How to Choose a Sofa

It might be the most important piece of furniture in the house. Here's how to get the most bang for your sofa buck.

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Are you thinking of buying a couch? If quality is a priority, keep these tips in mind.

Check the Frame

Chilling Out in Pittsburgh

According to Pittsburgh magazine, the best place to shop for home furnishings is Levin Furniture. Modern or traditional, they have it all. Plus, their prices are very affordable—much like our new homes in Pittsburgh.

  • The better the sofa frame, the longer it lasts. Plop down on it—it shouldn't wobble or creak.
  • With your hands, press down on the frame, the back of the sofa, and the corners—they should feel well padded.
  • Look for frames made of quality hardwood, like oak, ash, or beech.
  • Although materials like pine, particleboard, plastic, or metal will be a lot less expensive, you're going to wish you had a new place to sit in a few years.

Joints Are Important

  • Make sure you choose a frame connected by wooden dowels, wooden corner blocks, or metal screws and brackets.
  • It's totally fine if nails, glue or staples are used for reinforcement, but don't depend on a sofa that's held together with that alone.

Fabric Choices

  • Bottom line: You want to find something that feels good to the touch, but is also durable and stain resistant. That said, stay away from silk.
  • Velvets and synthetic microfibers are great choices because they feel nice and clean up fairly easily.
  • Wool and leather are really durable, too (but they're the most expensive).
  • Looking for something in a pattern? Choose a design that's woven into the fabric: It not only makes for stronger material; the pattern won't fade.
  • Ask the salesperson to lend you a big fabric swatch. Bring it into your space to see how it looks at different times of the day.

Cushy Cushions

  • The cushions of your sofa should be nice and snug within the frame, otherwise they'll lose their shape over time.
  • Give them this test: Press down on the cushion. Does it spring back to shape? If it stays flat, that's a warning sign that the cushion will flatten over time.

The Stuffing

  • Different materials have pros and cons: Polyurethane foam is a popular choice because it doesn't cost a fortune. But if that feels too hard, look for a high-resilient (HR) foam stuffing, instead.
  • Down cushions are super comfy, but you'll need to fluff them up and they can get pricey.
  • Sooo, experts say the best combo is the HR foam covered in a layer of down feathers. Ask the sales associate lots of questions.

Test Drive It

  • How are you going to use the sofa? Will it be your TV viewing spot? Do you plan to curl up with a book? Try different positions at the store.
  • See how the depth of the sofa works with your body size. Do your feet reach the floor? Can you sit down and easily get up again?
  • If you have a significant other, sit—or lie down—on the couch together to make sure it's comfy for both of you.

Ryan Homes Tip: Measure the width, depth, and height of any sofa to make sure it fits nicely into your space—and through your entryway.