Apartment Therapy's Sofa Shopping Guide

One of my friends recently described shopping for a sofa with her husband as one of the most depressing things one could do on a weekend. It is one of those furniture purchases where people are terrified of making a mistake, since the general thought is that a sofa will be in your home for at least the next ten years. Here is a simple guide to help you navigate the overwhelming sofa market.

There are three main considerations when hunting for the perfect sofa, and not necessarily in the following order: Style, Comfort, & Price.

Before you begin your sofa quest, you should prioritize these considerations to fit your lifestyle. With sofas, consumers are easily swayed by how a piece looks on the outside, but for durability and comfort it's what's on the inside that really counts. Here is what you can expect in the various price range levels in terms of quality.

Low Price Range (Under $1000): The frames for these sofas are made mostly overseas. The frames might be stapled together rather than glued, dowelled or screwed together. The material that the frame is made of is cheaper and not as durable for long term. These materials include plywood and knotty pine. These are the perfect option if instant gratification is a necessity, as you can often go out on a weekend and come home with a sofa that day, or get home delivery within a few days.

IKEA is the quintessential place to go for everyone's first sofa, and makes for a great starter sofa with trendy Scandinavian styling.

West Elm has a lot of 2-seat sofas under $1000, and gives the feel of a Pottery Barn experience at an entry-level price.

Target is the place to go if you want a knockoff of a higher end style. The focus is on stylish piece created using less expensive materials, accessible to everyone at every price.

Mid Price Range ($1000-$3000): Frames in this price range are manufactured overseas and in the USA. The frames won’t be stapled together, and they are generally made to order rather than being pre-made and stacked in a warehouse. These sofas have a wider range of fabric options, with popular basics in stock and many other fabrics available with a longer lead-time for a semi-custom look.

Crate and Barrel sofas are made in the USA. Their sofas are made from higher quality materials that are eco friendly.

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams US-made sofas often clock in at the higher end of this price range. They offer a wide amount of customer choices (on more than just upholstery fabrics) and focus on comfort through quality construction practices.

Pottery Barn sofas are also made in the USA. You can even watch a video of a sofa being created at their production facility in North Carolina

Restoration Hardware makes their frames overseas and upholsters their sofas in the U.S., resulting in gorgeous upholstery covering frames of lesser quality than some competitors. With a range of over 70 fabrics and many modular units, they sell something for any size or style of dwelling.

Room and Board offers a huge range of styles on their US-made options. Most styles are available in many standard colors plus a full range of more than 300 upholstery fabrics as part of their "any fabric, any frame" custom program.

Thrive is an online source for LA factory made sofas (many with a vintage look) and features free shipping and a very generous 365-day return policy.

High Price Range (Over $4000): The high price range finds sofas that are designer or designed specifically for you, with frames often manufactured in Europe or locally made. Custom fabrics, foam, and design are all available in this price range. 

Design Within Reach is a great resource for classically designed sofas from the likes of Vitra, Fritz Hansen, and Knoll.

Ligne Roset is based around living a modern, design-led lifestyle, and has a factory based in France. Their famous TOGO sofa was the first all foam sofa, making them pioneers in sofa structure.

Custom is a great option if comfort is your number one priority, as you can tailor the cushion filling and seating depth to you preferences for the perfect fit. Custom is also a great option for the person who wants a sofa that no one else in the world has, with an unlimited selection of fabrics and styles available.

We'll be adding to this post with other sources; please leave  your suggestions in the comments - thanks!

(Image: Elizabeth Gilmore/Craig's Tiki Hut House Tour)

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Main, Furniture Design, Shopping Resources, Sofas

Claire is a California native living in London who loves discovering the city with her husband and French bulldog Watson. With a background in photography and interior design, her current creative obsessions include sewing, printmaking, and anything neon.