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By Lou Carlozo, Brand Publishing Writer
Add reclining capabilities to a sofa, and you have one of the most blissful pieces of furniture ever devised for easy living.
But before you think about buying a reclining sofa, make sure you put some planning into the process: it's not as simple as pointing your finger at your favorite model and hoping things work out.
“Some of them can be very big,” says Fort Myers-based Connie Sherrard, a designer with Baer’s Furniture, a family-owned chain with 15 locations throughout Florida that’s been trusted by homeowners for nearly 70 years. “People have a hard time visualizing that size because when they come into our showroom, they think that the sofa will fit. But looks can be deceiving. We have tall ceilings and big walls. Everybody thinks they have a big house, but you need to come in with measurements and a floor plan.”.
Sherrard puts particular stress on the latter, because floor plans take into account the entire layout of a space and not just the wall or nook where a reclining sofa will go. Regardless, there’s always a way to backtrack and start the process of fitting a sofa from scratch.
“I’ll ask people to draw me out the room, and then we’ll talk about the room a bit,” she says. “I’ll ask, ‘Do you think this space is 10 feet long or 12 feet?’ Or I’ll tell them, ‘You need a walkway through there and I think you’d prefer 3 or 4 feet of width.’ We love to make sure they get the right size.”.
Correct sizing also refers to the measurements of the person, says Janet Graham, an interior designer at Baer’s Naples location. “It’s got to fit you, so it needs to be an adequate depth. You don’t want your knees hanging out, and the upper part of the sofa needs to hit your neck in the correct position.”
A typical reclining sofa extends on either the left or the right, with a non-reclining center unless someone custom orders it. It’s advisable to leave at least 4 inches between the sofa and the wall so that it will extend effortlessly.
The price point usually ranges from under $1,000 to $4,000, depending on pieces, and they’re so well made today that you can hardly tell which sections recline. Some models also come electrified, which makes getting in and out much easier.
When it comes to where reclining sofas usually go, “People love to have them in their family rooms where they can just relax, recline and watch the big-screen TV,” Graham says. “It’s just an extreme comfort level. Reclining sofas are going to typically face your TV head on, while a reclining chair would be angled toward it.”
In fact, when people buy reclining sofas, they also tend to purchase a reclining chair to complete the set, or already have a reclining chair in the space. Since the foot rest extensions take up space, “It’s good to have a coffee table on rollers or casters, so that everyone has room when it’s time to recline,” Graham says. She also encourages customers to mix things up a little, with print fabric on the chair, solid fabric on the sofa, and throw pillows to add just the right accent.
Another popular spot for reclining sofas is close to the pool. “Leather works well in this case,” Sherrard says, adding that many Floridians drive cars with leather interiors, so they know how easy the material is to clean — and how wonderful it feels to sit on.
Sherrard notes another Sunshine State certainty that figures into the popularity of leather: “Florida is the golf capital of the country, so a guy goes out and plays golf. And when he comes home he’s tired, but doesn’t want to hit the shower. He wants to sit down in a reclining chair or sofa. And leather is the first choice.”
Microfiber is a popular material, too, because of its durability. “There are also cotton fabrics, beautiful ones that feel like a chenille,” Graham says. “But linen tends to stretch very easily, so I wouldn’t recommend it.”
What she does recommend, in every instance, is trying the sofa before you buy. Then, you can recline at home in the sofa of your dreams: ideal for dozing off to daydreams and sweet dreams.
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