Choosing sofas and upholstery

There’s nothing quite like settling in for some relaxing sofa time. But we all have our own idea of what makes the perfect sofa. Whether you’re looking for traditional or contemporary, fabric or leather, this guide is here to help you choose the right style and finish to suit your needs; combining style, comfort and practicality, at a price that sits comfortably within your budget.

Measuring up

The first thing to consider is the size of your sofa. If you’ve chosen one the same size as your existing sofa, then you know it will fit. But just a few inches extra can make all the difference, especially when it comes to delivery.

Before you place your order, measure the doorways, corridors, stairs and corners that your sofa will have to squeeze around. If space is particularly tight, maybe look for designs that are assembled from several smaller pieces.

Choosing the ideal spot for your new sofa is important too. Try marking out the area on the floor with masking tape, to give you an idea of the space it will take up. Although it’s nice to be able to seat several people, very large sofas can dominate a room and make it feel smaller. In this case, a pair of two-seaters might be more practical than one four-seater.

A sofa to suit your home

Whatever your taste or the shape of your room, we have a sofa to suit. Our standard models come in an impressive range of shapes and sizes, in designs featuring everything from retro curves to classic buttoned backs. We also have a range of specialist styles too. Just take your pick.

Corner sofas come in left and right-handed versions. They’re great for stretching out on, and perfect for creating a cosy corner in a large room. Don’t worry too much about getting one through your doorway, they come in several parts.

Modular sofas make a real style statement. Use them to define different areas in an open-plan room, by selecting the pieces you want to create your own design. You can switch between left-handed and right-handed styles, and often buy extra units to add to one side or the other. Armrests are often removable too. This option is perfect for smaller lounges, because you can rearrange as needed.

Recliners are made for serious relaxation. And they’re easy to put together at home. Just slot the back into place, then kick back and put your feet up.

Sofa beds are ideal for multi-functional rooms. Maybe you have a home office that doubles up as a spare room, or a living room that needs to host occasional guests. Seeking out a good frame is probably the most important thing to think about. Alongside metal or plastic based sofa beds, there are also hardwood frames that offer the best durability and back support for sleeping.

Futons are a more basic type of sofa bed. Smaller than average settees, and usually with no armrests, they can squeeze into tighter corners. And if you separate the mattress from the frame, they’ll roll up and pack away out of sight within minutes. Because of this, along with their relatively low price tag, they’re popular with apartment owners and those with little living space. But they also make a good extra bed option for bigger households. Futons come in double and single variations, with either foam or cotton mattresses. Make sure the mattress is at least six inches thick, so you don’t feel the base when you lie down.

Chaise end sofa beds are great for combining corner style and function. They look much like a corner sofa, but the shorter side is usually not sectioned, so it looks more like a period-style chaise longue for more comfortable reclining. Ideal as a cosy single bed, some models also fold out to give you an additional double sleeping area. Some are even big enough for a whole family to sleep on.

Upholstery choices

Because your sofa is often a place to settle in for a TV dinner, drinks or general entertaining, leather upholstery is often a good solution. Not only does a leather sofa look great, it’s also very practical because leather is easy to clean without having to remove covers or take a trip to the dry-cleaners. That said, if you want a sofa simply for curling up and watching a film, then fabric upholstery like chenille, cord or soft microfibres, create a warm and cosy feel that’s hard to beat.

For furniture used round the clock, like sofa beds, it might be wise to look for wipe-clean fabrics or leather upholstery, especially if you have a young family.

When it comes to fabric, another thing to consider is whether to go for fixed or loose covers. If you have pets, small children or a habit of spilling your coffee, loose covers may be the way to go – they can be easily removed and machine washed at up to 40 degrees.

Sofa colours are widely varied, but we find that when it comes to leather, chocolate brown, black, red, and cream are very popular. Our fabric upholsteries come in a wide range of different colours and patterns, so there’s something to suit all kinds of tastes. We find blue and charcoal fabrics are the most loved, largely because they’re neutral enough to blend with different paint and wallpaper schemes.

Whether you’re looking for smart, dark leather or fun floral fabrics, we’ve got a huge range of options to choose from, and our handy Swatch Service can help make your decision much easier. We’ll send you up to 6 fabric or leather samples within 3 working days, so you can see which one suits your room best before you place your order.

