A buyer’s guide for purchasing the best sofa for your buck
Sofas purchases may not be on the same scale as home or car purchases, but they can be comparable with high-priced electronics and appliances. It’s not a small purchase and so shouldn’t be taken lightly. You don’t want to pay too much for a sofa available cheaper elsewhere, or too little for a sofa that then needs replaced in a year or two. It’s also a fairly permanent fixture, so you’ve got to be willing to commit to what you pick, and avoid impulse buys.
Recognize sofa quality
How can you measure the quality of a sofa? Going by price isn’t necessarily going to work. Houzz.com writer and editor Fred Albert had a few guidelines for determining what kind of quality a couch is. “Quality sofas should feel solid and heavy,” Albert said. “Flop around on one to test its sturdiness, then lift it up by the corner and shake it a bit. If it feel light or wobbly, take a pass.” He also said you should look at its frame. Kiln-dried hardwoods, like birch, maple, and oak, are the best, but high-quality hardwood plywood or marine plywood will work too.
Examine the cushions
The cushion also has quality markers. Albert explained, “The denser the foam, the heavier it is and the longer it will last. In cheapest furniture, the cushion is filled with just the polyurethane foam core. . . . Higher-quality options include poly-down cushions . . . spring down cushions . . . and all down,” though all down cushions tend to be a lot of work to keep clean.
Take measurements before heading to the store
Sofas should suit the size of the room they’re used in, as well. Before heading out to the store, take measurements of your room’s height, length, and width. Decide what the maximum length is you’d feel comfortable living with. Think about what you’ll be using the sofa for: Reading? Watching TV? Visiting? How far into the room are you willing to allow the couch to project? If you’re thinking about getting one with reclining seats, take into account the space you’ll need in front of and behind the couch.
Albert said, “If you’re short on space, think about buying a sofa with low arms or no arms—it’ll make your room look larger.” He also said to plan on seating one person per cushion, unless you choose a couch with a long cushion or “bench” cushion. The back of the sofa will take up seating space, so consider whether you like the tight back (which is tailored and sewn to the back of the couch) or the pillow back (which is more comfortable but also bulkier and harder to keep looking neat).
Go with neutral colors and patterns
Considering the massive investment you’ll be making, it’s best to choose a fabric that won’t go out of style quickly. Neutral patterns and colors are a safe bet, with the added bonus that you can switch out accent pillows at will to create a new look.
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