This guide will help you figure out the best sofa for your needs and style. Comfort and compatibility go hand-in-hand when sofa shopping.
One of the most challenging shopping purchases is deciding on a new sofa. Even if you can try out everyone, how many people bring a bowl of popcorn and Netflix to the furniture store? Next to the bed, the sofa sees more action than any other piece of furniture. Not only do we want to feel completely comfortable and relaxed, but we also want something stylish that fits in with our home’s aesthetic.
Most people will not have the time to drive to a dozen furniture stores to try out every piece they are interested in. To narrow down the list, you need to be clear on what style, size, and color you are looking for. These factors will save you time and guesswork and bring you one step closer to finding that perfect sofa.
Size is a significant factor for many different reasons. You want to consider how many people you expect to sit in your living room at once and how you plan to use it. For example, are you more of a “stretch out, feet up, afternoon napper” type, or a “lean back kick your feet up on the ottoman” relaxer? If you are tall, you will want to consider a more extended sofa and possibly even a taller sofa.
Along with personal preference, consider the size and angle of doorways. The worst thing is finding that perfect piece after searching for weeks only for it to not fit through the opening. To ease this fear, measure everything along the way from the front door to where the sofa will finally come to rest. This includes doorways, hallways, stairwells, and exterior and interior obstructions.
If you have kids or pets, you will want to look for different fabrics than if you lived alone. The amount of wear and tear a sofa can handle is heavily based on the materials that cover the frame. Cats are known to scratch at the corners, using it as their grooming station, while kids will jump all over the place and break it in. A sofa is one of the more expensive pieces of furniture in a home, and you want to make sure it will last a long time.
Durable materials such as microfiber and canvas are long touted as the best options for pets and children. They are made up of powerful fibers and will handle the abuse that comes with years of bouncing around. Leather is also very durable and a popular option for people with pets and kids. Along with its long lifespan, it is also notoriously easy to clean and hard to stain.
The cheaper the fabric, the more prone it will be to stretching and straining. Upholstery typically has a rub-count rating, a machine-based test that rubs back and forth over the fabric until it wears down. 50,000 count is the standard, with 100,000 considered premium. Most residential fabric rub counts of about 25,000 are acceptable for light use, but again, with kids and pets, you will want to look for something significantly higher.
When you are sofa shopping, don’t worry if you find the perfect sofa in the wrong fabric or color. You can request fabric samples from many sofa companies for the colors and materials you are interested in. Seeing and feeling these before purchasing is a much better option than imagining what it would be like through a photo. You can use this to see how the sofa would look in different lighting conditions and how it feels against your skin when taking a nap.
An often underlooked aspect, the frame is just as important as any other feature. The quality of the wood supports and springs will affect how long it last and age. Most frames are made of engineered wood like MDF or particleboard, but these cheap materials will not survive in the long run. Instead, search out sofas made of furniture-grade plywood, hardwood, and solid wood. Different joint techniques will also improve durability, such as mortise-and-tenon joints. The fewer staples and less glue used, the better.
Sofas come in various styles, and these are usually determined by the shape of the frame, the height of the back, and the style of the cushion. For example, do you want a soft, nap-friendly cushion that will feel like resting on a cloud? Or do you prefer a firmer cushion that will support you while you entertain company? Most sofas on the market come in four options: poly-wrapped foam, goose/duck down, innerspring core, and memory foam. Each one has a distinct feel, longevity, and comfort level, so try each one before choosing. Knowing which fill material you like best will significantly narrow down your search.
Another consideration is how many cushions. Do you want a bench seat with a classic element or a three-cushion sofa, which makes for easier flipping and cleaning? While some sofa cushions are attached, many are not and will need to be flipped every few months, depending on use. Flipping the cushions is not just for hiding stains; it also keeps the fill even and equalizes the wear.
Your final consideration should be style and color. I know that we shop with our eyes, but finding a beautiful uncomfortable sofa will not do you any good. By understanding the size, shape, use, frame, and cushion style that you like, you will be able to narrow down your options and make the best decision. Many furniture manufacturers will allow you to choose between different sofa cushion fills, upholstery options, and materials, so going in with this information means you can alter a sofa to your liking.