A couch is a big part of your life, not just because it’s one of the largest pieces of furniture in your home but also because of the time you spend using it, whether socializing, lounging, napping, reading, or movie-watching. The couch is an important part of your home—and one that usually comes with a significant price tag—so you’ll want to make sure to choose one that not only fits your lifestyle but is also well made and long-lasting.
The convenience of buying a couch online is ideal, but with a seemingly endless number of choices available, it will require a bit of research first. Most shoppers are looking to get three things from their purchase: comfort, style, and durability. Read on to learn about your options, our top picks, and how to select the best couch for your family.
- BEST OVERALL: Sven Sofa from Article
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Ektorp Sofa from Ikea
- BEST MODERN: The Sofa from Floyd
- BEST MIDCENTURY: Carlo Mid-Century Sofa by West Elm
- BEST SLEEPER: The Hopson Sleeper Sofa from Joybird
- BEST SECTIONAL: Block Nomad 5-Seat Corner Sectional by Burrow
- BEST LOVESEAT: Amazon Brand – Rivet Revolve Modern Loveseat Sofa
- BEST LOUNGER: Tibbee Chaise from Ashley Home
- BEST LOW-SEATED: Cushy Lounge Super Sectional Set from PB Teen
- BEST FOR PETS AND KIDS: Maxwell Slipcovered Sectional from Interior Define
Popular Types of Couches
When it comes to couches, every home has a different layout, and every household has varying needs, so, thankfully, there are plenty of options to choose from. Varying in everything from style to size, these popular types of couches are worth knowing about.
Modern design stems from the early 20th century with German and Scandinavian influences, while contemporary design is not based on any specific time period but includes anything that is currently evolving. Today these terms encompass a variety of popular styles under their umbrella, including minimalist, industrial, Scandinavian, and farmhouse, among others.
In general, however, less is more when it comes to modern design, with couches featuring clean lines, natural materials, thin legs, and slim cushions. Options range from colorful and angular to neutral and streamlined.
Midcentury modern design prevailed in the time period from approximately 1933 to 1965 with characteristics that include simple, organic forms and sleek lines with a focus on functionality. This style appears in today’s best couches as a slim streamlined design, often with wood accents and tapered legs but absent other ornamental details. Some options can have a retro feel with pops of bright color, but in today’s most popular styles, it’s more common to see earth-tone fabrics and walnut-finish wood. It’s OK to choose a midcentury modern couch even if you don’t have other pieces from this design category, as it will easily fit in with other styles, such as vintage and farmhouse.
If you host regular overnight guests, a sleeper sofa might be a worthwhile investment. As most shoppers know, comfort can vary when it comes to foldout couches. Though plenty still feature spring mattresses, there are newer, more comfortable options like memory foam and an air/innerspring hybrid, which features an air-inflated layer above a traditional mattress for increased thickness. A foam topper is an added bonus to look for in newer models.
One thing that sets sleeper sofas apart from regular ones is their weight. These couches can be quite heavy, so consider how far you have to move it.
With added room for lounging, sectionals are a popular choice, especially among families who need the extra space. Options vary greatly in size, with choices that will fill up your whole room and slimmer ones that are similar in length to a typical couch.
Most commonly, sectionals have a chaise lounge on either the right or left side of the couch, so it’s worth noting which works best for your layout when shopping. There are also L- and U-shaped designs that feature a larger footprint and more seating. Both armed and armless options are available to suit your preference.
Well-suited for apartments and other smaller spaces, loveseats are generally sized to fit two to three people and range in length from 48 to 72 inches. Shoppers may consider arranging two of these small couches facing one another or one used as an added accent in a large living room or bedroom.
Just like traditional-size sofas, they come in a variety of styles, from slim and modern to overstuffed and traditional. Despite their compact measurements, many loveseats are available with a pullout sleeper option as well.
A lounger is an extended chair or an upholstered chaise lounge. Perfect for small spaces or as an accent piece, this type of seating can offer a comfortable spot to curl up with a good book. Some will even double as a daybed.
Loungers are available in a variety of styles. Some come with just an upholstered back, while others include armrests as well. Generally, the length of these seats ranges from 70 to 83 inches and between 25 and 30 inches in width. Styles range from Victorian and tufted to sleek and modern to oversize and cushiony.
Popular in the 1970s, low-seated couches are making a comeback in the modern design world—especially for rooms with lower ceilings since the low profile allows the space to feel more expansive. They generally feature very small feet or no feet at all, dropping the seating area closer to the ground than traditional sofas.
This style also evokes a more comfortable “loungy” feeling than higher versions, making it an appealing choice for dens and basements. Though these lower couches are great for little kids to climb up on and down from, an older crowd, or those with knee or back issues, may find it difficult to get down to and up from the lower height.
What to Consider When Buying a Couch
A couch is a big investment and is generally intended to last buyers multiple years, so it’s important to do your homework before buying. The first step is identifying your typical habits when it comes to your couch, as well as who will be using it, especially noting whether it needs to stand up to use by kids and pets. You’ll also want to consider your space, desired comfort level, and style preferences.
