We at Jillian O'Neill Interior Design are well aware of how difficult it is to choose the perfect sofa. As trade professionals we get a bit of a break as we get to see pieces that are the highest quality available so that we can focus solely on aesthetics. We also have experience in custom making pieces with our tradespeople so we can offer something completely unique. So, as an end user, if you are in the market to purchase a sofa on your own, or with your interior designer...what questions should you be asking?
1. Let's begin with cost. I am a firm believer in that you get what you pay for. In other words, most inexpensive sofas (under $2000) are not going to make it past a year and still hold their comfort level. Every single one of my clients over the last 13 years have had children or pets so they are striving for quality without breaking the bank. That puts my sweet spot for them between $3000 and $7000. More than likely, those at the higher end of this range are upholstered in a better quality fabric and perhaps have a more unique design to them. The handful I have specified that are above this price range are priced that way based on aesthetics and designer name alone, which in my world, does count for a lot. I never sacrificed on frame quality, fill quality or any element within the "bones" of the piece. There are dozens of vendors that offer sofas with a solid frame (solid hardwood so it will be heavy!) and the availability of down in their cushions (the exact amount is up to the client's comfort request). Although tempting for pure comfort, I almost always advise against a full down seat cushion due to the fact that it will never keep it's shape and will begin to look quite disheveled after just a few months.
2. Now that we have discussed the bones of the sofa...what about scale? A sofa for lounging should be approximately 84" long and 40" deep. That is the size I specify most often and will be suited size-wise to the most amount of rooms. Sofas that are a smaller proportions are well suited for more formal sitting rooms. In my experience, if you choose a sofa deeper than 42" it will be difficult to stand up from and guests may feel awkward sitting in it. As far as length is concerned, mark off your floor with tape to indicate where the sofa will go. Make sure there room enough to comfortable move about the room once you have focused on an ideal length.
3. Now for the fun part...looks. My portfolio makes it clear that my taste runs on the more contemporary side, as do the pieces I've designed. So in accordance to that, below I've included my top five well designed (and of course well made) sofas. They are all sofas I have specified for projects in the past and been extremely happy with. Some are available to the trade only and some directly to you, the homeowner.