How to buy a Quality Sofa 1- The Frame

Most people struggle to know what is a good quality piece of furniture these days and what isn’t. Because you can’t actually see what you are getting and what lies beneath that gorgeous shape and fabric. A lot of quality has disappeared off the market due to cheap and nasty imports and quality local manufacturers have had their margins so squeezed they have been unable to survive.


Warning! If you pay a few $1000 hard earned dollars for a matching 3 piece lounge suite from a chain store on a Saturday morning, you can almost guarantee that it will not stand the test of time. Most of them are poorly made and are just ugly- extremely bulky and have no style what so ever.These pieces are, sadly lacking and are landfill and will not provide you years of good comfortable cushioning for your derriere.

(Refer our earlier blog- )


When looking for a new piece of furniture, you need to be prepared to invest some time, effort and yes,  money!  A lot of people replace their car before their sofa and spend more on their wardrobe annually, so invest because it is something that you will have for a while.  You must also love, love, love it. And your new sofa needs to be something you are truly comfortable in and for me nothing too hard edged, sleek, or funky as it is going to be around for a while so you don’t want it to look out of date next year!


The first thing to do with a sofa or chair is to give it a little nudge with your leg.  If it moves easily, then walk away.  No, I’m not joking. A light sofa/chair is a rubbish one.  It has probably got a balsa wood frame which will break and bend under the slightest bit of duress.  Next pick it up in one corner.  If it flexes and creaks like an old house there is not a strong frame in there.  Walk away!  Also knock three times along the side of the arms.  Does it sound like a drum?  It probably has cardboard in the arms and not solid wood.  Walk away again!

So what how do you know what is quality?


The frame construction is a vital key to lasting strength & durability so:

  • Internally the frames should be made of export quality eco friendly Pinus Radiata,or Beech, box sectioned to add strength. These woods are very heavy.  We make houses out of them!  It should have inserted spreader rails (front to back) to provide optimal strength.  For added  solidity all joints should be corner blocked, glued & high pressure stapled.
  • The frame sides are all routed to remove hard edges to avoid the possibility of the foam & webbing being damaged and cut.
  • The outside backs & arms are fully lined with polyester & hesssian.
  • Depending on the furniture design, Pirelli-type webbing (like split car tyres) should be used.  Not just tape.  Super heavy duty tread is the way to go.  The webbing should run both ways on the frame. Front to Back, Side to Side like a basket weave.  No gaps in the corners that you can sink down in.
  • Alternatively tension sprung seats & zigzag sprung backs are used for the seats & backs of the frames.

So, heavy frame + heavy cushion foam + car tyre webbing = good quality sofa. i.e. you cannot kick it around with your foot.  A good quality sofa will need a couple of burly blokes to lift it.  If you a weakling and can lift if on your own, please walk away!


For more ideas and inspiration have a look at these Related Articles:


Get the Furniture Moving

Another other big no,no is having all the furniture shoved against the walls. Am not sure why people do this – do they think it looks spacious?? Because, no it doesn’t! It just looks, well, weird!  Walking straight through a room is so dull & there is no interest or focal points.  One of the easiest ways to reinvent your space is to move furniture (sofas and chairs) off the walls.

“Yikes!” we hear you say, but remember how we said you have to have courage and need to be daring to be different. (It also doesn’t cost anything to try does it?) This can seem a little scarey, but please start by pushing  all the big pieces into the middle of the room. (You can play around with this by drawing different plans first if you want to save your back.)  Perhaps you could try the plan below?


Have faith and just try this: Place sofas and chairs like they are talking to each other, because that is what you will do when sitting in them! Make conversation areas in L shapes or  U shapes- with sofas and chairs, whatever arrangement suits your space best. Then add in the area rug, coffee table or ottoman.  The side tables place in between to put your drinks, books, lamps.

Hey presto! With a little bit of imagination your room could look like the wow space below. Re-pinned from Abigail Ahern. The yellow sofa just says Kapow and that shot of colour totally lifts an otherwise monochrome space. Like the touches of whimsy with the cat cushion and sheep skin throws – all giving warmth and textural contrast too.


Often our rooms are open plan so use the big pieces of furniture as walls,get the orientation right with the sofa and chairs & then add the smaller bits. Last up is the art and accessories, and the cushions can tie it all together.  Image

This could then be translated into this interior below:


Here on you can see a similar seating arrangement to the plan above.  Shown in a blog written by Live Breathe Decor. Great combination of colours, with the tangerine warming up the cooler blues.  There is seating and comfort here for everyone, including the cat! Side tables positioned exactly where you need them for drinks, books etc.  Note the layering, layering, layering & repetition of the colours.

Feeling cold on a wintery day? Well, warm up by getting that furniture moving!  Will post again tomorrow with more notes from tonight’s talk at St. Heliers Library, 7.30pm.  See you there.