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4 Tips for buying a new Sofa

4 Tips on how to by a new sofa

Buying a new sofa can be a lot of fun! It can feel like a fresh new start for your entire room. Usually being one of the larger pieces of furniture in your family room, living room, or t.v. room, changing just your sofa can give your entire room a face lift. It’s the place your family comes to spend time together, a place you share stories with your friends, and it can be a place you find a little R and R after a long day. Your sofa serves many purposes, can take lots of abuse, and can stick around for a while. Sometimes it’s even handed down to the kids when they move out of the house. Therefore, buying a new sofa is kind of a big deal. Below are our sofa buying tips to help guide you along the way and allow you to rein in what you want, what you need, and how to discern the right sofa fit for your household.

To go along with this blog post, I have created a freebie worksheet. Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of this post to download it and print it out. It will make it a lot easier when you go shopping, and help you know exactly what you’re looking for, and to be able to let your salesperson know.

Tip 1: What style sofa do you want?

Is your home traditional, modern, eclectic, boho, etc? Do you have no clue what style your home is? Maybe you don’t really care about style all that much? Whatever the case, once you start shopping, you will have preferences whether you think so or not. Consider what the other pieces of furniture look like in your room and (if you like them) try to find a sofa that picks up on some of qualities of the other furniture in your room. Maybe your furniture has a lot of curves, maybe some have nail heads or tufting and you like that. Try to find something to play with when considering the style of your new furniture. Remember, you want everything to feel cohesive. Below are the overall general furniture styles, once you know which direction you want to go in it will help you search and communicate with others more effectively about what you are looking for.

Traditional (aka Classic)

Sofa’s that are traditional usually have some soft curves at the back, rounded or scrolled arms, and smaller cushions. Below are some examples of traditional sofa styles. You can mix traditional styled sofas with transitional, eclectic, or traditional styled rooms.

I would call this more of a feminine style traditional sofa. This sofa has button tufting, rolled arms, nail heads, wood turned legs and is tightly upholstered. Plus it’s shape appears very soft since it’s in a curved, circular shape.

This sofa has a wood frame, curved legs, and a beautiful curved back and arms. This would be more of a classic settee style sofa, which is smaller with one long cushion.

This sofa has a skirt with round arms and soft cushions. This is a very popular, long standing sofa style. You’ve seen something like this in many design magazines. I would consider this skirted traditional style.

I would consider this sofa casual traditional. It has the scroll arms, nail head details, and box style cushions.

Modern (aka contemporary):

Sofa’s that are modern typically have very straight lines, are clean, not many details and can have larger cushions or just one cushion. They can sometimes incorporate metal frames as the base. You can mix modern sofa’s with transitional room, eclectic and modern styled rooms.

This sofa has very clean lines, wide arms, wide cushions and short legs. I would call this a boxy sofa.


This sofa is very clean. It has a wood frame with skinny long legs. A thin wood apron, and the cushioned area is very thin. This does incorporate curves, but even the curves are clean. It isn’t scrolly and there isn’t curves upon curves. I would call this more of a modern mid-century sofa.

This sofa is very modern. The cushions are super thick and chunky, and there are no legs. I imagine this sofa sits lower than your average sofa would. This one also has a chaise attachment on one end. The back is also pretty low. I would call this modern boxy with no legs.

I wanted to throw this one in even though it has more of a feminine curvy appeal. It is still very clean even with a curved back, there are no loose cushions (everything is tightly upholstered) and the legs are thin. It has low arms and is overall is on the smaller side. I would simply call this soft modern.

Last but not least, this sofa has thin U-shaped legs, with on long think cushion and a thick frame. Sometimes the U-shaped legs can be thicker and go in the other direction so that you would see a frame from the front view. I would call this a one-piece Contemporary sofa with metal legs.


Sofa’s that are transitional are considered a mix of traditional and modern. They are that perfect sweet spot in between. People like them because they can mix well with a variety of different room styles. They usually have elements from both the modern and traditional categories.

I would consider this sofa transitional because of the long more modern cushion shape and skinny legs. However it has some details to the base and legs which would make it feel more traditional. It has a good mix of both. I would call this a settee style sofa with thin metal tapered legs.

Love this sofa. This sofa has thin arms with a small curve, one long cushion, loose back cushions and a skirt. This is a classic transitional sofa. I would call this classic skirted clean line sofa.

I hope that all these sofa descriptions weren’t too tedious to read (who knew there are so many sofa types) but I really wanted to give you a good background on the different styles of sofas, the elements that make them the style that they are, and hopefully help you to spot sofa styles on your own and hone in on what you are looking for.

Tip 2: What is your budget?

So this is obviously an important factor. Depending on the size, quality, and style of sofa the cost can range from $750-$10,000. Actually I have seen even more expensive sofa’s than that when I was working on some pretty high-end projects with my old firm. Usually those are not retail and are completely custom. It’s hard to imagine spending the same amount of money on a sofa that you would on a car, am I right? Don’t worry- I won’t be suggesting you do that.

