Sofa Buying Guide

The delivery team positions your new sofa in the living room, and after they leave, you sit down, ready to enjoy some Netflix and chill with your partner. Instantly you realize you hate the sofa. It’s too firm, and it stands out like a sore thumb in contrast to the other furniture and colors in the room. Great.

Finding out your new sofa isn’t what you expected is a frustrating experience. While buying online is convenient, if you don’t know what to look for, you could end up choosing a lemon that ruins your relaxation time.

We decided to put together this guide to buying a sofa to help you find the ideal model for your home. After spending hours researching the internet for the best couch designs and user reviews on models from dozens of manufacturers, we’re confident that we know what separates a comfy couch from your next thrift store donation.

In this guide to picking out a comfy sofa, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to make sure you pick a model that matches your décor and your comfort needs.

There are plenty of considerations you might not think about before settling on a sofa for your living room. Many people think about the size, but they don’t measure up the couch, and then wonder why they can’t get it through the front door or up the landing stairs.

You’ll need to think about how many people you want to accommodate on the sofa, and whether you own pets that you want to snuggle up with you on the couch. Do you have kids? Are they young and like to roughhouse on the sofa? Think about these considerations before you finalize your buying decision. A couch can be an expensive piece of furniture, and you’ll want something that you can enjoy for years.

Decide on Your Ideal Sofa

Couches and sofas come in an array of sizes and shapes, featuring different materials available in a variety of colors and textures. Choosing the right sofa for your home requires you to allocate the right amount of space to your new couch, as well as determine your seating needs for guests and family members.

What do you plan on doing with your new sofa? Are you going to use it to relax on at night, or do you need it to act as a secondary bed for friends that decide to sleepover on the weekend? Your usage of the sofa plays a significant role in choosing the style that’s right for your home and your lifestyle.

There are four basic types of couches.

The standard couch or sofa – These models measure between 72 to 84-inches wide and have enough seating room for three to four people.

The loveseat – A two-seater version of the standard couch or sofa, measuring between 48 to 72-inches in width.

The sectional – This modular model consists of two or more seats arranged in a U or L-shaped configuration. These sofas come in arrangements that can suit up to 9 to 10-people and are great for entertaining.

The daybed or sofa bed – This sofa pulls out flat into a day sleeping surface where you can take a nap. They’re a popular choice for covered outdoor areas.

You might be wondering if there is some difference between a couch and a sofa. While a few designers might turn up their nose at you using the word couch, we use the word interchangeably.

Both words describe a chair seating more than two people, with a padded rear backrest. However, the word sofa is typically associated with entertaining guests. The couch is a word used to describe furniture we relax on and watch TV or other activities at home.

Tips for Choosing the Style of Sofa for Your Home

A good sofa needs to be comfortable, allowing you to relax and enjoy the piece of furniture. If you have an uncomfortable couch, then it won’t matter if the best designer in the world made the couch, you’ll want to get rid of it ASAP.

However, a couch needs to bring out the aesthetics in your room as well. Bringing a multi-colored eyesore into your contemporary lounge is not going to work with the décor. Therefore, you need to select a style of a couch that accentuates the décor in the room. At the same time, you’ll need to maintain high levels of functionality and comfort from your new piece of furniture.

There is eight style od sofa available from most showrooms.

The mid-century modern – Featuring a minimalist and clean aesthetic from the mid-century that sits low to the floor. This piece also often includes wooden or steel frames and legs.

The Lawson – Designers call this sofa the “comfy denim” of couches. The Lawson has a laidback design and looks to it, allowing you to sink into the sofa for that sunk-in feeling.

The English roll-arm – This sofa has a cushioned, high-back design, with low-contoured arms that lean outwards. An excellent choice for traditional homes, they are often two-seaters and come in sets.

The Chaise – This traditional design features a couch with only one arm on one side. It’s also known as a “Fainting” couch.

The Settee – This small and upright sofa seats two people, and it’s the original name for the love seat.

The Tuxedo – Featuring tufting on the arms and back, boxy dimensions, and arms equal in height to the back of the sofa.

The Chesterfield – Featuring high arms and a low back with tufting, this is a classic British design, and it’s popular in leather.

The Camelback – Also known as the “Humpback” sofa, this design features a lift in the center of the backrest.

Ensure the Sofa Fits Snugly in Your Home

When purchasing your sofa, make sure that you take the measurements to make sure it fits in your home. It might surprise you to learn that not all sofas will fit through standard doorways, and you might have trouble getting some models up and down small staircases.

There is an old saying that goes, “measure twice, cut once.” That saying is particularly useful in measuring up your home for your new sofa. By taking the time to measure things up, you save yourself the heartache and a costly return to the retailer.

