Picking out a living room sofa can be a daunting task.
Whether you are replacing an old couch, or buying a new one after a move, we are here to help you with a step by step process for getting the right couch for your space. Follow these tips and you’ll be relaxing on your perfect new couch in no time.
What’s your style?
What is the style of the rest of your living area? If your living room is casual/quirky, you may want to look for a popular Chesterfield or Mid Century Modern couch in an unusual color like orange or royal blue. If your home is sleek and modern, you might like a black leather English Roll Arm sofa, or a Contemporary sectional. For traditionally styled homes, a Laweson or Cabriole in a muted tone might suit your taste. Or if you want to make a statement with your sofa, you could go in the opposite direction from the style of the rest of the room. For example, putting a Chesterfield in a sleek modern room will add an unexpected infusion of interest. A modern sectional in an unlikely spot such as a Bohemian styled room will also have the same effect.
Choosing the right material.
Do you have little ones climbing (and spilling) on your furniture? Or cats, dogs, or other clawed and potentially dirty pets that might be snuggling up with you on the couch? If so, you may want to consider a sofa in a tougher, stain resistant material such as polyester, nylon, microfiber and acrylic. These fabrics are durable, washable, and will stand up to the worst your children and fur babies can dish out. Talk to your furniture salesperson about the best options for your living room and family.
Leather can also be quite durable but may require a little more maintenance than you are used to. Wipe up spills on your leather sofa immediately with a clean cloth, and use a leather conditioner every few months to keep your leather sofa looking great.
What color would look best?
Finding the right couch color is a big deal if you want to pull together a room and achieve a specific style for your living room. If you can choose a sofa first before decorating the rest of the room, that is a good way to make sure that all the elements are coordinated. If you are buying a new sofa for an already finished room, here are some tips for nailing it.
Think about stains and wear first. White and light colors might be a no go if you have kids, pets, or a sloppy couch-eater in the family. On the other hand, a solid black or dark colored couch might be a bad choice too, if you have a fluffy cat with white fur.
If you have a bland room and want to punch it up with your couch, look for a unique feature such as a curvy shape, a brightly colored fabric, or a busy patterned upholstery to liven up the room.
If you have another color theme going in the room, such as a rug and a light fixture in silver, a coordinated color like navy blue or black might be a good choice. Another popular and ultra-modern take is to match your couch color to your wall color. This will make the space feel bigger too. If you have a brightly colored artwork or other piece such as an end table, it could look great to coordinate a green painting with a green sofa, for example.
Measure twice for the right size.
Measure your living room area before you start couch shopping. A good rule of thumb is that you want the couch to be about one third of the size of the room. If you find a couch you like, use the dimensions to tape off the floor with masking tape and leave it for a day or two, to ensure that the size feels right and you can walk around it easily. More key measurements to take are those of the doorways, halls, and any other spaces that the sofa will need to fit through in order to enter your living room. Too many excited new furniture buyers have been frustrated to learn that their beautiful new sectional will not fit through the door. Measure the height of your couch (from the floor to highest height on the couch, usually the back) and if the height of the couch is smaller than the width of your door, it will fit. Ask for help from a couple of strong friends or call the professionals to put it in place for you.
Arms or no arms.
An armless sofa can add an undeniably modern, stylish, minimalist look to a room. It can also make a room feel more spacious and open. Just know that it will be hard to keep throw pillows from falling off the sides and it may take time to adjust to sitting with the armless ends.
Sectional or regular couch, or regular couch plus loveseat.
Depending on the size of your living room and the number of people who will be using the couch regularly, you may want to consider whether to get a sectional, a couch, or a couch and loveseat set. For a smaller or more formal room, a couch or couch and loveseat might be a better option. An advantage of a separate couch and loveseat is the ability to move them around and rearrange as you see fit, plus they offer more space to walk around or put a small end table between them. Sectionals are a good choice for a large family, a large room, and a casual vibe. If you are opting for a sectional, first decide if you want a chaise, L-shaped sectional, or a U-shaped sectional. A chaise sectional has a longer chaise cushion on one side or the other, so you’ll need to decide which side you want the chaise on before shopping. An L-shaped sectional has the same shape but is symmetrical so you won’t need to pick a side before shopping. A U-shaped sectional is what it sounds like, a large sectional that goes around in a semicircle.
Finding the right seat depth.
In a formal living room, a shallower seat depth is more appropriate because it encourages you to sit upright. Go for 20 to 23 inches. If you are choosing a sofa for a theater room or less formal living room, you may want a deeper seat. A deeper seat allows for more laid back lounging. A good deep seat depth for a lounger is 23 inches or more.
Firm or soft cushions.
Like seat depth, couch firmness will also depend not only on your personal preference, but also on whether you are buying the sofa for a formal or informal living area. For a more formal space, you may want to go for a firmer couch. It will stay looking tidy and will keep up the formal air in the space. In a less formal living room, you may want to go for an ultra plush and soft couch to invite you, your family, and your guests to settle in and stay awhile. Look for couches that are down and/or “overstuffed” for this style.
Down or foam.
Down is traditionally more expensive, but sinks in a lot. If you like to sink into your couch, down is something to look into. One of its disadvantages is that it can often look flattened and disheveled and requires some care that way. Foam is much firmer and holds its shape. A drawback with foam is that some people may find it to be less comfortable. Fortunately if you can’t decide between the two, there are combination foam and down sofas that bring you the best of both worlds, offering the ultimate in comfort, low maintenance, and tidy appearance.
Do you need a sleeper?
For some of us, the living room provides invaluable extra sleeping space for us, our guests, sleepovers, and more. If you need a sleeper, make sure it will fit into your doorway and also make sure it fits into the living room when the bed is completely open. Consider what type of quality and comfort you will require for the mattress. For kids, you may need a more durable frame overall, but a less comfortable mattress could be sufficient. For grandma, grandpa, or other adults, you may want to opt for a nicer latex or memory foam mattress.
Look at quality.
This goes without saying, but always think about getting the highest quality sofa that you can afford. It is better to stretch a little for a nice sofa than to get something low quality that you feel like you have to replace in a year or two. Sinking cushions, broken arm rests, and squeaky springs are a few of the pitfalls of cheap couches that you want to avoid.
Whatever route you end up going, know that it’s not necessarily final. If you get your couch home and it’s too big, too small, or not the right style for you after all, call the furniture store to see what they can do. Many furniture stores allow returns after pickup/delivery. Never settle for a subpar couch! If you spend time sitting there, it’s worth getting something you love.