Top 3 Mistakes People Make When Buying a Sofa and What to Do Instead, According to Interior Designers

Avoid these three mistakes to have the best sofa shopping experience.

Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money off these affiliate links. Learn more.
June 20, 2024

When it comes to decorating, many people think that there’s no such thing as making a mistake — it all boils down to personal preference and signature style. That said, it is possible to buy the wrong size, color or textile of something. In fact, shopping online makes these kinds of mistakes all too easy. To save you from an often inconvenient return process or long chats with customer service, today we’re here to shed light on the top three mistakes people make when shopping for a sofa and how to avoid them. Plus, we'll share some of our top sofa recommendations.

Mistake #1: Overlooking the Materials

According to interior designer Mimi Meacham of Marian Louise Design, one of the biggest mistakes you can make when shopping for a sofa is to not pay attention to the materials. “It is super important to look for quality materials when sofa shopping,” she emphasizes. “Certified performance fabrics, real wood and down or down alternatives are all examples of quality products that will ensure the sofa lasts a while.”

This is especially true for homes with pets and/or kids. Performance fabrics, real wood and down or down alternatives will keep your sofa looking its best in the face of spills, scratches, and incessant lounging. Where plain foam fill can’t be maneuvered, down and down alternatives can be re-fluffed so even if your pup likes to plop on the back of the couch in the same place for hours every day, your cushions won’t show it.

BUYING GUIDE

The Best Pet-Friendly Couches for Every Budget and Style

Having pets doesn't mean you have to let your sofa go to the dogs (and cats). Discover the best fabric for a pet-friendly couch, along with tips for choosing the sofa that's right for you.

READ OUR REVIEW

I Tried This Sofa With My Cat Who Scratches Everything, and It Is Actually Cat-Proof

Find out how I went from not believing a cat-proof couch exists to resting easy with a pet-friendly Burrow sofa.

Mistake #2: Not Thinking About Scale

As much as you may love a sofa online or in the store, it’s important to measure your space before adding something to your cart and immediately handing over your credit card.

According to interior designer Bobby Berk, who served as the design expert on the show Queer Eye for eight seasons, ignoring scale is one of the biggest mistakes people can make when purchasing a sofa.

“I see a lot of spaces where the sofa is either far too big or far too small for the size or layout of the room,” he reveals. “Many people want to fit a sectional in their room, and they go for an option that ends up creating an awkward layout or impeding a walkway or butting up against other furniture. Conversely, you will also see a small sofa sort of ‘floating’ in the middle of a really large great room, looking like a seating island.”

In an ideal world, your sofa will serve as the focal point of your space but won’t overwhelm it. “The sofa is such a large piece of furniture (not to mention a big financial investment) that you really want to get it right,” Berk says. “A sofa that is not the right size is going to have an impact on more than just where you sit. It's going to affect how you live, how your family lives, and how you function in your home. So it's crucial to really measure your space and double-check dimensions.” Rather than merely pulling out a measuring tape and confirming the size, Berk suggests taping out the size of the sofa so that you can fully grasp the amount of space it will take up.

SHOP SMALL SOFAS

9 Apartment-Sized Sofas for Every Style Under $2,000

Got a small space and a small budget? Consider one of these small sofas.

SHOP SECTIONALS

13 Best Sectional Sofas for Every Space

Stretch out in style with these comfy L-shaped, U-shaped and modular sectionals.

Mistake #3: Buying Without Trying

No matter how gorgeous a sofa looks online, Meacham always recommends trying it out in person before buying it. “Doing the ‘seat test’ in a showroom to see, for sure, how comfy a sofa really is and if you like the seat depth/height is ideal,” she says.

Even if you don't live near a brick-and-mortar location for a brand of sofa you're considering, you can at least order fabric swatches (many companies offer swatches for free!) and consider visiting stores in your area that sell sofas with similar seat depths and cushion fill to the ones you're considering buying online. If you can't physically try out the exact sofa before buying, be sure to review the company's return policy.

READ OUR REVIEW

I Own a Lovesac Sofa – Here’s What You Need to Know Before Buying One

Considering buying a modular sofa? Here’s everything you need to know about Lovesac’s modular sectional sofa.

Next Up

The Best Pet-Friendly Couches of 2024 for Every Budget and Style

Having pets doesn't mean you have to let your sofa go to the dogs (and cats). Discover the best fabric for a pet-friendly couch, along with tips for choosing the sofa that's right for you and your furry friend.

12 Stylish Sleeper Sofas for Every Budget in 2024

In need of extra sleeping space for guests but don't have a guest room? Rest easy with these top-rated pullout couches.

I Own a Lovesac Sofa – Here’s What You Need to Know Before Buying One

Considering buying a modular sofa? Here’s everything you need to know about Lovesac’s modular sectional sofa.

I Tried This Couch With My Cat Who Scratches Everything, and It Is Actually Cat-Proof

Find out how I went from not believing a cat-proof couch exists to resting easy with a pet-friendly Burrow sofa. Kitty claws don't stand a chance.

9 Apartment-Sized Sofas for Every Style Under $2,000

Got a small space and a small budget? You don't have to break the bank to buy your dream couch.

How to Clean a Couch

Whether you've got tough pet stains on your sofa or you found an amazing used couch at an estate sale, here's how to get that upholstery looking and smelling as good as new.

13 Best Sectional Sofas for Every Space

Stretch out in style with these comfy L-shaped, U-shaped and modular sectionals.

Everything You Need to Know About the New Levity x Jonathan Adler Washable-Furniture Collection

The line spans eight statement-making products and 17 eye-catching patterns, including trendy checkerboard prints, bold ink drop variations and unique labyrinth designs.

Ree Drummond Debuts The Pioneer Woman Furniture Line at Walmart

The collection includes furniture for the kitchen, bedroom and beyond.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.