What is a sofa buyer to do? The possible configurations are sure to send even seasoned sofa buyers home with a headache.
Rather than lying on the old sofa, feet elevated and a cold pack on that headache, trudge into that upholstered jungle prepared. These befuddling configurations can be broken down in just three basic options.
First, and probably the most common, is the “Three Over Three” sofa. It is an easy choice for many because it offers three “sitters” the opportunity to have their own space without having to perch where the seats meet.
I was reminded at a recent seminar that the average upholstery textile has a 27-inch or smaller pattern repeat. The three-seater works well when a pattern is being selected. The downside is that with three seats there are quite a few visual lines and breaks, making for a bit of a choppy look.
As a designer, I embrace those lines and often make them part of the visual appeal by using a contrasting welt. This gives the sofa almost a pinstripe look.
Some of the traditional three-seater frames have not been updated over the years so there is the risk of having a sofa delivered that is dated before it enters your front door.
Second is what is called the “Two Over Two” – two cushions and two back support cushions.
C R Laine Furniture merchandiser Holly Blalock considers this a clean, quiet sofa style. It is a traditional silhouette that can offer updated features by the arm, leg and fabric selections. Blalock points out that with fewer seats and backs, there are fewer visual breaks. Thus, the sofa has the opportunity to assume a more metropolitan look. The negative side to this configuration is that although the length is the same as a three-seater, if seating three, someone must sit where the cushions join.
The third configuration (and my personal favorite) is the bench seat. This is a sofa with one long cushion and no visual breaks. This removes the limit of how many can be seated if they don’t mind shoulders touching. The bench seat begs to be napped on, and Blalock pointed out that if the back cushions are removed, it can substitute for a daybed for guests. If a bench seat is selected, be prepared for a bit of maintenance. The long and often heavy cushion must be flipped periodically for the health of the sofa. The fabric will also pucker over time as the textile relaxes.
Knowing in advance how a sofa will be used will help guide your selection.