Types of leather

Our leather sofas are crafted to blend style and quality with durability. We use top grain leather on visible and easily worn areas, while split leather (the secondary layer of the leather hide) is used on the sides and backs. From standard quality leathers to our fine-grade luxury range, we provide hard-wearing, beautiful looking sofa covers. Just choose the right finish to suit your budget and taste.

Quality leather is hard wearing and easy to maintain, so it’s perfect for family life. It has an embossed grain and matt finish for a consistent look throughout.

Premium leather is a higher grade that’s softer to the touch, becoming more supple over time. It also features an embossed grain, but has a more natural look overall. Our 'Cognac' colour premium leather also features an antiqued patina finish.

Luxury leather is the best grade we offer. It has the most authentic leather look and softest texture, with a unique appearance thanks to the natural characteristics of the grain. The thicker, hard-wearing surface means your sofa will keep its good looks over the years, so it’s also a good investment.

Semi-aniline leather has a two-tone appearance made by a fine pigmented protective coating. It’s both durable and practical, retaining its natural markings and softness.

Corrected grain leather is given a buffed and embossed finish during manufacturing. The surface is partially removed, along with any imperfections, before a surface colour and coating is applied, giving a uniform finish.

Split leather is the lower split of leather hide. We only use this type of leather on the non-wearing areas, such as backs and sides to cover the frame.

Look for the leather mark - The leather mark reassures you that the hide has been tested by the British Leather Consortium (BLC) and is certified as 'Real Leather'.

Cushion fillings

Whether it’s foam, a mix of foam and fibre, or a mix of fibre and feathers, the sofa filling you choose makes a big difference to the support and durability of your cushions, not to mention the look of your new sofa. Most cushions will soften in the first few weeks of use, but this won’t affect their lifespan. And don’t worry, all the fillings in our sofas and cushions meet British UK safety standards. Just pick the one that suits you best.

Foam is firm and supportive, and often used for seat cushions. It keeps its shape well and can be moulded into a variety of forms. Pocket-sprung sofas will have sprung seat pads wrapped in a layer of foam.

Fibre is a synthetic filling, made up of strands of processed material. It offers light to medium support and is soft enough to shape itself around the body, making it ideal for back cushions and fixed-back sofas.

Feathers add a slightly more luxurious feel to standard fibre cushion fillings, due to the added softness. They offer more give and moulding, but as they move about inside the cushion and don't recover like foam and fibre, they need plumping up regularly to keep their shape and evenness.

A foam & fibre mix is used to give the best of both, offering a soft, lived-in look. That means cushions will need more turning and plumping. Seat cushions often have a deep pad of HR foam, with a layer of fibre on top to blend the recovery, resilience and shape of foam, with the soft feel of fibre.

A fibre & feather mix is used in our higher end seating ranges, along with some back, accessory and seat cushions. They need plumping up regularly to keep their shape and evenness, but fibre & feather blends are more resilient and durable than pure fibre-filled seat cushions. However, they may not be a good option for allergy or asthma sufferers who react to feathers.

Caring for your new sofa

There are a few simple steps you can take to help keep your sofa comfy and looking its best for longer:

  • Don’t sit on the arms and keep sharp objects away from it.
  • If your sofa cushions are reversible, it’s good to rotate and flip them regularly. Plump fibre and feather cushions should be flipped every week.
  • If possible, place your sofa away from strong direct sunlight, so the fabric doesn’t fade.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner or soft brush to stop dirt from building up. And mop up any spills immediately with clean dry cloth.
  • Try and utilise all the seating so the covers and fillings wear evenly. It’s a good idea to follow the cleaning instructions provided.

Cleaning instructions

Fabric - use a mild detergent and avoid washing powders or liquids that contain optical brighteners. Most covers can also be dry cleaned.

  • Wash all parts of the loose cover set at the same time, to prevent colour differences.
  • Fixed covers should be steam cleaned regularly. If you don’t fancy doing it yourself, there are companies who can come out and do it for you.

Leather - wipe clean with a damp cloth, or use a specialist leather maintenance wax.