4 Biggest Sofa Buying Mistakes

Thinking in terms of price, instead price-per-use

We’ve all done it. That pink and tangerine striped dress or light green chalk striped suit in the closet we’ve only worn once in two years. “But it was only $195!” you cry. Well, your price-per-wear for that dress or suit is exactly that -- $195 per wear. But that navy stand-by you paid $600 for and wore to 4 weddings and a funeral (and 3 interviews, a Bat Mitzvah, and your niece’s piano recital), well that’s already down to $60 per wear and heading lower fast.

The same basic idea holds with sofas. How often you use your sofa will be limited by three main factors:

  1. Material quality – High quality sofa frames and fabrics can last for years and years. Low quality materials may only last a year or two or three. A high quality sofa will last much longer. A $500 sofa that lasts two years cost you $250 per year. A $2000 sofa that lasts ten years costs only $200 a year.

    Plus, it looks and feels nicer the whole time!
  2. Design flexibility – For the same reason your pink and tangerine striped dress almost never makes the cut for date night, a pink and tangerine striped sofa won’t make it through your next move. It’s just too hard to match it to your changing design tastes and needs. Go with a tried and true style and fabric color. Don’t be afraid to punch it up with some color, but know that the more specific the sofa, the less useful it will feel as circumstances change.
  3. Sofa placement in the home – Is the sofa going in the main Netflix viewing point in the home, or will it be filling space in a little-used upstairs sitting nook? Are you putting it in a formal living room or a casual family room? There’s a different type of sofa for each room and you need to be realistic about usage rates.

Thinking Only in Terms of Design

Design is critical, but forget about quality, comfort, and longevity! After all, for the most part we’re going to be sitting on these things and looking at something else, NOT the other way around. Look for kiln-dried hardwood frames. Avoid glued or stapled joints. Are there down feathers filling the cushions? Are the springs evenly spread with a sprung edge?

There are a lot of great sofas out there built with lots of different types of materials that can be great or disastrous depending on the situation. If you love to look at the sofa, but hate the way it feels – you’ll enjoy the moment you welcome your date in for a drink and they look around, but you may have a feeling of inadequacy as the two of you lean back to watch the movie and can’t find a comfy way to sit.

Sofa-to-Room Mismatch

This is where things get awkward. You loved that midcentury modern sofa, but the rest of your living room is decidedly art deco. Or you loved that rich leather chesterfield, it looks great in that English club you stopped by in London, but not in your ultra minimalist open concept home.

Again, the fashion analogy is apt. Your pinstriped suit and your light-blue chambray western shirt are best worn on separate days. You can sometimes make the eclectic style work, but you have to have some added care. A safer bet is to find a sofa that naturally complements the style you’ve already cultivated in your home.

Fabric-to-Usage Mismatch

This is critical. Are you really going to want to marathon Game of Thrones on that stiff leather couch with your ass sweating bullets by the time Lord X loses body part Y in the battle of Z? Are you sure you want to put that silk damask sofa in your teenaged son’s room as he wallows in PlayStation, Cheetos, and Mountain Dew?

This is just as important, if not more so, as proper design integration, but much more often overlooked. Don’t wear opera pumps to a Texas BBQ. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. And don’t mismatch a sofa fabric to its purpose.


Check out these sofas

Albany Park

Albany Park Vegan Leather Sofa

Best for:

Exceptional quality and value at an entry-level price point

Pros and cons:
No items found.
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Nomad Modular Sofa

Best for:

Students, people on the move, those who value convenience more than quality

Pros and cons:
Easy to move modular design
Can be assembled and moved by one person
Aliquid Vitae
Questionable longevity due to modular design (joints and connection points may not hold up over time)
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