How to Buy a Couch

Find a couch that's as grown up as the two of you are now.

It's the focal point of your living room, the place you curl up together for movie nights, and -- most likely -- your pet's domain. Learn how to find the perfect couch that will last for years to come -- and complement your couple style.

Anatomy of a Couch

Filler: You can't go wrong with a down-and-feather combo, but high-density foam is also comfy, budget-friendly, and long-wearing.

Fabric: If the piece is wrapped in rich leather, thick twill, or a durable microsuede, you can count on its longevity.

Joints: You might not see them, but the joints should be double- or triple-doweled, corner blocked, glued, and high-pressure stapled for support.

Frame: Look for a couch built with a kiln-dried hardwood (better because less moisture is left in the wood) such as beach, maple, or ash.

Sofa Basics

  • Expect to pay between $700 to $2,000 for a couch, but designer ones can go for over $10,000.
  • A love seat averages in at 58-60 inches. And an “apartment-size" couch is somewhere in between a love seat and standard three-seater.
  • A quality couch should last about 10 years with normal wear and tear (keep the klutzy drunks at bay, and you'll get even more time).

Know Your Style

  • Have a budget and give yourself a 10 percent cushion if you just have to have a certain piece.
  • Think about your lifestyle. A small space requires a smaller couch. Lots of guests requires a pull-out.
  • Visualize your dream living space. Want to be traditional? Lush, dark solids create a warm look. Thinking more modern classic? Less fancy leg- or arm-work in neutral colors stands the test of time. Or is your taste more modern? New fabrics, bright colors or patterns, and retro-modern shapes are hot now.

Test It

  • Sit all the way back in the corner of every prospective couch. See how it feels. Your feet should touch the floor, and you shouldn't sink so far that you need a hand getting out.
  • Stretch out like you do at home to get a sense of how the two of you will fit on the couch.
  • Test the height of the arms and check for ample padding on the arm rests. If the back is finished as well as the front, a good craftsman has been at work.
  • Removable cushions are a plus for chowing on since you can flip them over if you spill.

Now find out how to pick out the perfect ottoman.