How to Choose the Right Sofa in 4 Steps

MUST KNOW TIPS for sofa shopping! This easy guide will teach you what to look for and how to find the perfect couch for your style, needs and budget! Tips from a professional interior designer.

Whether you are looking to purchase a new sofa for your first place, or replace the one you bought 15 years ago, there is a lot to consider when shopping for a new sofa. After your mattress, your sofa is the probably the one piece of furniture in your home that you will spend the MOST time on.

But with literally THOUSANDS of sofa options out there and prices ranging $400 to $4000+, how can you be sure you are choosing the right one? The shopping anxiety is real, friends.

As an interior designer, I've been around this block a time or two. I've developed a 4 step process for helping my clients choose the perfect sofa for them. And today, I'm sharing it with you! 

Step 1: Define Your Style

One thing I've learned is that if you don't know WHAT you are looking for, you'll never find it! Once you have a specific style (ex. Chesterfield, Retro-inspired, French) or at least certain features (ex. nailhead trim, button tufting, modern metal legs, etc.) in mind, you will quickly be able to narrow down your options to a manageable number.

If you have a strong sense of what style you are looking for, move onto step 2! If not I suggest you start by searching “living rooms” on a site like Houzz or Pinterest.

Spend 10 minutes picking photos you like to add to your board or idea book, then go back and compare the photos you have selected. Do you notice any trends? If most of the photos you’ve pinned are sectional sofas upholstered in a charcoal gray fabric, then that’s a pretty good sign that you would like a charcoal gray sectional in your home!

Step 2: The "Sit Test" 

Once you have determined your style, it’s time to go test out sofas! Try several different sofa frames similar in look to the inspiration you found online. (Remember, many sofas can be ordered in the color and fabric of your choice, so don't get tunnel vision and only look for sofas that are shown in your perfect color.)  Which ones feel the most comfortable to you and why? Do you prefer sinking into a soft, down-blend cushion or are you more comfortable in something firmer?

Also, think about how you will actually use the sofa once it is in your home. Do you prefer sitting straight up with your feet on the floor or do you sit with your legs tucked under you? If you usually lay down on your sofa, don’t be afraid to make yourself at home in the store and lay down! It’s important for your sofa shopping experience to mirror the experience you will have once the piece is in your home.

Step 3: Ask about Durability & Construction

Once you have found a few sofas that meet your needs for style and comfort, ask your design consultant about the durability and construction features of the piece. Sure, the sofa may be comfortable today but a year from now, will the cushions be sagging so much that you can feel the wood frame underneath? It’s important to ask your design consultant about how many years of use can you expect from each sofa before you will start to see signs of wear. Do you have kids and pets? Ask your design consultant which upholstery fabric options are the most durable. 

Step 4: Determine the Best Value

Before you purchase a sofa, you want to weigh the style and comfort with the durability and construction to determine the value of the piece you are looking at. Value is a lot more than just the price. Say you are looking at a $600 sofa and a $1000 sofa. Both sofas fit the style you are looking for and are very comfortable to sit in. The $600 sofa would give you about 3-5 years of use but the $1000 sofa would give you 10-12. Which sofa is the better value?  If you divide the price of each sofa by the number of years you can expect to use it, you will find that the $1000 sofa is a better value at $84-$100 per year versus the $600 at $120-$200 per year. 

Have you purchased a new sofa recently? What did you learn from the experience? Share your tips in the comments below!