Sofa shopping is a little bit more complicated than you may think (but only a little). While there’s nothing stopping you from walking into any store, picking a style you like and handing over your credit card, you should probably sit on it – literally and figuratively – for a while before making a purchase. There are plenty of elements to consider, like; will the style look dated in a few years time? Will your pets or kids accidentally ruin it? Does it provide enough space for a growing family? Do you prefer fabric or leather?
One of the most important long-term questions you need to ask when buying your new sofa however is this; pillow back or high back?
A pillow back sofa (sometimes known as a scatter back) has several extra large cushions/pillows as back support. A high back has one or two cushions specifically shaped to match the sofa, and may or may not be fixed to the sofa back. They both have advantages and disadvantages, so which one you choose is entirely down to what you want from a sofa. To help you on your way, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of both…
In the red corner: Pillow Back
A pillow back sofa is the ultimate in casual comfort. If sinking back into the cushions with a book, a movie or nice cup of coffee is your idea of relaxation, look no further. The cushions have plenty of stuffing so your support needs are covered, and since there are lots of them they often come in alternating colours or patterns. Mixing and matching them is a fantastic way to make your sofa a focal point in your decor scheme and create that attention-grabbing vibe.
However. Pillow backs do require more maintenance than their high back counterparts. To keep your pillow back sofa looking fresh and feeling as comfortable as possible you’ll have to puff up and reshape the cushions often. There are no short cuts (sorry). They’re also not a very good idea if you suffer from back pain, as they don’t have in-built lumbar support.
Some of our favourite pillow back sofas from our collection include;
Oodles of plump cushions and a nice wide – and similarly plump – armrest make the Byron a great sofa for a cheeky afternoon nap. The high-impact patterns and neutral tones also make it stand out just the right amount while still blending in with most decor schemes.
If you ask us, the Fantasia is the perfect contemporary sofa. It’s an ideal balance of casual comfort (thanks to those floral, neutral cushions) and ‘modern classic’ style (thanks to a square arm and woven fabric). It comes with so many customisable options too, which is never a bad thing!
In the blue corner: High Back
A high back sofa is equally as comfortable as a pillow back, but is generally more supportive. If your style has a little more decorum but you still want a low maintenance sofa, a high back could be the way to go. There’s no puffing required and they tend to keep their shape for longer, plus they provide much better spinal support when you sit. They’re also great for slightly more formal activities, like afternoon tea!
What about the bad bits? Some argue that high backs verge past ‘traditional’ and into ‘boring’ as far as style is concerned, although there are plenty of exceptions. The large, bulky back cushions can also be cumbersome to remove and clean… if they can be detached from the sofa in the first place, that is. Aside from some small scatter cushions and maybe a throw, there isn’t a whole lot one can do to liven up a high back sofa.
Some of our favourite high back sofas from our collection include;
The Utah has all of the squishy comfort of a pillow back with extra wide, extra padded armrests. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, this is it. it also has an almost endless amount of fabric choices so you can find your perfect match.
Classic high back style at its very best, the Helvick is one of our star sofas and it’s easy to see why. Slim arms maximise the seating space and traditional detailing like ruched arms and wooden feet with castor wheels pile on the elegance. Just add a china tea cup and some good company.
Check out the latest sofas from our ever increasing collection in the AW16 edition of our interiors catalogue. You’ll find it in all stores from next week.