Design experts provide their tips for choosing the right centerpiece for your social space.
The general golden ratio for a sofa is 40” deep, 36” high and with a seat 19” off the ground. Regarding length, anyone expecting sofa surfers or who is used to being kicked out of bed for the night needs to buy one with a minimum length of 90” to guarantee a good night’s rest.
However, the sofa’s measurements need to be proportional to the size of the room. Visualize how it will look by cutting a paper template to size and laying it out on the floor so that you can see how it will look once installed. When doing this, don’t forget about perspective. With low ceilings of 8’, a squat sofa is preferable since it will make the ceiling appear higher than it is, and with a high ceiling the opposite is true.
A final point to consider is that installation complications (Pivot! Pivot!) are easily forgotten until it’s too late. So for those living in an apartment, the sofa should be no longer than the ceiling height of the building’s elevator and anyone wanting to carry the item upstairs should take a tape measure to angled staircases.
Pattern, Color and Finishing
The sofa needs to blend nicely with the room and an upholstery color matching walls and curtains creates a relaxing environment. The fabric pattern should have the same effect with no loud colors or garish patterns -interchangeable throws and pillows can do this job themselves. Finally, the skirt will always get dirty so choose one with a dark fabric that hides the inevitable scuffs from friends, babies and pets.
Design and Comfort
A good sofa should be able to withstand multiple moves and last a lifetime and so it obviously needs to be sturdy and well built. A good test for this is that if you lift one of the front legs 6” off the groundthe other leg will lift as well, signifying a strong frame.
Regarding design, two points spring to mind. Firstly, most people have more than 2 people in the room when socialising and 2 cushions mean that 3 people can’t sit together at any one time. To counter this problem, choose a sofa with 3 cushions if it is longer than 7’ or one with a single cushion if smaller. Secondly, stop sectional sofas feeling too imposing by choosing one with a back height of around 32” and go for an option with a tight back rather than loose cushions for the same reason.
It is always best to sit down on the sofa to test whether it is comfortable enough for you. This is not possible if you’re trying to save money by shopping online and in this case a good rule of thumb is a combined seat height and depth of 40” up to 44” depending on the length of your legs.
Think you know better? Then why not leave your decorating tips in the comments below.
About the Author
Stuart is a full time dad and runs a decorating company in Kent, England.