From the archives: Read This Post Before You Buy a Sofa

From the archives: Read This Post Before You Buy a Sofa

Last year I upgraded our $299 faux leather futon (bought on a recent college grad budget) to a lovely streamlined number (bought on a working professional budget).

In purchasing it I took myself through similar steps I take my clients- consider what style, what size, think about ease of care, construction and where it’s made- and finally, will this product help me live well.

Decor-Rest Furniture front desk.

Living well is a value I’ve learned is very important to the Marzilli family, owners of Decor-Rest Furniture Ltd. I recently took a tour of their 4000 square foot facility in Woodbridge, just north of Toronto. What I learned from my visit with Training Manager Janice Saulnier is that there is a great deal of integrity in their product and it’s made by people who really care.

So if you’re about to purchase a sofa (and ps- sofa is the most correct term in the industry, as opposed to couch or chesterfield) here are a few things to ask before you buy:

  1. It might sound obvious, but make sure the sofa will actually fit in your room. I have been called in to assist in many homes over the last 5 years because of a “mistake” couch that is too big for a room. Take careful measurements, including doorways, and map out the size of the sofa with painters tape. Decor-Rest offers a variety of options for spaces big and small. For small spaces I love this economic fabric futon (here I go again with futons!):

    Black couch.

  2. Trust your instinct on your style (or call me to help you figure it out). When I asked Janice what is the #1 mistake people make when purchasing a sofa, she commented that it’s when they don’t trust their instincts. Whether you’re modern, traditional, contemporary or transitional- stay true to it. If you can’t figure out which one you are call me!
  3. Know the inside story – quality is within. There is a lot more than meets the eye in the construction of a sofa. Janice recommends to pick up the sofa with one hand- if it’s heavy, it’s likely got springs- which is good. If it’s a Decor-Rest sofa, the springs are attached with plastic clips to Canadian hardwood so the springs won’t squeak. Another bonus is something the Marzilli’s developed called a “sling spring,” a specialized spring placed on either end to give you support when sitting near the arms (so you don’t sink into the corners). Here’s an image I snapped of the interior of a Decor-Rest sofa in their sprawling production facility- cool point, their factory foreman is a woman, in charge of hundreds of staff in the production of furniture:

    Inside a sofa - couch springs.

  4. Choose your material carefully. First figure out if you’re into leather, or fabric. This is going to depend on your lifestyle, how much you care about maintaining it and of course personal preference. Myself, I love fabric and all it has to offer to add to a decor scheme. You can select from hundreds of fabrics at Decor-Rest and customize practically everything. Look on the tag for something called the rub count- which is essentially a measurement of the fabric’s durability- the higher the count, the stronger it is- which is why microsuede is so popular (ps- you may also hear this dense, knit blend fabric referred to as Microfiber, which is a brand of microsuede, like Kleenex is a brand of tissue). Finally, zippers on cushions make clean up of kids (or clumsy adults) a breeze- so look for those too. There is so much I could write about fabric in general I’ll likely dedicate another post (or two or more) on it.

    Here is Janice sampling just a few fabrics:

    Janice sampling a few fabrics.

    And this gorgeous chair can be done in many prints & contrast piping to suit any room. Love that it’s on a swivel:

    Chair with a beautiful print.

    Some behind the scenes shots of the production of sofa cushions:

    Behind the scenes shots of the production of sofa cushions.

    Behind the scenes shots of the production of sofa cushions.

  5. After care beware. Decor-Rest sofas come with a limited lifetime warranty- which essentially means they’ll stand behind their product if issues arise. However, I learned that most fabric mills will NOT take a sofa back to be fixed if it has been treated with an after market product (like Scotch Guard for example). What Janice recommends is that if you buy an extended warranty on a piece of furniture from a retailer, ensure this retailer is not going bankrupt anytime soon- because if they go out of business, there goes your investment.

I learned so much in my visit (like that it is essential to have a candy bar in an office- these folks have a candy bar, roasted almonds made daily on-site, a pizza oven and on-site cook for buyer / designer events- very fun) that there will likely be more to report. Until then, bookmark this page for the next time you need to purchase a sofa!