How to Buy the Perfect Couch (and get the size right on the first try!)


How to Find the Right Sofa for Your Home

Jennifer hired me to help her with her family room. She had already purchased a custom sofa and two chairs. I measured her room and got the details (width, depth, height) on the pieces she bought. We signed a contract and away I went to design her room. A few days later, I called Jennifer with shocking news: After several hours of space planning, it was clear her new pieces were not going to fit.

Before I even got the words out, she exclaimed, “The new furniture arrived this morning and it doesn’t fit!” Since, they were custom made and not returnable, she really had made a costly mistake.


I get at least one phone call per week from clients like Jennifer. Today I am going to show you how to avoid this problem and how to pick the right size sofa for your living space.

Sofa Selection Tip #1: Measure Your Room


The main reason people end up purchasing furniture that doesn’t fit is because they have not measured their room. How can you know if the sofa that looks so good online or in the furniture store will fit in your room if you don’t know your room dimensions? Since you can’t “try on” a sofa like a new blouse, you need to take your measurements first and have it all sketched out to know exactly what will fit.


Grab graph paper that already includes furniture templates (available at most office supply stores) and a measuring tape to note all your room’s measurements. You can easily play around with different scenarios until you get the best layout. Armed with this information, you will be completely prepared when shopping and save yourself loads of frustration, time, and money.

Sofa Selection Tip #2: Know the Basic Furniture Standards


Not only do you need to know what size sofa will fit, but you also need to know the required clearances for the other pieces that go along with the sofa.

Common furniture measurements:

·         The average size of a small sofa is 84”

·         The average size of a large sofa is 96”

·         You will need at least 42-48” for the sofa and leg clearance

·         A recliner needs 54-68” of clearance

·         You’ll need at least 18” clearance all the way around a coffee table

·         You’ll need 84” – 112” between the sofa and any chairs

·         Leave at least 24” for any area that needs a walking path

Sofa Selection Tip #2: Avoid Huge Sectionals


One of the most common mistakes I see is homeowners choosing gargantuan sectionals. I know you want to maximize the amount of seating, but unless you have a room that is 20 feet or more, a sectional is not a good idea. Sectionals take up too much room, block traffic patterns, and are just plain boring. A room with a sofa and two chairs is much more versatile and interesting. (There are of course, instances when a sectional is perfect. I get excited when we design a room that is perfect for a sectional. These situations aren’t common.)

Let Us Help You Plan Your Space


Do you need help with space planning? We offer a two hour workshop for homeowners just like you! Simply bring your pictures and room dimensions. We’ll give you easy instructions on how to lay out your room to scale with all furniture pieces so you know it will fit (no more guessing!). We’ll provide the drafting paper, pencils, and templates so you can draw and take home your own furniture plan like a pro! Click here to register for our space planning workshop.

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