Sofas buying guide

Whether you're collapsing into them at the end of a day; catching up on them over cups of tea; or piling on to them at parties, sofas take centre stage in the home's most multi-functional room, which makes them officially its most multi-purpose piece of furniture.

Hardworking but handsome, long lasting but luxury - a sofa is both a basic need and something special. It doesn't have to break the bank, yet it shouldn't be scrimped on. Simply put, it's something to get right.

Luckily there's plenty of scope when it comes to sofas, and with our Habitat Sofa Buying Guide, there's no need to feel overwhelmed. Simply put your feet up and take it easy, sit back and relax, because we're here to cushion you.

What are the different types of sofas?

There are sofas to suit every situation - supportive and stunning, comfortingly classic or modular and modish. Once you've decided which is for you, make sure you consult our Habitat Sofa Measuring Guide before ordering.

2 Seater Sofas

What they are

Smaller-scale sofas with two seat and two back cushions, as the name suggests these sofas are designed to seat a pair of people. They are often also available in a three-seater version, in the same shape, design and fabric.

What they're good for

Bijoux homes such as apartments or cottages, or smaller scale living rooms. They're also good for all the places we suggest for compact sofas (see below).

View our 2 Seater Sofa range.

3 Seater Sofas

What they are

Bigger sofas designed to seat more people - or for one to really stretch out on - these are usually also available in a two-seater version, in the same shape, design and fabric. They can also come with extensions to the seat on one side (see Chaise Sofas below) as a super comfortable, extra accommodating option.

What they're good for

Larger living rooms can play host to larger sofas - and therefore more people - so they're ideal for family homes, couples, flat shares, or party throwers. Because a sofa is a piece that's a longterm investment, it's always worth going for a three-seat sofa if you have the space and budget - you'll certainly never outgrow it.

View our 3 Seater Sofas range.

Sofa Beds

What they are

As the name suggests, these are sofas that tidily tuck a foldout bed beneath their seat cushions, while remaining a comfortable place to sit. They easily adapt in one swift movement to sleep guests or party stragglers. There are two types:

  • Sofa beds for nightly use: the more a sofa bed is used, the more comfort and durability it requires.
  • Sofa beds for occasional use: this is an ideal guest bed that is only used from time to time.

The structural difference between these two sofa bed types is the thickness of the mattress, the suspension of the foam, and the fillings. Sofa beds for using every night will naturally need to be more durable, and are therefore also the pricier option. For more on sofa beds, see the Habitat Sofa Bed Buying Guide.

What they're good for

Ideal for making you appear the ultimate flexible friend, sofa beds are two essential pieces of furniture rolled into one. They can be useful in a living room, or in a spare room being used for other purposes (i.e. a home office) that needs to be guest-ready at a moment's notice.

View our Sofa Beds range.

Chaise Sofas

What they are

A chaise sofa is an upholstered piece - usually a three-seater - with one elongated seat section to support extended legs.

They are different from corner sofas (see below) because the extended area is not so much for extra seating, as to accommodate lounging. On a chaise sofa, the backrest does not continue around the corner created by the extension, as it would on an L-shape.

Chaise sofas should also not be confused with chaise longues (see below).

What they're good for

Ideal for making you appear the ultimate flexible friend, sofa beds are two essential pieces of furniture rolled into one. They can be useful in a living room, or in a spare room being used for other purposes (i.e. a home office) that needs to be guest-ready at a moment's notice.

View our Chaise Sofas range.

Chaise Longues

What they are

These are sofa-length seats that have a sofa back and arm at just one end. Crying out to be reclined on by just one person, they exude a me-me-me feeling of glorious indulgence.

What they're good for

These can take pride of place in a living room, dressing room, bedroom, or even hallway. They work well placed against a wall, but often deserve to have space around them as they can be a real centrepiece.

View our Chaise Longues range.

Corner Sofas

What they are

Also known as L-shaped sofas, unlike chaise sofas (see above) these are sofas with two sections of seating that form a right angle, each of which is accompanied by two back rests. Their overall shape resembles an 'L'.

What they're good for

Because of their scale, these L-shaped sofas tend to work better in larger living rooms. They can also find a place in playrooms and large kitchens that might have a lounging area within them.

