Today I thought I’d give all you shop-a-holics out there a few words of advice on buying one of my favorite pieces of furniture, the loveseat.  Technically, it’s a two-seater sofa, hence the “love” part of the name (unless you’re into three-ways, in which case this piece of furniture will leave you wanting more- one more, to be exact).  Loveseats are cozy and fantastic solutions for smaller lounging spaces; plus, the modest proportions can just be so darned cute.  But you shouldn’t buy one on style alone (we’ll get into that section later).  I’ve created a post to arm you with a little more info that will help you avoid a scary and regrettable decision.  You’ve got to use the force, Luke, and Vignette is here to help you become an amazing decorator of epic, Jedi Knight proportions.

Step One: Size Up the New Baby

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT buy a loveseat until you are sure it fits your space.  Too small is bad, and too big is worse.  Block out a footprint on your floor with some painter’s tape or, if you are feeling racy, a group of cardboard boxes.  See what feels right, and then measure up your hobo masterpiece.

Step Two: Check Yoself Before You Wreck Yoself

You’ve got to check what the frame is made of.  Solid wood frames are optimal, and solid hardwood frames are the best.  Hardwoods include cherry, ash, oak, beech, hickory, maple, and poplar.  Softwoods, like pine, cedar, and spruce, are much more likely to warp over time.  Ignore altogether frames made of plastic or particleboard. I can’t believe I just had to tell you that.

Step Three: Inquiring Minds Want to Know

You’d better start getting comfortable with asking a lot of questions, because otherwise you might end up with something held together only by staples, glues, and/or nails.  A decent sofa should last through several reupholstery jobs, and thus it will be a little more expensive due to better quality construction, but it’s worth it.  Ask your salesperson for the deets on the joinery, and if all the McNugget pieces parts are connected with dowels, corner blocks, or metal brackets, you are heading in the right direction.  If the salesperson doesn’t even know what the word “joinery” means, you are NOT headed in the right direction.  Here’s a little test o’ the trade: hold on to one side of the loveseat and lift it gently off the floor so it starts to tilt sideways.  After only a few inches, the other front leg should be tilting up off the floor too.  If it doesn’t, you’ve got some serious sag, and that’s not desirable on a human OR a piece of furniture.

Step Four: Let’s Get Physical

It’s about to get hot in here…  Put on the Barry White.  Drop your caboose on your object of desire.  Is it comfy but strong?  Run your hands over the springs underneath the cushions.  Are they firm and tight?  Oh yeah.  That’s goooooooooooood.  Seriously though, check for springs (a loveseat without them is low-quality), and good ones at that.  And pay attention to backtalk.  When you sit down, does the piece get all creaky?  News flash: loveseats should be like obedient children in a restaurant- seen but not heard.  Noise means the springs are not placed well or might be smacking the frame.

Step Five: Express Yourself

If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, consider a few style basics.  Do you like a little vintage overlay or low-slung handsomeness?  Shop for something in a mid-century modern style.  Are ginormous, rolled arms or copious amounts of tufting your thing?  Try a Chesterfield.  Do you like the structured simplicity of arms the same height as the back?  That’s a Tuxedo seater.  So many options and so little time.

Step Six: Get in Touch with Reality

You may agree that cotton is the fabric of our lives, but if you live in a house with kids, pets, or humans who snack on the sofa, you need to put some thought into your choice of upholstery.  Color and style aside, pay really close attention to what type of material will perform best for you.  I’m a big fan of wool and leather.  Both are natural, wool in particular is renewable, and they have inherent stain resistance.  If you go with cotton or linen, have them stain-guarded to the hilt or you’ll be sorry.  No matter what you pick, watch out for like loosely woven materials (they snag and pull), wonky cording or trim (it’s a sign of poor craftsmanship), and fabrics without enough soil-hiding capabilities (solids show wear and stains more than patterns do).  Oh, and be sure you are at ease with the “hand” of the fabric (the way it feels); ones that are itchy will make you twitchy.  Not a good look at a cocktail party.