An inside job
Tips for choosing a solid sofa or sectional
ABOUT A YEAR AGO, I moved into a new
condo with little to no furniture. I had been
using borrowed furnishings and felt it was
time to grow up. So off I went sofa shopping
without a clue of where to start. I offer these
tips to help you avoid the angst.
1 Measure for measure. Never go shopping for a sofa before first measuring the
space in which you expect to use it. There is
perhaps nothing as frustrating as buying a
piece of furniture, only to find it doesn’t fit
where it needs to go.
2 Under the skin. Feel the front and
back of the frame, corners and arms. Are
there hard or sharp corners? That may indicate sparse padding. Check all padding to
make sure it is smooth, not lumpy. Don’t forget the back, especially if the sofa will not be
against a wall. Cushions may have springs,
cotton or polyester fiber, or down. Many
today are made from polyurethane foam.
By Steve Fisher
Unzip a seat cushion to see what filler is used,
if it is not specified on any labeling.
3 Getting framed. After the look of the
piece has attracted you, check the frame first.
How sturdy is the foundation? What quality
of wood was used? Is it all wood, or were plastic composites, laminated boards and metal,
or a combination used? High-quality sofas
use kiln-dried hardwood or hardwood plywood. These tend to hold pegs, screws, staples and nails in place more securely for
longer periods of time. Look for high-quality
wood without knots.
How do you do this, short of stripping the
upholstery off the item, which retailers tend to
frown upon? Start by lifting a corner of the
couch and look underneath or at the leg. If the
wood shows any signs of knots, walk away.
Step back and look at the sofa. It should sit
squarely on the floor. Have someone push
down on one arm while you, or someone else,
niture do not go together. Pet urine and body
oils are difficult to remove. Or cover the sofa.
• Designs created by the weave in the
upholstery could be a target for playful
pets, errant zippers and snaps.
• Microfibers can be cleaned easily
with a lint roller, or with dish soap or laundry detergent.
• Dust leather weekly and occasionally
wipe down with lukewarm water.—SF
Keeping your new sofa looking like new
FOLLOW THESE TIPS to keep furniture like
new as long as possible.
• From time to time, rearrange the
furniture to ensure even cushion use.
• Reverse loose cushions every week.
• Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.
• Protect fabrics from direct sunlight.
The ultraviolet rays will cause fiber to
degenerate and colors to fade.
• Keep Fido and Fluffy off. Pets and fur-
lifts the opposite leg. The sofa should not twist.
Push out on the arms to see if there is any give.
The frame should feel solid and secure.
4 Spring into it. Press down on the area
under the cushions to feel the springs. They
should be evenly spaced and equally resistant
to pressure. The springs should not make
noise. No squeaks or squeals. Sit on the sofa in
multiple spots, in numerous ways, to be sure
you don’t feel you’re listing like the Titanic after
the iceberg. If you do, the metaphor may apply
to the sofa in general.
5 Eye of the needle. Look for inconsistencies in upholstery patterns and colors,
especially from section to section. Stitching
should be even and finished, with no loose
threads. Pleats should be evenly spaced. Zipper
colors should match the upholstery. Is there a
UFAC tag? This indicates the upholstery was
manufactured per Upholstered Furniture
Action Council standards, which mitigate the
possibility of fire.
While different manufacturers may vary
somewhat in their materials and processes,
these basics hold true for top-quality sofas
and sectionals. Finally, you might also want
to ask someone else to sit on the sofa to be
sure it is comfortable for guests. With any
luck, you won’t always be sitting on the sofa all
by yourself. C
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses currently carry a variety
of sofas, sectionals, love seats and armchairs—all manufactured to top specifications. Additional selection is available on