Knowing How to Buy A Good High Quality Couch

Written by: Tony Hoang

Sinking your savings into a sofa is a big call - we're talking about your main lounging spot for the foreseeable future, right? Now, we all have our own style, no doubt, but there are some universal, straight-up rules of thumb you need to know about. Let's take a stroll through the ins and outs.

The Terminology: Couch vs. Sofa

Here in the States, most folks use 'couch' and 'sofa' interchangeably to mean a comfy long seat for two or more people. Historically though, these words had totally different origins. "Couch" comes from the French 'couche,' referring to furniture without arms much like our modern-day chaise lounge. "Sofa," on the other hand, hails from Arabic 'soffah,' describing a raised platform decked out with lush carpets and cushions. Quite a backstory!

When It's Time for a New Couch

If your old couch has seen better days (especially if kids or pets come into the picture), it might be in desperate need of restuffing, reupholstering or fixing any sinking spots. But sometimes, it's beyond salvation – maybe irreparable damage, mismatched style, or simply outgrown. If you find yourself couch-less, making this purchase should top the list of things-to-do for creating that cozy lounging corner.

Critical Considerations When Buying a Couch

Living Room Space: Your new perch needs to match up to the room's proportions, and shouldn't block any pathways. Be a devil for the details: measure your room and doorways to avoid that post-purchase panic when it doesn’t fit through the front door. As for aesthetics, ensure the couch's vibe sits well with the rest of your space's look.

Sofa Fabric: No two households are identical – if you live in a pet-friendly or child-centric home, go for hard-wearing, easy-to-clean materials like microfiber. For quality, fabric patterns should be seamless and woven consistently.

Seat Cushions: What really counts here is what's inside. Sure, polyurethane foam is run-of-the-mill padding, but high-resilient (HR) foam enterprises both comfort and durability. Want to push the boat out? Some top-tier sofas nestle HR foam wrapped in a down-feather blend.

Wood Frame: Your sofa's backbone speaks volumes about how long it will last. Do yourself a favor here and stick with kiln-dried hardwood frames – oak, beech or ash are your friends. Steer clear of plastic or particleboard frames.

Size: Make sure your sofa is a crowd-pleaser capable of sitting all family members comfortably. If you like to host, consider adding extra seats. The length equally needs to be apt for your wall with enough clearance on both sides.

Features: You'll find a lot of bells and whistles in today's couches, from built-in beds and recliners to removable covers and storage space. Think about what would make lazing around even more enjoyable!

Eye Apeal: Buying a sofa is more than picking one that just catches your eye. Ensuring it’s a good fit, serves its purpose well, adds to your room's appeal and gives you bang for your buck takes some thought. Keep our little guide in your back pocket next time you're out couch shopping.

Different Types Of Couch Design Configurations

Custom Couch

The genius of a 2-seat sofa is its wide lounging area made specifically for two – similar to a loveseat but prioritizing comfort over coziness. Ideal for petite rooms, they may not suit taller folk quite as well.

The 3-seater, as you'd expect, parks three people comfortably. Ideal for grandiose living spaces, offering lots of sprawl space. Some even morph into beds, making them perfect for impromptu sleepovers. But keep in mind - these sofas can be pricey and not great for smaller spaces.

Curved Couches

Spotlight on the star buy of interior design - the curved sofa. Its sleek curvy style brings an air of sophistication, and its shape fosters an intimate seating setting. They do demand more room and are slightly tricky to position perfectly due to their characteristic shape. Plus, they generally cost significantly more than regular sofas.

L Shaped Couches

Champion at playing mix-and-match is the sectional sofa. The separate parts piece together in different layouts, most commonly "L" or "U" shapes, making them a big hit for larger rooms and regular entertainers. The chaise sofa, for example, pairs a standard couch with a lounging section, perfect for unwinding.

U Shaped Sectionals

A U-sectional with extensions on both sides is the cream of the crop for spacious seating. You can tailor it in different sizes to get the best fit for your room. Despite its knack to anchor large open spaces beautifully, its hefty size might be too much for smaller rooms and lacks reconfiguration options due to its fixed shape.

Taking things further, the Double Chaise U-Sectional has extended lengths on either side, offering a heap of laid-back lounging options besides traditional seating.

Reclining Couches

If you fancy having your legs up while binging Netflix, sofas now come with built-in recliners at the ends. They bring the comfort of a reclining chair but in a full-size couch, often cutting out the need for an ottoman - perfect space-savers! Ideal for personal home theaters or health-conscious individuals wanting their legs raised.

Sleeper Sofas and Futons

Practicality meets design in sleeper sofas – great when space is at a premium or hosting guests regularly. Doubling as beds, these sofas have really upped their game to deliver optimal comfort in sleep mode.

