly regulated tanning process and leather artisans. Even the Italian cows are treated well: they are grass-fed and have fewer stretch marks. Choosing the right type of long-lasting leather for your sofa is key. Always choose either full or top-grain leather; these are from the tightest and strongest part of the hide.
Different leather finishes accommodate different lifestyle concerns, according to Picket&Rail’s Marketing Manager, Elson Tan. If you have a family with young children and pets, opt for thicker leather upholstery that has had the application of a fine protective top coat to render it easy to clean and maintain. Top coats such as this will also reduce wear, staining and improve water resistance and light fastness.
Semi-aniline leathers have been dyed with soluble dyes and are exceptionally soft, supple and luxurious to touch, with the natural character of the leathers shining through.
The cardinal rule of sofa shopping is to get one with a good warranty covering the structure, suspension system, mechanisms and upholstery. A ten-year warranty is only reasonable for the sofa that you are buying. After all, manufacturers and retailers should be proud to stand behind the quality of their products. A good leather sofa is crafted in ways that make the owners live and feel better. And then you can use your beautiful and comfortable leather sofa the way you are supposed to: without any worries at all.