Money & Career

How Much Should You *Really* Spend On A Sofa?

Plus, expert tips on finding one that works for your space and your budget.

Please don’t tell my husband, but I’ve got a serious crush on Sven. He’s sleek, sturdy and offering comfort after a long day. And I know that if I train the kids to treat him with care, Sven will stick around for years.

The best part? The price.

At $1,549 for the trendy green velvet upholstery option, a Sven sofa from online furniture retailer Article hits my home reno budget’s sweet spot. It costs enough to ensure the arms don’t fall off after a year, but not so much that I’ll worry about rogue popcorn kernels getting trapped in crevices.

Compared to items such as food or clothes, Canadians shell out less for household furnishings—an average of $935 per year according to data from Statistics Canada. The reason? We buy furniture less frequently, and when we do, we expect it to last. That goes double for a sofa. Compared to a hexagonal side table or even a pair of accent chairs, the couch is not only the centrepiece of a living room, it’s also the wear-and-tear workhorse. That’s why most design experts will tell you it’s one item to splurge on.

Even so, you don’t necessarily have to buy a top-of-the-line designer option to get one that works for your space. There’s a whole range of price points to explore, depending on your budget and needs, maintains Melissa Grieve, an interior designer in Guelph, Ont., who works with local and international clients. We’ve even done the hard work for you and found the best options under $1000!

“You can spend $4,000 if you want a high-quality sofa, but in reality there are lots of companies where you can get a $2,000 sectional that will look good in five years’ time,” she says.

Here are a few things to look out for to be sure you’re getting the most bang for your seating-area buck.

Ask how it’s made

A big price tag doesn’t always guarantee a better quality couch, cautions Grieve. Don’t be afraid to check under the hood. Does it use dowel rods and dovetailing joints? Chances are you’re looking at a quality piece of furniture. Medium-range sofas tend to use a stapled frame, where the frame is held together with industrial-grade staples. Lower quality sofa frames are held together with glue and tend to last only a few years.

Buy for your lifestyle

Got kids? There will be spills. Grieve recommends purchasing a sofa with cushions that are upholstered on both sides. “If you get a stain, you can flip the cushion over and it still looks good,” she explains. Or, opt for a sofa that allows you to change the slipcover if you want to extend its life. Ikea’s cheap-and-cheerful Ektorp model has removable covers that can be swapped out when you get bored with the colour.

Go neutral

A brightly coloured couch might seem like a good idea the moment you spot it, but a neutral hue will have better staying power. Instead of springing for the vivid hue that catches your eye, incorporate that colour into your decor with affordable throw pillows and accent chairs.

Make a deal

There are all kinds of ways to save money, even on a high-end couch. Ask salespeople if there’s a blowout sale coming, or agree to take home a floor model. “Just ask for a deal,” says Grieve. “You never know what they’ll be willing to do for you.”