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Couple shopping for a sofa near Olympus Encantada in Albuquerque, New Mexico



Let’s be honest – you’ve probably been spending waaaay more time hanging out on your sofa lately than ever before. So if it’s starting to look a little tired and worn, there’s been one spill too many, or you're just ready to add some pizazz to your living room, here’s what you need to know before buying a new sofa.

Measure Up!

Don’t make the rookie mistake of falling in love with a sofa, and buying and hauling it all the way back to your place, only to discover it doesn’t fit in its designated spot OR won’t fit through your door or around that bend in the stairway. Measure twice, carry once! Get detailed dimensions of the space you intend to place your new sofa, along with any potential bottlenecks along the way, then compare these with the length, depth, and height of your dream sofa before you buy.

The Frame Up

Try to get a sofa with a good, solid inner frame – preferably made with solid hardwood like oak, beach, or ash (not pine), and kiln-dried if possible. You can always slip-cover or reupholster a sofa if the fabric is damaged or worn, but you can’t do much if it’s sagging and warping because of a weak frame. Cheaper sofas may be built around a frame of particleboard, plastic, metal, or a soft wood like pine. Look for legs that are integrated into the frame or are screwed on – not glued. Avoid a sofa that twists or creaks under its own weight when you lift one corner about 6 inches off the floor – this is a sign the frame is twisting.

Try Before You Buy

One size doesn’t not necessarily fit all when it comes to sofas. Seat height and depth vary, as does the height of the back, and the shape and height of the arms. Make sure the sofa that looks so beautiful in the catalog is as comfy in real life as you imagined. See how firm or soft the padding or support in the cushions and back feel, and consider the materials used. Feather-filled cushions are high on comfort but will need regular plumping, while foam or fiber fillings may flatten out and lose their shape over time.

When you’re doing your couch potato test, think about the way you prefer to lounge. If you like to lay down, make sure it’s long enough for you. If you like to sit with your feet up, consider a sectional or a chaise end. If you’re taller, try out a sofa with a higher back or deeper seat depth.

Evaluate the Upholstery

This is a biggie, and there are several factors to consider when it comes to upholstery. Pick a fabric that will be durable enough for the kind of wear and tear this sofa is likely to endure. Leather and microfiber are great in heavy usage areas, and textured and patterned fabrics show less wear than smooth ones. Higher thread counts and tightly-woven fabrics generally last longer than looser weaves. Or something slip-covered is a great option if you’re worried about grime and spills. And of course you want to find just the right color and pattern to match your decor. Hint: Ask for a fabric swatch or if you can take home a cushion or pillow to see how the fabric will look in your room.

Here’s to many comfortable years ahead on your fabulous new sofa. For more great shopping and decorating tips, check out the Olympus Encantada blog.