3 Tips for Buying a Sofa on a Budget

Are you looking for a new sofa? A couch might be the most expensive piece of furniture in your entire home or apartment. Choosing the perfect sofa can be hard for so many reasons. 

First, because you spend so much time on the couch (or at least we do), it has to be comfortable. Second, they are so big that you need one that looks good. Are you struggling with a sofa purchase? If so, here are tips for buying the right couch at an affordable price. 

Tip 1 – Sit on The Couch Before You Buy

If at all possible, don’t buy a sofa you can’t sit on before you buy. I know there are lots of good sofa deals online, but what if they are hard as a rock? The best way to make sure you get the right sofa for you is to try it first. If you live in a place without a lot of retail options for furniture shopping, online may be your only choice. If that’s the case, try to choose a retailer with a decent return policy. 

There are a few retailers that stand out in the return department. Joybird offers free shipping on returns if you decide within 14 days. Beware that even if a company has a generous return policy, getting the item back to them can be expensive and the original packaging is likely required. What seems like a reasonable price may be deceiving when you factor in the price of returning such a big item.

If you choose a custom fabric, returning may be impossible. Be sure to ask.

Tip 2 – Get a Neutral Fabric

Since they are such a big investment, I recommend getting a neutral fabric. Neutrals are a good option because styles and trends change and neutral fabrics will allow your tastes to change with them. You can completely transform the look of a sofa with different pillows and a throw blanket. If you are looking to make a statement, I don’t recommend doing it with a couch.

Below are examples of a few great neutral fabrics. Oatmeal, putty, or grey are the most basic choices. White is also a good neutral, but I only recommend this if you have no children or pets. These might look boring, BUT they can be a blank canvas for lots of pattern and flare so you can change the overall look with the seasons or your changing tastes.

  • Sunbrella Canvas Taupe
  • Sunbrella Canvas beige
  • Danish Linen Natural

Don’t Buy Leather or faux leather – A couch is nice for laying down to watch a movie, but not if you stick to leather and your skin sweats. 

Tip 3 – Choose A Style Couch That Isn’t Too Trendy

Sofas are normally furniture pieces that you will hang onto for a long time because they are large items that are fairly expensive. Before you buy it makes sense to determine what style you like. Here are a few examples of different style elements you can choose from. 

There are different types of arms.  

Types of Sofa Arms

Here are the different sofa back types. Pillow backs can come with as few as 2 pillows or as many as 8 if you have back cushions that are a collection of throw pillows. If you have small children, I don’t recommend too many pillows on the back because it can turn into a jungle gym.

Best Place to Buy A Couch In Person

Ikea – Ikea always has affordable options when it comes to furniture and they have several different types of sofas. I like the Ektorp sofas which come in three sizes, a love seat (small sofa), a standard sofa, and a sectional for a larger room. It’s a comfortable sofa with a very tight-fitting slip cover. This makes it look upholstered, but the slipcover can be removed and washed. 

Slipcovers are not what you see in magazines right now, but the slipcover is so well-fitted that it doesn’t look like a slipcover. If you like a more modern design with clean lines, I recommend the Kivik, which also has a removable slip cover and comes in multiple sizes.

Pottery Barn– My sofa is more than 10 years old and I bought it at Pottery Barn, it’s the Comfort Square Arm With Slip Cover. It wasn’t cheap but I think it still looks great 10 years later AND I can remove the cover and wash it. I don’t do this often, but when I spill or my dog jumps on it I love being able to wash it.

Slip covers may not be your look, but they are so great if you have kids or animals. There are some great options like the York or the Willow. They also come in multiple sizes.

Willow Couch by Crate & Barrle

Best Places to Buy a Couch Online

Joybird – Joybird is a great place to buy a couch online and has a great return policy, but there is no way to try before you buy. Apartment Therapy reviewed the comfort of all their sofas in this article. Their sofas have a very modern look, not the type that you can cuddle up on. The most comfortable sofa, as rated by Apartment Therapy, is the Briar Sofa.

Article – Article has affordable couches. You can’t go sit on one but here’s a great article that reviews the comfort of each style. 

Are you looking for a new couch? If you have one you’re seriously considering, read reviews online.

Tips for buying a couch, maybe your biggest furniture purchase.

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2 Comments

  1. We have been looking for a new sectional. Have you heard of Dream Sofa or had any experience with this brand? I have been stalking their website and have ordered 10 free fabric swatches. It looks like they are made well with Kiln Dried hard wood frames, highly customizable, and made in the USA. The price point seems very reasonable too. I am just leery of buying a sectional online.

    1. I have no experience with Dream Sofa. I looked at their site and I love the concept but there aren’t any reviews to speak of. They do have a 100 day return policy, but there is a hefty restocking fee (because they are custom). They have good reviews on Trust Pilot. I think this is the way sofas will be purchased more in the future. I would try it.

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