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Choosing the right couch for your family.

Updated on May 7, 2016
Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna wears many hats: writer, mother, crafter. Over the years, she has found what works and what doesn't for herself and her family.

So, Where Do You Start?

Is that old couch of yours starting to sag? Do you think your living room needs an updated look? Have you moved, and now your couch just doesn't fit your new space? So, where do you start when it comes to choosing a new couch? Choosing the right couch for your family, as well as your home, can be a daunting task. So, I will go through, step by step, on everything you need to consider when buying a couch. Furniture is not cheap, and you want to make the right choice. The best thing you can do is be prepared!! Even before you step into a furniture showroom, there is a lot you need to do.

Do you have the space for a large sectional?
Do you have the space for a large sectional?
Does your dog need space, too?
Does your dog need space, too?

Size Does Matter

All joking aside, in this case, size really does matter. The first thing you need to do is measure everything! I mean everything! From the entire room to the furniture itself. How big is the space you have? What other furniture do you have, or need, in the room? How many people do you need space for? Is it just you and your significant other, or do you have a large family? Take all of this into consideration when deciding on the size of the couch you will need.

The first step is to measure out the room. You need to know how much room you have to work with before you can go pick out a couch. What is the size and shape of your room? This often determines what your options are. Do you have the space for that sectional with the chaise? Maybe, maybe not. Make a scale drawing of your room, including the placement of windows and doors. It doesn't have to be a perfect blueprint, just a somewhat accurate drawing. I have found that the best way to do this is every foot in real space, equals one inch in the drawing. You may need a fairly large piece of paper for this, or you may need to adjust the scale of your drawing.

After you have done this, measure the furniture that you will be keeping in the room. Is that entertainment center staying? Or, are you starting from scratch? Take a separate piece of paper and draw scale drawings of these pieces of furniture, as well. I recommend a separate sheet of paper, so that you can cut out the pieces of paper that will represent your furniture, and place it on the room drawing to decide placement of furniture. Label all furniture drawings for easy reference. Keep them in an envelope or folder so that they do not get lost.

Where do you want your new couch? Arrange the furniture on your drawing and see what you like the best. Take into consideration placement of outlets, cable hookups, etc. There are also many types of software that are available that can create three dimensional drawings of rooms with furniture, floor coverings, and everything you can think of. This may be an option if you are willing to spend a little extra money. They run from between about $60-$500 dollars, depending on your needs. There are also free websites where you can do the same thing.

This Couch is Too Big For Anyone's Living Room

Traditional and ornate
Traditional and ornate
Sleek and modern
Sleek and modern
Bright orange may not be the best color choice
Bright orange may not be the best color choice
My very own, bright red, 7ft long couch
My very own, bright red, 7ft long couch

The Couch

Now that you have an idea of the amount of room you have to work with, and what pieces of furniture are staying in the room, you need to decide on the couch. Don't rush out to the furniture store just yet. First, you need to get an idea of what you want. Salesmen are very good at talking you into something you do not really want, if you are not fully prepared ahead of time.

Go out and buy some interior design magazines, or browse online at furniture stores, decorating websites, or websites for all those wonderful HGTV shows. There is a wealth of information available in regards to styles, fabrics and colors. It can be a bit overwhelming.

Look around you. What do you see? Is there a certain style that appeals to you? Are you more traditional, more contemporary, or more prone to decorate in an ornate fashion? Use the style you have already incorporated into your home, especially the style you have incorporated into your living room. What is working for you, and what isn't? Browse through those magazines and cut out pictures of couches you like. Jot down a note about why you liked it. Was it the color? The fabric? The curve of the back of the couch? Take inspiration from a piece you love, and go from there. Remember to take into account the pieces that will be staying in the room.

If you find a style of couch that you like, you are already most of the way there. Fabric and color are easy, in that most furniture stores carry the same style couch in a variety of fabrics and colors. If you are undecided on color, look at your room. Take cues from the colors of your room. Check out decorator rooms online, or in magazines to get ideas of color pallets that you might want to follow.

Fabric and color are very important in choosing the right couch for your family. Do you have kids? If so, you want a more durable, stain-resistant fabric. Do you have pets? If so, avoid anything that is woven or easily torn. Even pets with the best trimmed nails, and who generally stay off the furniture, can still cause a tear or two. When you go to pick out your couch, keep those things in mind, and talk with the salesperson about your concerns and the needs of your family. They will be able to help you select a fabric that will stand up to what you and your family can dish out.

