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Buying A Sofa: Are All Sofas Created Equal?

Buying a Sofa: Are All Sofas Created Equal?

Just this past week, I met with a client who I had been working with on a remodeling project, and she was ready to purchase a sofa. They have a beautiful home in an upscale neighborhood. When she asked me the “average cost” of a sofa, I explained that there were many factors that could change the average cost. When pressed for a number, I told her $3,000. I could see the surprise in her eyes. (surprise emoticon) This is not the first time I have experienced this reaction, and maybe you are wondering the same thing.

Not unlike people, what you see on the outside isn’t a true indication of what is on the “inside”. While aesthetics might draw you to something, it is how the sofa is constructed that really matters. And educating yourself, or better yet, working with a design and furniture professional can help you avoid costly mistakes.

Buying a sofa is like buying a car…

Think of buying a sofa just like you would buying a car. With the availability of the internet, we are researching more, comparing, and making educated decisions, long before we even leave our house to look and purchase. I would use this same philosophy when buying a chair or any other piece of upholstery.

If something is “cheap”, it probably is. And this is because of mass production of products, mostly overseas, with inferior products and workmanship. The products I specify are still made in North Carolina by craftspeople who have been making furniture for over 100 years.

These two sofas look very similar. One is $1,000 and the other is $3,000. Can you tell the difference?


To get right to it, here is what to look for:


Kiln-dried hardwood frame (not cheap plywood or cardboard). Joints are double doweled and have corner blocks that are glued and screwed in (not stapled). Eight way hand tied or sinuous springs are important.


High density foam, wrapped in Dacron batting; or poly-down which is a mixture of foam and down feathers, or a spring down cushion, which is a core of springs surrounded by foam and feathers (cheap cushions have just the poly foam which breaks down very easily).


Not all fabrics are created equal. Trends in colors and patterns come and go, and although a fabric on a sofa might be visually appealing, knowing things like fabric content, “double rubs”, and the difference between Rayon and Crypton, can help you decide what is right for your family.


Measurements like “length of sofa” and “depth of sofa” tell you whether it will fit in the intended space. Just as important are the seat depth and seat height, depending on how you “use” your sofa. My husband is tall and prefers to sit with his feet on the floor. I am fairly short and like to “curl up” or lay down. He likes a very firm cushion and I like some spring in mine. We agreed on the depth of the seat. We ordered spring down cushions and I ordered extra seat and back cushions in “firm” for him. We are both happy. (We have a sectional). While this might seem extreme, it is easily possible. This is where we sit most evenings after a long day, and comfort is a priority!


The upholstery companies I use have a one year warranty on fabric and a 3-5 year warranty on the frame.

In a world of thousands of options, and unfortunately a “toss it in the dumpster in a few years” thought process, spending a little more and consulting with a design professional is a good investment.

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