Futons are your budget-friendly multipurpose option. Easy to flip from bed to sofa, commonly framed in durable wood, although cheaper metal or steel ones are available. An excellent solution for limited spaces, albeit sometimes missing features like armrests.

Read More: Picking The Right Sectional & Sofa Configuration

Cost of Custom Made Sofas & Sectionals

For custom-made sofas, prices generally start from $1,400, reaching up to $2,500. If you're considering a spacious sectional, anticipate a price range between $2,500 and $4,000. The large U Shaped Sectionals have a steeper price tag, ranging from $5,000 to $8,000. If budget constraints are a concern, explore clearance sections or enquire about display models. Occasional sales can also yield great deals, and futons are typically half the price of conventional sofas.

High-end, custom designer sofas made from premium materials can reach into the thousands. Remember, it's an investment—quality lasts, and considering the lifespan of a sofa (which can be between seven to 15 years or even longer for custom pieces with lifetime frame warranties), it's worth spending a bit more. Factors influencing price often include size and added functionalities; for instance, recliner or sleeper sofas will naturally cost more than their basic counterparts.

For U.S. shoppers, furniture discounts can typically be found around Memorial Day, Presidents Day, and Labor Day. Black Friday and Cyber Monday also see significant markdowns. Though purchasing during these times can get you a great deal, remember that many others might have the same idea, potentially resulting in limited stock or delivery hold-ups.

Selecting the Perfect Customizable Couch 

With an abundance of couch options, selecting the perfect piece can seem daunting. To streamline your decision-making, consider the following:

Purpose of Your Sofa: Is the couch for daily relaxation or occasional formal use? Daily-use sofas should prioritize comfort with deep cushions and soft pillows, while formal ones might lean more towards aesthetics.

Primary Users: Ensure the sofa suits your household. Taller individuals might prefer deeper seating. For those with mobility concerns, shallower seating can be more accessible. Families with children or pets might benefit from low-rise sofas for easy access.

Living Room Aesthetics: Your sofa should harmoniously blend with the room's existing colors and patterns. Neutral tones are versatile and can be livened up with colorful pillows or throws. Meanwhile, bold colors make a statement but are best complemented with simple sofa designs.

Moving Considerations: If you relocate often, a modular sofa, which can be rearranged as needed, might be ideal. Alternatively, a budget-friendly sofa can be a practical choice if you're open to selling or donating it when moving.

Your Guide to Quality Sofa Shopping

A sofa is not just a piece of furniture—it's an investment in comfort, style, and function. Whether you're a traditionalist who prefers to test the waters in-store or an avid online shopper, it's essential to ensure you're making the right choice.

Read more: Which Factors affect the Quality of a Sofa Build & Couch Frame?

In-Store Sofa Purchases 

When you're out in the market, physically exploring options, here's what you need to consider:

Expert Assistance: Don't hesitate to engage sales representatives. Their insights on the construction, durability, and design of a sofa can be invaluable.

Frame Examination: A solid sofa starts with a sturdy frame. Ensure the legs are integral to the frame or secured with screws or dowels. Steer clear of sofas with merely glued-on legs.

Frame Stability Test: Lift one corner of the sofa; if the opposite corner doesn't rise simultaneously, it might indicate a weaker, twist-prone frame.

Check the Joinery: The connection points of the frame are vital. Ideal methods include wooden dowels, corner blocks, or metal screws. Staples, nails, or glue alone aren't reliable indicators of quality.

Test the Sofa Arms: Ensure the arms don't wobble or give way under pressure, especially since they are prone to wear in households with children.

Spring Quality: The support beneath the cushions matters. While basic sofas might use webbing, better options employ serpentine springs. Premium models might have eight-way hand-tied springs. The key is to ensure they offer firm, consistent support.

Padding and Cushion Inspection: Feel for the frame through the upholstery—it shouldn't be detectable. The cushions should be resilient, snug, and revert to their original form after being pressed.

Online Couch Purchases 

If you're venturing into the digital marketplace, heed these tips:

Research: Go beyond product listings—dive into reviews, Q&A sections, and utilize virtual assistants when available.

Experience It (If Possible): Even if buying online, see if a showroom nearby has the model on display. A firsthand experience can be enlightening.

Understand Policies: Before you click 'buy', familiarize yourself with return policies and delivery options. Some services might include setup or old furniture removal.

Where to Buy Your Sofa 

From expansive furniture showrooms to digital marketplaces and even local yard sales, your perfect sofa awaits. The journey to finding it is all about balancing aesthetics, functionality, comfort, and budget.