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Sofa Buying Guide: Our Top 7 Dos and Don’ts for Buying a Couch

Buying a new sofa is a bit like buying a car. Though it’s not as big of a financial investment, it’s something that you’ll likely use every day; it will be with you a long time;  and it needs to be durable and reliable. With all that in mind, we’ve put together a short-and-sweet sofa buying guide with all the most important things to know as you embark on your furniture shopping journey.

DO: Measure (everything!)

The first order of business when buying a sofa is to figure out how you want to arrange your room—and that requires thorough and precise measuring. Don’t forget to consider the dimensions of entryways and stairwells to make sure you have the clearance to fit the sofa into your space in the first place. Trust us: Nothing’s worse than buying something and realizing you can’t even fit it through the front door.

DO: Know the style you want

Because a sofa functions like an anchor in a space, it’s important to have a feel for the style you want so you can build design choices around it. Is your style mid-century modern, traditional, or contemporary? Do you want a loveseat, a sectional, a convertible sofa bed, or a modular couch? Your lifestyle and preferences for comfort also play into this decision. Will you spend a lot of time lounging on the couch, or have guests sleeping on it? Make sure you’ve thought through these questions before stepping into a showroom so you can keep that overwhelmed feeling to a minimum.

Photo by Dennis Cortes; Styled Stock Society

DO: Think about durability

The frame material, sofa springs, and type of cushions will affect a sofa’s durability over time. Research the manufacturer and product descriptions carefully. Leather sofas generally hold up over time and are easy to wipe clean and condition. Upholstery that is stain-resistant or washable is best. Pro tip: Collecting fabric samples is a great way to get a feel for the durability of the fabric and assess the color and texture in your space.

DO: Consider buying secondhand

Stressed about pricing for a new sofa? Remember: Not every furniture purchase needs to be new, and buying secondhand has its advantages. Used sofas may be more cost-effective, and for those seeking a vintage or one-of-a-kind look, a pre-loved sofa may be the ticket. Because it is used, make sure to invest some time and money to give it a good cleaning.

Photo by Spacejoy

DON’T: Overlook maintenance

If your sofa will see a lot of daily wear-and-tear (think kids and pets), you’ll get the most bang for your buck with a durable fabric option that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance. Translation: Crisp white linen might not be the move if there’s a high chance of wine spills, dirt, sticky hands, or dog drool ending up on the couch.

DON’T: Buy a trendy sofa

Unless you plan to change it out often, a trendy sofa will feel exactly that: trendy! For some people, that’s OK; but if you’re hoping to keep your sofa for at least a decade, you might pass on the latest TikTok trend and choose a more timeless structure and color. Remember, you can always add trending colors and patterns via pillows and throws, but reupholstering a neon green couch won’t be cheap.

DON’T: Buy a sofa that doesn’t have a warranty or return policy

This probably goes without saying, but make sure you read and understand the return policy and warranties so you’re not in a pickle if your new couch arrives with a defect.

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