These chairs have been our ‘sofa’ for almost a year now and yes, they’re as uncomfortable as they look. They’re also very
ugly unnattractive and don’t lend themselves to cuddles in front of the telly, so Tim and I have been sitting lonesome in our own chairs for quite a long time…. we knew something had to change!
Sofa hunting, however, proved to be a lot more difficult than we first presumed. We’ve spent the last 4 months looking in brochures, googling sofas, visiting furniture stores and generally hitting our heads against a brick wall as we struggled to find the perfect sofa at the perfect price. We have now found the right sofa, and placed our order (hoorah!) but I thought I’d share our tips, tricks and learnings along the way, should you find yourself in the same predicament as us…
- A good sense of humour
- A budget
- Tape measure
- Newspaper and masking tape
1. We started our hunt by deciding what type of sofa to go for – corner group? 2-seaters? Single chairs? A mix? We looked at the space we had to play with and how we use it on a daily basis and went for corner group – to maximise the seating without compromising on the spacious feel of the room. We felt this was a good place to start as it meant we didn’t waste as much time browsing.
2. We then took basic measurements of the room with a tape measure – what was the maximum length, width and breadth we had to work with?
3. Then we began the hunt! We started looking at all the obvious shops online – DFS, Harvey’s, SCS, Furniture Village, Ikea, Homebase etc etc – and quickly realised that not only is there A LOT of choice when it comes to where you buy your sofa, but that you are very much limited to what’s in fashion in terms of style and fabric and that the sofas we did like were way out of our league in terms of price!
We also quickly realised that a lot of the popular sofa choices weren’t for us. We wanted a corner group, but didn’t want a chaise on the end. We wanted a fabric sofa (as opposed to leather) but didn’t want the popular ribbed fleecy stuff because we knew it would show the dirt and Monty’s fur! So many of the options were chaise, leather or ribbed fabric and we couldn’t find the right style in any of the major stores.
4. We then started looking at build your own sofa shops online. There aren’t many of them out there so we had a good look at Nabru, based in Uxbridge. These guys have a great concept – in which you can design your own sofa almost exactly to the dimensions, shape, style and fabric of your choice – all for a very reasonable price. We ordered fabric swatches from them which arrived quickly and we thought we were onto a winner. We visited their showroom in Uxbridge (only one in the UK I’m afraid) to see the build quality of the product. We were, unfortunately, disappointed. In general they were really well made, however as they were modular and slotted together instead of fixed and built in a factory, and so the backs of the seats moved a lot when sitting on the sofas. They also squeaked a hell of a lot too! We sat on a lot of their sofas and every single one was the same – so we decided that Nabru sofas weren’t right for us.
5. After the Nabru episode, we decided to wait. We stopped proactively hunting temporarily as we felt we’d come to a dead end.
6. During that time, we started to see banner adverts when browsing online, in particular for Furniture Village. These banner ads followed us around the web and were showing us the perfect sofa (a cream corner group without the chaise bit, in a lovely waffle fabric)! However, it was nearly £1000 more than we had budgeted for so we ignore the ads and carried on waiting.
7. The adverts popped up again a few weeks later when Furniture Village were in the middle of one of their (many) sales. The sofa we liked had been heavily discounted and was nearer to our original budget. We decided to visit the store that weekend to have a good look at it, and see if we still thought it was perfect.
8. It was! We realised we could have the sofa in the style we liked, the shape and size we needed and for nearly the right price. We chatted to the sales guy who gave us prices for the dimensions we required and told us to come back next week as it would be the last day of the sale and there may be room for movement on price.
9. We went home with the dimensions and decided to map out the size and position of the sofa on our living room floor with masking tape and newspaper (see above). You need quite a bit of patience for this, and a clear head to ensure you get the measurements right. (Oh and make sure any pets are out the way! Monty had a LOT of fun trampling over the newspaper and playing with the tape measure until we shut him out!). This method of visualising the sofa in place really helped us to agree the size and also how it would fit in the room around our other furniture such as the coffee table. We were able to move the paper around and adjust until we were 100% happy.
10. The final part for us was to return to the store (which we did this weekend just gone) and have a final chat with the sales guy. It was a different bloke this time, but we still tried to get them to come down on price. He was pretty stubborn that the prices were the final discount and the only thing he could do a deal on was the Scotch Gard (which we would rather do ourselves as it’s much cheaper). We pushed as hard as we could to get something off it but we realised we were fighting a losing battle. We walked away and went to mooch around the B&Q next door for half an hour, before returning to the store to place our order.
When placing the order we were really careful to check the following:
- Dimensions as well as the position. As a corner group you have to be clear if the left or right side is the longest, as you could end up with a back to front sofa
- Deposit amount. We paid 25% deposit for the sofa and we double checked the figures ourselves
- Terms and conditions of finance agreement. We bought the sofa on part finance, as Furniture Village offer 0% for 24 months. This means we can keep the money in the bank (always handy) and pay back in manageable monthly installments. We understood that there would be no early repayment charge and also what would happen if we missed a payment. We took the finance option, not because we couldn’t afford the sofa upfront, but because it will help us maintain some savings in the bank.
- Terms and conditions of sale. Read ALL the small print and take your time. Our sales guy had other customers waiting but he understood that we wanted to be entirely sure we were happy with everything and so gave us the time to do so. This is important because once you’ve signed on the dotted line, you’re agreeing to them all
- Delivery times and procedures. Our delivery time is 9 weeks and we should take delivery within 7 days of notification that the sofa is ready. We have requested that it is delivered on a weekend but also understand that if this isn’t possible then we’ll have to make arrangements
- Carefully consider whether or not you need Scotchgard (or similar) protection. Sofa stores sell this ‘protection’ to you at a highly inflated price as it’s one of their main money makers.They tell you they will protect your sofa and come out and clean it if you have a spillage. However, you can buy Scotchgard on Ebay, Amazon and elsewhere on the web and do it yourself. It’s a spray which protects your furniture from spillages by creating a protective barrier. You can also buy a bottle of 1001 stain remover from the supermarket to have on hand should any accidents occur – this stuff works a treat on fabric sofas.
So, as you can see, sofa shopping for us was a long process with lots of decisions to be made and a lot of too-ing and fro-ing. We’re really happy with our choice of sofa though, even if it has taken us nearly 5 months to choose one!
I hope our journey helps you when it comes to choosing a sofa. I’m sure there’s more tips out there though, so if you have any you’d like to share please leave me a comment!
Oh, and I’ll share a pic of our new sofa when it arrives in 9 weeks time!