Sofa Buying Guide

How to Know if You Need to Replace Your Sofa

First, lets talk about the sofa you have now. It may have served you well for many years, but there comes a time when it needs to be retired, and maybe go to a new owner. So how do you know when it’s time to replace your sofa? Here are some things to consider about the sofa you’re sitting on right now:

  • Age -The average lifespan of a sofa is between seven and fifteen years. If yours is older than that, it’s probably time.
  • Fabric -When the fabric of the sofa starts to show signs of wear and tear like fraying or tearing
  • Stains -If your sofa has multiple stains from spills, dogs, or children
  • Fading -When you bought that sofa, the fabric matched the other items in your room, but now the fabric has faded into a different colour
  • Creaking noises -If you sofa creaks or squeaks when you sit down, the structure of the sofa is beginning to break down, and you need to replace it.
  • Springs -If you can feel a spring poking you when you sit down, the sofa needs to go
  • Cheap -If you bought a cheap sofa years ago because that was what you could afford, but now you’re doing better, you might want to donate that old one to charity and get a higher quality replacement
  • How does it sit? Is you sofa still comfortable, or does it sag to the point where there’s very little cushion left?

Where to Start

Shopping for a sofa is a complicated process. You look at photos, visit stores, ask your friends for advice, read sofa buying guides (like this one), and you sit on a lot of sofas! There are so many choices to make that you might just give up and go home without a sofa, but we want you to succeed in your quest, so here are some tips and guidelines to help you in your search.

What Size Sofa Do I Need?

One of the first considerations when looking for a sofa is choosing the right size. Before you go shopping, measure your room to make sure that whatever you choose will fit. Decide how much of your room you want to be filled with the sofa, so it won’t overpower everything else in the room.  With several measurements to consider, like sofa length, sofa depth, and sofa height, shopping for a new sofa online can be challenging. 

Sofa Sizes

Now that you’ve measured your room, you’re ready to select the right sized sofa. Sofas are available in a number of different sizes, and you need to consider the sofa length, depth, and height. Generally speaking, sofas come in a number of sizes based on seating capacity.

  • 2 seater sofa – Simply put, this one has two seats and two back cushions, and it’s great for smaller spaces.
  • 3 seater sofa -This is the most common sized sofa you’ll see in most homes.
  • 4 seater sofa -This is not as popular as the first two, but with four seats, it’s great for big rooms and big families.


The seat back cushions for your new sofa can be permanently attached, or they can be detachable. Detachable back cushions are easy to plump up when needed. In addition, if one of the cushions is stained or damaged, you can simply turn it around.

What Different Sofa Styles are There?

Sofas come in a number of different styles. While there are sofa styles that you might like the look of, you also need to choose one that works with your lifestyle and one that will meet the needs of your family. If you already have a certain style of décor in your home, you can find one that matches. If you don’t already have a certain style in your home, you can start the decorating process with any style sofa that strikes your fancy. Here are some of the style categories you’ll find:

  • Chesterfield-This is one of the most popular sofa styles and features high rolled arms, leather tufted upholstery with nail head detailing and a structured back. They give any living room a classic and glamourous look.
  • Lawson-This sofa has rolled or square arms that are roughly halfway down from the back cushions. They have a very streamlined and tailored look to them.
  • Tuxedo-The tuxedo sofa is a streamlined shape that features arms that are an extension of the backrest, giving the sofa a uniform upper build.
  • English Rolled Arm-This sofa will come with tucked arms, bare legs, and soft curves, and it combines comfort, deep seats, and a classic look.
  • Camelback-The camelback is so named because the back of the sofa is curved like the hump of a camel, and like real camels, these come with a choice of one or two humps. They usually have bare legs, rolled arms, and no loose cushions.
  • Mid Century Modern-This style came into fashion in the 1960’s and is still very popular today. It features clean lines, a rectangular shape, bare tapered legs, and a tufted back.
  • Cabriole- The Cabriole sofa is characterized by an exposed wooden frame (often carved), continuous, equal-height back and arms, distinctive curved legs with concave lower portions and convex upper ones, and no separate back cushions
  • Modular- Modular sofas are a common type of seating found in living rooms and dens. Unlike a conventional sofa, modulars are composed of multiple independent pieces that may be arranged in a number of different positions. This quality helps the modular sofa to be a more versatile seating solution than the common three or four seater models. 
  • Settee-this type of sofa is more often found in a bedroom or hallway. This is a smaller version of a sofa and usually has raised legs and a high back.
  • Chaise Lounge-sometimes referred to as a fainting couch, the chaise lounge is long enough to lie on and usually has only one arm and a short backrest.
  • Corner Unit-as the name implies, this is a sofa that has a right angle and is designed to fit in a corner of the room.

Design Elements

If you want to order a customised sofa, there are many companies that will allow you to choose all of the design elements, the fabric, the filling, the type of feet, etc, so let’s talk about the choices before you.

Sofa Back - A high back sofa provides extra support for your head, back, and neck, helping you to stay in a comfortable position. This can help you to avoid back pain.  A low back sofa won’t necessarily hurt your neck or back, but they can still be comfortable. They’re just more style oriented.

Recliner sofa - Many sofas today have a reclining feature, which allows you to put your feet up comfortably without having to slouch or lean against the armrests. This puts you in a position where your spine is properly aligned and it’s also very comfortable.  Some recliners are manually operated, while others have an internal motor that adjusts the back and raises the foot rest at the touch of a button. Some power recliners have separate lifting mechanisms for the back and the foot rest.