As for color, couches come in a wide variety of colors, and patterns. While you may be drawn to that bright purple couch right now, you may not be so fond of it a few months or years down the road. Generally, on the more expensive furniture items, it is best to go with a neutral color, and add those punches of color with accent pillows or accessories throughout the room. Neutral does not mean boring!!! A tone-on-tone neutral stripe with some brightly colored pillows can really bring life to a room.

Couch Yoga???

Head to the Store

Now that you have all the information you need, from size to style and color to fabric, you are ready to head to the store. While you are at the store, ask a lot of questions, look at all of your options, but remember to focus on your needs, not what the salesperson is pushing on you. Do you need seating for at least four? Don't go with the small love seat. Refer to your style choices, stick with neutrals, and find a fabric that suits the demands that your family will be putting on the couch. You may not find exactly what you want at the first store you go to, but take your time, and make sure you make the right decision.

© 2009 Anna Marie Bowman


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    • RalphGreene profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful couches.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      7 years ago from Florida

      itsmonkeyboy-- Yeah, wish someone had told me all this before I bought my giant red couch. I was apparently the only one who liked it, it never fit in with anything I had, and took up way too much room. Glad you were able to make your new sofa work, though.

    • itsmonkeyboy profile image


      7 years ago from London, UK

      Some great ideas in there. Wish I'd read this hub before buying my latest sofa as the 'to scale' plan could have really helped us. The new sofa didn't quite fit where we planned it to so had to shuffle sofas round a couple of times before we found the right position.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      krista-- Thank you! Thanks for reading!!

    • krista.zamora1980 profile image


      8 years ago from New York, New York

      well done!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      8 years ago from Florida

      LondonGirl-- That sounds like a nice, big, comfy couch!!!

      cheap futon frame-- I couldn't agree with you more, which is why I have downgraded to a larger love seat over a large couch.

      Morris Streak-- I agree, there is a lot of used furniture, that is still in great shape being sold. From consignment shops to websites like craigslist, you can find a lot of quality used furniture.

    • Morris Streak profile image

      Morris Streak 

      9 years ago from UK

      I guess budget and size does matter. There are used furniture being sold that are still in good shape, but then you'd have to consider how it would fit, dimension-wise, in your home. And then there's the décor you already have at home, it should tandem with that, too. Is the fabric the kind that pets like to scratch like silly? So many things to keep in mind, glad you outlined some of these in your hub. Good stuff. I'm into home improvement myself.

    • cheap futon frame profile image

      cheap futon frame 

      9 years ago from New York

      Nice site. At my age I like a couch that is easy to move in and out of my apartment!

    • LondonGirl profile image


      9 years ago from London

      My other half calls it our "adult playpen" because all 3 of us can curl up on it together, with plenty of room left over!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Jerilee-- Good tips. I am very short, and my boyfriend is tall, so we have to have separate pieces of furniture for each of us, otherwise we aren't comfortable. He gets the couch, and I have a great chair.

      LondonGirl-- That does sound wonderful!!! If I had a couch like that, I would live on it!!

    • LondonGirl profile image


      9 years ago from London

      We have a wonderful sofa. It's hug (seats 4 people) turns into a genuinely comfortable double bed when required, is down filled (snuggly) and is really deep, so you can curl up on it.

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      Excellent advice and good hub.  Another thing that we consider in this house also applies to size -- the size of the people.  Very tall people, if the couch sits too low will flop or fall into a couch, rather than sit upon -- wears the couch out faster.  Same thing for people who are short in reverse -- you want the couch to "sit" comfortable and not be too tall either.

      Also a 3 cushion couch seat will last longer than a 2 cushion couch seat.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Good advice!! I hadn't really thought about that, but that does remind me of the time we had to take the doors off the house in order to get the furniture through the door. LOL

    • The Real Tomato profile image

      The Real Tomato 

      9 years ago

      Anna Marie Bowman! Very informative, well done.

      I have made couch mistakes in the past. One was a very looong couch that would not make the turn going up a stairway to my apartment! We had to hurl it over a brick wall and with ropes pull it up to the balcony and through the sliding glass doors. ( I left it in the apt when I moved). So measuring the entry or stairway or even elevator that the couch will have to enter through is a good idea too

      I now have kids and neighbors kid over all the time, I have leather couches. Very easy to keep clean.


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