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7315 11th St. SE Calgary Alberta T2H 2S1 587-323-3227
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How to Buy a Sofa

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At Birchwood Furniture Galleries, we’ve always have your best interest in mind. In conjunction with this month’s Custom Upholstery Sale, we thought it’d be a great time to walk through the basics of how to buy a sofa.

Because a quality sofa can last you anywhere from 10-15 years, taking the time to  consider these points before you buy will pay off in the long run.

1- Sofa Usage
2- Sofa Shape
3- Sofa Size
4- Sofa Covering
5- Construction Quality
6- Your Budget

We’ve gone over some of these points before in other posts more specific to your space planning, and fabric. Click through to previous blog posts learn more about how to prepare for shopping, fabric and leather selection.


Before setting out on the furniture hunt, we suggest you take the time to evaluate how you and your household members will be using the piece. Will your new sofa be used for everyday activities like watching TV, relaxing and family time? Or will it be used in a formal living space, reserved for more formal visiting?

We ask that you think about who will be using it and if they have any specific needs. Are they in need of a shorter or deeper seat? Finding a sofa that fits more that one person can sometimes be tricky, so make sure all parties get to test out the sit of the piece before it is ordered.


Now that you’ve figured out who will be using your sofa and how, you can zero in on what shape and style of a sofa will suite your household needs.

Typically a sofa used for relaxation will be deep with loose back pillows, and low arms. Some styles with more stylized arms and structured cushions can cross over from formal to informal. Sofas with shallow seating and tight backs are more suitable to formal or traditional settings. Sectionals tend to be better for cozy conversational atmospheres. Reclining models are ideal for lounging, reading and entertainment areas.



As explained in a previous post, taking the measurements and photos of your room  before setting out to shop is very important. These will be your guide to having the information you need at your finger tips when testing out sofas. You don’t want to accidentally fall in love with a piece twice as big as you need!

Since retail environments are a lot bigger than most homes, picturing anything you see in stores in the context of your home’s scale will likely be hard without measurements, and even some drawings. Some people have the eye for it, but from our experience, it isn’t worth the risk! Read here about how we can help you with this.

When selecting a size, make sure you aren’t overpowering your space, or blocking the natural traffic flow of your room. Keep in mind that if you have specific needs for the size of your sofa, our main upholstery manufacturer Birchwood Furniture, can alter any of their models to fit your exact requirements!



To keep your sofa looking great over time, it’s important to take the time to consider your covering options. The first choice to make is whether you are going with fabric or leather upholstery. This decision will point you down completely different choice sets, so it is important to figure this one out right off the bat.

If you are going with fabric, you will want to select something that’s wear-ability meets the use of your sofa. High maintenance fabrics should be used in more infrequently used settings. Microfibers are great in heavy usage areas and are easy to clean, and patterned fabrics can help hide minor stains. Textured fabric show wear and tear less.

If you are going with leather, your options are much more today than ever before. There are leathers of all qualities, textures, patterns and finishes. Make sure you understand what your options are and what their characteristics are before you finalize our selection.


When evaluating a sofa’s construction, there are a few elements to keep in mind. These are frame construction, seating support, and filling types. Be sure to ask your design consultant for details on the construction of different manufacturers.

Here are some questions to ask about your sofa’s construction:

– Are the frame joints glued, stapled, screwed with the reinforced corners?
– What type of seat support was used – 8 way hand tied, sinuous springs, webbing?
– Are the cushions down filled, down wrapped, fiber wrapped foam core, fiber filled? What foam firmness is available?


Above is a diagram of Birchwood Furniture’s standard construction model. All frames are made to last, with lifetime warranties. Specifics about their construction include heavy gauged sinuous no-sag spring systems, glued/screwed/stapled and reinforced corners, and kiln dried engineered hardwood. If you want any extras, you can customize the seating support and filling types for your order with this supplier.

When trying out a sofa, you want to be aware of what you can learn about the construction from the look, sit and feel. Does it feel solid, sturdy, or creak and sag when you sit on it? Can you feel the frame through the padding? Do the cushions retain their shape when you sit down? Or do they curl up around you? All of these are quality indicators.


What prices should you expect when out shopping for a basic sofa? You’ll find sofa’s ranging from $700 to $3,500. Looking for quality with extra bells and whistles? Leather? Your ideal sofa could fall anywhere in the $2,000 to $10,000 price range. Because generally clients seek out longevity, we recommend you buy the best quality you can afford at your time of purchase.

Keep warranties and insurance add-ons in mind when you budget as they can make all the difference to your overall satisfaction with your sofa in the long run. Make sure to ask what kind of warranty the manufacturer offers on their frame, foam & fabric, as well as if the store itself offers any extra protection plans.

When living with little ones and pets, a few hundred dollars extra at your point of purchase can go a long way, even if it is only for peace of mind. At Birchwood Furniture Galleries, we offer great leather, fabric and wood protection plans by Diamond-Kote Insurance. Our design consultants swear by the care kits that come with the protection, and our clients love the no-questions-asked replacement guarantee.

We hope we’ve set you up with all the questions to ask, as well as things to look for and inspect on your next sofa hunt! As always, if there is anything you need help with, we’re here to lend a hand. At Birchwood Furniture Galleries, it’s about you – it’s about choice.

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