With an average lifespan between 10-15 years your sofa can be one of the most important purchases that you make within your home so making the right choice is crucial
It seems rather obvious to say that comfortable furniture helps make a beautiful home; but it does, without question. Much of what you first see when you walk into a well-conceived room is about colour and style, but it is only when you sit in an utterly comfortable chair or sofa that you have the answer to how truly clever homemaking is achieved.
Invest in the best
Buy the best furniture that you can possibly afford and do plenty of research before making that final decision. There are no short cuts as far as furniture making is concerned. A good looking, comfortable sofa involves a layering of quality materials and a high degree of skill and craftsmanship, all of which comes with a sizeable price tag. Being in the interiors business gives me a wonderful overview of the companies that produce such fine furniture and I am pleased to say there are many English manufacturers that team traditional skills with the wealth of beautiful fabrics now gleaned from around the world. Aside from Amanda Hanley by Design’s own bespoke collection, I do have some favourites.
Take a seat
You do need to sit in furniture to get the feel of it and to be convinced that it is genuinely comfortable and right for your life, so try before you buy whenever possible. Pick good classic shapes that will stand the test of time and be resilient to your changing tastes.
The same applies to the dining chair. With more casual entertaining now being favoured, family and friends can be seated round a table for some hours. Dining chairs need to be supportive so that your guests go home remembering their wonderful evening and not your uncomfortable chairs!
Choose a chair
The most comfortable dining chair needs to offer good back support and be at a height suited to pulling in close to the table. Look for a good, solid construction so that it can take anyone’s weight. Arm-rests add to the comfort factor but this style of chair does need more room to look good and can limit your options of table choice. I love a beautifully upholstered chair with a well sprung seat, and finishing touches such as piping, buttoning or studs.
As for other furniture, do consider an upholstered stool or ottoman. They are forever useful in providing extra seating if you have a crowd, or topped with an elegant tray make an ideal place for books, drinks and seasonal flowers. Choose a well- proportioned piece with smartly turned legs.
It is sometimes difficult to envisage how a piece of furniture will look in-situ and a handy tip to assess the size by mapping out measurements of your shortlist on the floor using pages of a newspaper. Larger is better if it is to be of more use to you, and you will get a much clearer idea of the proportions that will suit the room and confirm your successful purchase.
Ask the expert…
Q. I am terrified that I will buy a sofa and realise I have made a huge error. Advice?
A. With an average lifespan between 10-15 years your sofa can be one of the most important purchases that you make within your home so making sure that you make the right choice is crucial.
This can be a very expensive mistake that can be avoided in most cases with a little knowledge.
Make sure that you ask how the furniture is constructed.
Quality sofas are coil sprung, so the seat retains its shape, and the frame is made of hardwood to provide strength.
It is generally better for internal materials to be as natural as possible.
As a rule of thumb a high quality foam with a feather wrap will give both comfort and resilience to seat cushions as it gives them the ability to bounce back into shape.
Feather down is best for the back cushions, which I prefer to be finished with a centre piping, for a softer, less formal look.
Most importantly, the back cushions should be high enough to support the head for ultimate relaxation.
Hopefully these starting points will help you to hone your choice and most of these considerations apply to occasional chairs too.
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