Are you shopping for a new sofa? Choosing the right one can feel like a weighty decision – you undoubtedly want something that looks great, feels comfortable, and complements the layout of your home.Some people prefer the look of an oversized, casual couch for family movie nights and lounging. Others prefer the classic look of a divan in a formal living room. Whatever style, fabric, and size you desire, there’s a sofa out there for you. BestReviews can help you find it.
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Check out our shopping guide to explore different sofa styles and features. When you’re ready to buy a new sofa, please consider our highlighted models.
If you’re not sure what style of sofa you want, take a look at the décor you already have in your home. Artwork, accent furniture, colour scheme, and the architecture of your home can all help you narrow down the style that would best suit your needs.
In the sofa world, you’ll find numerous styles to choose from. In this guide, we describe the broad sofa categories you’ll likely encounter as you shop for this important piece of furniture.
The most basic sofa is the traditional sofa. It has a back, armrests, and two or three cushions over a solid base. The back should be covered with two or three attached or removable cushions. Arm height, width, and design vary by style. Some styles have high arms that sit at the same level as the back of the frame, such as in the tuxedo, Chesterfield, and cabriole styles. Others have low arms, like the English sofa. Wood and metal make up the base.
One of the most popular sofas on the market, the sectional sofa provides versatility with a maximum amount of seating. As the name suggests, this type of sofa comes in sections which fit together to make different configurations. The most popular configurations are the “L” and “U” shape; both come in a variety of sizes.
Some sectional sofas have reclining sections, and some include a chaise lounge. Sectional sofa styles run the gamut from English to mid-century modern – and everything in between.
"If you have narrow doorways or hallways and worry that a new couch might not fit through an opening, consider getting a sectional sofa. The pieces can be carried in and assembled individually."
Sleeper sofas include any style that can be used as sofa and a bed. The styles that fall into this category include all of the following.
Futons: A futon functions as both a bed and a sofa. The cushions fold down to create a flat sleeping surface.
Convertible sofa: This is basically a larger, sturdier version of a futon. The seat and back cushions pull out and create a solid sleeping surface. Unlike the futon, the convertible style is usually found on sectionals.
Pull-out sleeper sofa: Pull-outs have a sleeping surface, usually a cushion or mattress, stored within the sofa. Unlike a futon or convertible sofa, the back cushions of a pull-out sofa remain upright when the sleeping surface is in use.
As the name suggests, recliner sofas have sections that recline. You can put your feet up without need for an ottoman or footrest, leaving more open floor space when the recliner is not in use. With some recliner sofas, only the end sections recline. In other sofas, all of the sections recline. The reclining mechanism can be electric or manual. Keep in mind that an electrically powered sofa of any kind will need to be placed near an electrical outlet.
"Dust, dirt, skin cells, and food are only a few of the things that collect on the surface of your sofa. Regularly vacuum the fabric, and clean spots right away. Leather sofas may require occasional conditioning treatments to keep the material from getting dry and cracked."
Loveseats, those sofas built for two, come in the same styles as full-size sofas. Length can vary; you’ll find loveseats in the following four size categories.
Compact loveseats are up to 130 centimetres long.
Small loveseats are 132 to 145 centimetres long.
Medium loveseats are 147 to 160 centimetres long.
Full loveseats are 163 to 177 centimetres long.
Any “loveseat” over 180 centimetres in length is considered full-size sofa.
Within ourcategories, loveseats come in numerous styles, from contemporary to cabriole. They’re often used in small sitting rooms, bedrooms, and as extra seating in a family room or living room.
A divan has armrests and a seat but no back. The backless design limits placement options, but if you have open wall space and want a formal seating option, a divan may work well. These simple structures usually come with pillows you can arrange along the wall for comfort and decoration.
Did you know?
Many stores and manufacturers offer fabric samples upon request. You can get a good idea of the quality of the fabric and also an accurate idea of the colour before purchasing.
Sofa features to consider
Before you settle on a sofa purchase, review the following features to make sure you’re getting what you truly want.