Seat height and depth- Higher or deeper seats work best for people with longer legs, whereas lower or shallower seats are better for smaller people.

Types of Sofa Feet and Legs

The feet and legs have the less than glamourous job of holding up a sofa. Even so, they can make a dramatic impact on the overall design of your sofa. Here are a few of the available foot and leg styles:

Arrow Foot - This is a round foot which tapers towards the base and is often separated from the leg of the furniture piece by a turned section.

Block Foot - This one is especially effective with modern furniture. It’s  a straight, unadorned foot, and it’s usually smaller and wider than a traditional foot.

Bracket Foot - A mitred foot with an upward curve. Variations include the cabriole bracket which has a cabriole “knee”, and the ogee bracket, with a horizontal “S” curve addition.

Bun Foot - This one looks like a bun, hence the name. It’s basically a flattened sphere. This is popular with country style furniture

Claw and Ball Foot-  A traditional style of 17th century origin, this features a bird claw clutching a ball. This design is very popular in Chippendale-style furniture.

Club Foot - Also known as a pad foot, this style features an elegant outward turned and rounded end, which bears a resemblance to a golf club.

Paw Foot - A traditional furniture foot in the likeness of an animal’s paw. Elaborate and regal, the paw foot was found commonly on ancient Egyptian furniture.

Spade Foot - This is a short foot with four squared and tapering sides.

Cabriole Leg - A leg with a knee which curves outwards and a foot which curves inwards, creating a double curved “S” shaped leg.

Sabre Leg - A gently curved, splayed tapered leg as was used for the classic Greek Klismos chair. The curved and tapered legs of the Klismos chair are what make its design so unique. They sweep softly forward and rearward, providing stability.

Splayed Leg - A round leg which is outwardly angled 90 degree from the sofa base and is usually recessed from the front slightly. This design is popular in mid-century modern furniture.

Square Leg - This is essentially a narrower, taller version of the block foot.

Turned Leg - A turned leg has decorative rings that are created by turning it on a lathe. Simpler patterns are more modern while designs with more rings are deemed a traditional style.

Tapered Block Leg -This is similar to a square foot, but it’s narrower at the bottom than at the top.

Platform Base - Not really a foot or a leg, a platform is a base on which the sofa is placed. It’s usually left as plain wood or covered with a desirable accent material and recessed from the front of the sofa.

Sofa Coverings

The primary two varieties of coverings for your new sofa would be fabric or leather. Each offers distinct advantages.

Fabric sofa advantages:

  • Cost-It’s not hard to guess that fabric, in most cases, is far less expensive than leather. The exception would be a very high end custom fabric vs a lower quality leather.
  • Comfort-Fabrics come in a large variety of patterns and textures but generally speaking, a fabric sofa is softer and more comfortable than leather.
  • Temperature-Sofa fabric feels cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than leather.
  • Care-Most fabric covered sofas are treated for stain resistance, so spills are easy to clean up. In addition, fabric doesn’t scratch like leather can.
  • Colour and Pattern Options-While leather is available in a number of different colours, fabric comes in an endless variety of patterns, textures, and colours.

Leather sofa advantages:

  • The Look of Leather-Leather has a classic and elegant look to it, and can give any room an air of sophistication
  • Hypoallergenic-Leather doesn’t harbour any dust or other allergens as fabric can, so it’s a good choice for people with asthma or allergies.
  • Care-Leather is very easy to clean, and as such, is well suited to families with pets or children. A simple dusting with a soft cloth and an occasional rub down will keep your leather sofa looking great.
  • Wear-Generally speaking, the leather on your sofa will look good and last longer than fabric.


Obviously, your sofa back and cushions have padding or filling in them, but there are several types of fillings to choose from.

  • Fibre-Fibre filling is crafted from hollow strands of man-made polyester that are pumped full of air. These strands compress and expel air as you sit to give you a soft relaxed feel and a plump appearance. When you sit on this sofa, you’ll feel like it’s giving you a big hug.
  • Foam-Foam is a commonly used filling used to provide firm support and a more structured appearance. The foam holds its shape better than the fibre filling and is available in levels of density that can make the cushions firmer or softer. The higher the density of the foam, the better job it does of maintaining its shape. New foam loses volume and about 15 % of its hardness over the first six months, so it may feel firmer at first, then gradually soften up.
  • Feathers-Natural, luxurious, and comfortable, feathers are a popular choice, and you will sink into your sofa when you sit down. Like feather pillows, feather filled cushions require regular plumping to maintain their shape.


Deciding on Your New Sofa

When choosing a sofa, there are certainly a lot of options. Even though the decision-making process can seem tedious, being careful and taking your time will pay off for you in the long run. When you’re ready to start shopping, stop by and see us at Carters Furniture Store.

Here at Carters Furniture, we pride ourselves on the vast selection of furniture we offer, along with our outstanding customer service. Our highly trained staff can provide you with the right advice and information so that you can make the most of every furniture purchase. Because of the special relationships we have with our suppliers, we are able to source furniture from all over the globe, as well as products that are manufactured locally, and we can offer the lowest prices on all of the products we sell. In fact, we have a low price guarantee that states that we will match or beat any competitors price on identical products. We have 2 large showrooms full of the most stylish, practical, and high quality furniture and bedding, and our stores are open seven days a week to serve you.

If you’d like more information about the products and services we offer, visit our website or call us at 01562 540862  (Carters Furniture Store) or 01562 66396  (Carters Bed City). Even better, stop by either of our locations to see for yourself. We look forward to serving you!