5 Sofa Buying Considerations

By Kate Riley August 24, 2015

I’ve been through the process of purchasing a sofa many times in the past decade, for myself, for family, and with friends, it can be agonizing since it’s a major purchase, like buying a car or a mattress, a sofa is something you’ll live with for 5-10 years. The process is worthy of attention to detail so today I’ve assembled five sofa buying considerations and also sharing a few favorite sofa styles from furniture company Interior Define.

1) Scale. I learned a great designer trick many years ago, I even heard Nate Berkus repeat it when I designed a family room space and appeared on his show in 2011. The tip is to map out the perfect width and depth of your new sofa with painter’s tape on the floor. When you’re choosing a sofa, you must make sure it’s the proper size and scale. It doesn’t matter if you love a sofa you see online or in a showroom, if it doesn’t fit when you get it in your house, you’ll regret the purchase.

harper sofa interior define

When you lay down your tape, allow enough space for end tables or a coffee table or accent chairs, however you envision the layout so that people can move around freely and comfortably. A sofa that’s too large will overwhelm and crowd a space, a sofa that’s too small will feel puny and look disproportionate. The first sofa and loveseat I purchased when I was first married I bought on impulse because I liked them in the store. When I got them home they were waaaaay too big. It was a HUGE costly mistake. I couldn’t return them, I had to sell them and took a financial hit of several hundred dollars. I never made that mistake again! It’s so important to buy the proper size, think like Goldilocks, your sofa or sectional should not be too big, not too small, it should be juuuuust right.

2) Style If you’ve ever thumbed through the warehouse furniture store ads you know that there are still companies producing oversized puffy sofas in ugly fabrics. #pleasestop  A sofa should have a classic shape. It doesn’t matter if the arms are rolled, curved, or square, if their backs are tufted or not, those choices vary by taste and style. What’s important is the cleaner the lines the more stylish the sofa, you don’t want yours looking dated from the day it arrives in your home.

walters sofa

 3) Quality. Sofas like mattresses get daily use and must be good quality. The frame and cushions need to stand up to the plopping down of people, the jumping up of toddlers and pets, TV viewing, stolen naps, and other daily activities. Educate yourself on the construction, are the frames hardwood? Are the cushions designed to be resilient and durable?

4)  Material. Fabric is everything! Sofas are an investment and so you’ve got to love that fabric forever (or for at least 5-10 years). Neutrals are always a safe bet since everyone knows the power of the decorative pillow or be bold and select a sofa in your favorite color, will it be teal velvet? Seafoam chenille? Also ask yourself since you’ll be sitting on that sofa everyday what you want it to feel like. Nubby and textured? Soft and velvety? Fabric swatches are key! You’ve got to touch the fabric, feeeeel the fabric, hold it up around your room with squinty eyes and make sure it complements the space in different lights at different times of day.

interior define fabric swatches

5) Price. Sofa prices are all over the map, you can buy cheap mass produced sofas from many discount websites or you can go the fancy shmancy route and order a custom piece for thousands of dollars. The ideal is the medley of the two, high quality and customizable but at an affordable price.

rose sofa interior define

Interior Define scores high in all five considerations in the sofa purchasing process, plus they offer a 365 day return policy. Their sofas designs are customizable, choose the size, material, cushion fill, legs, etc. whatever floats your boat! Most sofas and chairs are available in over 40 fabric options, and swatches are free. Their prices are at an exceptional price point compared to similar sofas on the market since they bypass unnecessary middlemen to offer well-crafted quality pieces at affordable prices.

I’ve selected several favorite Interior Define pieces, I’d love to add any of these to a family, living, or basement space!

 interior define sofas

Today I’m hosting a giveaway sponsored by Interior Define, the winner will receive $1000 towards a chair or sofa purchase.

Eligibility to win the $1,000 online credit to Interior Define toward a sofa or chair:

1) Visit Interior Define

2) Join their email list

3) Pick your favorite Interior Define product and Pin its image on Pinterest

4) Comment back on this post with the link to your Pin of the piece you’d buy with the credit if you won!

This giveaway is open to US residents only, credit to be used toward chair or sofa, entrant must have registered via email. Giveaway ends 8/31/15, one winner chosen at random from comments. Credit must be used in a single purchase by 12/31/15. Any returns will be refunded store credit minus any applicable restocking fee. Giveaway also governed by this site’s giveaway policy and Official Rules of Entry.

Interior Define is offering any of you a $100 discount for any purchase over $1,000 with the code CG100 (expires on 9/8/15).

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED. Winner #126 Courtney notified via email.

*This giveaway is sponsored by Interior Define, all experiences and opinions expressed are my own!


  1. Just moved to Pittsburgh and the rooms are much more narrow! Interior Define has some excellent options for the narrow row houses here. Right now my favorite is the Ainsley in the dark gray/black velvet fabric “Narwhal”. I’m designing a black + white plus neutral dream living room for my new place and this piece would be perfect – stylish, comfortable, and livable for my messy family :)

    Pinned it on my Interior Inspiration board here:


  2. So about the over sized puffy sofas… Every time I see one I die a little inside. Why do they continue to make them? It confuses people who don’t know any better. Like my in-laws! They think that these sofas are o.k. because they are so comfortable, and they must be in style because they are selling them in the stores. Right? How do you explain to the poor person who purchased one how UGLY it is. I personally feel that it is almost impossible to design around. Kate, don’t you agree?
    These stores need to stop! No one is going to complain if they update their styles. For instance in the fashion world you don”t hear of men begging for the butterfly collar to come back. They have moved on. Please lets just MOVE ON!!!!! Tough love is needed if you know someone thinking of purchasing one.
    Thanks, I feel much better letting that out!

  3. Love the Sloan! I dont have pinterest but I would pin it if I could! Great choices of couches/chairs..

  4. I pinned the Rose sofa to my Pinterest account Living Rooms. I would want the Rose in Sea Glass, so pretty. Sorry I don’t know how to post a link from my Pinterest to here. I hope that doesn’t disqualify me.

  5. I pined the Alice Swivel Chair. Unfortunately, it only comes in one fabric, but I love a couple of swivel chairs in a conversation area.

  6. I pinned the Rose in the linen blend.https://www.pinterest.com/pin/464222674068371332/
    WOW! exactly what I have been looking for. Time to move the PB Pearce sectional up to the bonus room and bring in some more sophisticated pieces for the family. Thanks so much for the offer and I will be shopping with Interior Define for sure win/or no win. 365 policy, unheard of. Thank You bunches CG!!!

  7. I have followed directions for giveaway but cannot share my sofa choice. Message says it’s not valid email. Can you tell me how to send Pinterest link to you. Thanks

  8. I hate to be the buzzkill on this one, but I just have to say that we have the Harper sofa (the first one pictured) and it’s so unbelievably uncomfortable. Well made, but it hurts our butts. And we’ve had it for months now. Not to mention, the ordering and delivery process was excruciating. Just wanted to save others from making the same mistake we did.

  9. Thanks for introducing us to this new website. Loved the Rose and pinned to my “Sofas” page on Pinterest. Unfortunately I too don’t know how to link back my post.

  10. I love the Sloan and would pick Carolina Blue fabric. It would look perfect in my den! I am trying to pin it to my account.

  11. Thanks for these helpful tips. I am looking for a durable and high quality sofa. One that will last until my hair becomes gray. =)

  12. My sofa, bought at the Dallas Trademart in ’76, is still my fave…throughout raising 2 boys, several dogs and many nights of sleeping and several reupholsterings. I dread choosing fabric but am sure the sofa and matching upholstered bench are much better quality than one can buy today. Same goes for my LR sofa. Not AS old but more than 15 years. SO heavy I can’t even shove it…much more comfy and substantial than these dinky sofas wh mimic MCM.

  13. This is the one that does it for me: https://www.pinterest.com/spud52/for-the-home/

    Love the softer (but still contemporary) lines and it looks totally comfortable – an important consideration. Having survived the embarrassment of a cabbage-rose-print sofa during my 1980’s “country phase”, I’ve learned the importance of sticking to neutrals for large furniture and using prints in the accessory items (pillows and small chairs).

  14. Oh Kate – this is such an awesome giveaway -the furniture and fabric choices offered at Interior Define are GORGEOUS!!! My pick was the Sloan Sofa in a navy Mod Velvet the color is called Lagoon – it’s just BEAUTIFUL…. I have dreamed of a navy velvet sofa for SO LONG. The sectionals looked amazing and I also loved the legs on the Rose sofa, such a pretty shape too, but the square-ish, clean style of the Sloane would be a better fit for my living room ( I paid attention to your recommendations :-)
    Here is my pin: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/101964379040649347/

  15. http://www.interiordefine.com/walters-chaise-lt#Z-DONI-96-A

    We have just moved from a tiny two bedroom townhome where only a very small couch would fit. Now, I have the beautiful empty living room where my husband and I are longing for a cozy long couch where both of us can lounge. The Walter is it! We love to have our family over and over the years, they have gotten used to sitting on the floor when we entertain. There just wasn’t enough room for more seating. Imagine how many people we could fit on this baby!

  16. This is an awesome post, and thank you so much for the resource! I think there are many of us who made a costly sofa or furniture mistake as a newlywed. :-) I know I have a story or two!

  17. Love Walter Sofa with the chaise side in Heather. Looks comfortable and stylish. Hope to win could use some joy during this trying time. Thank you Centsationalgirl!

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