There’s a lot to consider when it comes to selecting and placing what, for many, is among the largest-scale purchases for the home: the sofa. It’s often front and center in the more high-traffic areas of the home, and it usually has to serve multiple uses, from cocktails to cuddling and kicking back.
Here, designers tell us what they think about when selecting the ideal sofa.
Firm cofounder Michael Cox says: “Shape, style and upholstery are all obviously aesthetically important. But without the right sitting depth, cushion construction and perfect pitch, a sofa is just another horizontal platform.”
“While comfort is most important, a sofa needs to have either a sculptural element or an interesting detail to allow it to stand out in a space,” says Emilee Pearson of DHD Architecture + Interior Design, the firm responsible for this punchy Chelsea, New York, dining room.
DHD designed the custom banquette, upholstered in a Holly Hunt fabric, and added a generous splash of vibrant colors and patterns.
“Long, continuous lines make a sofa amazing — whether they are curvy or rectilinear,” says Brooklyn-based architect and interior designer Elizabeth Roberts. “I also think that the relationship of the sofa back to the arm is important.”
“There are so many ingredients to the great sofa recipe — the truly best are a sublime balance of style and comfort,” says Russell Groves of Groves & Co. “Beautiful details, finishes and a fantastic fabric certainly add to the ‘excellence’ factor!”
In designing a Lower Manhattan loft space for a young international couple who love to entertain, Groves anchored the space with a pair of long, sleek sofas topped Asian-inspired throw pillows that add a pop of color to the otherwise neutral decor.
According to Charleston designer Angie Hranowsky, “the most important thing to know when choosing the perfect sofa is its purpose. Is it for conversation, or for watching TV and lounging? Then you can determine the right depth and seat height.”
“A sofa should be both chic and comfortable,” M Interiors founder Melissa Morgan. “And don’t be afraid of color — it’s amazing how a deep, rich color on a sofa reads as a neutral in a space.”
She certainly didn’t shy away from color — or pattern — when outfitting this San Antonio living room with a custom linen velvet sofa and animal-themed throw pillows.
“Sofas are used every day, and they must feel and look good, which is one of the reasons our motto is ‘comfort is the greatest luxury,’ ” says Todd Davis.
“For example, Vladamir Kagan–level firmness for cocktail comfort and Rose Tarlow softness for deep lounging and relaxation,” adds Robert Brown.
“I like shapes and forms that are exaggerated in proportion, meaning either greater or lesser dimensions than the ‘standard classic,’ ” says Thad Hayes. “We’ll often accentuate lengths that start to become architectural and less object-like, sometimes 14 feet long. That begins to organize the room.” In a penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Hayes created a space within a space by grouping a custom sofa with four matching armchairs.