top of page

What to Look For When Buying a Sofa

good couch

Buying a sofa can be scary. It’s one of the most expensive furniture purchases you’ll make and probably where you'll spend most of your waking hours at home. It’s essential to choose one that is comfortable and will withstand lots of use. Here are some tips for making sure you bring home a sofa that you will love for years to come.

1. Size - Furniture showrooms are huge and that makes it difficult to judge the size of the items on display. Measure the available space in your room and know the maximum dimensions that will fit before you go shopping. I see many homes where the sofa is simply too big for the space, creating problems with furniture layout and traffic flow. It’s also important to take note of the width of your front door and entryway and check with your salesperson to make sure that new sofa will make it into your home!

Make sure the sofa you are considering is comfortable for you and your family. Pay attention to the depth of the seat; if it is too generous it might not be a good fit for those who are short or have mobility issues. When you test out sofas in stores sit in them the way you do at home to make sure it will work when you’re relaxing and watching TV.

2. Standard sofa vs. sectional - Sectionals are very popular but they don’t work in every living room. Measure carefully and plan the layout of the room before shopping for one. A sectional will limit your options for arranging the furniture, so a standard sofa is a better choice if you like to switch it up. Many people buy a sectional to maximize seating, but keep in mind the corner section will go mostly unused. You will likely get the same number of seats with a standard sofa and a couple of chairs and have greater flexibility to lay out your room.

Many modern sectionals have the option for an attached chaise: an extended seat that allows you to put your feet up. I find these to be impractical for entertaining because guests won’t be comfortable reclining on the chaise and the extended section doesn’t serve as a proper seat because it doesn’t offer any back support. You can achieve the same level of comfort with a separate ottoman for those times when you want to extend your legs.

3. Upholstery - Upholstery material is very much a personal choice. Fabric is softer and more comfortable than leather, but also more susceptible to stains and wear. Leather is very durable but not impervious to scratches and punctures. It is more expensive but can be a good choice for people with allergies. If you’ve never owned leather and are considering it for your sofa, be sure to test it out thoroughly in the store.

Natural fabrics like cotton and linen are more likely to stain and fade from the sun. There are many great synthetics available that are durable and stain-resistant but feel soft to the touch. If your family is extremely hard on the furniture, consider an outdoor fabric like Sunbrella. They look and feel like a typical fabric but repel dirt and stains.

4. Price - When it comes to furniture you get what you pay for. Your sofa will likely be the most-used seat in your home, so it’s worth spending more on quality construction. Ask questions of the salesperson and look for options with kiln-dried hardwood frames for durability. Sticker shock is common when making a big purchase like a sofa, but think of it as an investment and how the cost will be divided over many years of use.

If you found these tips helpful be sure to subscribe to the Pretty Neat weekly email! You'll get a short and sweet message each week with my best advice for a more beautiful and functional home. Click here to sign up, and you'll also receive my FREE guide: How to Get Rid of Stuff!

Make it fab!


bottom of page