Dallas Interior Design Blog

6 Tips: How to Pick the Perfect Sofa

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting on an uncomfortable sofa for a long evening—or worse, made the mistake of buying one—your backside can attest, not all sofas are created equal.

Beauty is more than fabric-deep, and when you’re buying a new sofa, you need to consider a lot more than looks.

I’ve learned a lot as an interior designer with my firm Barbara Gilbert Interiors about how to choose a sofa that will stand the test of time, both in terms of style and function. Here are six tips for how to pick the perfect sofa.

perfect sofa

Jaxon Alva Sofa

1. Size up the situation

If you’re living in a small home or apartment, a mammoth couch is a bad idea (it might not even fit through the door!). Think 70 or so inches in length. On the other hand, if you’ve got a large living room, or tall members of your family who want to lounge in style, 90-plus inches is a must. You might even consider a sectional, which is a couch in two to four sections that fit together and make an “L” or “U” shape.

You’ll also want to think about the height of the back, the depth of the sofa, and how high it is off the floor. Some numbers to know: back heights are usually 32 to 36 inches; seat heights are generally 18 to 20 inches; and seat depth is around 22 to 24 inches. Think about your needs and choose accordingly. Custom manufacturers can make each sofa to your exact specifications, from fabric and legs, to length and back height.

2. Comfort is key

Just as with mattresses, a person’s sofa firmness preference is highly personal. Some folks want to sink into a cushy, plush sofa and lean way back. Others want a more firm, structured piece of furniture. This is important information to know before you decide on a sofa.

Joybord Hughes Sofa

Joybird Hughes Sofa

3. Consider construction

Durable, high-quality fabric is a must, but what’s underneath that pretty exterior explains much of a sofa’s longevity and cost.

The best sofas have an interior frame made of kiln-dried wood, securely held together with double-doweled joints. Look for eight-way hand-tied coil springs, three or four rows deep, with bands of jute webbing, which make sagging over time less likely. These sofas will be covered with many layers of high-quality foam or down padding, and will have sturdy fabric upholstery.

Read up on a manufacturer before you buy—the website should explain how their sofas are constructed. Another option is to work with a professional interior designer, who will know how to source the best sofa you can afford.

4. Think about long-term housing plans

When you size up the situation in your current home, think also about where you might be living in the future. A sofa is a big purchase, and if you know you’re downsizing after you retire in a few years, for instance, take that into consideration when you buy.

perfect sofa

Bliss Home & Design Poet Sofa in Patton Flax

5. Buy the best sofa you can afford

A well-made sofa will last for years, if not decades. Think about your overall budget and put as much as you can toward this investment piece. You’ll be happy you did when, years from now, the fabric looks great, the cushions still feel comfy, and the sofa is holding its overall shape beautifully.

One reason to consult professional interior designers is they can help you understand what’s worth spending on, and where you can save money in your overall design plan.

6. Let your accessories do the talking

If you want your sofa to feel fashionable for years to come, pick a transitional-style piece in a neutral color. Let your pillows and throws be where you display colors and patterns—they are easy-to-update accessories that can change over time, or even the season, to reflect your design aesthetic.

Here's an example of letting your accessories do the talking from one of my design projects. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

Here’s an example of letting your accessories do the talking from one of my design projects. Photo: Michael Hunter Photography

With these six tips in mind, you’re much more likely to buy a stellar sofa that brings you comfort and joy for years to come!

 

How to Pick a Perfect Sofa | Barbara Gilbert Interiors

 

 

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