Sofa Shopping
29 September 2017

Sofa shopping secrets from the industry experts


Sofa shopping – it can be exciting, daunting and downright confusing. With so many styles, colours, textures and sizes, how do you find the perfect one? Northern Woman’s Róisín Carabine is here to relieve you from sofa shopping stress and speaks to the experts about how to find your ideal sofa. Here are the top tips from the industry experts!

1. “Know your limits in relation to the size of the room and consider other items of furniture already in the room. Consider too the purpose of the space and how you want it to feel and how you will use your sofa to achieve this.” – Janine Crooks, upholstery sales executive, CFC Interiors.

Contemporary living room sofa
Large two-seater sofa in herringbone natural from £1,575, two-seater in Como taupe leather from £2,065, chair in speckle dust from £815 from Evolution Collection by Parker Knoll, from CFC Interiors, Cookstown, Derry and Newtownabbey

2. Cut a template from newspaper in the size of the sofa you’re considering and place it on the floor. Set cardboard boxes on top to give you an idea of the height of the sofa and how it will look in your room before you buy.

Contemporary living room blue sofa interior
Charlotte Grand Sofa in Isla Kingfisher from £1,880; Brompton Brass Reading light £355; Keswick Coffee Table £455, Neptune, Belfast

3. “Test various sofas out in the showroom in a way you would at home. Take your shoes off and lean back and relax. Better yet, bring the whole family to ensure there’s enough room for everyone. Consider height and depth of the seats too.” Eamonn Harrington, sofa buyer, Harvey Norman.

Contemporary leather sofa interior
Elba 4-seater sofa from Harvey Norman, £1,899

4. “How long a sofa will last depend largely on the frame. The best frame is made out of kiln-dried hardwood, which all our sofas are made from. The joints are glued, dowelled and screwed to provide a stable and robust foundation.” Trevor Wilson, Interior designer, Beaufort Interiors.

Sofa interior
Nyon sofa, 201cm W x102cm D x 90cm H, from Beaufort Interiors, Moira, from £2,790

5. Cushion filling is an important consideration. “Fibre provides a soft and forgiving sit and an inviting, comfortable look – however these cushions need to be plumped and turned to prevent collapse over time. As a compromise, at DFS we tend to use fibre mainly for the seat cushions. Alternatively, you can opt for foam innards in varying densities, which provide a high level of support and comfort that’s low maintenance due to the durability of the foam. If you want a really sumptuously soft, luxurious seat consider China duck feathers. These cushions though are high maintenance and require daily plumping to avoid flattening.” Natalie Ferguson, manager designate, DFS.

Contemporary orange sofa interior
Ashby 3-seater velvet button-back sofa (available in 26 colours and cover options) from DFS, Belfast, £1,598

6. A simple lift test will help you determine the quality of your sofa. “High quality sofas are heavy and normally require two people to lift them. Lift the sofa by the side frame and back frame to check for wobbles or twists.” Trevor Wilson, interior designer, Beaufort Interiors.

Contemporary sofa interior
Chavannes sofa with shallow buttons and studs from Beaufort Interiors, Moira, from £3,470

7. A leather sofa offers a practical, durable and stylish seating option. The highest quality leather is Italian full grain, it’s also the most expensive and hardest to maintain though can last 30 years-plus if cared for properly and develops a beautiful patina with age.

Contemporary sofa living room interior
Leather sofa from Uno Modern Living, Belfast

8. “Fabric sofas with changeable covers are fantastic value for money allowing you to easily change the colour and style to suit the seasons – and with some covers you can just pop them in the wash if you accidentally spill anything on them.” Eamonn Lynott, department manager, Ikea.

three seater sofa interior
Vilme 3-seater corner sofa in golden yellow with removable and machine-washable covers from Ikea, Belfast, £745. Changeable covers in different colours are available from £235

9. In high-ceilinged rooms prevent your sofa from being swamped by the space by opting for a statement piece with a high back in a bold colour or fabric pattern. In a standard 8ft tall room, a low sofa will give the impression that the ceiling is actually higher than it is.

