A sofa should be many things: aesthetically pleasing, stylish, and durable. But, above all, comfort is key. Learning how to make a sofa more comfortable can make all the difference to a relaxing evening after a long day.
If you decided to buy a sofa online without trying it first, or inherited one that needs a helping hand in the cozy department, don't panic - there are a few things you can do to optimize those comfort levels.
'The first sofa I bought I did so because of how it looked,' says Livingetc's Pip Rich. I was a fan of mid-century shapes, which tend to mean hard couch arms. It was't comfortable. I had to learn the hard way that sometimes a living room couch needs a bit of help. My main advice is to think not just what's on the sofa, but what's around it, too. Having somewhere to rest your feet at an elevation can really make the difference.'
How to make a sofa more comfortable
1. Add some stylish throw pillows and a blanket
This first one is an obvious one, we'll admit. But it's worth mentioning the power of a scatter cushion. A new sofa will always benefit from the addition of a range of comfort-boosting throw pillows and a cocooning blanket.
Not only will cushions work to make a fine art out of lounging, they can also be an easy way to introduce color and pattern into a decor scheme.
Patricia Gibbons, Design Team at sofa.com (opens in new tab), says: 'To create a more comfortable feel on an existing sofa, the easiest option is to scatter a variety of plump cushions and soft throws that will provide extra coziness and oomph.'
The best approach this though is not to just throw a load of scatter cushions together and hope for the best. Instead, place them at each end of the sofa in easy reach, and opt for a chunky wool blanket to make things really snooze-inducing.
2. Invest in support cushions for problem areas
Lower back need extra support? If your throw pillows aren't quite cutting it, try using a style that's more ergonomic.
A long lumbar pillow not only looks incredibly stylish (Studio McGee are huge fans), but will also work to give extra support to your lower back. The perfect example of form meets function.
This lumbar cushion from Amazon (opens in new tab) does the job perfectly, and is easy to re-cover if you want a more patterned design.
3. Pop your feet up on an ottoman
If your sofa isn't quite as deep as you'd hoped, simply extend it by adding an ottoman to the setup.
This will add depth and allow you to recline, creating a more comfortable experience overall. Ottomans are also the ideal piece of small living room furniture as they can double up as storage space, too.
'To find the perfect comfort level, considering the seat height and depth and overall sofa dimensions and proportion that suits your ‘lounging style’ is key,' says Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co (opens in new tab).
'We find that taller people are more comfortable on a deeper sofa, whereas shorter clients prefer a shorter seat depth, so their feet can still reach the floor. Adding an ottoman is ideal for adding comfort if you find the depth of your sofa is slightly lacking.'
Love Your Home does a particularly strong line in ottomans - we really like how modern and rounded the Luca ottoman (opens in new tab) is.
4. Switch up the fabric
'The type of fabric you choose for a new (or reupholstered) sofa is crucial,' says Irene Gunter.
'It can really affect the comfort and general ‘squishiness’ of the sofa. I’d highly recommend ordering a large sample – as large as possible – and think about how you might enjoy sitting on it on a cozy autumn day versus a hot summer’s day in shorts.'
A sumptuous velvet is an excellent choice if you're looking for the ultimate in comfortable textures. Or try an on-trend bouclé for a modern retro California-inspired look.
Sofa.com's Patricia Gibbins agrees, adding: 'Another thing to consider is the fabric, as plush velvets tend to be softer than open-weaves.'
You could opt to have your sofa reupholstered or buy a slipcover, which should also be machine washable. If you own an IKEA sofa, a clever IKEA hack is to use brands like Bemz (opens in new tab) who create ultra-stylish slipcovers for most IKEA styles.
5. Upgrade the sofa cushion filling
Tried all the above tricks and still not comfy enough? The only way to make an existing sofa softer in itself is to upgrade the filling with the help of a local upholsterer.
'Upgrading a foam filling to a foam and feather filling is one step softer, whereas going for a full feather filling is even softer,' says Irene Gunter.
'The downside of a full feather filling is that you must keep ‘fluffing’ the cushions to stop the sofa from looking a little unloved. Plus, if you have a sofa with a fixed seat or back cushions (instead of loose cushions) the adjustment becomes more complex and is something you’d have to discuss with your upholstery company.'
Patricia Gibbins suggests a mix of foam and feather is best, adding: 'If you’re starting afresh and replacing an old sofa, feather cushions are notoriously softer than foam but can tend to lose their shape – opt for a combination, with foam of fibre insert wrapped in feather outer layering to create plump seating that offers sturdiness without compromising on comfort.'
Do stiff couches break in?
'Stiff couches break in a little, but not much,' says interior designer Irene Gunter, continuing: 'If, after a few weeks of use, you don’t feel enough of an improvement, cut your losses, and upgrade the cushion filling with the help of a local upholsterer.'
How can I soften up my sofa?
There are a number of easy ways to make a sofa more comfortable: create a lounging station by adding a mix of throw pillows and cozy blankets; choose plush fabric like velvet for a super-soft finish; add an ottoman for extra leg room; and upgrade the cushion fillings for a serious commitment to elevating your sofa's comfort status.
Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.
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