Most sofas have a supportive wire frame called “sinuous springs.” These springs help support the cushions and give the sofa its structure. The highest-quality sofas will have eight-way, hand-tied springs. The metal used for the springs should be heavy. If it’s too light, it loses shape, and your sofa starts to sag.
You can feel the springs in the frame with your hand. They should be firm, close together, and evenly spaced. Many inexpensive sofas use webbing or mesh instead; these materials are far less durable than springs.
"The fabric of a sofa placed in full sun may start to fade or change colour over time. Look for sun-resistant fabrics if you can’t avoid putting your sofa in a sunny spot."
How much space do you have for a sofa? It’s important to measure your space before you buy anything. Take note of the length, height, and depth of your space, writing the figures down so you have concrete numbers to refer to.
You’ll also need to measure any doorways or hallways that you’ll have to move the sofa through to get it into your home.
Once you’ve taken measurements, compare them to any sofa you’re considering. Obviously, you don’t want to spend money on a piece of furniture that won’t actually fit your room – or through your doorway.
Also think about how many people you’d like to seat. Even if you have a small space, a full-size sofa might be what you need to provide adequate seating and make the room look complete and uncluttered.
"When taking measurements for your new piece of furniture, be sure to leave enough space to walk around it. While a sofa may fit in the room, a sofa with little clearance can make the room feel and look cluttered."
The basic foundation of the sofa comes from the frame. Wood frames may be made from a soft wood like pine or hardwoods like oak, ash, and beech. Pine, one of the least-expensive woods used in making sofa frames, tends to wear out and warp faster than hardwood. Hardwood costs more, but if you buy a sofa with a hardwood frame, it is likely to have a longer life than a sofa with a pine frame.
The legs of the sofa should either be part of the frame (the strongest option) or fastened to the frame using screws or dowels. Legs that are glued on are far more likely to fall off. You can test the strength of the frame by lifting one corner of the sofa off the floor. Once you’ve lifted the corner 15 centimetres, the parallel corner should have lifted off the floor as well. If it hasn’t, you might be dealing with a weak frame.
"If your sofa has removable cushions, rotate them regularly so they wear evenly."
When choosing a sofa, make sure it exudes the style you prefer. After all, you’ll be looking at it – and sitting on it – for a long time. Do you like the shape of the cushions, the arms, and the back? It might also help to look at pictures of the types of sofas you’re considering in rooms similar to yours; this will give you a better idea of how the sofa would mesh with the style of your home.
The fabric should be of the same quality as the rest of the sofa.
Tight-weave cotton and linen cover beautifully and are highly durable. Synthetic blends come at a good price, but they aren’t as durable as natural fabrics.
Silk and velvet add a luxurious feel, but their fragility makes them better-suited to rooms that look beautiful but are seldom used.
Leather and faux leather are still top choices, though quality can make a big difference in the longevity of the sofa. Top-grain leather is the premium choice, but it comes with a high price tag.
"Are you struggling to decide which sofa fabric is best? Consider how often you will use the sofa. Seldom-used sofas can have more delicate fabrics like velvet or silk, but a sofa in a rec room where kids play would do better with a durable fabric like denim or vinyl."
Sofa fillings vary as widely as sofa joinery and style. Here is some information about the most common types of sofa fillings.
Polyurethane: In general, polyurethane is an inexpensive filling that’s easy to maintain. It comes in everything from soft, low-density foam to hard, high-density foam. The higher the density, the longer the foam holds its shape and resists deterioration.
High-resilient (HR) foam: More expensive than polyurethane but not so expensive that it would break the bank, HR foam is comfortable and has good durability.
Polyester fibre: Polyester fibre comes at a higher price and tends to break down faster than many other fillers.
Goose and duck feathers: Feather fillings are comfortable, but they tend to clump and require a lot of fluffing to maintain. Goose feathers mixed with down are considered a premium feather filling. Notably, this type of filling comes with an equally premium price, and it requires serious maintenance.
Down/poly-fibre blend: This is a synthetic option that is similar to feathers but far less expensive. However, it loses its fluff quickly.
