Selecting a New Sofa

We are currently living with a sofa that I bought when I got my first solo apartment, 8 years ago! While I’d love to get a new one, it’s just not in the budget right now. If you ARE in the market for a new sofa, it can be a bit overwhelming with all the options out there! Here are a few tips with examples to get you started:

Stay neutral

It’s tempting to go with a statement fabric or bright color, but on a sofa it’s best to stay neutral. The couch is usually the largest piece of furniture in the room so a pattern can be very overwhelming, and its easy to become tired of a bright color. Use brights or patterns on curtains, smaller chairs, accent pillows or walls. They’re much easier to change than a sofa!

This sofa is a nice neutral with a good mix of bold patterns on the pillows

Below is also a neutral sofa with bold colored accessories throughout the room

Size is important

This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many living rooms contain only a sofa because that’s all that will fit! And then everyone in the room has to sit side by side and that’s awkward, not good for conversation.

Make sure your sofa fits your room. If you have a small room, opt for a smaller sofa and accent chairs. If you have a larger room, consider a sectional or two sofas. You don’t want your room to be overwhelmed by one piece of furniture or cluttered with too many pieces.

If your sofa is the only seating you have room for, your sofa is too big. If you have several chairs and sofas in the room, your furniture is too small (and maybe your layout needs to be adjusted…we’ll save that for another day). You want the furniture size in the room to be balanced, it makes everything seem much more natural.

For a large living room, two separate sofas are ideal to fill the space and provide ample seating

This smaller space has a smaller sofa with an additional chair to fit nicely and provide a good conversational set up. A larger sofa would have been too overwhelming in this space and wouldn’t allow for an additional chair.

Consider Shape

Think like a kindergartner and look around the room for shapes. Do you have a lot of straight lines? Look at sofas that have rounder not square cushions or shape. Do you have a lot of curved lines throughout the room? Consider a more boxier shaped sofa. You want everything to balance out in terms of curved and straight lines, not too much of either one.

This room has a boxier shaped sofa to balance out the round coffee table, lamps and accessories.

 This room has several straight lines in the pictures hung, the side table, and the rug. A more curved shaped sofa balances out the straight lines.

Fabric selections

This is a tough one. Consider what the sofa will be used for and by whom. If this is in a very lived in area, you’ll want to use a stain resistant material like microfiber, leather, acrylic or polyester fabrics. You can also have your fabric scotch guarded or buy the spray yourself and apply it every so often. Make sure the scotch guard you purchase is able to be used on your particular type of fabric, there are many different kinds of scotch guard.

Microfiber and leather are used in the upholstery below

Cotton blend fabrics are often used on sofas to give a cozier feel. Many times this type of upholstery is removable and washable. Keep in mind that most of the time you will need to have the fabric professionally cleaned to keep the fabric looking new. Most decorative fabrics are not machine washable so make sure you check this when purchasing a new sofa.

If your sofa will be used in a formal room and does not receive much traffic, you can go for a more delicate fabric such as velvet or silk, but keep in mind that these fabrics are a bit more high maintenance.

Consider Price

As I mentioned, the sofa is usually the largest piece of furniture in the room. This is where you should budget more. The sofa will be used more frequently than other furniture in the room and will need to be made out of quality materials to last.

Do you have any additional guidelines you take with you when furniture shopping?

Join the Conversation


  1. Did you ever do a post on furniture layout as mentioned above. I’m having a terrible time in a large family room. If you did do that post please direct me. Thanks.

    1. Hi Vicki! I actually have a post coming out this week on long and narrow rooms as part of a new series called decorating dilemmas. There will be several tips in there that can be used for large rooms in general including layout. Hope it helps!

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: