Explore your design sensibility by creating your own perfect perch
Whether it’s watching the World Cup, reading a book, or kicking back with the family, the couch is an integral part of the home. Plus, purely on account of its size, the design of a couch dominates the feel of the space. If you want to imprint your style on your home, there’s no better place to start than with a central piece. So, hire a carpenter and upholsterer, find your fabric and envision your ideal seat. Here are a few key things to keep in mind as you dive into designing your own sofa.
Size does matter
One small rule solves the biggest couch issue: How high and how deep should the seat be? The ‘One Metre Rule’ claims that the clear seat depth (excluding backrest) and the seat height should add up to one metre, or approximately 39 inches. Therefore, the seat depth should be around 24”. Following the rule, the backrest should be around 15”. A quick way to measure? The backrest should at least reach your shoulder blade. Since a couch’s main purpose is providing comfort, it should have a slight angle to the backrest, at least a minimum slope of 2 inches. For the arms, make sure you have a height of at least 8”. If you have a relatively low-backed couch, keep the armrest the same height as the back for a look that departs from the norm.
What’s inside counts
Every couch starts as a basic wooden form. Springs or nivaar (as an upholsterer would call it) give the couch that much desired sink-in feel and lend comfort and elasticity to your seat. Use a medium-density 3” Dunlop mattress for the base of the seat and make sure it’s not too hard. Add 2”-5” of softer foam for increased comfort. A sheet of polyfill on top will also increase comfort (but will, of course, increase the cost!). The ultimate softness will come from a loose backrest and armrest cushions. Avoid loose cotton as the filler as it tends to get lumpy and becomes hard over time. Similarly, loose polyfill settles on use and requires constant puffing up. The ideal loose cushion for your backrest is one that is not too flimsy. This can be achieved by sandwiching loose polyfill between two thin sheets of foam.
Selecting the skin
Use neutral tones as the base for sofa upholstery and save the bold prints and textures for throws, cushions and seating complementing the sofa. This will ensure your space is not over-intimidated by one loud piece of furniture. The ideal couch upholstery is self-weaves or self-prints, which mean the fabric will weave together two shades of the same colour, like a darker beige print over a lighter stripe or a tan floral print on a tan background. Choose a fabric that suits different seasons and is easy to maintain. Cotton starts looking worn out relatively early. Be brave enough to use two textures on the same couch—one for the fixed and the other for the loose cushions. Accessorize with loose cushions in bold prints. You can always update the look of your couch by simply changing its accessories.
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