Sofas 101: The Ultimate Guide to Shopping for a Sofa

Sofas are arguably the most important piece of furniture in the home. We do a majority of our lounging, entertaining, reading, and, of course, napping, on our sofas. For guidance on purchasing this living essential, we turned to Mitchell Gold, co-founder of residential and commercial furniture manufacturer Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. When deciding on the kind of sofa you are going to buy, Gold suggests first considering how you are going to use it. "Will it go in a sitting room and be used for conversation? Will it be in a media room and used for lounging?" This will change whether or not you choose a tight back (more stylish, less comfortable) or a loose back (less stylish, more comfortable), as well as dictate your fabric choices and dimensions. Here are a few more pieces of solid Gold advice:


Gold knows exactly what people want in the design of their sofa these days. "I think it has to do with the psyche of people. Everybody is working really hard, and they want to come home to a clean, modern, calm environment," he says. Midcentury-inspired sofas, which have cornered edges (instead of rounded) and straight arms (instead of flared), and are void of skirts or extra trimming, are a great fit for clean, modern spaces. "People are looking for an uncomplicated life. That is what modern design is all about."

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 Alicia's Sofa, $2595, Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams Dekalb Leather Sofa, $2699, West Elm  Florence - A, $1595, Organic Modernism 


Shopping for a sofa shouldn't be a surface-deep venture. How your sofa is constructed dictates how comfortable it will be and how long it will last (or how long the warranty will be). Gold suggests purchasing sofas with serpentine springs or "S" springs that are Teflon coated (to eliminate the squeak factor), though a sofa that uses eight-way hand-tying construction is also of good quality. When it comes to cushions, Gold says "down cushions are comfortable, but have to be fluffed up a lot." He suggests a cushion that has a high-resiliency foam base, wrapped in cushioning, and finished with something called ticking. "Ticking catches the air as you sit down, so you sink into your seat easily," he says.

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 Sloan Sofa, $800, Interior Define Cara Sofa, $2295, Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams  Bram Leather Sofa, $3499, Room & Board 


When it comes to fabric, the two major factors to consider are children and dining. "If you have young children, or if you plan to eat on your sofa, microfiber fabrics, leathers, or multi-colored weaves are the most durable," Gold says. "If you want something softer and more luxurious, then velvets are good." For ultimate clean-ability, consider slipcovers. "We sell a lot of white slipcovered furniture; Put them in the washing machine, use bleach, and anything made of white cotton denim will be like new." Just make sure your slipcovers are stitched properly with an interior overstitch. "It will look like the inside of your jeans, and will keep the seams from fraying when you wash your slipcover."

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 Taraval 3-Seat Sofa with Oak Base, $2499, Crate & Barrel  Linz-B, $1825, Organic Modernism Aidan Sofa, $2199, Crate & Barrel 

_newsig Photography: 1. Felix Odell (photographer and source), 2. Artistic Designs for Living (designer and source), 3. Bethany Nuart (photographer and source), 4. Bethany Nuart (photographer and source), 5.Pompi Gutnisky for Espacio Living. 6. Francesco Lagnese (photographer and source), 7. Tom Sheerer photographed by Francesco Lagnese, 8. Jessica Helgerson photographed by Lincoln Barbour, 9. Nick Johnson (photographer and source), 10. Roger Davies for Architectural Digest