Most styles have the option of the having the corner section at either end, so that if you're planning to house it in a corner of a room, your sofa can be ordered to slot right into it.

View our Corner Sofas range.

Modular Sofas

What they are

Some people prefer to do things their own way, and modular sofas are therefore their ideal partner. Coming in sections and parts to put together any which way, these are the ultimate in adaptability.

In some ranges, modules come in different colour options, to be put together for an edgy, individual look. In others, various shapes and units of the same colour and fabric can be compiled for a unified creation that almost feels bespoke.

What they're good for

Modular sofas are the best of all worlds, being good for any size of home and any room within it. They're an excellent option for those starting small and wanting a sofa that can change and grow with their home or family.

Most styles have the option of the having the corner section at either end, so that if you're planning to house it in a corner of a room, your sofa can be ordered to slot right into it.

View our range of Modular Sofas range. .

Compact Sofas

What they are

lso known as loveseats or snuggle seats, these cute kids of the lounging world are sofa-like in style, but characterised by a single seat cushion and a single back cushion (which is what differentiates them from two-seat sofas (see above).

Size-wise, compact sofas fall somewhere between being the choice of those wanting the smallest possible sofa, and those wanting the largest possible armchair.

What they're good for

Like two-seater sofas, compact styles are perfect for small-space living - flats, studio apartments, small Victorian houses, barges or any nook where extra seating can be handy, say a bay window, a hallway, or even a bathroom.

Otherwise, as they're also like a super-generous armchair, they can be used as are chaise longues - as secondary seating to pair with a larger sofa.

View our Compact Sofas range.

How do you choose a sofa?

Choosing a sofa is a big decision, and one to consider from all angles: style, size, fabric, filling and of course placement and purpose.

Here are some things to think about before making that choice:

Size

Whether it's going against a wall or standing in the middle of a room, staying solo or teaming up as a suite, it's best to give your sofa some space. Why?

  • Because it allows for side and coffee tables, lamps and magazine racks.
  • Because sofas never look their best wedged into a space
  • Because if they're cooped up, sitting on them can feel a little claustrophobic.

The best way to figure out what works for your room is to consider the other pieces you need to fit in it alongside it, as well as how you'll configure them all. Once you know what space your sofa will be working with, consult the Habitat Sofa Measuring Guide to work out what size will work best.

Material

Most lines come in a variety of fabrics and colours, which meet different levels of price and feel.

Should I order fabric swatches when buying a sofa?

We always encourage our customers to order swatches of the fabrics they're interested in, because we think upholstered furniture is a BIG deal - a big decision about a big piece.

Seeing a picture of your chosen fabric just isn't the same as touching it and looking at it in different lights. Since there's nothing like the real thing, there's nothing like a swatch for giving you the best idea of what you're interested in.

To order, go to the product page of the sofa bed you’re considering on the site and click ‘Order Free Fabric Swatch Sample’ above the price.

What materials do Habitat's sofas come in the following material:

Fabric

Almost all Habitat sofa fabrics are made in Europe, with many coming from family-run Italian mills. We choose all our fabrics for their consistently high quality, and every fabric is tested and meets the UK Furniture and Furnishings Fire and Safety Regulations.

The Habitat sofa fabrics include:

  • Linen: Sofas made in linen have a casual, lived-in look, with natural creases that soften over time.
  • Cotton - Whether pure or blended, cotton is extremely versatile and comfortable, being easy to care for and to live with.
  • Polyester - Durable and hardwearing, polyester makes a simple to add textured accessories to.
  • Velvet - Soft as anything to the touch, velvet is as luxurious to look at as it is to sit on.
  • Wool - For creating a cosy look and feel, there's nothing like wool, and it comes in a beautiful range of colours that tone in with every scheme.
View our Fabric Sofas ranges.

Leather

Natural, soft, but extremely durable and strong, leather is breathable, meaning it feels warm in the winter and cool in the summer. All Habitat's leather upholstery comes from Italian tanneries, which are renowned for producing high quality materials.

Leather looks good on any shape, whether minimal and boxy or sculptural and curvaceous.

View our Leather Sofas range.

