Sofa Bed Buying Guide

Buying new sofas and chairs is a major investment. We want you to be delighted with your choice of sofa or chair, so take some time to think about the best options for you, your family and your home before you buy. We recommend that you email product links to friends and family for comments. We're also quite used to people wanting to compare a few different swatches to see what will work. Give us a call and we'll send them out, for free!

Size of sofa

Any choice you make when buying your sofa or chairs will obviously depend on the size of your room and how many people you want to seat at any one time. But we do want you to make sure that your new sofa will fit before you order, so please take a little time to measure up before you make your final choice.

You need to try and envisage proportion too - many of our ranges have 2 or 3 sizes of sofa to choose from. A rough rule of thumb is that a large sofa (see sizes below) will seat 3 average size adults comfortably. Small sofas will accommodate 2, and we also have compact or "snuggler" sofas which provide an oversized chair for one or a cosy sofa for a couple.

Work out whether you're best off with 2 small sofas or one large sofa plus a couple of chairs - they may offer more flexibility as they're repositioned more easily. It's worth remembering that the arms of a sofa can make a big difference to the amount of seating capacity as well as ease of access to a room. If your room is small, narrower sofa arms give the illusion of a more compact piece. Whatever the size, avoid perching on the arms of the sofa as this can distort the sofa frame over time.

Sofa beds

Of course the ultimate flexibility comes from a sofa bed! Not just for living rooms, sofa beds are worth considering for studies or spare bedrooms where you want more than a single bed but don't want to commit the space permanently. Our sofa beds are built to last, with simple and sturdy pull-out mechanisms and good mattresses - comfortable for both sitting and sleeping. Bear in mind that sofa beds have a firmer seat because of the mattress mechanism beneath.

The chaise longue or day bed has enjoyed a revival and is a gorgeously self-indulgent option! Some modular systems and sofa beds come with a chaise section which adds interest to the shape, and is ideal for anyone who enjoys stretching out on a sofa.

Leather or fabric?

Leather has become enormously popular for furniture. Once considered a luxury, new techniques to reduce manufacturing costs have made leather furniture much more affordable. Plain styles give a more contemporary feel, but we have more traditional choices such as studded arms and button backs.

You can choose from a wide range of finishes, from distressed and antiqued to exceptionally smooth and soft, where the semi-aniline dyeing process removes most of the flaws. Corrected grain leather will have had most flaws covered up, but because leather is a natural product, markings will differ from piece to piece and dyes may not take identically throughout the hide.

Unless you go for a very smooth, highly treated finish, your leather upholstery will age with use. For many people this adds to the character. Leather stands up to wear and tear very well and is surprisingly easy to look after - just remove dust with a slightly damp cloth. Keep it at least 30cm away from direct heat sources to prevent it drying out, and remember that just like fabric it's not immune to the fading effects of sunlight.

Fabric presents you with a bigger range of colour options. It usually comes in a fibre mix for strength and texture, and all our ranges are throughly tested for durability. We also sell microfibre upholstery that can be simply wiped down with a damp cloth to clean, and is ideal for households with children or pets. Use soapy water or even baby wipes on stains!

Sofas with washable or dry cleanable loose covers are also available, otherwise we recommend the use of a specialist company to clean your furniture at home. Use an upholstery brush or crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and dust, and always attend to spills immediately. Be sparing with the use of spot chemicals as they can cause a ring or fading - try plain water first.

Think carefully about strong colours in a very sunny room, in case of fading; rotating the cushions will help to slow the process.

Fillings for sofas

It may not be uppermost in your mind, but the filling in your chosen sofa does give a different feel and needs different maintenance.

Foam upholstery will feel firm and supportive, and lends a more tailored appearance to a sofa. It will recover well and all you'll need to do is turn the cushions occasionally to allow even wear. Over the years, the foam will compact and lose volume a little, though this process is much slower with high resilience foam.

Fibre, or foam with a fibre wrap, will give a softer look and feel to sofas and chairs. Just plump and turn cushions occasionally to maintain comfort and wear.

Feather-filled upholstery will have a more relaxed, casual look and a "squishier" feel - ideal if you like to curl up on the sofa. You'll need to plump up feather-filled cushions daily.