Many sofas come with a combination of these filling materials. For example, a sofa may have an HR foam layer with goose down or polyester filling and polyurethane foam.
"If you want an easy way to keep your sofa clean, look for one that will accommodate slipcovers. A great option for families with children or pets, slipcovers can be removed and cleaned in a washing machine. If you have two sets, you can put new ones on while you wash the other set."
A sofa’s joints keep everything together and strengthen the frame. The following are all joinery methods used in sofas that can result in a strong frame.
Wooden dowels: Both ends of the dowel are embedded in the frame, creating a strong joint.
Double wooden dowels: There are two dowels for each joint.
Wooden corner blocks/glued and screwed: Sofas labeled “Corner Blocks Glued and Screwed” have screws reinforced by wood glue.
Metal screws and brackets: A sofa with metal screws and brackets has the added strength and durability of metal in its favour.
All of these joinery methods can be reinforced with staples and nails.However, a sofa frame should never be held together only by staples, nails, or glue.
For your safety
When selecting your sofa upholstery, watch out for loose weaves that snag easily. This type of fabric could wear down very quickly, especially in a home with children or pets.
How much should you spend on a new sofa? That depends, in large part, on your budget and the degree of quality you’re looking for.
Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect, price-wise, as you shop for a new sofa.
Under $300: You’ll find futons and convertible sofas of various styles in this price range. Most will be covered with a cotton, linen-like fabric or vinyl that is meant to look like faux leather.
$300 to $1,000: In this price range are many full-size traditional sofas, small sectionals, futons, loveseats, and sleeper sofas. You can get a multitude of styles and designs for this kind of money. Sleep sofas in this range will likely include a mattress, and some couches will include accent pillows.
$1,000 to $2,000:You’ll find larger sectionals that recline and full-size sofas with high-quality fabrics here. At this price, for example, there are many nice Chesterfield, tuxedo, and camelback sofas.
$2,000+: For a premium price, you can find sectionals large enough to fill a room and sofas covered with luxurious fabrics like velvet. Top-grain leather and goose down fillings are also found here.
A leather sofa may be a good furniture choice for people with allergies, as leather doesn’t collect allergens the way other materials do.
Don’t forget to consider the texture of a couch fabric before buying – how it will actually feel against your skin. Duck cotton, for example, is highly durable and stain-resistant, but it has a rough texture that some people find uncomfortable.
Squeaky sofas often have incorrectly placed springs. Creaking could be a sign that the springs are hitting the frame.
You can prolong the life of your sofa by varying your seating position. If you sit in the same spot every day, the filling and springs will wear down faster there than in other areas of the sofa.
Less-common sofa designs, such as the chaise lounge and settee, are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. They add an air of sophistication to a space and often become the focal point of the room.
Q. What sofa fabrics work best for families with children?
A. Stain-resistant, easy-to-clean fabrics like wool and denim work well for households with kids.
Wool is stain-resistant, durable, and can be vacuumed and spot-cleaned.
Denim cleans up like a pair of jeans and develops a soft texture over time.
Leather is an easy-clean fabric with a formal look. Wipe it down after spills, condition it a few times a year, and it’s good to go.
Vinyl has many of the same qualities as leather – it’s easy to wipe down and resists stains – but it comes with a much lower price tag. However, vinyl is not as comfortable as leather, and it tends to wear out faster.
Q. I like to entertain and want to have enough seating for eight people or more. What kind of sofa is the best for large groups?
A. The easy answer is a large sectional. Sectional sofas come in many configurations that can seat eight, ten, or twelve people – or even more. Many sectionals have a chaise lounge or reclining section.
If you don’t want a single sofa that takes up most of the room, a full-size sofa along with a matching loveseat or two offers another seating option. You’ll have greater flexibility in your furniture arrangement if you purchase separate pieces.
Q. What are the benefits of removable cushions?
A. Removable cushions allow you to rotate the cushions for even wear. If you get a bad stain on one side, a removable cushion gives you the option of turning the stained side down. Removable cushions often have removable covers as well – these are easier to clean. You could also theoretically replace one cushion, rather than the entire sofa, if it gets damaged.