When you think of your sofa, what comes to mind? Is it lounging for hours watching television or sitting upright while reading or hanging out with company? Maybe it’s a little bit of both. For lounging and napping, consider skipping options with multiple loose cushions that can become separated, leaving uncomfortable dips and lumps. For those who like to sit upright, consider a more structured back with fewer or no pillows. If you like to have your feet up, a sectional with a chaise is a good option.
Also, note who will be using the couch and how they like to lounge as well. For families who like to have movie nights, a sectional could be a good choice if you have space. Also for larger groups, a standard couch along with an accent loveseat or chaise might do the job.
Especially important when ordering online, make sure to measure your space carefully so you don’t end up with a sofa that won’t fit through your doorway. Once you know what you’re working with, consider which style will suit your room best, making sure to leave at least 18 inches of space on either side of the couch. A standard sofa will measure anywhere from 72 to 84 inches. If that’s too large for your space, consider a loveseat, which will fall from just under 72 inches to as small as 48.
If you’ve got room to spare, you’ll have options when it comes to sectionals. Oftentimes, a modular design, featured in a couple of picks on our list, will allow for different configurations to suit your space. It’s important to measure your space, and consider what kind of configuration you’d like before you shop.
There are two things to consider when deciding on a style of couch. One is what type of design will work best in your space, and the other is how you plan to use it. You want it to look great, but you also want it to be comfortable and to fit with your lifestyle.
When thinking about design, consider the rest of your decor. If you like a minimalist look, stick to slim cushions, straight arms or no arms, and tapered legs. If cozy and traditional is more your style, look for options with more stuffing, curvier lines, and darker wood accents. There are options that fall somewhere in the middle, sometimes referred to as Lawson style—usually simple but cushiony, with few ornamental details. This style will work well with most design aesthetics.
Finding the right mix between too firm and too soft can be tricky and is often a matter of preference. Some people like cushions you can get lost in, while others prefer a firmer, more structured style.
Your couch should be easy to sit down on and get up from, so don’t choose a model too low or deep for your comfort level. It’s also ideal for your feet to be able to rest comfortably on the ground, which will be affected by the depth of the seat as well.
Most couch styles will come in a variety of upholstery fabrics. When choosing the one that is right for you, consider your needs and your budget. Natural fabrics include cotton, silk, wool, leather, and linen. Cotton is the most commonly used natural fiber and generally the most affordable, too. It includes a soft feel and tough construction but is also susceptible to stains. Silk and linen are more delicate fabrics and should be reserved for formal spaces without heavy use. Wool is a durable choice, resistant to pilling and staining, but it can have an odor when wet. The most child- and pet-resistant natural material is leather, especially if sprayed with additional protective coatings, but it will usually come with a higher price tag.
Synthetic upholstery fabrics (often labeled “performance fabrics”) have the advantage of being made to resist wear and tear. The most common of these is polyester, which is typically blended with other fibers as well. Olefin, or polypropylene, the second most common, is similar but doesn’t require chemical coatings for durability. Microfiber couches, a common choice for households with kids or pets, are generally made with a combination of these synthetic materials. Nylon may also be used in the mix.
The best couches have frames made from kiln-dried hardwood or engineered wood, although newer options may be made with other materials like plastic and metal. Engineered wood listed as medium-density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard, or inexpensive plywood doesn’t hold screws or staples as well and will not be as sturdy or long-lasting.
The way the frame is put together also determines its strength. The strongest method is mortise and tenon, which feature two pieces of wood meeting at a 90-degree angle, with one piece of wood having a hole that the other is cut to fit into. A double dowel will hold the frame together by two dowels at each joint. Reinforced corners and joints will add to the sturdiness. The less than desirable joinery methods include only glue and screws.
Cleaning and Care
If you’re looking for an easy-to-clean couch, consider one of the synthetic fabrics listed above or a natural leather option. Microfiber fabrics will bead when liquid touches them so that there’s time to wipe it up before a stain sets in. Tightly woven options with a texture or subtle pattern will hide pet hair and stains.
Zippered cushion covers or canvas slipcovers come with the added bonus that they can be taken off and either dry cleaned or thrown in the wash. For cleaning any couch, it is most important to read the manufacturer’s recommendations and act swiftly after a spill (perhaps with a high-quality upholstery cleaner). For regular care, flip your cushions if possible, and have them cleaned professionally once a year.
Our Top Picks
The options seem endless when searching online for a couch. Having a tough time narrowing it down? Skip the scrolling, and check out some of these top picks for comfort and durability.
The Sven sofa is made from sturdy kiln-dried solid wood with high-density foam and polyester filling. The fabric, which is made from polyester and acrylic, comes in three colors and is dry clean only. This model is also available in leather or velvet.
This sofa features soft cushions but maintains its firmness for sitting support, and loose bolsters can offer additional lumbar comfort. A single long seat cushion eliminates the problem of losing items between cushions.
