Sofa, so good
By Debbie Wiener
Whether it’s from kids, cats or even significant others, upholstered furniture can take quite a
beating. Catching my own kids jumping on the furniture and sneaking snacks on the sofa has taught me
a lot about upholstery construction and fabric
weight. Choosing well-made upholstery and heavyweight, cleanable fabric is critical in designing rooms
with lasting style and comfort. You can’t raise your
family in a museum, so design your home for the
way you really live if you want your furniture investment (and your peace of mind) to last.
start with quality construction in your sofas and
chairs, produced by reputable manufacturers. Choose
hardwood frames, glued, screwed and blocked at
the corners with hand-tied spring support under the
Avoid sofa styles with multi-pillow backs. they
require a lot of maintenance—fluffing and arranging—and they make too tempting weapons for pillow fights between siblings (and some spouses).
Consider spring/down seat cushions (a spring
unit wrapped in foam and a down blend) for great
support and shape retention. down-blend seat backs
(polyester combined with a down blend) feel luxuriously soft but hold their shape over time.
Choose heavyweight, tightly woven fabrics for
upholstery—they’ll withstand use much better than
lighter-weight fabrics. A stain-resistant protective
finish is also helpful. other options are commercially
rated and outdoor-use fabrics—both are designed to
resist fading, repel stains and hold up to heavy use.
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses and Costco.com carry a variety of family-friendly upholstered sofas, sectionals
for your home
Be realistic about your color choices. A white
family room sofa just can’t stay white in an active
household. Choose something with color, pattern
and cleaning ease instead. save white and lighter colors for small accent pieces that don’t get a lot of use
or can easily be recovered at small expense.
Consider styles with exposed legs instead of a
skirt. skirts collect pet hair and stain easily when
kids use the skirt to wipe the backs of dirty shoes.
match the leg color to other room furnishings or to
if you don’t want your kids sitting on the arms of
your sofa, don’t choose styles with oversize arms.
the arm of the sofa is often the first place where fabric thins and shows wear. And with abuse, the soft
padding wears down and the hard frame can be felt
right under the fabric.
rotate the cushions. You’ll extend the life of the
seat and back cushions and the fabric covering them.
While you’re at it, give the cushions and seat bench a
good vacuuming. You’ll probably find the missing
Pokemon cards your kids were searching for when
they destroyed the rest of the house.
if one good thing has come from this recession,
it’s that people now know they need to get the biggest
bang for each dollar they spend. follow my tips,
choose quality products and your seating will provide comfort and style for years—or at least until
your kids move out. C
Costco member Debbie Wiener is the owner of
Designing Solutions (
com), an interior design firm in Silver Spring,
Maryland. She is the author of slob Proof!
real-Life design solutions and blogs at
A feel for fabrics
• Microfiber. The tight
weave makes it difficult
for crumbs, surface dirt
or moisture to penetrate
the fabric. It’s easier to
clean than most fabrics,
and less likely to smell
from spills. It’s impervious to scratching when
one owns and loves cats
and dogs, and will withstand Super Bowl
Sunday, when salsa,
pizza and beer go flying
with each first down.
• Leather. Choose a family-friendly leather that’s
been coated with a protective sealant to help
prevent staining and
scratching. When shopping for leather, try this
test: Run your fingernail
on the leather sample. If
it doesn’t leave a mark,
the leather has more
than likely been glazed
or coated with a protective finish.
• Ultrasuede and
Ultraleather. These synthetics, made from polyester and polyester/
nylon blends, come in
hundreds of colors and
are well suited for high-traffic use. The higher
the quality you choose,
the more real the product looks and feels. Both
products are as good as
it gets when it comes to
and stain and scratch
• Solution-dyed acrylic.
Sold under the trade
name Sunbrella, these
outdoor fabrics offer
great protection from
heavy wear, moisture,
staining and fading.
They are available in a
vast array of prints and
patterns in both traditional and contemporary styles. —DW