Follow these handy tips for measuring up your sofa for the room.

Measure Your Sofa Accurately

If you’re buying your couch from a local showroom, then you can always take a tape measure along with you when you go to view the sofa. Measure the height, length, and width of the couch, and then double-check your measurements.

If you’re purchasing your couch from an online retailer, make sure they have the dimensions of the sofa available in the description. If you can’t find the dimensions, then call the manufacturer or the retailer and ask them to take the measurements for you.

Some couches come disassembled and require reassembly on site when you get them to your home. These couches make it easy to move them into any room, but a bit more challenging to set up. IF you aren’t handy with tools, then hire a handyman to complete your setup. However, you’ll need to understand that hiring a handyman to assemble your couch can add to the financial costs of your sofa.

Measure Entryways Around Your Home

If you’re buying a fixed-model couch that you can disassemble, then you’ll need to measure the doorways around your home to make sure that you can fit the sofa into the room.

Don’t assume that all couches must fit through doorways. Some don’t, and they might need you to move them into the room through double sliding doors. It’s also essential to measure staircases of you’re moving the couch onto a landing or the second floor of your home.

Check the Footprint

Before you make your final purchase decision, check the footprint of your couch in your room. BenchMade Modern is an example of a retailer catering to this issue. The retailer offers you a full-size shadow footprint of your new sofa, allowing you to see if it fits perfectly in your room.

You can use this same concept if you’re buying another sofa brand. Take some cardboard or paper and join it together to get the footprint of your new sofa.

Brands like IKEA place have AR apps that allow you to take a photo of your room, and then position the couch anywhere you like using augmented reality. AR apps are the future of retail for large appliances and pieces of furniture like sofas. Now, all you need is your phone, and you can find out if the furniture fits.

Choose the Sofa that Matches Your Lifestyle

After narrowing down your candidates for your sofa shortlist, it’s time to think about your seating requirements for your new couch. A couple is going to have different needs compared to a family with young kids and pets in the house.

Before you settle on your preferred model, think about these questions.

How do you intend to use the sofa?

When choosing your sofa, you must match it to your lifestyle needs. For instance, if you go out sofa shopping, sit on the couch like you would in the privacy of your home. We’re not talking about stripping down to your undies – what we mean is for you to stretch out and lie on the couch like you usually would. Don’t make the mistake of sitting upright like a mannequin and assume you’re going to love this sofa.

How many people are going to sit on the couch?

If there’s two of you, then you need to measure up how you will sit on the couch. If one person likes to sit upright, while the other likes to lie down with their head on an arm of the sofa, then you’ll need to consider that.

Families and people that are entertaining plenty of guests will have to rely on sectional sofas for the seating capacity they require.

Do you have children or pets in the house?

Homeowners should never underestimate their children’s ability to ruin furniture. It’s the same for pets. The last thing you want is for your cat to start scratching up the cherrywood legs on your new sofa frame.

Kids will often spill stuff on the couch, so a 3M-protected fabric will help to avoid stains on your new sofa. Slipcovers also help to prevent staining.

Do your floors scratch easy?

Consider the legs on your sofa if you have wooden floors. Steel legs will scratch the floors when you move the sofa around to clean. Look for rugs that you can position under your sofa to prevent scuffing of your floors.

How to Look for Quality Design and Construction in Your Sofa

Your mattress and your sofa are possibly the two most-used pieces of furniture in your home. Just like your bed needs construction and design with premium materials, so does your couch. Cheap couches are like cheap mattresses – they leave you feeling uncomfortable. After a few hours on a cheap couch, you often end up developing pains in your neck or other areas of your body, like the hips and lower back.

The quality of the frame cushions, supports, foam, and the upholstery all affect the final look and feel of the sofa. A sofa can look modern and sleek, but if it feels like you’re sitting on a rock – what good is it then?

When you’re searching for your ideal sofa, here are the specifications to keep an eye out for when shopping.

The Frame

When looking for your ideal couch, we suggest choosing a model with a wooden frame. Look for models that have solid wood construction and avoid cheap wood materials like MDF or particleboard. These types of wood don’t hold onto fasteners and glue, making the sofa fall apart faster.

Look for couches that feature design and construction with engineered hardwoods, solid wood frames, or furniture-grade plywood materials. Durable sofa frames feature design with traditional mortise-and-tenon woodworking joints, requiring fewer staples and wood glue.

If you sit on the couch and notice any swaying, it’s a sign of poor design, and you should avoid these models at all costs.

Why Suspension Matters

The suspension on your sofa is more important than the cushions when it comes to comfort. Most quality couches feature design and construction with S-shaped springs that stretch across the wooden frame.

