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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a brave band of heroes set out on a grand quest. They were searching for a fabled treasure. They knew the journey would be wrought with peril but they also knew it was essential. What were they looking for? The perfect sofa.

Okay, you may think that the above paragraph is a little silly, but if you’ve ever hunted for a sofa, you know it can feel like something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel. The search is difficult, time consuming, and may take you far from home. Furthermore, sometimes, the ending isn’t entirely happy. All of this is especially true if you’re on a tight budget.

When you’re sofa shopping, it doesn’t take long to realize that something is amiss. More specifically, the price tag. Sofas seem to be expensive. There isn’t a great answer to this dilemma other than supply and demand (nearly everyone wants a sofa) and the fact that it’s supposed to be a long term investment (lasting anywhere from 6 to 10 years). Here are some things to consider when shopping for a sofa to ensure you get a quality product.

Beware the cheap!
In many, many cases bargains should be your BFF; however, on the sofa search, keep deals at arm’s length. You really want to consider quality when shopping for a sofa because you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time there. Think of everything you do on the sofa – you want to be comfortable right? A cheap sofa may start to break down in a short amount of time sending you on sofa search round 2.

On that same note, be leery of second hand sofas. Like bargains, typically, second hand furniture is a huge pro. It can allow you to get something high end for a low price. Unfortunately, the U.S. has seen a resurgence of bed bugs in the past few years, and sofas can become infested. If you really want a second hand sofa or if that is your only choice do some online research on to how to inspect a sofa for bed bugs.

Take it for a test drive.
A lot of people are nervous when in a furniture showroom. They’re afraid of sales people descending on them, of going over budget, of getting the wrong item, or of wasting a salespersons’ time. Don’t be. Know what your budget is before hand. Know what style and/or color you’re looking for. When you find a sofa that fits those two categories, park yourself there for a while. Sit on that sofa for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t let the salespeople pressure you. Be honest with yourself about how comfortable (or uncomfortable) the sofa is.

Guest Post: A Sofa Story
Photo Credit: Atlanta Home Improvement

While you’re sitting there, listen to the sofa – do you hear any squeaking? The sofa should be quiet. Also, take a good look at the sofa. What do the legs look like? Are they attached, screwed in, have casters, etc.? Casters are becoming more common as people live in smaller spaces. This doesn’t necessarily mean the sofa is of low quality (answers to the questions in the next section will help you determine quality). However, if a sofa is on casters, make sure they are compatible with your floor. Check out this brief article on choosing the right casters for furniture and floor types.

Guest Post: A Sofa Story
Photo Credit: Afro Chicsofa with casters

If you find a sofa you feel comfortable with make sure to measure it. Showrooms are often HUGE and can make a couch feel much smaller than it really is.

Play 20 questions.
Once you’ve narrowed down your selection, ask the salesperson a bunch of questions such as:

  • What is the frame made out?
  • How is the frame held together?
  • What spring system is used? The eight way hand tying spring system is best because each spring is tied to the surrounding springs and the couch’s frame.
  • What are the cushions filled with? The most common filling is polyurethane – make sure you’re getting a high density as it will be firmer and should hold up longer.
  • Is there a warranty?
  • What brand of sofa is it?

Make an appearance.
While the inside of a sofa is obviously very important, the fabric is also critical. When selecting a fabric/upholstery, you’ll want to think about who will be using the sofa and how often. If you have pets or children and the sofa will be in a high traffic area you’ll want to avoid delicate fabrics and colors (ex. white) because they’ll be stained or snagged before the delivery guy even leaves. For high traffic sofas used by children and/or pets, consider something like microfiber.

Guest Post: A Sofa Story
Photo Credit: Furniture Visitmicrofiber sofa

When it comes to looks, remember that a sofa is meant to be a long term investment. You don’t want to pick a color or style that will be outdated before the next year rolls around. With that in mind, avoid prints and patterns (check Club Furniture for more tips). These tend to go out of style fast. It’s generally a good idea to stick to neutral colors like beige, almond, and tan.

Guest Post: A Sofa Story
Photo Credit: Houzz

Guest Post: A Sofa Story
Photo Credit: Houzz

If you’re groaning at the thought of “bland” furniture, don’t worry. You can always dress it up with pops of color. Use throw pillows, a throw over the back of the sofa, or a slip cover to alter the color. Depending on your style, you can pick up cheap and colorful ottomans, end tables, and coffee tables at places like Ikea and Target. The great thing about using accessories to bring fun shades to your sofa is that they can easily be swapped out as your taste and style changes. Orange today, green tomorrow.
Guest Post: A Sofa Story
Photo Credit: A Lifestyle Thing

As you embark on your quest for that simply stunning sofa, be brave. Know that cheap isn’t always best. Look for quality. In addition, don’t go for that “now” style and color. You’ll probably be living with this sofa for the next decade – make sure its at least bearable. Follow these tips and you and your sofa will live happily ever after.

Written by Janet Majors