A couch is one of the biggest purchases any homeowner — or, indeed, apartment renter — will make that does not include a screen. Get it right and it’ll last a generation. Get it wrong and you’ll be watching TV on your bed way more than you planned.
Below, a few tips on making good the first time.
Our guideline: A two-seater has its charms, but what you want is a couch long enough to nap on. This means you probably want more than 60” and something closer to a 86”- 90”. If you have kids, very long legs, or a very big space, consider going all the way to 101”.
Seriously: make a template. The modern world being what it is, you will likely do most of your non-vintage couch shopping online. All those dimensions look, basically, fine — until you get it home. If you’re 100 miles from your nearest West Elm, cut a template from a roll of kraft paper, and lay it down on the floor where the sofa will go. Do this. Do not skip this step. While you’re at it, compare those measurements to your door frames and, if applicable, elevator space.
If your ceilings are low (say, under eight feet) you want a sofa that respects these proportions — think hard about anything over 32”. If you have the vertical height to spare, beware of floating a tall sofa (40”+) in a room — it looks weird — and prepare to place it against a wall.
Only buy a white sofa if you own an upholstery business. This is a long-term investment — think suit colors at a conservative office (dark gray, navy, etc.). If you live with someone with trend-minded tastes, resist the influence; “shabby chic” makeovers — think antique pieces reupholstered in cotton candy pink — may delight (someone) in the short term, but date fast.
How about vintage?
Look for craft details: dovetailed joints over nails, hard woods rather than other materials. Sit on it without assuming that new foam for cushions is cheap to buy or easy to procure. Always look for telltale signs of pests, and if you don’t know what they are, don’t risk it.