Some modern sofas feature support with poly-webbing, a material that is as durable as an S-spring, provided that its good quality fabric. Webbing absorbs movement and removes the bounce out of the sofa.

Top-quality designer sofas feature construction with 8-way hand-tied S-springs, which do an excellent job of avoiding sagging or squeaking. When testing your sofa in-store, make sure you keep an ear out for squeaks. Squeaky springs are a sign of broken springs.

Selecting Your Cushions

Choosing the right cushions for your sofa is an integral part of the final package. The pillows need to fulfill two roles. The first is the aesthetics. The cushions should complement the color scheme in your room, and the materials should reflect the other textures on your furniture.

Some people want cushions that allow them to sink deep into the couch. Others prefer firm cushions that provide plenty of support. Whatever floats your boat, but you can use this brief guide for selecting the best pillows for your new couch.

Poly-wrapped foam – These cushions feature construction with high-resilient foam with a polyester wrapping. You don’t have to fluff these cushions, and they provide firm levels of support.

Goose and duck down – This luxurious cushion style feels soft but requires some fluffing from time to time. The 100% down options are plush, while the foam core options are somewhat slightly firmer, featuring layers of down-proofed ticking.

Innerspring cores – Individually pocketed coils provide independent suspension and plenty of comfort for a medium-firm feel. These cushions will have more bounce than other types.

Memory foam – Is the best choice for sleeper sofas. Memory foam cushions are heavy, and they can also be expensive. Still, then offer a comfortable sitting and sleeping surface for your couch.

Choosing the Right Upholstery

Sofa retailers offer you a wide range of upholstery materials. The material you select will have a significant effect on the final price tag of your couch. For instance, leather is a far more expensive material and costs much more than other fabric options. However, leather is durable, and it will last for decades.

Choosing cheap fabrics is usually a lousy option. These fabrics tend to tear and stain easily. If you leave the couch in an area of the room that gets direct sunlight, it may weather the material and discolor your couch prematurely.

Fabrics used in upholstery applications will usually feature a rub-count rating, indicating their service life. Standard couches will have a rub count of around 50,000. Premium couch materials have rub counts of 80,000, and the most high-performance sofas will have rub counts of 120,000 or more.

There are plenty of cheap sofas that offer rub counts of 20,000 to 25,000, but you can expect these couches to wear out in half the time of a standard couch. If you have children and pets, then a 50,000 rub-count is the bare minimum you can go with to avoid the premature wearing of your new sofa.

What’s Your Budget? And When to Buy Your New Sofa?

You can get a sofa that’s of the same quality as a luxury-brand designer sofa – if you know what you’re looking for in your next couch. Luxury models don’t necessarily feature better build-standard or materials.

As with fashion, sometimes you pay a higher price for the brand name when it comes to selecting your sofa. The research we conducted in the market shows that you can find a good sofa for between $1,000 to $1,200.

There are plenty of models that cost much more, but we fail to find any other value in them other than the expensive brand name that drives up the price tag. If you’re paying more than $3,000 for your couch, then the chances are it’s more of a fashion accessory than it is a piece of furniture.

If you’re looking at buying a new couch this year, then we recommend you wait until the sale on July the 4th vacation. January and July are the best months for couch shopping. During these times, the manufacturers bring out new models and discount the old inventory. You can pick up discounts of up to 30% to 50%, depending on the state of the merchandise.

We recommend avoiding purchasing your furniture from places like IKEA. While there is nothing wrong with this brand, and most Americans have some IKEA products somewhere in their home, we don’t think they make quality couches.

The Checklist for Buying Your New Sofa

Follow this quick checklist when buying your next sofa.

  1. Does it offer comfortable seating? – The sofa should gently succumb to your bodyweight.
  2. Is it easy to get off the sofa? – We all love that feeling of sinking into the couch. However, you need a sofa that has enough support to allow you to get out as easily as you get on.
  3. Is the sofa the right height? – Your feet should be able to touch the floor when sitting upright on the couch.
  4. Does the frame feel sturdy? – Sit on the couch and grab the ends, then shift your weight around. Does the frame hold up to the movement?
  5. What do the stitching and piping look like on the edges? The stitching and piping are an indication of the build quality of the couch. If there are plenty of threads, and the piping is misaligned, you can bet that it’s a cheap construction.
  6. Does the wood grain match? – Look at the consistency of the wood in the frame. If there are any mismatched pieces, avoid buying the couch.

About US

Meet Janine, an interior designer and home product reviewer with a passion for creating beautiful, functional spaces. With 13 years of experience in the industry, Janine has developed an eye for design and a deep understanding of what makes a home feel comfortable and inviting.

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