How to dress a sofa

Sofa dressing is an art in itself that can really show your sofa off to full effect. But here’s the thing, it involves a little patience and some insider sofa skills to get it right.

Curious about what sofa dressing involves in reality so you can try it at home?

Here are our top 5 tips for how to dress a sofa

1. Consider your cushions

Large or small, tasseled or straight-edged, cushions are the ultimate sofa accessory (like the belt to your trousers or the scarf to your jacket) that are at the very heart of stylish sofa dressing. And the great thing is, you can play it as safe or be as adventurous as you like!

It’s perfectly ok to put plain cushions with a plain sofa for an all-round matching end finish. If you prefer this approach, selecting cushions that are the same colour, but just one or two shades lighter or darker than your sofa can have a dramatic effect.

However, if you prefer something more ‘out there’, then bold prints (jungle designs are trending right now) and geometric patterns are the most certainly the way to go. Don’t forget to experiment with cushion sizes either, selecting one or two standout feature cushions that are larger than the rest is a simple, yet highly effective sofa dressing tip used by many an expert.

A 2022 design tip from our stylist, Victoria Foster: Black accents are going to be big, providing a beautiful contrast against natural wood tones and other organic materials. Think black cushions and black throws in all sorts of different sizes and textures.

2. Tinker with texture 

Heavy fabrics, such as velvets, crushed chenille and woven material give sofas immediate snug appeal, especially if you’re casually draping a couple of throws over an arm and over the back of your sofa. Meanwhile, wool always go well against cotton upholstery, and mixing and matching different textures, e.g. velvets and silk, chunky knit and linen is highly effective too. Don’t forget about the more intricate details too, such as tassels, fur, bobbles, fringes and many more different types of edging.

3. Delve into the detail

If your sofa is patterned, be it striped, checked or flecked, it will have dominant and less dominant colours running through it. Now, depending on your personal preference, you may want to pick out the dominant colour and then buy sofa accessories, such as throws and cushions, to highlight that one colour. Or, if you want to make more of the less dominant colour, then you may be able to find accessories in that particular shade that make it pop when placed on your sofa.

The devil really is in the detail when it comes to sofa dressing. Picking out the smallest of details, e.g. cushion bobbles that match your sofa stripes or throw edging that’s the same texture as your scatter back cushions, can really make your sofa stand out.

A 2022 design tip from our stylist, Victoria: 1970s retro is all the rage, so don’t be afraid to experiment with rattan furniture, more natural materials and earthy colour schemes when you’re picking out the sofa details you want to shine through.

4. Throw around some throws 

Throws are more than just large blankets that protect treasured sofas from little hand marks, spillages and pet hair. Yes, they are practical, but they should be carefully considered (if you don’t want your sofa to look like it’s been covered up because you’ve got the decorators in, that is). 

As you may well already know, throws come in all different shapes, sizes, patterns and textures capable of enhancing any sofa while also giving it that added comfort factor. However, choosing your throw is just the start; how you position it on your sofa is the differentiator between making a statement and simply covering your sofa from the kids. If you already happen to have a throw on your sofa, take a look at it – does it look a little on the relaxed side or does it give your sofa a more prepared look? You’d be surprised at the dramatic difference a little throw folding and rearranging can do….

5. Light it up

Feature lighting and sofas are the perfect pairing. A thoughtfully-positioned floor lamp shining a splash of light over your suite magically transforms the room, not to mention puts your sofa at the heart of everything. Floor lamps are the best at framing sofas and making them look even more inviting. What’s more, if your sofa is the place you like to sit and enjoy your book; angle your lamp to create the perfect reading spot that’s both comfy and bright enough to get lost in your latest read.

Dressing your sofa is the perfect opportunity to make your mark and make your sofa look nothing but sensational. The smallest of tweaks is all it takes to see your sofa in a whole new light. Isn’t it about time your sofa, old or new, was treated to a good old dressing up?

Got a scatter back sofa you think deserves a new lease of life? Have a read of our How to style your scatter back sofa article.

Looking for top tips on how to care for your fabric sofa? If you're sofa is made from real or faux leather check out this guide.

Published: 6th December 2021