Buying Guide for the Living Room

Other than the bedroom, the living room gets the most use in your home. Whether you call it a living room or a family room, this is the area where the family comes together and memories are made.


There are two important factors to consider when shopping for furniture:


1) How do you plan on using this room?

Is the room for the family to relax in and watch TV or will you be entertaining as well? A family room can be more casual (sectionals, reclining furniture) where a living room tends to be more formal for conversation purposes (think stationary furniture and chairs).

In recent years reclining furniture has grown in the living room department. Newer designs are leading way to better tailoring with more upscale looks in both leather and fabric options. A reclining sofa allows you to get your feet up and read or watch TV after a long day but when closed can look like a stationary sofa. Reclining furniture is now being made with wall-saver technology so you only have to be inches away from the wall to fully recline.

2) How many people do you need to sit?

This may sound like a silly question but its a very important one to ask. A typical living room set consists of a sofa, love seat and chair- which, one would think sits six people. However, nobody likes sitting in the middle cushion on the sofa, unless its one of your family members, as that spot can feel awkward to a guest or company. Space and layout are also important factors. Perhaps a sectional would work better than a sofa/ love combination. A sectional also leads to greater use of your space because many sectionals come with different configuration options to fit you space requirements.


Shop Around- What to look for when buying quality furniture.

There are plenty of places to purchase furniture these days and looks can definitely be deceiving. Shopping around is the only way to know if you are getting a good value. Have you ever wondered how two sofas can look the same but one is $299 while the other one is $1,500? I’m sure you are asking yourself how can there be such a price discrepancy in what appears to be the same sofa? Why would you pay for the more expensive sofa? Well, just like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.

In the furniture industry 75% of a sofas value is whats on the inside. A quality sofa will have a strong, durable frame as well as higher density seat cushions and a more advanced undercarriage system (the springs). A combination of those will ensure a sofa that will stand the test of time- even if you have children or pets. The reason that cheap sofas tends to “bottom out” is because they either have low quality seat foam, bad seat suspension or a combination of both. Below are some guidelines for buying quality made furniture.

  1. Check the Frame material and construction. A cheap sofa will be made out of a soft wood like pine- which can warp and twist over time. Worse yet, it could be made out of particle board or plastic. Look for frames made out of hardwoods or laminate grade plywood for lasting durability.
    Check out the joinery as well. Cheap sofas will be held together with nails or screws. A solid built frame will be glued and screwed with corner blocks that are also screwed and glued into place. *Tip* To test a frame strength, lift one front corner of the sofa off the floor. By the time you’ve raised it 6″ the other front leg should have risen too. If its still touching the floor, the frame has too much give- its weak.
  2. Seating Materials. Cheap sofas are made with cheap polyurethane foam- which is a low-cost filling foam that many companies use. Look for sofas with high-resiliency (HR) foam. It is slightly more expensive but more comfortable and longer lasting. *Tip* Down-filled cushions are also available from many companies. Make sure you get a down-blend mix with 50% goose and duck down feathers and 50% HR cores for a comfortable sit and long lasting cushion. If you are unsure of a sofas cushion, as the sales associate for detailed information.
  3. Seat Spring Construction. Seat springs are your suspension system for your sofa and its the key component in distributing your weight. There are 4 commonly used seat systems:
    1. Banded- Usually rubber or cheap woven fabrics. Very cheap- avoid if possible
    2. Sinus wire- Commonly referred to as “S-springs” and “no-sag.” 90% of companies use this system, which is fine, as long as you have at least 5 per seat at an 8 gauge or thicker spring.
    3. 8-way hand tied- Historically what sofas were made with and started in the automotive industry. Most of today’s systems are machine tied to save on labor costs although there are still reputable companies that follow the original concept.
    4. Flexsteels Blue Steel Spring. This system is whats in every sofa that Flexsteel makes. This unique spring never needs retying or replacing to keep you from getting that sinking feeling in your seat. It is so durable that the design has not radically changed in over 100 years. *Tip* The black fabric that covers the bottom of your sofa isn’t to keep dust out- its for keeping prying eyes from seeing what cheap companies use for springs. A reputable company, like Flexsteel, does not do that- as they are proud to show of their system.
  4. Textiles. Thanks to modern technology, you have more choices than ever when it comes to coverings. This is important because not only is this the finishing touch to the sofa but its the part of the sofa that will get abused the most. Depending on where the sofa will be used should dictate the covering option. Does it need to be kid and pet friendly? Do you want natural or synthetic material or both? Perhaps you want a patter, strip or plaid for a formal room. Perhaps you do not want fabric at all, maybe a beautiful leather is what you’re after. These are all things to consider when picking out your perfect sofa. *Tip* Ask to take home fabrics that you are interested in- as they may look different in your lighting and will give you a couple days to decide if you like the fabric or not.

A sofa can be one of the biggest furniture investments that you will make. It is a good idea to buy the best-quality sofa you can afford as it will be amortized over many years. A quality sofa will go from your living room, to the den room and possibly to your children or their dorm room. A little prep work and research can go a long ways when getting ready for your next furniture purchase.