When thinking about your budget, consider the following:

A. How long will I have this sofa?

If you want your new sofa to last years and years, then you really need to consider putting down a reasonable sum of money for it. The saying applies here- you get what you pay for. I would say that this is usually a family with older kids (old enough to know not to eat Cheetos on the sofa, or spill their fruit juice all over it.) At this point you are ready to have a sofa to last you until the kids leave and go off to college, and you aren’t worried about it getting ruined or stained.

On the flip side, if you are single, just got married, expecting kids, I would say that you don’t need to buy a super fancy or high quality sofa just yet. If you’re still single, you will want to see what kind of style your future husband/wife is into. Chances are you guys won’t agree 110% on what you like for your new place. If you just got married, it may take a while for the two of you to figure out what you like. My husband and I are finally starting to see eye-to-eye on this and it’s been three years. If you’re expecting kids, don’t be like me and buy a white sofa, kay? Just know that you can’t hold on too tightly to your stuff when you have young kids because your stuff is also their stuff. You get me, right?


B. What do I want to get out of it?

This question will touch on a few of the key points above, but it’s still very important to ask yourself. Think about what you expect from your sofa. Is it going to be in a formal living room, only to be sat on three times a year? Will it be in a family room and get a lot of abuse from the kiddos? Will it be your sudo dinning spot and you will eat a ton while sitting on it? All this effects how much you will want to spend on your new piece of furniture. It will determine what kind of material you want which will effect the price (you may want to use silk for a formal sofa that never gets used, but you would never use silk on a sofa that gets tons of abuse). How easy is it to clean? If you think you will need to clean it three times a year, consider getting a sofa with loose seat and back cushions with zipper closures. You can remove the covers and throw them in the wash or bring them to the dry cleaner.

Tip 3: Size and color

This is probably one question that I get asked the most as a designer. What size and what color sofa should I get? There is no one-size-fits-all answer for this one, and without actually going to your house I really couldn’t tell you exactly what to get. All I can do is give you some guide lines to use to try to help you DIY this for yourself.



So, everyone’s room is completely different in size and shape. Some rooms have four walls while others don’t have any walls. My best piece of advice on trying to find the size of your sofa in the most easy way is to mock it up.

A. First find a few options

First thing you should do is find a handful of sofa options that you like from your favorite furniture stores. Print out or write down the size (width, depth, height). Next, grab some masking tape and tape out a rectangle on your floor the size of one of the sofa’s that you like. Write the name or item number of the sofa on a piece of paper and tape that to the floor in the center of your taped rectangle. Take a picture of it. Do this for all of your sofa options. After you are done taping each sofa, you should step back and see how it feels in the room. Is it too big? Is it too small? How does it function in relationship to your other furniture in the room (is it too close, does it give you a good view of the window or t.v., etc), and walk into the room from each entrance to try and get a first impression. If you tape your sofa near the edge of a wall, you can also tape the height of it onto the wall so you can really get a good idea of scale.

B. Narrow it down

After you have taped everything down, you can look at your pictures for reference to see which sofa size you like best. It’s okay to still have a few options of what you like at this point. As long as you scratch the ones off your list that don’t work then you can move on to the next step.


Color is soooo subjective. I mean the rainbow keeps getting bigger and bigger am I right?. There are so many color nuances, shades, etc. Trying to choose a color can be very overwhelming. The best way to do this is to go to a store like Tjmaxx, Home Goods, Target, etc and pick out some pillows in the colors that you are considering. Bring them back to your house and “live with them” for a few days. See how you like the color during the day, during sunset, during nighttime. Lighting always changes the way a color looks. Also see how the pillow color looks with the other furniture items and paint colors in your room. You can narrow it down to one or two options, keep those pillows and return the rest. Now when you go shopping, bring those pillows with you to the store. You may not find the exact color as the pillow when shopping for a sofa, but you should find something close enough.

Have NO IDEA where to start? Try downloading our color matching guide to help you narrow down what colors to start with and get you going in a good direction.

Tip 4: Where to shop

Where you shop will depend on your budget. Below are some of my favorite places to shop both online and in store. Try your best to try out your sofa in store before buying it. You want to sit on it and make sure you like the way it feels before you fork over your hard earned cash.

More inexpensive options

Try the stores below when you want to find something on the least expensive side.

Target  (reasonably priced, cute, and pretty comfy)

Ikea  (quality won’t last you forever, but their inexpensive)

CB2  (they have a range of prices)

Living Spaces(they have a variety of styles)


Big Lots (their stuff isn’t as pretty but you can sometimes find what you’re looking for)

World Market

Pier 1 (they have good sales and pretty good quality)

More expensive options

Pottery Barn

Restoration Hardware

Ashley Furniture (FYI they carry a lot of the same items as Living Spaces, but they upcharge for it. So check both)

Macy’s (they have a range of prices, pretty good quality depending on the piece)

Crate & Barrel

West Elm



Hopefully these tips to use when shopping for a sofa will help you narrow down what you’re looking for, what you don’t need, and where to shop.

Download your free printable worksheet on buying a new sofa! Take it with you to the store to make sure you buy the right sofa. Enter your email below to download your worksheet instantly.


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4 Tips on buying a new sofa
4 Tips on buying a new sofa
4 Tips on buying a new sofa
4 Tips on buying a new sofa
4 Tips on buying a new sofa

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