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Your trusted decorating and home furnishings shopping advisor. Free expert design advice, tools and inspiration galleries; plus how and where to buy furniture.

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    This sectional by American Upholstery Furniture features a nesting storage ottoman that can be pulled into the configuration of the sofa.

  • l4_howtobuy_sofas_april09_p1revised

    Rowe Furniture's Mini-Mod collection features stylish, smaller-scale living furniture.

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Rowe Furniture's Mini-Mod collection features stylish, smaller-scale living furniture.


Sofa Checklist

Bring this quick checklist of features with you when shopping for your next sofa:

  • Seats are comfortable and free of lumps and hard spots
  • Frame is sturdy, level, and doesn’t creak or wobble
  • Seams and welts are straight
  • Patterns are centered and stripes match at seams
  • Cushions are resilient and fit snugly
  • Mechanisms on recliners and sleeper sofas work smoothly
  • Sofa features a gold UFAC hangtag which means it is constructed to be more resistant to cigarette ignition


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  • Find Your Best Sofa

    How to buy a sofa that's the right match for your home and lifestyle.

    by Jennifer Sellers

    Your sofa is one of the most important pieces of furniture in your home. It’s often the center of family gatherings and a comfy spot that welcomes guests. Use these easy tips to find the special seating that best fits your family and lifestyle.


    Select Your Style

    Whatever your individual tastes, you're sure to find a sofa that complements your home's unique décor. First, determine the type of sofa you want: 

    • Standard: A standard sofa typically fits about three adults and is the seating centerpiece of most living rooms.
    • Sectional: Sectional sofas are great for spaces where you frequently entertain. Some are the size of a standard sofa with an added chaise lounge. Larger sectionals offer L- or U-shaped seating that can accommodate larger groups.
    • Sleeper: A sleeper sofa has a bed frame and mattress that pulls out from beneath the sofa's seat cushions. This type of sofa is very convenient if you need extra space for overnight guests.
    • Motion: If you love laid-back seating, the built-in recliners or rockers of a motion sofa will be right at home in your family room.
    • Loveseat: A loveseat is a small sofa. Unlike its standard-sized counterpart, it typically only seats two adults.


    Define Your Design

    Next, you'll want to consider these features and how they complement your personal design aesthetic:

    • Feet: Decide if you want a sofa with exposed feet. If your style is formal or contemporary, you may consider a sofa with wood feet. Modern style sofas often feature feet made from metal and mixed materials.
    • Skirt: Consider whether you want a sofa with a skirt. Casual and traditional sofas often have skirts hiding the sofa's feet. Skirts come pleated, gathered and tailored and are sometimes available in matching or contrasting fabric.
    • Arms: Find the sofa arm that most appeals to you. Sofa arms can be low or high, wide or narrow, curved or straight.
    • Back: Get comfortable with the style of the sofa back. A tight-back sofa offers clean lines while pillowed backs offer a more casual feel.
    • Pillows and Cushions: Sofas typically have between one and three cushions: one cushion the length of the sofa, two large cushions or three cushions sized to comfortably sit one person each. Cushions come attached or loose and are often available in contrasting trims and fabric choices.


    Size Matters

    If your home is space-starved, a large sofa may look bulky, take up too much room or simply not fit properly. So for smaller spaces, look for sofas that are under 80 inches in length. Many furniture manufacturers now offer smaller-scale sofa lines to accommodate furniture buyers who need compact seating. If your space is particularly snug, you might consider a loveseat instead of a standard sofa.

    When shopping for a sofa, it's always a good idea to jot down the measurements (height, width and depth) of your old sofa, as well as the dimensions of your room, beforehand.


    Find Your Fabric

    If you've found a sofa you like, remember you're not stuck with the fabric and color of the display model. Furniture retailers usually offer a variety of fabric options. The colors, patterns and textures of today’s upholstery fabrics are virtually unlimited. Let your lifestyle guide you in the selection of your best fabric. If you’re looking for family-friendly and pet-friendly furniture, consider durable fabrics and extra fabric protection. For a designer look, you might consider more exciting fabrics that make a design statement. And don’t forget leather--it’s one of today’s most popular upholstery materials, and now comes in a range of colors and textures from timeless traditional to avant garde contemporary.


    Comfort Counts

    No matter how attractive or stylish a sofa is, comfort is the most important feature. So when you're shopping for a sofa, spend a lot of time sitting on different models. Ask yourself if the seating feels natural. Is it soft enough? Firm enough? Are the back and arms high enough? Low enough? Bring other family members with you to the store to try out the sofas as well. Ultimately, your satisfaction with your new sofa depends on how it “fits” your body, your home, your décor and your lifestyle.