Elevating Your Sofa: 8 Designer Tips to Achieve a Classy Look

Elevating Your Sofa: 8 Designer Tips to Achieve a Classy Look

A beautifully styled and classy sofa can be the centerpiece of any living room. While you might not have splurged on a high-end designer piece, you can transform even the most basic of sofas into a luxurious focal point with the right approach. From choosing the right materials and fabrics to accessorizing with throw pillows and incorporating complementary furniture and decor, this article will explore eight designer tips to help you elevate the look of your sofa, making your living space more inviting and refined.

1. Choose Natural Fabrics for a Luxurious Touch

When it comes to selecting a new sofa or considering reupholstering your existing one, the choice of fabric plays a significant role in achieving a classy look. Natural materials with soft and fresh textures are often preferred by interior designers. Linen, for instance, is a popular choice due to its timeless elegance. According to Marzia Dainelli, CEO and interior designer at Milan-based Dainelli Studio, using natural fabrics or contrasting them with velvet for cushions can create a harmonious and luxurious environment. Upholstering your sofa with such materials can breathe new life into an old piece, as Courtney Klinger, founder and principal designer of Philadelphia practice Studio Whitford, suggests.

2. Embrace the Opulence of Velvet

Velvet is synonymous with luxury and elegance, making it an excellent choice for sofa upholstery. Choosing jewel-toned velvet can instantly transform your living space into a realm of opulence. Artem Kropovinky, co-founder of New York interior design studio Arsight, emphasizes that velvet upholstery, especially in rich colors, can exude sheer luxury. When reupholstering, opt for solid colors like burgundy velvet or forest green mohair, as patterns and thin fabrics can be challenging to work with and may increase labor costs, advises Bethany Adams, a Louisville, Kentucky-based interior designer.

Furthermore, reupholstering a sofa allows for customization. According to Lucas Goldbach and Mike Shiveley of Chicago-based En Masse Architecture & Design, you can alter various elements, such as adding or removing rolled arms, a tailored skirt, or a wood plinth, and even modify the cushions.

3. Create a Pillow Arrangement with Careful Thought

If reupholstering is not an option or you want to enhance your current sofa further, throw pillows can work wonders. The key to achieving a classy look with throw pillows lies in mixing colors, textures, and sizes. To maintain a refined color palette, shape, and texture, Courtney Klinger recommends selecting a minimal number of pillows and using complementary colors that are slightly lighter or darker than the base upholstery. Adding contrasting textures, such as a chunky knit or bouclé pillow on a linen sofa, can make your sofa more visually appealing.

Scale plays a crucial role in achieving the right balance with throw pillows. Christine Zippert, founder of CC Zippert in Los Angeles, suggests staying within a 20" by 20" range for throw pillows. However, the scale of pillows can be adjusted based on the room's overall feel. Oversized pillows create a cozy, casual atmosphere, while smaller, structured pillows lend an air of refinement, according to Courtney Klinger.

4. Maintain a Balance with Pillow Quantity

While well-placed throw pillows can enhance the look of your sofa, it's important not to overdo it. David Samuel Ko, interior designer and founder of Los Angeles studio Maison Ko, advises against overcrowding the sofa with pillows. To allow the sofa's design to shine, limit the number of pillows. For a sofa measuring eight feet or less, five pillows should suffice. You can add one or two more for larger sofas. To achieve a luxurious feel, consider incorporating shearling pillows and solid colors instead of intricate patterns.

Bethany Adams recommends a long bolster pillow placed across the back of the sofa to make a stylish impact. Opt for a color slightly lighter or darker than the sofa's color, and add a contrasting trim that matches another color in the room for a chic look.

5. Experiment with Unique Cushion Shapes

Beyond traditional square and rectangular cushions, consider exploring shapely designs for a more stylish and elevated appearance. Victoria Holly, a Los Angeles-based interior designer, notes a growing trend towards round ball pillows, disc pillows, and abstract-shaped pillows. These unconventional shapes can bring a fresh and exciting dimension to your sofa, with disc and ball pillows providing a more minimalist feel.

