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As with floors, a sofa's long-term use depends on durability and design

April 02, 2013

Hardwood FloorsTo ensure long-term durability and classic beauty in choosing a new sofa, San Francisco interior designer Courtney Jones counsels her clients on the value of the four F's - form, frame, fabric and fill. The same approach could be taken to any important component of home design. Anderson's Dellamano collection, for instance, offers a distinctive look in traditional maple and hickory hardwood flooring.

Just as floors have to withstand lots of use, sofas are among the most heavily used pieces of furniture in a household. But they're also one of the most expensive. As a result, the average consumer should know what to look for before making such a major investment.

Form dictates the fit
Choosing the right couch for a home means taking into account how the sofa is used, its unique design and how much space it needs to be attractively situated in a room.

That's where form comes in, said Jones, who owns a custom home furnishings store in San Francisco. The lines of the sofa, its back height, style of arm rests and number of cushions all make up the form. Those factors will determine whether a sofa can fit into a certain space and match the homeowner's style preferences.

Frames and fill determine quality
The frame is the nuts-and-bolts construction that determines a sofa's quality and durability. Solid construction of hardwoods such as alder, maple and oak results in the sturdiest sofas.

While most people prefer cushion fill that has a foam core surrounded by materials such as wool batting and Dacron, others are choosing sustainable choices such as soy or organic cotton fabrics. Cushions wrapped in goose down require plumping and can cause an allergic reaction in some people, the website warns.

Fabric is the finishing touch
The fabric of a sofa may be the most decorative feature, but it also needs to be durable to stand up to regular use. From leather to chenille, there are endless colors and patterns from which to pick.

When choosing an upholstery fabric, thought should be given to the variety of finishes and colors that are part of the existing room design. Some homeowners may gravitate toward a neutral fabric that can be updated periodically with a variety of pillows or decorative throws. Others may see the new upholstery as an opportunity to create a focal point for the room by choosing a bold and unique fabric.