Buying a large piece of furniture is always an investment, but when it’s something as pivotal to your domestic life as a sofa, there is the added pressure that it needs to be perfect because you use it every day.

Large grey modular corner sofa in a new build living room with a fireplace and elegant accessories.

Morgan modular 5-seat corner sofa@homely_rose

Size, shape, number of seats, upholstery, quality and colour: what should you look for when buying a sofa? Well, here are 10 things not to do.

1. Impulse buying

No matter how good a sofa looks online, try and see it in person before you make a commitment if you can. It may be a different size than you thought, have more of an unusual shape than you’d imagined or not be very comfortable at all. Even if you aren’t able to visit the store in person, you can arrange a video appointment to see a little more about what it looks like in a real-life setting or request some fabric swatches to compare to the rest of your living room furniture.

2. Not considering your lifestyle

If this sofa is for decorative purposes and perhaps sits in a room that you don’t use too much, then comfort might not be as important a factor as its look and aesthetic. However, if it sits in front of the TV, you’ll want one that is totally sinkable and optimised for lounging. Tall people in particular need to consider factors like the length of a sofa and whether it leaves enough room for them to kick back and lounge on.

Jensen Grey Sofa with yellow cushions in a living room

Jensen 3-seater sofaJensen footstoolHercules console table | @jcgathome

3. Ignoring sofa construction

There are many pros and cons for a sofa that go way beyond its placement in the room layout or the cushion colour. Before you begin to browse, think about whether you have a preference for foam or feather pillows and make a list of pros and cons based on your home life. For instance, you may have an allergy to feather fillings or require the orthopaedic benefits of foam technology. Either way, do your research about how your sofa is built and you’ll never have a point of complaint.

4. Selecting the wrong upholstery material

Much like the way the sofa is constructed, the material the upholstery is made from will also need to suit your lifestyle and family needs. For example, if you have young children, you may want to avoid fabric sofas as they tend to soak up stains easier than the smooth finish of a leather sofa. Or, if your living room can get hot and humid, avoid a material that lacks airiness and tends to get sticky and unbreathable.

Grey leather sofa in blue living room.
Linden 3-seater sofa | @angela_oxtoby

5. Not thinking about longevity

Ask yourself, how long will you need your sofa for? If you think you’re likely to shake up your style in five years’ time, then opt for something ultra trendy and very of the moment. If, however, you think this will likely be a long-lasting investment, you might want to opt for a classic style that won’t look outdated a number of years down the line.

6. Failing to measure properly

Measure, measure and measure again! It’s all well and good if you think a sofa will look great in your home, but if it swallows up your space, it’ll leave you feeling claustrophobic and uncomfortable. Scale is key here. Width, depth and height are all really important measurements and, to give you an idea of how a sofa is going to look in your home, use tape to map out the exact dimensions on the floor so you know what it’ll be like proportionately.

Take a look through our full living room measurement guide.

Beige Gainsborough sofa with floor lamp and pink accessories.

Gainsborough 3-seater sofaGainsborough storage footstoolSeattle floor lamp | @home_made_with_l0ve

7. It can’t get through the door

You’ve done it: you’ve found the sofa of your dreams and it fits your home layout! But it’s arrived and it can’t fit through your front door – nightmare! Always account for the access points of your home: your front door, hallway and any doorways or staircases that lead to your lounge. This is why the depth measurement is particularly key as it can help you to work out if the sofa needs to be tipped on its side to get through these access points. Alternatively, enquire which sofas are sold in compartments and can be fastened together once in your living room. Find out more about our sofa sizes.

8. You haven’t sized up your space

So you’ve ticked the boxes of floor space, height and the depth of the doorway, but will this sofa be right for your living room layout? Have you read the fine print – is the corner sofa that’s arriving left-handed or right-handed? Is there an alcove that needs to be accounted for (i.e. can a tall person sit there without knocking their head)? Can the coffee table fit in front of it while leaving space to walk around it? It pays to be ultra-precise and very picky about every detail.

9. The colour is all wrong

Due to the prominence of the sofa in a living room scene, the colour you choose for your sofa will depend on whether you want an understated or statement interior scheme. Go for a complementary colour for a blended look, something that pops in an otherwise neutral scene or a loud shade in a more eclectic home. As mentioned, we would recommend getting hold of fabric swatches, what looks great in the showroom might look completely different when immersed in your home setting.

10. It’s bad quality

Quality sofas are worth the investment for three reasons: they look fantastic, they feel fantastic and they will keep looking and feeling fantastic for years to come. Go for a brand you trust that puts care into their product design. For example, all our sofas are built with hardwood in the frame, which not only makes for a more comfortable spot for our plump-free pillows to rest on, but also means they are built to last. Good quality sofas may seem more expensive now, but will end up costing less in the long run.

Blue corner sofa in living room full of plants.

Evie corner sofa@insideeightyone

Want to know more about choosing a sofa for your home? Read our post on finding the right sofa for your living room and then start shopping our full range of quality, comfortable sofas.