Ten things to consider when buying a new sofa

With the help of Eamonn Harrington, sofa buyer at Harvey Norman, we compiled a list of 10 things to consider when purchasing a new sofa

At the end of a long day there is nothing better than curling up on a comfy couch. For that reason, buying what will effectively be your hero piece of furniture, or one of your most used pieces, should not be a snap decision - careful consideration should be given.


The amount of space you have in a room is going to determine what you buy. Eamonn Harrington, Sofa Buyer at Harvey Norman, advises buyers to measure the room or, at the very least, know what they already have in the room and how much space they will be left to play around with.
“Some people might say they have a 3m x 2m space for a couch but it might actually take over the whole room, by the time you put a TV and a television unit in there too.  You don’t want to fill the room with a sofa either,” he says.


It’s fine if you have a house with very wide doors that can accommodate any size couch but, a lot of homes, including many 3 bed semi-detached properties, do not have the best access for a sizeable couch. So again, Harrington advises to take measurements and ensure your new couch will fit through the doors.


Firstly, Harrington advises buyers to consider what kind of use the room gets. A lot of the time properties are now open plan, so the era of the ‘good room’ is gone. If it’s a case that the sofa is getting used every single day, by everyone that lives in the household, that must be taken into consideration. It should look good, but careful thought should also be given to how well it will wear with kids and pets using it every day.


There are two major choices when it comes to material: fabric or leather. Leather is durable but there are fabrics that will stand the test of time also. It also comes down to the style of the couch. “If you buy a really modern, slim armed couch with ratchet backs or moveable head rests, you tend to go for leather as there aren’t that many modern type fabrics. They tend to be more traditional. What you upholster it with will change the entire look of the sofa too,” Harrington says.


Previously, choices were limited, but the trend now is to give as many as possible according to Harrington. “It would have been a case of, you can get this one in leather or you can get this one in fabric, now factories tend to offer both. People might choose what we call their ‘hero piece’, maybe a three-seater, and they could put that in leather and then put the armchairs or the two-seater in a fabric. We are doing away with the notion that everything has to match. People are not buying everything uniform anymore,” he says.

Arm style

Buyers can choose from slim arm, wide arm or pillow top arm, with a big move towards pillow top arms. “People work 12-hour days a lot now and they just want to come home and flake out on the couch. They like pillow top arms for that reason, so there are a lot of these couches being made now and you’ll find a wide selection of them at Harvey Norman.”


There is the traditional foam or fibre seat, foam and fibre, feather and foam, or pocket sprung. There’s an endless amount of seat comfort according to Harrington, so he advises to try as many couches as possible while in store. The type of upholstery that is put on the couch can also determine how they feel, when sat on. “If you sit on a fabric sofa and then put thick leather on it, it will sit totally differently. The main reason you buy a sofa is for the look and next it is how it sits. Just because you like the look doesn’t mean you’re going to like the sit, so try lots out,” he says.


Harrington advises chrome feet when going for a really modern couch but says it also depends on the type of flooring that’s already in the room, so be cognisant of that fact.


Be aware that the sofa you see in store may also come in a plethora of shapes and combinations. “When people go in store and they see a corner sofa, be aware it might also be available as a 2 seater or there may be many other combinations available. Buyers can often build their own combination these days,” he says. 


Harvey Norman gives a 10 year structural warranty on any sofa. Customers can also pay extra to have sofas sprayed in Scotchgard. Leather is already protected.

Visit your local Harvey Norman store or shop online at www.harveynorman.ie to find your hero piece of furniture.