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Buyers Guide Ultimate Sofa Buying Guide

what you need to know before buying a sofa from measuring up to choosing your fabric

June 19th, 2020 Ultimate Sofa Buying Guide image
author image Kayla Wilson Senior Marketing Manager Marketing

Buying a sofa is an important investment. As more people opt for a night in, we’re spending more time on our sofas. It’s where we relax, socialise with friends, spend cosy date nights, spend time with the family, watch television, read a book…it’s a well used piece of furniture. Make sure you buy a sofa which is going to fit around your lifestyle and pass the test of time.


Quick Sofa Buying Tips


Here’s 5 quick sofa buying tips to consider first:


Try before you buy


There’s lots of different features of a sofa to be taken into account when you’re shopping for your sofa, but the most important one is how comfortable it is. What makes a sofa comfortable? The seat depth in relation to your height and seating position has a big part to play, so when you’re testing out sofas make sure to sit how you would at home. Tuck your feet up next to you, leaning on the arm, sinking back and stretching out…


You’ll also want to think about back support. If the back of the sofa isn’t high enough for you then you could end up sitting awkwardly with nowhere to lean back comfortably.


Gardiner Haskins’ Marketing Manager, Kayla Wilson, says: “We bought a sofa with scatter back cushions and regretted it pretty quickly. My husband is quite tall so when he leans back he forgets himself and hits his head on the wall because the scatter cushions are too low and not thick enough to give him support. So he’s got a sore head and there’s an unsightly mark on the wall!”


Measure twice, fit once


This is an important step which many people get wrong when buying a new sofa. Measure the space carefully first and then double check your measurements. The new sofa you’re looking at buying may look like the perfect fit when you’re in the showroom but don’t forget, that’s in a large space which can make sofas appear deceptively small. It’s easy to over-estimate the amount of space you have at home. Measure all points of the space you want your sofa to fit in, including the height. Ideally, sketch it out on a piece of paper and bring it with you to the sofa shop as a reminder of what you’re working with.


TIP: Measure in millimetres so it’s more accurate


Don’t forget to measure doorways and stairwells to ensure that your sofa will be able to be delivered to your room of choice. The sofa sales assistant can walk you through sofas which can easily be manoeuvred through your house without scuffing the walls. If space is limited then you may need to look at modular sofas which can be delivered in segments.


What’s inside that counts


Talk to the sales advisor and find out what’s inside the seat and back cushions of your chosen sofa. Whilst feather filled sofas are lovely and comfortable at first they will soon need regularly plumping to retain their shape and not sag. Eventually you could end up with flat and uncomfortable cushions.


Furniture Department Manager at Gardiner Haskins in Cirencester recommends: “Look for cushions with foam filling for structure and support but with feather filling also to provide comfort.”


Choosing a layout


This will depend quite a bit on the space you have to work with. If you're placing your sofa in the corner of the room then an L shape sofa will help you maximise that space whereas a more open space could have a combination of 2 seater, 3 seater and an arm arm chair or love seat. Remember that your sofa will be one of the key features of the room which will grab people's attention when they walk in, so don't allow your sofa(s) to take over the room entirely.


Choosing your sofa fabric


No doubt this will be a decision you will spend time on from an aesthetic point of view but there’s also lots of practical things to consider when it comes to choosing your sofa fabric. If you have children and/or pets then ensure that the sofa covers can be removed and washed or at the very least, easily spot cleaned. Leather sofas can be easily wiped clean with a damp cloth but be wary of sharp claws cutting into the fabric or scratching it.


If your sofa is going to be sat in direct sunlight, then be wary of natural materials which may fade whereas a synthetic sofa fabric will be more resistant to this.


Read to start shopping for your new sofa? Visit our Cirencester store which has a large range of sofas on display for you to try out. Our knowledgable team will be able to help you choose the perfect sofa for you. 


Get Directions to Cirencester Store

Guide to Buying a Fabric Sofa

Fabric sofas remain a popular choice for its diverse range of colours and designs and fabric sofas can be versatile and durable for family homes. Many fabrics can be easily washed making them ideal for family homes.




An increasingly popular sofa fabric choice for its casual Nordic appearance.


  • Pros: You can find eco friendly linen choices, it’s breathable, hypo-allergenic, easily cleaned and gets softer and more supple over time.
  • Cons: However, it can wrinkle easily, depending on the thickness of the fabric it can be less durable and can easily absorb stains – however, it can be washed regularly.


Natural cotton


Natural cotton sofas look beautiful and is a quality fabric choice. Opt for a sofa with removable covers for easy cleaning.


  • Pros: it is breathable, durable and washable, resistant to pilling.
  • Cons: cotton easily absorbs dyes which also means it can absorb colouring from your clothing. Cotton can wrinkle (though not as easily as linen).




Popular for it’s soft feel and sheen appearance, giving a modern and textured appearance. But be sure this is the right fabric for your lifestyle:


  • Pros: soft to the touch, luxurious appearance
  • Cons: need to be regularly vacuumed as it attracts dust and it can be difficult to clean – it needs to be professionally done. Velvet fabric can’t simply be put in the washing machine.




Wool fabric sofas are becoming on trend with new upholsteries which are soft and smooth.


  • Pros: sofa and insulating as it naturally traps heat, it resists mould and allergens, it’s fire resistant.
  • Cons: avoid if you live in a warm climate, it can be a more expensive material compared to linen or cotton


Guide to Buying a Leather Sofa


Leather is a classic fabric for sofas offering a choice of contemporary and traditional appearance. Though there are ethical issues with having a leather sofa, there are lots of faux leather sofa options too.




· Leather gets better with time as the ‘worn’ effect simply adds to the style of it – a leather sofa paired with a solid frame will last you a long time.

· Leather sofas are highly durable, being resistant to spills and wear if they are treated properly.

· Buying a leather sofa is a low maintenance option requiring a simple wipe down and occasional conditioner to keep it look luxurious for a long time.

· It’s not very absorbent which will include not absorbing bad smells.




· Not a great option for extremely warm or cold climates.

· Though a leather sofa will last longer there’s also a price tag attached to that. If you’re looking for a quality leather sofa then be prepared to pay more.

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Gardiner and Sons Co Ltd registered address Gardiner Haskins, 1 Straight Street, Broad Plain, Bristol, BS2 0FQ, registered in England.
Company registration number: 00039402 VAT no. GB302974367

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