Buying a Contemporary Sofa

Buying a new contemporary sofa is a big decision, and a decision that we don’t make too often. We live with our sofas for 11 years (according to a UK survey in 2017) and put them through some interesting challenges. Our sofas are lounged upon, sat and stood on. They hide toys and money in curious places and are often substitute beds for weekend guests. It’s no wonder it’s such an important purchase decision, so our helpful guide will navigate you through this important moment.


  1. Function
  2. Size
  3. Measuring
  4. Delivery
  5. Shape & Style
  6. Support & Comfort
  7. Upholstery
  8. Care


What will you use your sofa for? Formal entertaining? Relaxing with family? Or perhaps this sofa will live in your entrance hall? Whatever its use, we have a guide to help you buy the perfect contemporary sofa. If you want to lounge on your sofa watching TV or scrolling through your favourite blog on your iPad, choose a contemporary sofa with enough width that you can stretch out fully on. Usually this requires a 3-seat sofa to give you enough space to stretch. If you don’t have enough room for a 3-seat sofa, buy a 2-seat sofa with a matching footstool to perch your feet. Look for a contemporary sofa with deep, soft cushions that you can sink in to after a long day at work to really relax on and switch off. If you tend to prefer formal entertainment on your sofa, a solid structure will help to keep you and your guests upright and not slouching. A wooden frame with harder cushions will be ideal for this scenario, keeping your sofa in perfect order for when your guests arrive. If you need a sofa for guests to use as they arrive, a small or compact sofa is best for this. Choose a sofa lifted off the ground by wooden legs, as this will create a feeling of space in a small area. Shallow cushions offer support for guests whilst they wait to be greeted.


Probably the most important consideration is the size of your new sofa. There is only one tip for this, and that is to measure, measure, and measure! It’s not easy to visualise how much space the contemporary sofa will take up in the room, so use newspaper on the floor to map out the space it creates. Even go as far as lightly taping newspaper to the wall to show the height of the back. If you’re getting a little more creative, cardboard boxes filling the area can help you imagine better. Make sure you have enough room to walk between the sofa and coffee table…a good rule of thumb is 45cm (18”) between the two. If you can, allow 10cm (4”) between the back of the sofa and the wall. This will create an illusion of space and make it easier to find those toys you’ve lost behind your sofa. If your sofa looks too big in the room, it probably is. There are no rules for how small or big your sofa needs to be, but if you can’t walk around the room comfortably then something needs to go. Whilst it might be your dream to have that large sectional sofa dominating the room, it will make your room feel smaller and you’ll be forever bumping in to it as you walk by.


Now that you know what size sofa fits in your room, we need to make sure it can get to the room in the first place. You will need to check: 1. Height and width of doorways 2. Accessibility through hallways and staircases 3. Packaged dimensions, not just the sofa dimensions It’s a common question we get asked…will it fit? We list the packaged dimensions for all of our sofas on the product page under ‘Dimensions’ with height, width, depth, seat-height, seat-depth, and arm-height. Make a note of these and check against your measurements. If you’re unsure if the sofa will fit through your doors, get in contact and we can advise you on your specific model of sofa.


When it comes to delivery, knowing your sofa will fit is crucial. If it’s a tight space, you may need to move objects and furniture that will be in the way. Walk the route that your sofa will take and check for obstructions; even small objects could get in the way. We offer a 2-man delivery service where possible to get your sofa directly to your room of choice, however in some cases we cannot provide this. If you are taking delivery of your sofa, it’s a good idea to have a few people to help so that you aren’t caught out with a sofa stuck on the stairs. The key thing is to measure! If you know the contemporary sofa will fit through every door, then delivery will be a dream.

Shape & Style

The shape and style of your sofa is important for multiple reasons, not just for the way it looks but how it will work for its use. Look for special details such as the seat buttons, external stitching, removable covers, and articulating headrests. If your room is small, narrower sofa arms or no arms at all give the illusion of more space. High-backed sofas tend to look best in rooms with higher ceilings and sofas with lower backs can give the illusion of more space in confined rooms. Modular and sectional sofas work brilliantly in open-plan spaces and large airy rooms. contemporary sofa high and low back

Support & Comfort

Comfort isn’t just about soft cushions. If you will be using your sofa a lot then it’s important to consider how well it supports you to make sure you’re comfortable for long periods of time. Most of our contemporary sofas have low-backs, as they are visually lighter in living rooms. Look for articulating headrests, such as the Kelston sofa, if you want to support your neck and head whilst sitting on your sofa. Do you prefer soft or hard seats? This is an important question to discuss with the other people in your home before your purchase. If you like to lounge in the sofa then soft cushions are ideal, but for more support, choose a hard seat to keep your posture upright.


Our fabric sofas offer you a wide range of colour options and tightly woven fabrics will wear the best. Wool is springy and resilient, with a natural stain resistance. However, linen is cool and one of the most durable fabrics for sofas. Leather is robust, cool in summer and warm in winter and if it’s well maintained it can last a lifetime. Leather will age with use adding character and stands up to wear and tear very well.


You can extend the life of your sofa by taking care of it regularly. Naturally there will be spills, and scuffs, and drops as you live with your sofa but that doesn’t have to mean it reduces the life expectancy of the sofa. Some of our fabric sofas come with removable covers and some without. If your previous sofas have been subjected to a lot of food and drink spills then you might want to find a sofa with removable covers. This allows you to clean them periodically and restore the vibrancy. Use a professional cleaner when doing so to avoid shrinking the covers; make them aware of any marks or spillages that need their attention. If you don’t have removable covers, act quickly and blot the stain out of the fabric with a clean white cloth, but never rub as this may spread the stain further into the fabric. Never use detergents and always follow the cleaning instructions on the label of the sofa. Avoid pets on fabric sofas as their claws can pull at threads, but if this does happen just snip the loose thread and tuck as much of it back in the weave. Never pull the thread, as this will make it worse. Leather sofas require a different method of care, as they are more resilient to spills and scuffs. This is a great choice if you have pets or young children who will regularly use the sofa. Spillages can be absorbed with a clean white cloth and the remaining liquids blotted away but never rub as this could spread any stains further. Keep all cushions plumped as the fillings can sink down over time; this will stop creases forming in the leather and extend the life of the sofa. Wipe or vacuum your leather sofa regularly to keep dust from collecting in creases. If required, use a professional cleaner to renew the vibrancy of your leather sofa.