Stalking the Wild Divan Finding the Right Sofa for You!

by Pamela Cole Harris

You know it's time for a new sofa when the only visable pattern on your old one is the one made by your kid's kool-aid stains. Or when there is more stuffing outside of the sofa than inside. Or when your guests need help "getting out" of your sofa. Or when you find out your sofa was a "divan" when your grandmother bought it new. Finding a new one that is right for your family and your lifestyle is a daunting task, but here are a few tips to make that task a bit easier:

1. Before you shop for a new sofa, determine what size sofa you need. That may not necessarily be determined by the size of your room. If you live in an upstairs apartment, it may be determined by the width of the stairs, the height of the elevator doors or the size of your "always-ready-to-help-move-furniture" friends. Make a note of the maximum width, height and length that will fit in your space or entrance.

2. Remember that this too shall pass away. That color that's oh so hot today, will be tomorrow's avocado green or burnt orange. Pick a neutral color that can be dressed up with throw pillows in all those wild new colors. Pillows are inexpensive and you can change the look of your room every hour on the hour if you wish!

3. Pick an upholstery fabric or leather that will wear well with your lifestyle. Is the sofa going to be used in a formal living room or a rowdy family room? If you have kids, you should probably stay away from white satin sofas. If you are a careful single adult, white satin might be perfect.

4. If the sofa will be in high traffic areas, try to pick a pattern that will hide soils and stains. Multicolored patterns or tweeds are ideal. The idea is to have a sofa that still looks good while hiding all of those little "accidents" kids will always have.

5. Sit on the sofa in the store. If possible have at least two other people sit on it as well. Is the sofa comfortable when more than one person is sitting on it? How about the center cushion? Is it as comfortable as the outside cushions? How about the arm height? Do the back cushions allow you to "sink in" or must you sit with your best posture? Is the seat the correct height for your leg length?

6. Stand back from the sofa and check the pattern. Does the pattern on the back of the sofa match the cushions? Does the pattern on the cushions match the skirt? Are the stripes aligned at the edges? The mark of quality construction is the careful matching of patterns. If it doesn't match, don't waste your money on it.

7. Look at the trim. Does the cording fit flat and straight or does it curve? Again, if you suspect shoddy workmanship, don't waste your money on it.

8. Remove the cushions and unzip the covers. Be aware of how the cushions are constructed. Is the foam wrapped? Is there extra padding? What is used to stuff the cushions? Foam? Down? Peanuts (don't buy it!)?

9. Look at the body of the sofa. Make certain all surfaces are covered and padded. Unless it is part of the design of the sofa, you shouldn't see wood under the seat cushions.

10. Look at the construction. Are the corners blocked and glued or bolted? If they are just glued or stapled, again, don't waste your money!

There ! Now you are ready to hunt for that sofa. you need a license to hunt sofa in this state?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pamela Cole Harris is an editor and writer with 35 years experience. Visit her website,, for her unique view of home decorating and remodeling (and a free monthly newsletter!). Or for original content unique to your website, written especially for your keywords and your audience, visit

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