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Sofa shopping – what you need to know

25 Nov 2015

Buying a new sofa is a big and costly decision. Sofas are one of the largest pieces of furniture you will buy for your home, and one of the best used. Everyone’s requirements are different and sofas range from standard sizes to custom designs. So what should you look for when buying a new sofa? The team at Auckland interior design company Designworx share their top tips.

Size matters. Make sure you are looking for the right size for your space. A good guide is to allow at least 1 metre around your entire sofa to be able to move it around comfortably. Modular sofas are larger but actually save space versus the traditional 3 + 2 seater.

Quality matters. And like everything, you get what you pay for. Buying a well-made sofa may be more expensive in the short term but it will last you for a long time. Having a well-made sofa reupholstered in the future will save you buying new every five or so years.

Fillings vary. Poly foam is low cost and an easy care option but can feel hard without any give. High-resilient (HR) foam is more expensive but will last and be much more comfortable. Feather from goose or duck can be comfortable but will clump. Look for a filling that is a mix of poly and feather to create a comfortable and long lasting look.

Fabric – where to begin? Deciding on what fabric finish you want your sofa to have is an equally important decision. Fabrics not only decide the look for the finish of the sofa but also play a practical role.

- Leather will give you a long term finish that is easy to maintain but can look cold and dated.
- Linen is a beautiful finish but is hard to maintain and can be impractical. When choosing a fabric make sure you speak to a professional who can advise you on the best fabric composition for your brief.

It’s also important that you match your fabric design and colour to the rest of your interior design scheme – especially to your paint colour. If you have a neutral colour such as Resene Alabaster or Resene Quarter Thorndon Cream you have more of a range of fabric designs and colours to choose from. If you have been more adventurous with your paint colour, such as Resene Triple Tapa, then you need to make sure your fabric works with your paint colour.

Top tip: Take a drawdown of the room’s paint colour with you when fabric shopping. These are available to order online or from your local Resene ColorShop.

The overall colour in the room should be one that is balanced when viewing everything together rather than every item fighting for attention.  

Dress to impress. Cushions can really add something extra to any sofa. We recommend choosing a sofa fabric in a plain, hardwearing, quality fabric. We love adding cushions in various sizes to our sofas, from the large and overscaled to the smaller 30 x 40s, and mix up colours and patterns to create texture and interest. 

The Designworx blog is filled with interesting tips for interior shopping and design. Read more at