Sofas are one of the most used pieces of furniture in our household and nowadays, they are not exclusively in our living rooms. They can be found in kitchens, snugs, playrooms, conservatories, cinema rooms and master bedrooms. 

It is easy to see how choosing the perfect sofa can be quite an overwhelming process, which is why at Cookes Furniture we have created this handy guide to help you. There are a few things to consider when finding your perfect sofa.


The Purpose

 What is the purpose of your sofa?

 Understanding this is half the battle won! However, there is more to it than just deciding what room it is going to be in.

You need to think about its function, who will be sitting on it and how will you be using it. Will it be for lazy lounging or are you looking for something more supportive?

Traditional advice for choosing a supportive sofa, was to ensure your feet can touch the floor with your lower back supported against the rear cushion. To achieve this, some sofas can be ordered with a higher seat height or shorter seat depths, to get the perfect fit. Nowadays, people like to relax into a sofa, depending on this, it can mean lower and deeper lounging when watching a movie, for example. 

Would you like it to recline, for comfort or practicality?

Modern sofas offer a wide range of different functions to increase comfort and support and for ease of everyday living. Reclining motions can offer support for the entire body, from legs to lumbar support and headrests in every configuration. 

These can be available in manual recliners, where a leaver needs to be activated. A far easier method is the use of electric motors with easy to use buttons and handsets to help you find the perfect position for how you want to sit.

Lift furniture is hugely popular if mobility is limited. The use of a riser recliner supports the user from a seating position to standing after resting for a while.


Is it a sociable sofa for lots of people to sit on and be comfortable or is it more of an occasional, almost decorative piece of furniture for a formal lounge or bedroom?

If limited on space, would a footstool give you the extra seat you need for entertaining? Could it also double up as a coffee table?

Sometimes it can be useful to create a template and lay it on the floor to understand the flow and space needed around it, to find the perfect size you want. Our team can also help with room planning and space design. 


The Style

Now you have considered for whom and what it needs to cater for, now look at how that affects the style of sofa you need.

Will your sofa be against a wall? Do you want a corner sofa?

Is it in an open plan space - accessible and visible from all around? Does it create a room divider for the space by it’s positioning? 

If so, you might want to consider how the sofa looks from every angle, including the back and side, which might be the main view you have of the sofa.

Seat & back cushion height

Too high and it will block or obtrude into the overall view of the space.

The arm height

Keeping the arms nice and low will again allow the sofa to feel fluid with the space.

Simple Shape

Keeping the style simple and functional prevents it from having to compete with other big elements in the space such as the kitchen, family clutter etc and can also be a canvas for cushions and throws to add interest.


What style of Sofa do you need?

With so many different styles, the choice can be quite daunting. This four step template will guide your decision making process.

1. Will it be against a wall so the height isn’t a problem?

2. Do you want higher sofa arms for comfort & extra safety?

3. Is the sofa more the statement feature of the room so the more ornate and detailed the better?

4. Would scatter back cushions be more appealing in comfort and aesthetic than fixed back cushions?

Don't forget...

Higher back sofas are generally more supportive for your back, shoulders and head.

Scatter back sofas have a look and sit all of their own but also consider the extra maintenance necessary in keeping everything in place and perfectly neat, if that is important to you!


The choices are endless!

There are so many different styles of sofa with many manufacturers allowing bespoke configurations, something we specialise in here at Cookes. Some manufacturers sofas and chairs can be tailored to suit your physical needs, with a variety of options for rising and dual motor lifts, providing the ultimate in bespoke fitting for your comfort.

Understanding the functional elements you need for your design will help you make a shortlist. You then need to try, sit on it and see if the style fits with what you want from a sofa. After, consider if it fits with the scheme of the room and configure accordingly.


The Design

So you have nailed the style, now for the actual design. One of the first fundamental you want fabric or leather?



Fabric options are endless, which is why it is good to have a moodboard or Pinterest board of some room scheme ideas to give you an idea of how you want your sofa to look.

Bold or Neutral?

Do you want a bold colour or a neutral? 

Coloured sofas can be trend led but will also make a fabulous statement feature to a room, particularly effective in an open plan space where you want to zone the living area.

Maybe have the main sofa neutral and then a smaller one or chair in a contrast colour. Or if that would still be too much then look at contrast piping or depending on the manufacturer you could ask your Sales Specialist for the accent cushions to be made in your chosen colour pop.