Contemporary sofa with cushions interior
J by Jasper Conran collection from Debenhams: Ellsworth sofa from £1140; pendant £120; cushions £32-36; Floor lamp £180; vase £28; candle holder £20

10. Shopping for a sofa online can seem daunting. “If you’re struggling with your sofa dimensions, our Sofasizer tool at can help you pick the correct size sofa for your room. The tool allows you to filter your search results according to the size of space you have.” Ruth Wassermann, design director,

two seater blue sofa interior
Branagh 2-seater Chesterfield sofa in velvet electric blue PR08 from, £899

11. “Don’t forget about the sofa legs. You don’t often change your entire suite of furniture, so check if the sofa or armchair has an option of changeable legs that might work better with other furnishings already in place in your living room.” Eamonn Lynott, department manager, Ikea.

Grey u-shaped sofa living room interior
Norsborg 8-seater U-shaped sofa in Finnsta dark grey, available in a choice of shapes, sizes, styles and leg options from Ikea, £1,425

12. “In a small space the obvious choice is a small apartment-size sofa and chairs, however too many small items of furniture can make a room look cluttered. Consider just one seating option, like a sectional or corner sofa with low arms, to give the illusion of space. Eamonn Harrington, sofa buyer, Harvey Norman.

Corner sofa living room interior
Faye corner sofa available in selection of grades and shades of fabric from Harvey Norman, from £1,799

13. “Don’t be afraid to be different with patterned fabric. To ensure your sofa’s longevity it’s best to go plain and serviceable on the body of the sofa. You can then go as mad as you want with colourful and patterned scatters and accessories. Scatters are perfect for changing the look and feel of a space instantly and cheaply.” Janine Crooks, upholstery sales executive, CFC Interiors.

Brown sofa living room interior
Bailey 3-seater sofa from CFC Interiors, Cookstown, Derry and Newtownabbey, starting at £1435 for standard leather

14. “Modular sectional sofas offer a versatile solution to living room seating, fitting snugly into a corner or making a statement in the middle of the room. Their myriad configurations make them a practical family-friendly alternative to the traditional suite. They can be right arm facing, left arm facing, L-shaped, rounded, three-sided, armless; the options are endless. The right modular sofa shouldn’t overwhelm the room or impede traffic flow.” Eamonn Harrington, sofa buyer, Harvey Norman.

Corner sofa interior
Italian-made Foxtrot corner sofa available in a selection of fabrics and grades of leather from Harvey Norman, £5,799

15. Which sofa shape is right for you? An everyday sofa that will be used for relaxing can be deep and cushy for maximum comfort. “Our own brand Lincoln sofa is perfect with its deep seat cushions, chunky frame and chunky square arms. It comes in hundreds of fabric options, including velvets, patterns and plains, and various seating options; two and three-seater, chair, love seat, chaise and corner unit, which can be right arm or left arm facing.” Kirsty Bell, Paul Hampton Home

Blue corner sofa living room interior
Lincoln sofa from Paul Hampton Home, Belfast & Hillsborough, from £1,250


16. “If you are finding it difficult to get your perfect sofa to fit, our ROM sofas could be the solution. They can be custom-designed in any fabric or leather and come in a range of shapes and sizes, available in 20cm increments. There’s also a choice of various arm options, recliners, electric headrests, chargeable ports, heated seats and extending seats. There really are no limits as to what you can do.” Cathy Smyth, Keens Furniture.

Blue corner sofa interior
Trinidad sofa in Camino Ocean fabric by Rom from Keens Furniture, Belfast, from £2,495

17. A sofa with shallow seating and a tight back is ideal for a formal or traditional living room. Our own brand Francesca sofa is the perfect classic sofa for grand spaces or ‘the good room’ with its beautiful roll arms, caster feet and bolster cushions. Its long bench seat offers a more comfortable sit and a touch of modernity. It is available in a range of fabric options and can be customised with piping, ruching and tassels.” Kirsty Bell, Paul Hampton Home.

Sofa living room interior
Francesca sofa from Paul Hampton Home, Belfast & Hillsborough, from £1,550

18. “Choosing a sofa can take time and multiple showroom visits before you come to a decision. Get to know your sales advisor, build a relationship and ensure they know exactly what you want and don’t want as both are as important. Don’t be afraid to ask and ask again. Show pictures and get as much advice as possible.” Janine Crooks, upholstery sales executive, CFC Interiors, Cookstown, Derry, Newtownabbey.

Two seater sofa living room interior
Sloane two-seater sofa in Camberley coordinate silver by Parker Knoll from CFC Interiors, Cookstown, Derry & Newtownabbey, from £1,809

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