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The Complete Guide to Buying Your Dream Sofa

The Complete Guide to Buying Your Dream Sofa

Choosing the perfect sofa is more than just selecting a piece of furniture; it's about curating the heart of your home. From lazy Sunday afternoons to entertaining guests, your sofa sets the tone for countless memories. Yet, navigating the vast sea of options can be overwhelming, especially when considering factors like size and budget constraints.

The struggle to find the ideal balance between style, comfort, and affordability is real. But fear not! In our comprehensive sofa buying guide, we'll navigate through these challenges together, helping you find the sofa of your dreams without breaking a sweat or the bank.

Picking the right sofa for your space

To determine the ideal sofa type for your lifestyle and interior space, start by assessing your habits and needs. Consider factors such as whether you prefer lounging or sitting upright, if you often host guests, and the activities typically enjoyed in your living area. 

Style, shape and upholstery colours are of course important, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make when buying a sofa is getting the wrong size for your space.

If you’ve got a small room, fight the urge to get the largest sofa that will fit. You might think it’ll maximise space but in actual fact, this can diminish the perceived space, making your room seem smaller than it it. Conversely, a regular-sized sofa in a spacious room might seem inadequate.

So what options do we have when it comes to size and configuration?

2 Seater Sofas

Perfect for a small space solution, these sofas usually feature two small seat cushions or one longer cushion. If you’re someone who likes to spread themselves across the sofa, it might be worth opting for the longer cushion option, whereas if you envisage two people using the sofa regularly, the two cushion option might be best for you. These compact sofas are perfect for smaller living rooms, bedrooms or snugs.

3 Seater Sofas

Along with 2 ½ seater sofas, the 3 seater sofa is a popular and versatile choice. They’re spacious and allow for both lounging and entertaining. You’ll often see a 3 seater sofa come with two or three seat cushions, so again, take into account how you’d like to use your sofa and pick the one that works best for your lifestyle.

Chaise Longue

Sofas incorporating a chaise longue allow a “best of both worlds” approach to lounging. Rather than having to choose between single cushions or multiple, these sofas offer you the ability to use the sofa for spreading out, or for sitting upright. When combined with an area rug, these couches are great for creating the illusion of spaces within a space, so can be great in open-plan living areas.

Corner Sofas

Often best used in larger spaces, a corner sofa makes relaxing easy. They’re spacious enough for people to put their feet up and can accommodate several guests. A corner sofa is perfect in a social space as the corner configuration encourages conversation.

Sofa Beds

Ideal for both small and multifunctional spaces, the sofa bed can be a particularly versatile piece of furniture. A sofabed allows you to entertain overnight guests even if you’ve not got a spare room, or if you have a spare room that needs to double as a home office, or play room during the day.

Modular Sofas

Think about a modular sofa as a bespoke suit. Sure, one of the set sizes might fit some people, but just like bodies, rooms come in all shapes and sizes, so sometimes a little tailoring is required. A modular sofa allows you to create the perfect sofa for your space - size it up or down, and add to it over time if required.

The above list is not exhaustive, so check out our full selection of sofas here. Now it’s time to measure your space.

The right sofa for your space

There aren’t any hard rules for choosing a sofa size, and a lot will depend on your room layout and the other furniture you plan to add to your space. However, we can take some small tips from the principles of interior design and spatial planning that should help optimise your space.

1. If you’re placing your sofas back against a wall, and your space allows for it, bring the sofa out about 5 inches from the wall rather than having it sit flush against the wall.

2. If you plan to have your sofa more central in your room, allow about 3 feet of walkway around the sofa, to allow for people to comfortably walk around the room.

How to measure your room

The simplest way to decide which sofa size is best for your room is to use a tape measure to calculate the space between walls (and any other furniture you have in the room). This will give you a basic understanding of the space you’re working with.

If you already have a sofa in mind, you can take this one step further and mark out the dimensions of the sofa on your floor using masking tape. This will allow you to visualise how the sofa fits in your space and can allow you to shuffle other chairs, sideboards or lamps around before ordering your sofa.

Choosing  upholstery/fabric

When making your upholstery choice, several key considerations should be taken into account to ensure you select a fabric that suits your needs and lifestyle. Things like durability, maintenance and stai nresistance will be especially the case if you’ve got pets, or kids, or the sofa is going to sit in a high-traffic area.

Here is a helpful glossary of terms to familiarise yourself with.


Martindale is a method used to measure durability. During the test, the evaluated fabric undergoes repeated abrasion cycles until it shows signs of wear, such as pilling, fuzzing, or visible damage. The number of cycles completed before the fabric shows signs of wear is recorded as the Martindale rating - the higher the Martindale rating, the more durable the fabric.

A score over of 30,000 is going to be more than durable for most homes.


Fastness (sometimes referred to as “lightfastness” or “colour fastness”) refers to a material's ability to resist fading or discolouration when exposed to light. Ratings, often from 1 to 8, indicate the level of resistance, with higher ratings indicating better durability against light-induced colour changes.


Pilling is an indicator to describe the extent to which pills (or bobbles) pear on the surface of a fabric. Pills are small accumulations of fibres that emerge due to wear and tear and can give your material a “fluffy”, worn-out look. Some fabrics have a higher tendency to pilling than others, therefore pilling is scaled from 1 to 5, with a higher number signifying better durability.

Where can I find durability scores for fabrics?

On all sofa product listings here at Utility, you’ll find the above durability scores for each fabric on offer. Simply make a fabric selection and then click “view sample” under the swatch that appears. This will open a popup with the information you need to help make your selection.

Fabric swatch with button to view sample specification.

Ordering fabric swatches

When you order a sofa at Utility we’ll always suggest viewing a physical fabric sample before confirming your order with the supplier. After all, if you choose right, you’ll only need to buy once. We also offer you the ability to order fabric samples in any colour, from any fabric.

On all sofa product listings here at Utility, you’ll find the ability to order fabric samples. Simply make a fabric selection from the dropdown menus, click “view sample” and you’ll see a button that will take you to the fabric sample listing. Here, you simply make the selections you’d like, add them to your basket and proceed to checkout.

Fabric sample popup showing fabric specification, including durability scores and button to order fabric samples.

If you need any further help finding and purchasing your dream sofa, please don't hesitate to get in touch via email at sales@utilitydesign.co.uk or via the live chat function on our website (open 9-5 weekdays). Our team are happy to answer any and all questions.

Time for more? The Complete Guide on How to Buy a Rug | 15 Of The Best Sofas For Your Home | The Modular Movement - The Best Modular Sofas | Sustainable Furniture Buying Guide

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