How to measure for a sofa- 5 experts share their top tips

Follow our handy guide to ensure your new sofa fits perfectly in your home
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  • It’s an invest piece that’s important to get right, so knowing how to measure for a sofa is essential to avoid that classic ‘Ross from Friends’ moment…PIVOT! A new sofa can totally transform a room and with so many stylish designs on the market, it can be a bit of minefield to whittle down what the best sofa for your home is, before you’ve even thought about the size!

    Not only does your sofa have to fit your desired space perfectly, but it’s also got to get through the door- and possibly up stairs and round tight corners first. We’ve probably all fallen fail to online shopping and  bought something that has turned up far bigger or smaller than we expected. While this can make for an amusing anecdote, it can also cause a lot of stress and cost us some hard-earned money when it comes to pieces of furniture.

    How to measure for a sofa

    Charlie Marshall, Founder of Loaf says, ‘Having your new sofa delivered should be fuss-free and relaxed, so we always suggest measuring up and checking dimensions of your room before placing any orders. That way, our delivery crews can ensure that sofas will be able to fit in through doors, around tight hallways and up or down stairs.’

    Kellie Wyles, Head of Upholstery and Brand at DFS says, ‘Measuring for your sofa is an important step in the sofa decision making process. It’s not a case of simply getting the tape measure out, but also about considering what works best for a space, how it will look visually and work logistically.’

    Luckily, if you follow our handy guide, ordering your new sofa should go without a hitch, and you’ll be sat down with your feet up in no time.

    1. Think about how you use the room

    Grey living room with cream sofa round coffee table and large berber rug.

    Image credit: Future Plc/Simon Whitmore

    First things first, you need to choose a sofa that is right for you, so it helps to know how you currently use the space, or how you plan to use the space. There are plenty of living room sofa ideas out there, so this should help to streamline your choices.

    ‘Start by thinking about what your living room is going to be used for. Some people have separate living rooms from the rest of the house and a lot of us have knock throughs where it’s off the kitchen/diner, but whatever size of space it’s important to understand whether it’s a social place or if it’s a place for watching TV, or both, says Charlie. 

    ‘Symmetry in a social or formal space will look great and the balance between sofas facing each other, or even a sofa and two armchairs, will be visually appealing. Introduce a large footstool or coffee table in the centre and some ambient lighting for an intimate feel. If it’s a family room then it’s likely that the sofa will be a main feature, and this could even be a large corner or chaise style. Create balance with a coffee table or a storage footstool in front of the sofa and add a large armchair or love seat to one side. The armchair or love seat will create a visually even weight to the room which will keep it feeling balanced. The trick is to not group too much furniture in one part or at one side of the room.’

    Kellie advises to make sure you’ll be giving your new sofa the space it deserves.

    ‘Your first step should be to look at the room where you plan to put your sofa and consider what’s needed for the space. Do you need a sofa that will fit into a snug corner or are you looking for a statement piece for the middle of an open plan room? Perhaps you would prefer a big, comfy, corner option for movie nights with the whole family! Once you’ve established this you can start to search for a sofa style that works with your space.’

    2. Scope out the space

    Living room with mustard yellow walls and green velvet sofa

    Image credit: DFS

    Buy now: Swoon Rene 4 seater sofa in in teal velvet, from £999, DFS

    Next you need to get a feel for the space and take into consideration how much of the room will be left once the sofa is in.

    ‘It’s always helpful to walk around the space where the sofa will be to check you can move around it comfortably,’ says Kellie. ‘This will help you ensure that you’ll still be able to open windows and doors when the sofa is in situ and move past any coffee or side tables. Similarly, take note of any nearby shelves or radiators to ensure the sofa height isn’t a problem.’

    Charlies goes on to suggest, ‘Always keep in mind how people will be coming in and out of the room and arrange the furniture accordingly as traffic flow is key. You don’t want any knocks or bumps and you don’t want any awkward weaving through the room. Aim to keep paths fuss-free and clear! Generally, you want lots of space! I’d say that walkways should be a minimum of 900mm and if it’s less than this then you’ll feel it. 

    Light living room with green sofa and rattan armchair

    Image credit: Future Plc/Maxwell Attenborough

    Patricia Gibbons from the Design Team at Sofa.com adds, ‘The scale of your sofa is important. Too big and it can feel like it engulfs the whole room, too small you’ll be fighting over the best seat in the house. Finding that sweet spot is key. Smaller rooms benefit from selecting sofas with slimmer proportions and sleek, clean silhouettes. Choose a model with elegant, tapered legs which raise the frame from the floor to give the illusion of more floor space. These larger scale pieces feel more statement and create an anchor to design around without overpowering a large living room. They also help zone, effectively acting as a room divider.’

    3. Measure, measure and measure again!

    Warm grey sofa in a white living room with high shelf on wall behind filled with accessories_Snug Sofa

    Image credit: Snug

    Buy now: The Rebel 3 seater sofa in warm grey, £1299, SNUG

    So now comes the measuring part, which is imperative to ensuring you choose the right size sofa. All of our expert offer slightly different approaches of how to measure for a sofa, but they all agree, it’s one you don’t want to get wrong.

    Dani Burroughs, Head of Product at Snug advises, ‘To measure for your new sofa, it’s always a good idea to note the dimensions of the existing furniture. You’ll want to make sure your new sofa fits in the space without overcrowding – or underwhelming.’

    Large white living room with blue velvet corner sofa and colourful cushions from Sofa.com

    Image credit: Sofa.com

    Buy now: Medium Bluebell corner sofa in Prussian blue cotton matt velvet, £4570, Sofa.com

    ‘Another way to get a real sense of the size is to choose a style you like and map out its dimensions on the floor by laying out cardboard or taping an outline with masking tape. Play around with the different options: try sizing up or down until you find the perfect sofa that fits your home and style,’ continues Dani.