This couch will ship for free and comes assembled; you’ll just need to screw on the feet.
The Ikea Ektorp couch is a great choice if you’re looking for a decent, affordable couch that is easy to care for. You can remove the part-cotton, part-polyester slipcovers for washing or swap them out for others if they become worn over time or you tire of the color. The thick cushions are made with high-resilience foam and polyester, and the reversible back covers allow for added longevity. The frame is constructed of a combination of fiberboard, particleboard, plywood, and solid wood.
This attractive modern couch is made with birch and pine plywood. The synthetic fabric is stain-resistant and comes in five colors; if you are worried about choosing a color sight unseen, the company will send you fabric swatches.
The standard sofa measures 87 inches long by 31 inches deep and 32 inches high.
Measuring 77.5 inches wide by 35 inches deep by 34 inches high and medium in firmness, West Elm’s Carlo Mid-Century Sofa boasts supportive comfort with its fiber-wrapped and foam-filled seats. The loose reversible cushions have zip-off covers for easy cleaning.
West Elm offers a wide array of fabrics to choose from and swatches to try at home. Their performance fabrics are suitable for high-traffic use, and many are oil- and water-repellent to help fight stains.
The Hopson Sleeper Sofa measures 78 inches wide by 36 inches deep and 33 inches high, with a frame made from responsibly sourced kiln-dried hardwood and wrapped in foam for added cushioning. And with its midcentury-inspired design, it doesn’t sacrifice style for comfort.
Have kids and pets running around? Choose one of the company’s performance microfiber fabrics.
You can customize the configuration of the Block Nomad 5-Seat Corner Sectional according to your space and needs. You can also choose the arm and cushion style, as well as the fabric color and leg finish. Since it’s modular, you’ll have to assemble it after it arrives at your home, but it’s amateur-friendly, with no drilling necessary. The frame is made of precision-milled Baltic birch, and the cushions are upholstered in a tight olefin fiber weave that’s naturally scratch- and stain-resistant. As an added bonus, it includes a built-in USB charger and a 72-inch cable.
The five-seat corner sectional featured here measures 88 inches long by 88 inches wide by 35 inches deep and 33 inches high. Burrow offers fast delivery.
The Rivet Revolve Modern Upholstered Loveseat Sofa measures 56.3 inches long by 34.6 inches deep and has durable polyester-covered cushions.
The cushions are not reversible, but they are removable for cleaning. This style is also available in a sofa or sectional if you love the style but need a larger option.
It doesn’t get much easier than ordering your couch from Amazon. This loveseat comes in one piece; all you have to do is attach the legs.
If you’re looking for an affordable lounger, the Tibbee Chaise from Ashley Home offers a spacious spot to cozy up with a book. The chaise measures 61 inches wide by 36 inches deep, providing ample room for lounging without looking clunky.
The Tibbee Chaise’s high-resiliency foam cushions are wrapped in thick poly fiber and finished with durable polyester upholstery. The exposed feet have a faux wood finish.
You might not think to shop for furniture at Pottery Barn Teen, but their Cushy Lounge Super Sectional isn’t just for the younger set. This stylish sectional set features cushy upholstered cushions, sturdy wood frames, elastic webbing, and plush foam. You can choose from a variety of polyester and polyester blend performance fabrics.
Well-suited for a cozy den, the couch comes to a height of just 21 inches. A low wood base is sold separately if you prefer a taller height and sturdier foundation. The sectional set includes two armless chairs, one corner chair, and an ottoman.
With a lower seat height of 16 inches, it’s easy for kids to climb up on and down from this Maxwell sectional, while the 27-inch seat depth leaves plenty of space for cuddling. A traditional design with a modern twist, this sofa style can fit many aesthetics.
The Maxwell is also totally customizable, way beyond just the fabric and legs, although you’ve got options for those too. Choose the length that works for your room, from 98 inches to 118 inches, and opt for a standard-size chaise (63 inches) or an extra-long one (73 inches). You can also choose your cushion fill for the desired comfort and whether you would like one long bench cushion or two separate ones.
FAQs About Your New Couch
Still have questions about how to find the best couch to buy online? From questions about functionality to quality, find the answers you need here.
Q. What makes a quality sofa?
A quality sofa features a sturdy wood frame and durable upholstery that will stand the test of time.
Q. What is the most durable couch fabric?
Polyester-based “performance” fabrics like microfiber are generally the most durable options.
Q. Are L-shaped sofas a good idea?
L-shaped sofas can be great for extra seating if you have the space to accommodate them without blocking traffic flow.
Q. Should a rug go under a sofa?
Ideally, all furniture should sit on your rug, but if that’s not possible, it’s OK to have the front legs on and back legs off of the floor covering.
Q. What is the best way to clean leather couches?
Work a leather cleaner or mild soap into the leather with a small damp cloth one small area at a time, then rinse with another wet cloth and finish by buffing with a dry one.