5 things people with expensive-looking sofas always include - little touches make a big difference

If you want to up your sofa dressing check out these design tips - ideas that always appear in the smartest-looking homes

Neutral living room with bold rug
(Image credit: Purple Backyard)

A sofa is the center of the show in any living room, but what really elevates it is when it is well-dressed. You know those people whose homes always look put together, international, and curated. Those are the homes that make the most of their furniture and maximize their effect by utilising accessories. This could be you too.

Adding a few additional pieces to your sofa will instantly elevate it from a functional piece of furniture to practical art. We asked interior designers, with exceptionally well-adorned couches, their favorite items to upgrade their living room. They revealed the small items that they use in their work and their own homes to accessorize the sofa. 

Take a look and discover how you might spruce up one of your most used pieces of furniture and how even if you've bought one of the best couches it can still do with a little designer-approved dressing. 

1. Pillows

A living room with multicolored throw pillows

(Image credit: Federica Carlet. Studio credit House of Hudson Interiors)

A sofa is a blank canvas for accessories. NYC-based interior designer and founder of Arsight Artem Kropovinsky sees a sofa as unfinished without cushions. 'One of the hallmarks of finishing a sofa is the use of contrasting textures,' says Artem. 'Think soft velvets paired with rough linen or silken throws against coarse wool,' he says.

Decorative pillows aren't groundbreaking, it is an accessory most people have on their sofa. But it is the choice of fabrics and colors that makes it a statement and not just for comfort. 'A combination of large and small, solid colors with patterns, and varying fabrics can transform a basic couch into a design statement,' Artem explains.

Think about your favorite living room color palettes and how you might emulate them in your cushion choices. Don't be afraid to play with textures too.

2. Throws

blue living room by Mylands

(Image credit: Mylands)

Throw blankets serve a very practical service as the temperature drops, and are a simple way to create a cozy living room. But they also drape beautifully over your sofa to add a touch of style. 'Don't overlook the power of an unexpected throw blanket,' says Artem. 'Draped artistically, it can give depth, warmth, and that sought-after 'lived-in' feeling,' he explains.

If you want to dress up your sofa play with unconventional elements and unusual textures. This is a trick used by designers to add a statement. If you adopt this trick your living will scream 'An interior designer was here'.

'I love using handcrafted textiles from a global marketplace or a bespoke piece of fabric art,' suggests Artem, 'it easily can turn your sofa into a unique design showcase.'

3. A rug

a modern living room with armchairs around a coffee table

(Image credit: Ferm Living)

Dress your sofa from below with a rug, says Lucie Ayres, founder of and principal designer at 22 Interiors. 'For styling a sofa in an unconventional way, I would look at an antique flatweave wool rug,' she says. 'This will instantly transform the look of your sofa.  It adds not only pattern and color but interest as well.  And the best part is, it's easily removable.'

Having a statement accessory that can so easily be removed and switched out is a great way to adjust your design seasonally. Your rug color has a major impact on the overall look of your space. Opt for a darker tone in the fall months to contribute to the moody aesthetic, and more natural materials come summer.

4. Decorative tray

Dark living room with patterned wallpaper on the ceiling

(Image credit: Matthew Millman. Design by Jay Jeffers)

Something a little different that we have seen crop up on our favorite Instagram homes recently is a decorative tray. The humble tray is a decor item you might have thought was left in the distant past or your grandmother's house, but don't overlook this styling piece.

A tray can be used in a number of ways, to hold special items such as candles, matches, small trinkets, or if sufficiently beautiful bare. The great thing about a tray is that it is easily transported. Have it adorn your couch or use it to style your coffee table whilst you make use of the sofa. This little space is yours to express your individuality, what you use it for is up to you. 

5. Scent

Although not a physical accessory, scent is one of the most important elements of a well-designed space. A well-chosen fragrance can complete your living room and finish off your sofa dressing. 'I love to finish a room with fragrance,' says interior designer Mary Patton. She argues a living room isn't complete without it.

'A beautiful candle is an object you can use for styling that provides ambient light as well as smelling lovely,' she says, 'and don’t forget some fun matches!' As we work more from home, scent becomes all the more important to help us to switch off and relax. 'Scent-scaping' has become a trend itself, but we love how scent can be used as the final piece of a well-dressed sofa.

What to buy for a well dressed sofa

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.