“When you’re putting your space together, the couch is one of the most important pieces to buy because it gets the most use,” says designer Brenda Danso. While shopping online lets you browse dozens of designs faster than you ever could in person, the downside is that you don’t get to do the decisive sit test. Here’s what to look for before you add that couch to cart.
Whether you’re buying a couch-in-a-box or something that ships in one piece, follow these tips to make sure you get it right.
Online couch shopping 101
1. Nail down your needs
“One of the first things you want to do is assess your lifestyle, so you know what type of sofa to get,” says Danso. A sectional is great for comfy lounging with the fam, while a standard sofa plus a pair of chairs is perfect if you love to host. And if your sofa is likely to be a play spot for your kids or pets, it’s worth paying a little more for a sturdy build and an easy-to-clean fabric.
2. Check that it fits your space
To help visualize the couch’s size in your home, note the dimensions and mark them out with painter’s tape. You’ll want to make the most of your space—a too-small couch in a too-big space is a common mistake, says Danso—while still leaving room to walk around. “People often look at how wide it is but not the depth,” she explains. “You want to make sure that you’re keeping the passageways clear.”
3. Pick a durable fabric
To find a couch that will stand the test of time, check the fabric’s Martindale score, a lab-tested rating of how much abrasion it can handle. “The ideal rub count is 25,000 for frequently used pieces,” says Danso, noting that you can get away with 15,000 if it won’t be your main couch. If that info isn’t available, you can generally count on leather or microfibre, and some companies will send you a swatch so you can see and feel it before you commit.
4. Consider the frame
What’s inside your couch matters. “Look at what the frame is made of,” Danso recommends. If your budget allows, opt for strong woods such as maple, walnut or teak. Plastic, metal and particle board frames are more affordable but not as durable. As for the filling, feathers are the cushiest, but more and more couch makers are using high-density foam for a firmer feel and a shape that lasts.
5. Get a second opinion
The internet wormhole isn’t always a good thing, but it comes in handy when you need to crowdsource a big purchase. Read the reviews: Is the couch actually comfy? How’s the colour in real life? You can also dig through a brand’s tagged photos on Instagram to see the sofa in people’s homes. The best backup plan? A flexible return policy, which many brands now offer.
6. Measure twice
You’ll need the boxes to fit through your doors and hallways. Most retailers include dimensions for the packaging; grab your tape measure and double-check that you’ll have a clear path to bring in your new couch.
Article “Sven” sofa in grass green velvet, $2,199 for three-seater model, article.com.
Cozey “The Cozey Corner” sectional in dark grey, $2,155 for five-seater model, cozey.ca.
Endy “The Sofa,” $1200 for three-seater model, ca.endy.com.
Kavuus “Shelby” sofa in deep water blue, $3,066, kavuus.com.
Sundays “Daydream” leather sectional in cinnamon, $8,800, sundays-company.ca.