Removable covers can allow you the option to completely change the look of your sofa without the need for re-upholstering. At Cookes with have a range of Manufacturers that offer removable sofa covers - a great practical solution for busy families with small children too.

Have you thought about the type of fabric?

Velvet is a fabulous option for coloured sofas, instead of a woven fabric as it really brings out the richness. Some velvets or velvet look materials can also now be extremely practical too, in terms of stain and/or mark resistant.




Gone are the days where your leather was just brown. Manufacturers now offer a wide range of colours and textures for your leather sofa. Leather can come in many different categories, with different properties. Each has its own benefits and special characteristics. Our Sales Specialists will help you make the right choice for you and how you live.

Aniline Leathers

Are the most natural-looking leather and will include natual characteristics of the animal hide. These require special maintenance as they are more susceptible to sunlight and absorbant when liquids are spilled but they have an incredible feel and a very special look. These leathers do require more care and are probably not recommended for a young family, but the results can be stunning.


 Semi-Aniline Leathers

Are more durable than aniline while still retaining their natural appearance. A coating provides more protection from the sun and spillages. 


Bi-Cast or Split Leather

Bi-cast or Split leathers are produced by a process of spliting the hide and using only the top layer. This layer is then coated with polyurethane, making it look like a top grain leather. It is less expensive and if looked after, can offer a practical and affordable option. 


Nubuck Leather

Nubuck has a feel similar to suede but it’s more durable since it comes from the top grain of the hide. Nubuck leather uses the top grain, outer layer of the leather. This is tougher and more resilient than the inner layer, which is used to make suede.


 Different leathers can be better suited to different individual homes, a hard wearing leather is better for families and pets where as an aniline leather sofa could be stunning in the right setting. 

Our Sales Specilaists can discuss the many options from our different Manufacturers with you.



When you try out a sofa, always ask what the interiors of the cushions are made from.

We generally assume that if it is comfortable in that moment, then it will remain that way.

However, understanding the interior components of your sofa cushion will guide you on the levels of maintenance required and the support it will give.



Known as the ultimate for lounging, squidgy relaxation and providing the ‘lived in’ look, it is also the most high maintenance of all. Needing regular plumping, not only for aesthetics but for continued comfort and support, which can be quite demanding on your time and body!


material that generally comes as standard for most back cushions, fibre provides the softness you would expect from a feather cushion. They still need to be re-shaped and plumped occasionally, however, this is less of a daily requirement and more of a weekly one.



The majority of seat cushions will be made of foam, as they can take more weight, are low maintenance and more durable. 

However, there are hundreds of grades of foam which varies depending on the manufacturer you choose.

Some Manufacturers will use a higher quality grade foam for their luxury sofa seat cushions.  


Foam and Fibre


This combination of foam seat cushions and fibre back cushions works well if you are looking for a sofa that always looks tidy, as both foam and fibre recover their shape well after being used. 

You can also get a combination of foam with either a feather or fibre wrap. This is where the core of the seat cushion is in a high grade dense foam, allowing the cushion to keep its structure and give support - whilst the wrap in the softer material, creates the squishy ‘sinking into’ feeling, perfect for lounging or if you want a more fluid aesthetic.


Finishes can often be an after thought but it can really pay dividends to your overall room scheme to consider what finishes you would like to your sofa.

Feet options for example - wood or metal?

Do you have any furniture with metal finishes in your room already? Are they chrome, brass, gold or even black?

If you do, try to think about how you could tie in those finishes to your choice of feet.

Whether wood or metal, they don’t have to match exactly but complement at least.

As you can see from our guide, there are so many factors to consider when buying your sofa.

It is a big decision and one that you want to make sure you make the right choice for your home. We hope you have found this guide beneficial in your search for your perfect sofa. Please speak to our expert Sales Specialists for any more information.

  Once you have chosen your perfect sofa, we want to make sure you enjoy your furniture for many years to come. That is why we strongly recommend you take out our 5 Year Unique Protection Plan. A guarantee against any spillages, rips, tears or mechanical faults, allowing you to sit back, relax and enjoy your beautiful sofa with total peace of mind.

More information on our Furniture Protection


We hope our Sofa Buying Guide has given you lots of information but we do understand, you might still want to discuss this further with one of our Sales Specialists.

Please visit one of our showrooms or alternatively, please get in touch using our Contact Us form, by emailing or calling 0121 250 5050