What I Look For in a Sofa

This is one of the main conversations I start with clients in the furniture selection phase of a design project! And since I am going through this process myself for our new office space and placing orders today, I thought I'd share what I look for when I'm shopping for a sofa! ARM STYLE We are fans of clean lined arm styles in the majority of cases. The three sofas we are considering for the office can be seen below, and one has a sloped arm, one has a thinner straight arm, and one has a chunkier straight arm. Rolled arms are more traditional in style, and high arms are a contemporary take on a sofa. Aesthetics might be the first determination, but always consider the scale of the space as well the scale of the other furniture when deciding on arm style. CUSHION TYPE We are suckers for a clean bench seat cushion, which normally spans the entire length of a sofa. However, that minimal look takes a lot of work - can you imagine flipping and fluffing an 8' cushion filled with foam and down feathers? If you're up for the challenge, it really makes for a beautiful sofa. But normally, our clients go for two cushions, and we will go that same route for our office sofa. CUSHION FILL We wanted the sofa to be both a place to sit and relax, and also a tester for the most popular cushion fills we specify for clients. That way, our clients can sit test them during office visits! The standard cushion we specify has a foam core wrapped with casing filled with polyester fiber, and bounces back easily when you get up from the seat. The feather soft cushion has a foam core that is wrapped with casing filled with down feathers, which gives you more of a sink-in feeling. Both seat cushion fills are paired with standard fill back cushions to keep their shape longer over the lifetime of the sofa. We've had a client come back and say she prefers falling asleep on her feather soft sofa rather than her own bed! If that's not a review for comfort, we don't know what is. FABRIC 90% of the time, we specify kid-proof fabric for sofas for the added durability, even if our clients don't have kids! These fabrics do cost more, but they come with built in sun protection to prevent fading from UV exposure and stain protection. Crypton fabric is our favorite by far. There are plenty of color options to choose from as well, so this is our go-to option for our design projects! AMERICAN MADE VS. MADE OVERSEAS We work with an amazing vendor that manufactures sofas in North Carolina, using mortise and tenon joints and corner block construction for reinforced framing. We know the idea of pricing a custom sofa may seem like too much for your budget, but pricing is actually comparable to big box retailers that you know very well (one of them may have extensive showrooms, oversized chandeliers, and restaurants in some locations). To keep up with the amount of volume these big box retailers sell, the frames are manufactured in China and shipped overseas, and the quality difference is very obvious a few years after purchasing. It is worth the investment in a high quality piece that you can truly customize and hopefully will have for at least a decade! Which one is your favorite?! Let us know in the comments below, and we will reveal which one won out soon!

Hi, I'm Madi!

When I'm not designing beautiful homes, I am at home in Ventura with my husband and three dogs. You will find me biking along the ocean, kayaking in the harbor, or looking for the best local tacos. 



Madison Nicole Design is a full service interior design studio located in Santa Barbara, California. Madison and team take on projects of all sizes, from furniture styling to large scale remodels, locally and abroad via e-design services.

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