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A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Sofa

The sofa is the centerpiece of your living room, so it’s only natural to want something that fits in with your style and offers the perfect level of comfort. But how do you know which sofa sizes, features, and fabrics will work best for your home and lifestyle? It's time to get out there and explore the wonderful world of sofas so you can choose the perfect option for your home.


There’s no set rule for how large or small a sofa should be, but, in general, you want to maximize seating without blocking important walkways and doors. It’s best to measure before shopping so you can be sure a sofa you like will fit. If you have access to the room you want to furnish, do this simple exercise to determine whether a sofa you’re considering is the right size:
  1. Use a tape measure to measure the dimensions of the sofa on the floor.
  2. Create an imaginary sofa according to those dimensions with string or masking tape on the floor.
  3. Walk around the marked sofa dimensions to see whether you have enough room to get around comfortably. Don’t forget to factor in other furniture, such as end tables.
If you don’t have access to the room, use room dimension measurements to decide if the sofa’s length and width seem appropriate. If you can’t get room measurements, focus on looking for a sofa that feels like a standard size and not overly large. If you decide to rent instead of buy, you have a chance to test out a size without committing to a purchase. 


There are many different sofa styles and types, and the differences between them extend beyond mere aesthetics. The features that characterize different styles can actually have an impact on the overall atmosphere of your living room based on varying levels of comfort.
Loose or fixed bottom cushions: According to Elle Decor, sofas with loose bottom cushions are more comfortable, but this may be a matter of preference. Sofas with fixed, tight bottom cushions might not offer as much sink-in, but that may be preferable, depending on how many people typically sit on your sofa at one time.
  • Loose or fixed back cushions: Similarly, loose back cushions may be more cushioned and softer than loose bottom cushions, but the tight, smooth-backed sofa variety may offer more beneficial support. If you don’t want to worry about repositioning back cushions, you may prefer a fixed back.
  • Tufting: Tufted sofas, such as the Chesterfield style, have an elegant, classic look and a comfortable feel. However, children may be tempted to pull at the buttons that are often part of the tufting design.
Features do play an important part in how to choose a sofa, but if you aren’t sure what you like, don’t worry too much. You can always get a better feel for different styles as you shop.


The upholstery material you choose for your sofa can have a big impact on the overall style and feel of the room. Color plays a big part in which side of the spectrum your sofa falls under, but the texture of the upholstery is also part of the equation.
These popular sofa upholstery options all have their own strengths and weaknesses. Think about your lifestyle and how you like to use your furniture before deciding which type of material might be right for you.
  • Velvet: Velvet works best in rooms that have a stylish, glamorous feel. Due to the deep pile of the fabric, velvet can hold onto things like spills and pet hair more easily than other fabric types.
  • Linen: According to Better Homes & Gardens, linen wrinkles easily, so it might not be the best choice for a sofa you plan to sit on a lot. 
  • Leather: As one of the tougher upholstery fabrics, leather has a classic aesthetic that can go with a variety of different decor styles. Synthetic leather can be a good alternative with a similar look and feel at a lower cost. 
  • Cotton: Cotton upholstery fabric is typically thick and durable, and it has a versatile look that’s ideal for formal or casual rooms of all styles. This is a great choice if you aren’t sure about texture.
This may seem like a lot of information to consider, but knowing what works for you in each of these categories can make it a lot easier to pick out the right sofa. If you're more comfortable with short-term options, check out CORT Furniture Rental's selection of sofas to avoid making an immediate long-term commitment to a couch.