Lauren Svenstrup, principal designer at Chicago-based Studio Sven, suggests incorporating statement pillows like knots or balls on clean-line sofas for a unique look and personal armrest. Round bolsters can also add a cool and comfortable touch to your sofa.

6. Drape a Throw Artfully

Throws are an excellent way to add elegance to your sofa with rich textures and accent colors. Draping a throw diagonally from a corner creates a relaxed yet chic ambiance, as suggested by Artem Kropovinky. Fabrics like cashmere or wool patterns with subtle fringes can emphasize the importance of nuanced details in achieving elegance.

How you style the throw depends on the room's purpose. For frequently used spaces, Kathryn Murphy, a Chicago-based interior designer, recommends casually draping the throw over the back or arm for easy access during the winter months. In more formal areas, fold the throw over the arm or down the middle of the sofa for a sophisticated touch. Lucas Goldbach and Mike Shiveley point out that throws are particularly useful for sectionals with chaises, breaking up large fabric expanses.

7. Enhance the Space with a Stylish Rug

The area around your sofa is just as important as the sofa itself when aiming for a classy look. A living room rug can play a significant role in elevating the overall aesthetic of the room. Marzia Dainelli emphasizes the importance of rugs in enhancing the sofa and the entire space. Rugs help define different areas within your living space and create islands of comfort.

The proportion of the rug should be in harmony with the sofa's size, ensuring it covers the entire surface area to create a cohesive visual effect. Lucas Goldbach and Mike Shiveley suggest that if a large rug is out of your budget, you can consider purchasing multiple smaller rugs of the same design and having them bound together or placing them end-to-end to achieve the desired effect.

8. Elevate with Premium Leather Furniture

To achieve an everlasting touch of class and sophistication, consider incorporating premium leather furniture into your living space. Premium leather is a timeless choice that never goes out of style and consistently exudes an air of luxury and elegance. When you want to achieve the classy look for your sofa and living area, opting for premium leather pieces can be a flawless decision.

Premium leather furniture, such as leather sofas or leather armchairs, has enduring appeal for several reasons:

1. Timeless Elegance: Premium leather exudes a timeless quality that transcends trends and fads. Its classic and sophisticated appearance makes it a reliable choice for achieving a classy look in any setting.

2. Durability: High-quality leather is known for its durability and resilience. It can withstand the test of time, making it a practical investment for your home. With proper care, leather furniture can maintain its elegance for years to come.

3. Comfort: Leather furniture offers a high level of comfort, ensuring that your living area is not only stylish but also a comfortable space for relaxation and entertainment.

4. Versatility: Leather furniture is versatile and can easily adapt to various interior design styles. It complements both traditional and modern decor, adding a touch of luxury to any setting.

5. Easy Maintenance: Unlike some other upholstery materials, leather is relatively easy to clean and maintain. Spills and stains can often be wiped away with a damp cloth, making it a practical choice for households with varying needs.

6. Natural Patina: Over time, premium leather develops a beautiful patina that enhances its character and charm. This natural aging process adds to the furniture's allure and uniqueness.

7. Classic Color Options: Premium leather furniture is available in a range of classic colors, from deep browns and rich blacks to sophisticated shades of burgundy and navy. These color options allow you to customize your living space to your taste.

Incorporating premium leather furniture alongside your sofa can create a well-coordinated and luxurious atmosphere. Whether it's a leather sofa, leather armchairs, or other leather accent pieces, premium leather is a choice that will never go wrong when you aim to achieve a classy and timeless look in your living space.


With these eight designer tips, you can transform your basic sofa into a classy centerpiece that elevates the entire look of your living room. Whether you're shopping for a new sofa or looking to refresh your existing one, careful consideration of fabrics, materials, throw pillows, cushion shapes, throws, rugs, and complementary furniture can help you achieve a luxurious and sophisticated living space. By incorporating these design elements, you can create an environment that exudes elegance and charm, making your sofa the focal point of your home.

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