The best sofa

Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto

A 72- inch“ apartment-size” sofa is wider than a loveseat but not as wide as a full sofa.

Selecting a sofa is a big decision. The sofa universe is huge, with pieces available at every price point. So how do you choose? Comfort and construction count even more than style because most sofas are fashionable and decorative, even if the quality isn't always there. Our shopping guide provides you with what you need to know when buying a sofa. Take into consideration our top pick, Stone & Beam's Lauren Down-Filled Oversized Sofa in Slate, chosen for its generous size and quality frame.

Considerations when choosing sofas

Cushion depth: The deeper the sofa, the more comfortable it generally is. A sofa that's 18 inches deep is modern but not cozy. A sofa that's between 22 and 24 inches deep is the average size for comfortably sitting and lying down. A 33-inch deep sofa lets you sink into it and relax.

Frame: Hardwood frames are best. Keep in mind that while soft pine is affordable, it may warp. Too much plywood will stress the whole frame. Most importantly the frame shouldn't wobble or make creaking noises.

Material: When it comes to fabric selections, there are two camps: those who need kid- and pet-proof fabrics and those who want luxury fabrics. Life-proof fabrics include microfiber, synthetic plush velvets, and pricier genuine leather. Natural fibers, such as 100% cotton, velvet, silk, or wool, are beautiful but fragile -- even polyblends may begin to quickly pill.

Size: Remember you'll need your sofa to not only fit your space, but also fit through your home's door. Measure, measure, measure. Use blue painter's tape to outline the size in your living room. If the sofa comes pre-assembled but it's still a tight fit through the door, remove the legs to squeeze it through.


Sleepers: Three types of sleeper sofas include affordable futons, good-looking value-priced convertible sofas, and pricier pullout sleeper sofas with separate mattresses.

Recliners: A sofa with two or three recliners bound together let you have the best of both the recliner and sofa worlds. You'll need more floor space for a recliner unless you opt for a wall-hugger model, which doesn't recline as far back. You'll find reclining sofas with electric or manual mechanisms, just like regular recliners.

Filling: A sofa's cushion filling options can be dizzying. From budget to luxury, they include polyurethane, high-resilient foam, polyester fiber, goose down, or alternative down.

Sofa prices

The price of sofas range from just less than $300 to more than $2,000. As the price increases, so does the quality of the sofa. Look for sofas between $500 to $1,000 for affordable yet well-made pieces.


Q. What's the difference between goose down- and alternative down-filled sofa cushions?

A. Higher-end sofas will have down- or down alternative-filled seat cushions that offer serious comfort. Real down (goose and duck feathers) are comfortable but need a lot of fluffing to break up clumps. Down alternatives are synthetic options that not only cost less, but also are just as comfortable. However, synthetic down loses its fluff quickly. Consider sofas with hybrid fillings, such as a down-wrapped high-resilience foam core.

Q. What makes a sturdy sofa frame?

A. A hardwood frame made from kiln-dried oak, beech, or ash will last longer than other woods. Look for quality joinery of wood or metal screws and brackets. Avoid frames held together with just nails, staples, and glue. Finally, eight-way hand-tied springs on the frame are highly preferred for comfort and durability. Avoid cushions with springs inside of them.

Sofas we recommend

Best of the best: Stone & Beam Lauren Down-Filled Oversized Sofa Couch, 89.4W, Slate

Our take: Spacious and firm down-filled cushions for a decent price.

What we like: The classic lines of this handsome sofa, plus the hardwood frame and durable fabric, make this an ideal family-friendly sofa. A three-year warranty is a welcome added feature.

What we dislike: Cushions may be a bit too firm for some.

Best bang for your buck: Serta RTA Palisades Collection

Our take: A stylish quality medium-sized sofa for a good price.

What we like: If you like firm support, you'll appreciate the cushions. Holds as much as 500 pounds. Textured material holds up well.

What we dislike: Cushions overstuffed and uncomfortable.

Choice 3: Ashley Furniture Signature Design Larkinhurst Sofa

Our take: Detailing makes the sofa look more expensive than it is.

What we like: Reversible seat cushions, advanced microfiber material with a soft leather-like touch, and sturdy construction makes this sofa one of the best in its price point.

What we dislike: May have strong odor at first; needs time to air out after delivery. 

Marilyn Zelinsky-Syarto is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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