8 Things to Test On a Sofa Before Taking the Purchase Plunge — The Apartment Therapy Sofa Squad


Second to buying a piece of property, sofa shopping is probably one of the most “adult” things you can do (or at least, it certainly feels that way considering how much money you’re about to spend just to be able to comfortably sit down in your home). You go from store to store (or website to website), picking out your favorite look from the pack, but…then what? How do you know if that sofa is the right fit? And by “right fit” I don’t mean, whether it will fit into your living room (though, that’s certainly first and foremost!); rather I mean, will it be truly comfortable to you and your specific needs? To help you along in your sofa-buying journey, I put together this checklist of what to test to get as close as you can to the best couch for you.

1. Fabric

There’s hardly anything worse on a sofa than itchy, scratchy fabric. It makes you hot, uncomfortable, and it just downright sucks. So don’t forget to run your hands up and down the fabric you’re considering in all different directions to make sure it feels good across your skin. Also, consider your lifestyle. Velvet may feel fancy, but it’s actually a great material to clean, a cotton or linen slipcover is perfect for a busy family with kids or pets, and a tweed-y textile hides a multitude of sins.

2. Seat Depth

Everyone has different desires for the depth of their sofa, but it’s gotta work best for you and how you live. Do you spend most nights and weekends on your couch devouring take out and getting in “one more” episode? Something deep and cushy (at least 40″) might be best for you. You’re a frequent entertainer, you say? Something shallower would be better for conversation and gathering around snacks and drinks on the coffee table (your back will thank you).

3. Seat Height

If you’re into a modern look for your furniture, remember that these profiles are often quite low, which may or may not be comfortable for your specific height. Make sure to sit naturally on the sofa and put your feet down on the floor. Do you comfortably reach the floor? Are your knees up by your chest? All things to take note of. You shouldn’t have to struggle to get on and off your sofa!

4. Firmness

This one is totally up to your preferences, Goldilocks! But it’s good to sit on a sofa in many different positions (including lying down) to see how the firmness level feels on your tush, back, hips, etc. The perfect sofa should feel soft, but with plenty of firm support.

5. Arm Rest Height

Can you place your arm comfortably up on the rest? Is it comfy to lean against? This is another position that should feel natural to you when testing.

6. Back Height

Lean back. Do you feel supported? Or like you’re going to tip backwards because the back is too low? Or, rather, is it so high your head feels like it can’t move?

7. Removable Cushions

Sometimes you purchase a sofa without even realizing whether you can move the pillows or seat/back cushions, so don’t forget to check! Removable cushions = more regular adjusting but also easier to clean.

8. Napability

Last but certainly not least: Get comfortable! Lie down and test out catching some Zzzz because #Priorities! You’re going to spend a ton of time on this furnishing; you may even have guests need to spend a night or two on it, so ensure it’s good for napping. Does it dip in the center weirdly because of the two seat cushions? Is it so shallow that you’d flop off the sofa with any sudden movement? Is it so hard that you’ll likely wake up with a kink in your neck/back? You might feel silly sprawling across a sofa in the store, but we promise the stares will be worth it in the end!

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