Tips for Finding a Decent Sofa on a Small Budget

The sofa issue can be a huge elephant in the room when you're setting up a new apartment with next to nothing. The truth is that sofas are expensive and real treasures are hard to find (unless you're Dana, whose apartment is shown above. She always seems to find the best sofas for under $200 at thrift stores.) To help you with your search, we've compiled a few tips...

  • Before you start shopping, measure your space. It also helps if you have an idea of the color and style you want, but try not to limit yourself too much or you'll never find something that fits your decor and budget.
  • Shop craigslist, thrift stores, and yard sales. You'll find amazing deals, but you'll also have to take your time sifting through some pretty unappealing options. Before you buy, make sure to inspect the sofa in person for stained upholstery or a broken frame.
  • Unless you're a professional upholsterer or an especially skilled crafter, don't buy a sofa with rips and stains, thinking you'll be able to pull off a DIY upholstery job. Sofas often contain springs, tufted buttons, and rounded corners that can be very difficult to properly re-upholster if you're a beginner.
  • Shop warehouse, floor model, and going-out-of-business sales for deeply discounted sofas. You probably won't be able to return your purchase, so bring a tape measure to make sure that the sofa will work in your space.
  • If you have a dream sofa in mind, save up for it, and make do in the mean time. You can always use a pair of armchairs as a sofa substitute until you get the real thing.
  • Search blogs for budget sofa round-ups. For ideas from Apartment Therapy, click here, here, and here.
  • If you have an IKEA sofa, you can customize it with a Bemz slipcover. They come in several patterns, and they're tailored to fit pretty much any IKEA line you're looking for.


Photo: Dana