How to design a custom sofa

If you've ever tried to design or build a custom sofa or couch before, you know just how many decisions go into the process. Everything from the cushion type to arm style to the legs, and that's all before even looking at the assortment of fabric selections available!


Tips on how to design a custom sofa

Photo By: Amanda Hemstreet Photography


Since there can be many benefits to designing a custom sofa, to help make the process a little easier, I've put together a checklist of some tips to keep in mind when building a custom sofa or couch, and questions you will want to answer before going through the process:


Helpful Tips on how to design a custom sofa

Decide on a configuration

Do you want a smaller sofa or a large sectional? What about two compact sofas instead of a large sectional? Would a chaise be ideal for lounging? Should it be right facing or left facing? Depending on how many people you would like your sofa to seat, whether you like to stretch out or curl up, and the size of your room all determine which sofa or sectional configuration works best for you.

Choose your size

Determine what size your custom sofa or sectional needs to be based on the size of your room, where it’s going to be positioned, and what other furniture pieces you’re going to have in your space. Make sure you leave plenty of room between the sofa and coffee table, and any surrounding or side chairs. This can be tricky, but it’s something we help our clients with custom, to-scale floor plans to figure out the exact size of their furniture pieces – and take all of the guesswork and stress out:


Floor plan layout to help design a custom sofa

Photo By: CNC Home & Design


Select a cushion type

Do you want to be able to rotate your cushions? Would you prefer a more firm seat, or more of a plush down feel? Would a bench seat be easier for cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about crumbs falling through the cracks? Do you prefer having fixed or loose back cushions? Your designer or sales rep can also have you answer these questions based on your preferences and lifestyle.


Pick an arm style

Do you like a traditional rolled or barrel arm style, or more of a modern recessed or track arm? What about a contemporary key arm or a sloped arm? Do you prefer a more narrow arm, or a wider one? What about the look of a modern English arm, a saddle arm, or a sock arm? Depending on which arm style you choose, it can also affect the overall size of your sofa, so be sure to account for any changes in measurements.


Decide on your base

Do you prefer a more formal, skirted base? Or a more clean upholstered one? What about a more sleek or modern look with wooden legs? And if you choose wooden legs, what color stain would go best? Are there other wooden furniture pieces to coordinate, or contrast with?


Find your fabric

Next up is one of the most fun aspects of building a custom sofa…but it can also be overwhelming, which is finding which fabric is perfect for you. The options are endless, from linen to cotton to velvet, leather, even mohair or chenille.


If you have a family with kids, have pets, or entertain often, you might want to choose a performance fabric. Performance fabrics are more durable and can help withstand wear and tear over more delicate fabrics. If you have a pet, you may want to choose a fabric with a tighter weave to help minimize scratches or snags. Once you’ve decided on a fabric type, then select the color or pattern that looks best with the other furniture pieces, wall color, etc. in your room’s design.


Picking fabrics and tips on how to design a custom sofa

Photo By: Amanda Hemstreet Photography


Add in accents

Would you like to add a contrasting trim or welt? What about decorative nailheads? Does your sofa come with pillows in the coordinating fabric, or are you able to choose a contrasting fabric? Once you have your finishing touches, this is usually your last step.


Sit back and relax

You may have to have a little patience and wait while your custom sofa is built, assembled, and delivered, but the results are worth the wait…and you’ll have a completely custom sofa, designed for your lifestyle, to enjoy for years to come!


Helpful tips on how to design a custom sofa


Behind The Design


Hi, I’m Natalie! I am the most organized and detailed interior designer you’ll ever meet. I help busy working parents and professionals create beautiful, welcoming homes that are functional and family-friendly.


CNC Home & Design interior designer in Cleveland, Ohio

Photo By: Caitlin Antje