    Suzy McMahon, Buying Director at Sofology, suggests, ‘Make sure you measure your room accurately and, if you have an existing sofa, use that as a benchmark to understand any differing dimensions of a new model. A good tip in an empty room is to lay down newspapers to help you visualise the footprint the sofa will use. Don’t forget that, when considering sizing, you’ll need to allow for leg room and space to move around the sofa.’

    Patricia adds, ‘Think about the amount of floor space you have and take a rough measurement of the maximum length and width the room can accommodate. It’s often difficult to visualise so if it helps, lay down a silhouette in newspaper or tape markers on the floor. You want to leave enough room to comfortably walk around the sofa and for other pieces of furniture.’

    4. Consider access

    Living room with yellow sofa, white walls and floor, abstract art painting hung on wall.

    Image credit: Future Plc/Joanna Henderson

    So you know that your chosen sofa will fit once inside the room, but how about getting it there?

    ‘Don’t just think about what the sofa will look like in the space, also think about how you’ll get it there in the first place,’ says Kellie. ‘There are lots of ways to work around tricky access, from sofas with bolt-on arms that can be fixed once your sofas are in place to smaller, modular pieces’

    Suzy adds, ‘Delivery is a key stage in the process of buying a new sofa, so make sure hallways and doors are wide enough to accommodate your sofa. To maximise space without compromising comfort, consider a corner sofa or chaise. Not only are they great for relaxing, their length serves as an integrated footstool that saves additional space in the room. Selecting a style with hidden storage can also help to make the most of a small room, negating the need for additional bulky furniture in the area.’

    ‘Avoid unnecessary stress with a sofa that comes in a box and is ready to assemble in minutes without the need for DIY skills, heavy lifting or tools, ‘ adds Dani. All of Snugs sofas and sofa beds are delivered in a box, fit into awkward spaces and up winding staircases and are fully modular and re-configurable.

    5. Get the layout of your room right

    Pink loveseat in living room with berber room and lamp on side table

    Image credit: Loaf

    Buy now: Smithy loveseat in Potter Pink clever linen, from £1445, Loaf

    The next thing to do is ensure your new sofa sits correctly within your space.

    Charlie advises, ‘If it’s a large open plan area and you’re expecting plenty of traffic, you could look at zoning the space with open shelving. By creating a slight separation, you can keep the flow of the space without losing the cosy feel of the living room. Consider also using your sofa style to your advantage. Chaise and corner designs are an effective way to zone a space and offer walkways which will help the flow of the room.’

    Suzy adds, ‘Positioning the sofa against a wall will help to keep the room open, especially in a smaller space. A sofa’s proportions are particularly important in compact living. Opting for a petite sofa with a tall back and narrow arms will make the piece appear larger than it is, whereas choosing a corner sofa with a low back can help make a room feel bigger and the sofa less imposing.’

    ‘Neutral sofas work well where space is limited, and can be kept up to date with cushions and throws in bold patterns and colours’.

    Putty coloured sofa in cosy living room with panelled wall behind

    Image credit: Sofology

    Buy now: Cartwright 2 seater sofa in Altara Putty all over, £1799, Sofology

    With all these easy-to-follow tips from the sofa gurus themselves, it should make the sofa measuring process quick and simple, so you can feel confident that your sofa will fit your space perfectly.

    How do you check if a sofa will fit?

    Suzy says, ‘Selecting the perfect sofa is a very personal choice and will balance many factors, including practicality, comfort, style and budget. For smaller spaces, the initial practical considerations are essential but fairly straightforward; think about the space you have in your room and how many you would like to seat.’ 

    Next make sure your chosen sofa will fit through doorways! This is often something that is often overlooked, so the first thing to do is note down the ‘packaged’ dimensions of your chosen sofa- the width (W), height (H) and depth (D). Also be sure to measure the narrowest point of your stairs, if the sofa needs to go to another floor. If this measurement is wider than the packaged height of your sofa, then it should fit.

    Don’t forget that if you need to lift a sofa over a bannister, the distance between the bannister and the ceiling must be greater than the packaged depth of your sofa at the narrowest height.

    How to do you measure a sofa for a room?

    Get your tape measure out and double check every measurement you take!

    Kellie advises, ‘It’s critically important to note the width (the measurement across the back of the sofa), the depth (the measurement from the back of the sofa to the front) and the height (the measurement from the floor to the top of the back of the sofa). Take particular note of the depth of the sofa if you’re buying for a smaller room, as the depth of the seat rarely changes from the larger to smaller size sofas. One top tip for making sure that your sofa will fit in your space is to cut out the shape of your sofa from newspaper in the correct dimensions and place it on the floor in the room to get a sense of the area it will take up.’

    Don’t assume all sofa sizes are the same, a three seater at one brand, might be quite different in size to another brand, so make sure you measure up any new sofa you plan on buying.

    Charlie says, ‘Because every Loaf sofa is handmade, the size can vary by approximately 3cm. So if your measurements come up a little tight we recommend sticking on the safe (smaller) side’

    What is the standard size of sofa?

    Sofas come in lots of different sizes, from little loveseats, to huge corner sofas, so there isn’t really a standard size as such. That said, an average 2 seater sofa is approximately W175cm x H98cm x D95cm; an average 3 seater is W210cm x H98cm x D95cm and an average 4 seater sofa is around W240cm x H98 x D95cm. But this is differ slightly from brand to brand, so be sure you are fully clued up on how to measure for a sofa before making a purchase.

     

     

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