3 Tips for Buying a Sofa on a Budget

A couch might be the most expensive piece of furniture in your entire home or apartment.  Choosing the right one can be hard for so many reasons. 

First, because you spend so much time on the couch, it has to be comfortable (or at least we do).  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 on a budget. 

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 it.  I know there are lots of good sofa deals online, but what if they are hard as a rock?  If you live in a place without a lot of retail options, online may be your only choice.  If that’s the case, try to choose a retailer with a decent return policy. 

There a few retailers that stand out in the return department .  Joybird will even pay for return shipping 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.

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 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.

Examples of a few great neutral fabrics are below.  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 that’s easy to swap with seasons or your changing tastes.

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

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

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

Sofas are normally a piece of furniture that you will hang onto for a while because they are expensive.  Before you buy it makes sense to determine what style you like.  Here are a few examples of different style elements you will choose from. 

There are different types of arms.    

Types of Sofa Arms

Here are the different sofa backs types. Pillow backs can come with as few as 2 pillows or as many as 8, if you have a back that is 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 – I like the Ektorp sofas which comes in three sizes, a love seat, standard sofa and sectional.  It’s  a comfortable sofa with a very tight fitting slip cover.  This makes it look upholstered, but the slip cover can be removed and washed. 

Slip covers are not what you see in magazines right now, but the slip cover is so well fitted that it doesn’t look like a slip cover.  If you like a more modern look, I recommend the Kivik, which also has 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 has a great return policy, but there is no way to test them out.  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 sofas are very affordable.  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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