Thrillingly, my husband and I have spent a decent chunk of our past four weekends sofa shopping. Like anything where you are going to drop more than a few hundred dollars on one item, it involves months of discussion. First up, can we afford it, or are we going eke out another year with the old one? ("What about a pool instead!" suggested my husband brightly at one stage, before proceeding to take it to a family vote.)

Then, when sense prevails, and the children hate you, there's about five hours of online surfing to try and work out what it's likely to cost, as well as discovering that your tastes aren't compatible.

By the time you set foot in an actual shop, you are overwhelmed and everything seems possible. We very nearly ended up buying a hugely expensive, brown leather sofa that looked pretty much like a fat labrador (my choice, for which I have no answers now).

Happily, last weekend we found one we both liked, that cost only about a quarter of our annual salary (much cheaper than a pool!) and ordered it. We're really looking forward to sitting on it in about three months' time.


This is a long-winded way of saying I wish I'd had the opportunity to read this week's cover story ... about three months ago. In it, four people who know a lot more about home design than I ever will spill the beans on what works, what doesn't and, most importantly, on some really great places to find a cool couch.