Seating for Aging: 3 Tips for Selecting Sofas and Chairs

Is Your Seat Sagging?

Today, I’m talking about how to select seating for aging bodies… if the topic wasn’t immediately clear. I know, typically when we think about sagging seats and aging we’re discussing a completely different topic, but if you’re making changes to your home in preparation for retirement, there are some things you need to consider when selecting new sofas and upholstered chairs. Sagging seating can be a real pain point for many consumers. There’s nothing worse than buying a piece of upholstered furniture just to have it start sagging after a couple of years. I’ve put together my top 3 tips for selecting seating that will be beautiful and functional for many years to come!

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Seating for Aging Tip 1: Seat Height

Probably the most important part of selecting seating for aging is getting the seat height correct. If you are ordering a custom sofa directly from the manufacturer, you may be able to ask for a specific seat height, but most retail sofas cannot be modified. That means you will need to find a sofa in the seat height you need.

So, what is that magic number for seating for aging? 18-19 inches or higher for most adults. Why is this number magic? Shorter seats allow the hip to rest at an acute angle and could drop the hip below the knee. This means that you need more muscle engagement from the quadriceps and gluteal muscles to rise to a standing position. If you have any issues with your knees or hips or vestibular (balance) system you may find this action challenging. Finding seating that allows your hips and knees to rest at 90 degree angles – or as close to that as possible – will make this transition easier.

seating for aging
Eton Sofa in Sunbrella Fabric

Seating for Aging Tip 2: Quality

If you read my blog regularly, you know I am passionate about quality. You’re probably thinking, she always says “buy the best you can afford”. Ad nauseam. Ad infinitum.

… but seriously, here’s the deal. The better the quality, the longer the seating will maintain its shape. You see, upholstered furniture works as a system. If the frame fails it won’t support the springs. When the springs fail, they won’t support the cushions. If the cushions fail the seat height won’t be maintained. Poorly constructed, low quality seating could lose inches to your seat height over time. If your joints and sofa are aging together, you may find it increasingly difficult to get up!

If you need a refresher on the quality indicators, you can catch up by reading this article.

seating for aging
Cameron Sofa in Sunbrella Fabric.

Tip 3: Performance Fabrics

Here’s where you can’t let your guard down. You may think you don’t need performance fabric because you don’t always have kids around, but if you have pets or grandchildren, you should still invest in performance fabric. If you have a high quality piece you can always have it recovered, but do you really want to?

Right now there are so many amazing performance fabric options out there. There are some familiar brands like Crypton and Sunbrella that make amazing fabrics that can withstand dirt, food, oil, and even ink. Crypton has a line of cleaners that can be used to clean the surface of your sofa. Several fabric vendors also offer stain resistant treatments on their fabrics.

seating for aging
Hartwell Sofa in Sunbrella Fabric

A lot of people are skeptical about how well these fabrics perform in the real world. If this is a sticking point for you, make sure to check out the video below where I “road tested” several fabric samples. In this video, I don’t even use the specially formulated cleaners, just a mixture of mild detergent and water.

Testing for Performance

Beyond stain resistance, performance fabrics also hold their color better and withstand wear and tear better. Often, performance fabrics have been tested for commercial use and will have a Wyzenbeek score. The Wyzenbeek test scors durability of fabric. During the test, fabric is rubbed repeatedly until it starts to show wear and tear. The fabric is then assigned a “double rub” number. This number equates to how many times a person can sit and rise before the fabric will show wear. Many performance fabrics have 50,000 double rubs or more. Meaning someone could sit and rise 50,000 times before the fabric will show wear. If your fabric gets stained and you clean it, the cleaning effort will have less impact on the look of your fabric.

I’d love to hear which tip you found most helpful. Will you use any of them the next time you shop for a sofa? If you’re ready to plan your next big remodeling or redecorating project, make sure you download our Cohesive Style Guide. It will help you make selections that create a chic, beautiful, and comfortable home that you can live in throughout your retirement years!

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As always, here’s inspiration beautiful board that you can shop!

design vignette with chairs and sofas

Bamboo Chandelier by Ballard DesignsCarlton Sofa by Ballard DesignsTessa Acrylic Lamp by Ballard DesignsMarina Rug by Ballard DesignsRaffia Wrapped Table by Ballard DesignsGinger JarPagoda TerrariumBamboo Tray by One Kings LaneFoo Dog Statues by Ballard DesignsManchester Chair by Ballard DesignsTailor PillowsOllie PillowSavannah Ottoman by One Kings Lane

NEXT WEEK – 3 Tips for Creating a Home that Loves You Back

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