Living Space: 6 can't-fail sofa buying tips

June 23, 2011 at 1:23 a.m.

By Kathryn Weber

With the blistering heat of summer comes an opportunity to pick up furniture bargains as stores make space for the coming fall styles. Buying a sofa can be a big investment, so before you head out, consider these tips so that you not only get a bargain but a good buy, too.


The last thing you want is a sofa that's over- or undersized for the room. Start by measuring your room. Make a drawing, noting doors and windows, and bring it with you. Most furniture stores have onsite decorators who'll put your dimensions into a computer to show you just what your new sofa would look like in your room and if it will fit.


It's also helpful to have a picture of the room to take with you as you shop. Even a digital photo on your phone is a big help in remembering important details about the room and how the sofa will work in it. Better yet, you can show it to the store's interior designer who can give you input, too.


Large national furniture chains to locally-owned furniture stores frequently have designers on staff to help you make a selection. Rather than relying on a furniture sales person, a designer can offer considerations and ideas that you might not think of - and that can help you make a better, more informed purchase.


Size matters, and when it comes to sofas, there's more to size than length. Size also refers to the size and pitch of the seating. Check that seat cushions aren't so deep your feet are off the floor, making you feel like a little kid, and your petite guests uncomfortable.

Other sofas have backs with a pitch that causes those seated to lean far back, making them unsuitable for formal use, and possibly uncomfortable for guests with neck or back problems. Older family members may also have a hard time getting up from these sofas. You want to be sure, like Goldilocks was, that the sofa you choose is just right for you and your guests.


Once you've found a sofa you like and that fits in your room, it's time for a test plop. Sit on it, lie on it and generally use it the way you would normally use your sofa. If this sofa is for watching TV, sit on it the way you would if you were watching TV. If you've brought the kids along, have everyone get on the sofa just like you would at home. This is the best way to ensure the sofa will suit your needs.


You want your new sofa to fit in, so compare the sofa's style with the rest of your home using the photo you've brought along. Does it work with the rest of your furniture? If you're tempted to go with a large or wild pattern, just remember that you may be living with that a while - and it may get stale quickly. A smarter, more efficient choice is to choose a neutral sofa, and use pattern in your wall coverings or sofa cushions because these can be changed easily.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



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