How to Buy the Right Sofa For Your Space

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on December 10, 2019

Your sofa is one of the most magnetic places in your home. This is where you lounge, work and entertain. No two sofas are created equal. So when it comes time to shop for your new spot, consider the size, style, and price to ensure it’s your perfect match. 

It’s important that your sofa compliments your aesthetic, but it must also fit in your space well. It pays to invest in a few long-term pieces. We’ve outlined which features you should prioritize to help you find a quality sofa that you’ll enjoy for years to come. 

When browsing affordable sofas or living room furniture sets, consider each piece’s purpose. Do you need to round out a small space or produce functional flow in an expansive room? 

How will you spend your time there? Is this a no-TV zone or your designated Netflix-binge area? Regardless of size, most living rooms are configured with the sofa facing the media console. Sometimes architectural features, like a fireplace or windows, force us to rethink the obvious. Some spaces are easier to shop for than others, but there is a solution–we promise. 

Whatever your situation, carefully evaluate all the factors first. Know what’s feasible before you dive in headfirst.

Whether you’re searching for a luxury, seven-seat sectional sofa or a cozy loveseat, size and layout are everything (especially when you’re short on square footage). Here are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind: 

1. If you have two sofas, they should face one another as this allows for easy conversation, like the two in this Classic living room. When you arrange your sofas perpendicular to one another,  you end up with less usable space.

Modern / Classic Living Room Interior Design by Tracie

2. If your space only allows for one sofa, like in this Modern Industrial living room, it should sit parallel to and across from the longest wall in the room. The last thing you need is an obstructed walkway into the most inhabited room in your home.

Modern / Industrial Living Room Interior Design by Elizabeth.

Outside of this, there are no hard and fast rules. Unlike hanging artwork or styling decor items, there’s a lot more to deliberate when selecting a sofa. 

For example, in Alice’s living room, it worked to center the sofa on the windows, but in Tori’s design, the same configuration was a no-go. 

Living Room Interior Design by Alice
Industrial / Midcentury Modern Living Room Interior Design by Tori

Our advice: skip the headache of sorting this out yourself. Take our fun and easy style quiz, and start working with a Havenly designer. 

Mix and Match

A sizeable sofa (77″ x 35″ x 31″) like the Monroe Mid-Century Chaise Lounger can be accompanied by one or two Mid-Century Show Wood Leather Chairs (26″ x 31.6″ x 32.3″). Again, these pieces should face one another. Their contrasting textures and colors provide visual interest and yield a Minimalist or Scandinavian look.


Monroe Mid-Century Chaise Lounger from West Elm
Mid-Century Show Wood Leather Chair from West Elm

Pro-Tip: Exposed legs open up space underneath the sofa–space you’d otherwise count as lost. Those few inches will lighten up a room and allow for greater airflow. On that note, avoid pushing your sofa against walls or other furniture. Even in the smallest of spaces, a little breathing room goes a long way. 

In Practice

This Classic, Bohemian, and Farmhouse living room by Havenly designer Lisa Marie Driscoll is an excellent example of floating a sectional sofa off and away from the walls. This placement achieves an uncluttered feeling, but more practically speaking, it means that the entryway off the hallway isn’t blocked. 

Classic / Bohemian / Farmhouse / Rustic / Transitional Living Room Interior Design by Lisa
Classic / Bohemian / Farmhouse / Rustic / Transitional Living Room Interior Design by Lisa

Inspired by Lisa’s design? Us too! Shop your favorite products here.

When considering different sofa styles, the arms and legs are make-it-or-break-it characteristics. A sofa’s legs are the difference between an eye-sore and an invitation to kick back and relax. If your sofa’s arms and legs clash with the silhouettes of the rest of your furniture, take a pass.

Mid-Century style sofas, like the West Elm pick shown above, typically embrace long lines that offer plenty of space to entertain or just spread out. In small spaces, opt for low, narrow arms. The more substantial the shape, the harder to transport. Bulky sofas don’t cater to apartment living either. Don’t believe us? Try getting this gorgeous Chesterfield Roll-Arm Leather Loveseat from Pottery Barn up a flight of stairs.

Next, focus on fabrics and colors that right feel in your space–no pun intended. Natural materials are a great upholstery choice but they require a bit of TLC to keep your sofa looking well-maintained. We’re partial to leather, cotton, and wool. For a more elegant look, try suede or velour. Unfortunately, these luscious textiles are not the best option if pets are in the picture.

When shopping for one of the most costly pieces in your home, regard your purchase as a long-term investment. This helps you cope with the sticker shock. Spending an arm and a leg doesn’t necessarily yield a greater return. Create a list of features that are important to you. Then, prioritize them so you know where you are and aren’t willing to budge.  

A low-priced sofa should run you no more than $700. Usually, they need to be replaced after three or five years (if not sooner). Home Depot’s Watson Grey Linen Sofa is a steal for $699.  


Watson Grey Linen Sofa from Home Depot

A mid-priced sofa costs between $700 and $1,500 and lasts between five and seven years before there are any signs of wear. Article’s Sven Sofa in Birch Ivory is a popular choice amongst Havenly interior designers, and for $999 it’s popular with our clients, too. The sofa’s clean lines and neutral fabric lend themselves to various styles–check out these Modern and Eclectic spaces.  

Sven Sofa in Birch Ivory from Article

On the higher end of the spectrum, a sofa or sectional costs upwards of $2,000. Ideally, it should last between eight and ten years. 

If you’re planning to splurge, ensure your money is well spent. Look for brands with a reputation for craftsman-quality and customization. Interior Define checks both boxes. The Caitlin by The Everygirl in Ivory Fabric with Brass Plated Legs is a staple in small and big spaces alike. We love it because it’s incredibly comfortable and very durable. Its simple shape is one you won’t grow tired of–plus you can always refresh your sofa by swapping in new throw pillows


The Caitlin by The Everygirl in Ivory Fabric with Brass Plated Legs from Interior Define

Take excellent care of your sofa and you’ll extend its lifetime, regardless of how much you spend. For a full breakdown of sofa styles and finishes, read our Designer’s Guide to Sofa Shopping.

Words by Morgan Hitz