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  • Writer's pictureMike Roberts

Getting Comfortable with Choosing the Right Sofa

Selecting a new sofa is a major decision. The focal point of most family rooms and living rooms, they get a lot of use, they provide seating for multiple people, and they’re expensive. Answer these six questions and you’ll be on your way to enjoying a new piece of furniture without regret.

How do you plan to use your new sofa? Frequency of use is a primary consideration before making a sofa purchase. Will your family enjoy movie nights on this piece of furniture? Or do you need a sofa for a formal living room? A deep couch (40-42 inches) or sectional with a chaise is a good option for lounging. For more formal or occasional seating, a smaller, standard depth (36-38 inches) couch or loveseat may be best.

What is your style? A sofa is a large piece of furniture, so it’s important that it goes with the style of your home. For example, a modern sofa would look out of place in a Colonial filled with traditional furniture, but a Chesterfield might be perfect. Not sure about your home’s style (or your own)? Try a transitional piece. This style combines traditional and contemporary elements, so it works well in a variety of spaces.

What will fit in your space? Before selecting a sofa, measure your room. Showrooms are large and make it easy to underestimate the size of a piece of furniture. Take room measurements with you when you go shopping, or, record dimensions of the sofas you like and mark their footprints with tape when you get home to see how much space they’ll take up in your room. A large couch or one with a chaise lounge may work in only one orientation. If you rearrange your furniture often, you may want to go with something smaller or modular.

Which fabric and colors will be best? The right fabric depends on several factors: personal preference, durability, and stain resistance. Look for tightly-woven linen, cotton, or synthetic microfiber/microsuede that are more durable and can be cleaned easily. Save the silk and velvet for a formal living room. Neutral colors will help your couch have staying power even if you redecorate. Bold colors or patterns can be difficult to coordinate. If you choose a pattern, woven designs last longer than printed. Be wary of very light or dark fabrics. White and ivories will show dirt easily, while deep hues may fade. Our top pick: a tan or gray microfiber. It has a soft feel, withstands a lot of wear and tear, is easy to clean, and goes with everything. Jazz it up with throw pillows or add an interesting accent chair.

What level of comfort is most appealing? Couches come in varying degrees of firmness. Trying out several model sofas is the best way to determine your comfort level. Take your time and sit on each option in a variety of positions. Keep in mind that a firm sofa will soften somewhat over time, but you can’t add firmness to one that’s too soft.

What’s your budget? A couch is a significant furniture purchase, and it comes with a price tag to match. Sofa prices range from $500 for pieces made with lower-end materials and craftsmanship to well over $5,000 for a finely crafted piece covered in the highest-quality fabrics. If you’re planning to keep a sofa for decades and will reupholster rather than replace it, plan on spending more. If you know you’ll be ready for a new sofa in five years or less, a lower-end model may suffice.

One way to save money is to look for sales. Many furniture retailers hold savings events around holidays and semi-annually. If you know the model and style of sofa you want, you may be able to comparison shop online for the best deal. If you live near a furniture-manufacturing center, visit company showrooms.

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