How to Choose a Sofa: Tips for Buying the Perfect Couch, Loveseat or Sofa Bed


With all the choices for home furnishings available, how do you avoid making a costly mistake and find the perfect item the first time?

Darlene Matchett, a home décor expert from says the colour, size, style and comfort of your sofa will greatly impact both how your room looks and how well it functions for years to come. With all the options, where do you begin?

Size of Room and Layout

Your first step is to determine which size of sofa you want. Using the design rule of scale, you’ll be safe if you base the size of the couch on the size of the room – large room, large sofa; small room, small sofa. Loveseats are generally between 60-78” in length while standard sofas range between 79-84”. However, the style of sofa also matters as overstuffed sofas will be visually larger than tightly tailored versions.

In a large room you could select matching sofas to face each other. This will create a formal sitting area. In a very large room don’t be afraid to pull the sofas away from the walls or place one across the open room as a divider and add a sofa table behind it.

In a casual setting, or for watching TV you may consider the extra lounging space of a sectional or lounge sofa. The L shaped sitting area can easily break up an extra-long room or tuck neatly into a corner of an average sized room.

In a small living space consider one sofa – or an apartment sized version – and two chairs for extra seating. This option keeps the arrangement versatile and still provides sufficient seating for guests. If you only have one long wall, place the sofa on that wall – aim for it to be no more than 2/3 to ¾ the length of the wall or it will look too large.

How You Live in the Room

The second step is to consider the USE of the sofa. Will it be a lounging sofa for the whole family to watch TV, or a formal sofa for cocktail parties and coffee? Do you have pets or children?

Pet owners consider the colour of their pet when selecting the main colour of furniture. Obviously, dark haired pets do better with dark furniture and light-haired pets on light furniture. But the most practical recommendation she makes is for a mixed texture or print that can disguise pet hair and stains.

This advice is equally practical for consideration with children (or messy mates!). A smooth surface such as leather or vinyl makes it easy to sweep off crumbs or mop spills, but they can be uncomfortably sticky in hot weather and chilly in cold weather.

A slipcover can provide you style options as well as make it easy to clean but save fabrics like silk and velvet for side chairs and cushions rather than the main covering for a sofa.

Quality of Construction and Price

Sofas, loveseats and sectionals come at nearly all price points. In many cases you can find the style you like at any price, but if you’re looking for quality it will cost a little more.

Furniture Style

Choosing a sofa is such a big commitment that you would be wise to go with a neutral, classic look and play up your personal style in accessories and smaller furnishings. Going for a clean lined tuxedo sofa will appeal to traditionalists and minimalists alike. A comfy rolled-arm couch will work with country decors or traditional while a vintage couch may appeal to historical purists or the avant-garde designer.

In any case, when you find the sofa you absolutely love, make absolutely sure you measure your room, the sofa AND the entrance to your abode – a perfect couch doesn’t look so great when it’s wedged in the staircase or stuck on the lawn!