Finishing Touches

The best of large family sofas: some ideas of what to look for

The best of large family sofas: some ideas of what to look for

The best large family sofas are those that are finished in long-lasting fabrics, with well-stuffed cushions that can take plenty of bums all at the same time.

The fabric

Seriously, leather is one of the materials that is actually really family friendly. You can see the mess. You can scrape the mess up, if necessary. You can also wipe leather properly, with a damp cloth and a tiny bit of dish soap. Everyone always talks in hushed tones about leather sofas, as if the next child will cause sofapocalypse. But really, because leather doesn’t absorb gunge and liquids the same as fabric, it could be the best material for a family sofa that you ever came across.

However, in 5 years, don’t expect it to look the same as it did when you first bought it … unless you’re the sort of person who looks ahead. Distressed leather is one of the greatest obfuscations of design. It’s fraught, scraped and different shades, and it still looks amazing. Best to buy it ready-distressed, however. The kind of distress that a family of three toddlers and a large dog could impart on a sofa might not be so evenly distributed.

If you’re not so keen on leather (and many aren’t, so you’re not alone), whichever fabric you choose should have been checked through the so-called Martindale Rub Test.

The rub test checks how durable the fabric is, and the more rubs it can cope with, the longer your fabric will survive. Rubs are tested in units of 1,000, and heavy duty and commercial grade fabrics should test out from 25,000 to 30,000+ rubs. If you’ve got a youngish, busy family, you should go for the heaviest, most resilient grade possible, and don’t be afraid to ask about the rub test in-store.

The frame

You don’t want to have to buy a new sofa every couple of years. But if there’s one thing that goes with time, it’s the springs and infrastructure of the couch. If you’ve got tiny tots or large dogs, you’ll find the springier they are, the less spring your settee will maintain. These chairs aren’t trampolines, but we’ve all used them for that purpose at some point!

For that reason, hard wood is the best type of wood frame to get. It’s less likely to give and snap than soft wood. Hard woods you could consider include oak, beech, teak or mahogany. Pine is an example of a soft wood and is more likely to bend, become deformed, or break, if it’s given too much wear.

Wear often occurs where two pieces of wood rub against either each other or another part within the sofa. This means you may get damage and splintery ends inside the sofa for a while before the real wreck occurs—a finish none of us wants! With softer wood, this will happen more quickly, and it’s almost a given. With the harder stuff, you’ll find it doesn’t have as much of an effect.

The shape

All the questions, but only you have the answers. Sofas are totally personal to the people using them.

How are you going to use your sofa? If you love to lie around on it, you should consider where you head will go as you’re watching TV. Do you sit halfway up the back, your legs supported by a pouf, or do you lie right back with your head on the arm rest? Do you use it like a bed?

Do you all watch TV together as a family? The bench style, often with a corner feature, is one of the greatest ever designs for family use, according to the Finished team. No-one gets left out, there’s room for littles as well as parents, and there’s no need for a ‘best seat’; they all feel great.

If a bench-style sofa is too large for your needs, or you have a large family but not enough living room, you’ll have to compromise with a smaller couch and some additional furniture finishing touches. Chaise longue is the type that has a single armrest at one end, and a bench finish at the other. The open ended nature of the piece means you could probably get an extra person on in a tight spot, and for everyone else, there are floor cushions.

Floor and scatter cushions never go out of fashion and if you get some made in a similar fabric to the sofa, you’re laughing.

If you’re a lounger, you’ll want soft, well-stuffed cushions underneath and on the back and sides of the settee.

If you prefer to sit more formally, the Poet sofa design has been around for almost eighty years, and it’s a classic shape that cups the people without throwing them together.

When it comes to figuring out the best shape and materials for you and your family, pets, and visitors, the best thing you can do is visit the showroom. Go sit in the seats, lounge, take your kids, and make sure you spend enough time sat down to be able to tell how comfortable you are. As with beds, it’s best to use the piece of furniture in the showroom for at least fifteen minutes, to be able to tell if it’s the right family sofa for you and yours.

Struggling to find a sofa showroom in your area? Check out our Directory and type ‘sofa’ into the keyword box to see where the Finishers get their gear, and take your pick of the best large family sofas.

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