Filling

The fillings of Habitat sofas have been carefully matched to each particular sofa style for their comfort and appearance. We tend to use a blend of the main materials in our range, in order to maximise the benefit of each and make every sofa the very best it can be.

Those main materials are:

  • Foam: Available in a variety of densities, we sometimes use different foams within one seat cushion to ensure the right level of support is provided in just the right place.

    A foam cushion will give firmer support and cleaner lines than a feather one, and a higher-density foam will better maintain its shape. All new foam loses about 15 per cent of its hardness over the first six months of use before it stabilises. This means that a foam sofa may initially feel a little firmer than it might have done when tried out in store.

  • Feather: The classic luxury-feel filling, feather has a high level of comfort and is popular because it's natural.

    However, that 'sink into' feeling comes at a price and the look is also less structured, needing regular plumping for cushions to keep their generous rounded look and soft support.

    Feathers can be combined with fibre in the filling to give cushions a little extra resilience.

  • Polyester fibre: On its own polyester fibre is not durable enough for seat cushions, so we use it mixed with feathers for smaller cushions.

Watch our sofa measuring guide:

Which sofa is best for a small living room?

We would always recommend two-seater sofas, chaise longues, modular sofas or compact sofas for bijoux spaces.

Another thing to remember is that light creates space. So, just as a high backed sofa or chair may look best in rooms with high ceilings, lower backs are better for less open rooms as they are less interruptive to the eye.

Similarly, slim legs and plenty of space between the base of the sofa and the floor will help with creating that illusion of space.

Should I order a swatch of my chosen sofa bed’s fabric?

We always encourage our customers to order swatches of the fabrics they’re interested in, because we think upholstered furniture is a BIG deal–a big decision about a big piece.

Seeing a picture of your chosen fabric just isn’t the same as touching it and looking at it in different lights. Since there’s nothing like the real thing, there’s nothing like a swatch for giving you the best idea of what you’re interested in.

To order, go to the product page of the sofa bed you’re considering on the site and click ‘Order Free Fabric Swatch Sample’ above the price.

How do you look after a sofa?

All sofas should have a care label attached to them when they arrive. These can be removed and kept in a safe place for referencing later. Each is appropriate to that specific sofa.

How do you clean a fabric sofa?

We always recommend professional cleaning, because we know it gets the best results. But in the case of small spills, it's important to avoid your instinct to rub at the stain. This only pushes the spillage deeper into the fabric, which of course makes it harder to clean. Instead, wipe lightly with a damp (not wet) cloth, and then immediately wipe dry with a soft dry cloth.

To maintain your fabric sofa, it should be vacuumed or brushed weekly as dirt accumulating on it can lead to the upholstery wearing and its colour dulling.

We also have some sofa no-nos:

  • Avoid sharp objects
  • Do not use solvent-based cleaners
  • To avoid fading, place furniture out of direct or prolonged periods of sunlight, and away from heat sources.

How do you clean and protect a leather sofa?

A leather care kit is the best bet for keeping leather supple and conditioned - it's like a full facial, but for a sofa. Known simply as Leather, our leather care kit contains every product you'll need to keep your leather upholstery looking good. It's designed to maintain, protect and prolong the life of the material, ultimately preventing it from drying out.

As well as a sponge, cloth, instruction booklet, and Ink Away application (for ballpoint pen marks) the kit includes:

  • Soft Cleaner: to be used twice a year as a general maintenance exercise, but also useful for cleaning stains as they occur.
  • Protection Cream: like a vitamin injection that replaces moisturise and nutrients to the leather while providing a protective layer between the leather and any dirt/water. The cream is also like an SPF, and offers protection from the damaging effects of the sun.

What accessories can sofas be teamed with?

A sofa can be a loud, large statement that sets the stall for a room's décor and colours, or it can be a neutral canvas for layering with seasonal updates in the form of cushions and throws .

Other pieces to work into your room include armchairs and footstools, which can match or clash; coffee tables and occasional tables that bring your things closer to you; and rugs, the other big talker (or neutral canvas) in a living room.

Is it worth buying a second set of sofa covers?

Extra sets of covers are often available for sofas upholstered with removable covers. These take about eight weeks to make and can be delivered to your home or local store. They are brilliant for switching in and out with your primary set of covers for a different look, or for use while your main set is being cleaned.