Reviews Furniture & Decor

Couch Surfing: Top 10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Sofa

A new sofa is an investment—not just of your hard-earned dollars, but of your time. You hope to spend many years with your sofa, so it's worth your while to seek out the perfect match. Take your time and get to know your potential new couch. Just as you would with a new car, you'll want to "test drive" it for comfort, style, and construction. To prepare you for your search for your perfect sofa, here are 10 key areas to consider.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›


Oftentimes the size of your sofa will be dictated by the size of your room. If you don’t have the luxury of a large space, choose a sofa that won’t overpower, like this charming two-seater.

Related: 10 Ways to Live Large in a (Very) Small Space



Do you have a signature decorating style? If you have a modern vibe in your home, a sleek-looking couch with clean lines will blend right in. If you have an eclectic mix of decor, consider a piece that combines different styles, like a vintage sofa reupholstered with trendy fabric.


Color is an extension of style, but deserves separate consideration. If you like to continually reinvent your living room—trying new accent pillows, rugs, and curtains on a whim—sticking with a neutral-colored sofa will give you more room to play. If your lifestyle really gives your couch a workout, choose a color or pattern that’s more forgiving.


Choosing the shape of your sofa has as much to do with the size of the room as it does with personal taste. If you’re blessed with a wide open space with large windows, a sectional provides ample seating while making the atmosphere a bit cozier. In tight quarters, a love seat may be the best solution.


What will your sofa be used for most of the time? Is it the center of your media room, or will it be in a more formal space that’s reserved for entertaining? Being realistic about your sofa’s main function will help guide you in choosing the right one for you.


Backing is another element that comes down to style and use. The most comfortable—and traditional—couches usually have pillow backs. Modern sofas tend to have straight backs and a more tailored look.

Arms and Legs

A sofa’s arms and legs tell you a lot about its style. Rounded arms and skirted legs are more casual, while more structured arms and legs—perhaps wooden rather than upholstered—are more modern. You can redecorate a room around a new sofa, but price out room essentials before you invest in a piece.


While it’s important to choose an aesthetically pleasing fabric for your sofa, functionality is also key. Natural fibers like cotton or linen are generally softer and do well with custom upholstery, but may be more susceptible to fading or pilling. Synthetic fibers like acrylic or nylon tend to be more durable and stain-resistant.


Embellishments like nail heads, piping, and trim give your sofa its unique personality. Here, the nailhead detail makes a classic design more of a standout statement. Small details may be swallowed up in a room with loud decor—opt for embellishments that won’t compete with your current style.


From feathers to foam, there are several options for filling the cushions. Foam holds its shape well, but you might prefer the softer feeling of feathers or down. Many sofa seekers end up splitting the difference, opting for a combination of both.