What is the type of arm design that you prefer? There's the English arm (transitional/traditional) , track arm (modern), rolled arm (traditional), tapered arm (transitional), sock arm (casual), and the recessed panel arm (traditional). Each arm design is helping to set a tone for the piece and ultimately for the room as well. Decide what style has appeal for you and personal comfort as well. For example, you may love the modern look of a track arm, but you may not enjoy laying down on it unless there are many pillows! Cool sophisticated ultra high arms are great in specific spaces.
You'll need to decide if you prefer a skirt or an exposed leg on the piece. A skirt will feel traditional more often than not. There are skirting options as well.
If you don't like a skirt, decide if you want an upholstered edge or a wood/metal detail. The extra wood/metal detailing is more refined and often more expensive to produce. Exposed legs look "visually light" because they're taking up less positive space. One mistake I often find with clients is they have bought too much of the same thing and then wonder why it doesn't feel balanced. If everything is heavy, skirted, low, and extra wide...of course the room feels off.
Would you like to have the leg exposed? If yes, then
what type of foot is appealing? There are basic styles such as a bun foot, tapered leg, turned leg (no caster), turned leg with caster, metal leg, block foot, or a variation on these. It's much better to decide what type of exposed
foot detail you like.
Do you want tufting on this piece? I personally love tufting, but again in the right context. It shows the best on a solid color fabric because you see the play of light and upholstering craftsmanship. It's not that you can't tuft a chevron print, but why would you bother? I also like tufting in unexpected areas like this ottoman I'm using for my client's Rec Room. Note: tufting may not be the most comfortable seat in the house so decide if you want comfort or style.
Cushions for the back and seat come attached (tight), semi-attached, or detached. Decide if you prefer the kids to pull them all off to build a fort or if that will drive you crazy! Sit in a few that have a tight back and see if that is comfortable enough for you.
The pros for a tight back/seat are there's nothing to move around and look off center or out of place. The con is it might not be as comfortable.
Detached cushions move around, but often they won't line up exactly right and you'll be constantly fixing them. Semi-attached back cushions may also rip if the animals or kids are pushing down on them.
My recommendation for a Family Room is a bench (singular ) long cushion for the seat with two or three detached back cushions and a few toss pillows. See this one below from Wesley Hall. I love this sofa and it transforms to many different styles depending upon the upholstery fabric.
Cushions even have options on a sofa or chair. There are two common edge details:
Knife edge - the fabric wraps to the center of the cushion edge and is seamed once. This can also have a welt placed to cover the seam, but it is not always required.
Box edge - the fabric is seamed twice to give a boxy appearance to the cushion. There are 2 welts placed so the cushion looks like it has a 90 degree edge.
Welt - a welt is a cotton cording that the upholster uses to seam fabric pieces together to give the piece a finished edge. Often the same fabric is used to cover the cording and this is why it's called a self-welt. If another fabric, perhaps a different color, is used then we call this a contrasting welt.
People usually love them or hate them. I've worked with clients that just couldn't visualize a piece because it was shown with nail heads. This is usually easily changed by a manufacturer. No worries. If you love them then you're in luck. Apparently, the popularity of this detail means they're everywhere!
- Anita Bhattacharya Oates, NCIDQ