Mistakes Everyone Makes When Buying Couches

Buying a couch is an exciting process, but it can be a little bit daunting, too. Especially in today's world, where furniture order delays run rampant, there are limitless options to consider, and quality control differs from brand to brand. Because of this, you may find yourself overwhelmed at the prospect of investing in this new piece of furniture. To help you simplify your furniture search, we have rounded up a few common mistakes to avoid. 

U.S. News explains that when you're buying furniture in general, there are a few fool-proof ways to set yourself up for success, such as measuring the room and piece twice and considering its long-term maintenance needs. This way, you won't have any regrets and will absolutely love the items you pick. Imagine being in love with your new couch and smiling every time you sink down to watch a new Netflix series or binge your favorite reality show. That could be you! To streamline the process, we've detailed how you can buy the couch of your dreams and avoid common furniture snafus that many others have fallen victim to.

Failing to research the couches

A common mistake that individuals make when buying a sofa is not researching their options ahead of time. You don't want to be impulsive when you buy your new couch, as it's something you'll be using all the time, and hopefully for a long time to come. It takes a certain amount of time, energy, and patience to complete this part of the process. The Spruce recommends pouring over reviews, reading through the Q&A portion of the listing, and seeing if a nearby showroom or big box store has the couch you're considering so you can see it in person.

Researching is especially important if you have something particular in mind for your new couch, like investing in a vintage or antique piece of furniture. You'll want to know your stuff before you make a purchase, so it ends up exactly as you hoped. For antique pieces, that means knowing joint construction, looking for signature labels, and learning the different styles (via LoveToKnow). All of this takes time and research. 

Not matching the couch to the lifestyle

Matching your couch to your lifestyle is another important part of successfully buying this piece of furniture. For instance, if you have young children or pets that are allowed on the furniture, you may want to avoid a light-colored couch or fabric that stains easily. Buying the right sofa to match your lifestyle and how it will be used will ensure that you are happy with your purchase and get the most out of this piece of furniture. Designer Cheryl Chase Mackenna shared with U.S. News how one client chose a silk sofa, even though she had young children and pets. "She would have saved thousands of dollars if she knew prior to choosing her furniture what was going to stand the test of time with sticky fingers and muddy dog paws," she said.

This goes back to the research piece mentioned previously. If you have a dog, you'll want to spend some time understanding the best types of couches for their wear and tear. Rover has done a good job detailing this as a starting point. After all, the last thing you want is to get a beautiful new couch only to have it ruined by your dog's muddy paws! You can mitigate snafus like this with research and the willingness to match your choice to your lifestyle.

Forgetting to measure dimensions

Measuring the space where your new sofa will go is vital, and it probably seems like common sense. But, you may be surprised to learn that this is a step that many shoppers forget to complete. Some shoppers get so excited about the process and the couches they fall in love with that they just completely skip over this important step. Don't let this happen to you! You don't want the delivery truck to come and drop off a couch that doesn't fit through the front door or is too small for your living room. 

Thoroughly measuring is vital to the shopping process, as having a sofa that's too big or too small is all too common of an occurrence when people invest in a new couch. The Spruce details how you can measure a sofa, reminding you to measure not only the width and height, but also the diagonal depth.

Buying an entire sofa set

Many buyers end up settling for an entire sofa set even though they may only like or want one piece of it. It's a common misconception that it's easier to go with the whole set, even if it's not exactly what you envisioned. But did you know you can buy the bigger couch without also purchasing the loveseat? Or vice versa? It's true — you have the power to choose what works for you and your home. 

If you're not in love with the whole set, don't force yourself to buy it that way. This is a big purchase, and you should get exactly what you want out of it. There is also an abundance of ways to mix and match one sofa with other pieces of furniture for one cohesive look. Scout & Nimble suggests starting by pinpointing a color palette for the room, then mixing different textures like leather and fabric to add dimension and contrasting arm styles to add designer-level variety. Have fun with it!

Forgetting to think about upholstery

Did you know that there are many different options for sofa upholstery out there? It's not all about how a sofa feels; it's also about how it's made! An abundance of shoppers fail to think about this during their quest, so don't let this happen to you. You want to understand what the fabric is like, how it can or cannot be cleaned, and how it will wear over time before you commit to it. 

Failing to do so could leave you disappointed in the long run, or inconvenienced when you can't easily spot clean your couch like you thought you could. Learning what fabrics will best match your needs can reduce a lot of frustration down the line. Houzz has a great guide to upholstery fabrics, so use it to familiarize yourself with the different options that exist. For example, cotton upholstery is easily dirtied, linen is resistant to piling and staining, synthetics are amazing at not staining but are known to pill, and nylon is incredibly strong and stain-resistant but susceptible to fading. You need to know the difference between each fabric to choose the one best for your lifestyle. 

Not considering cushioning or fill

Similar to upholstery, all cushioning or sofa filling is not created equally. You'll want to look into the different options here and consider what filling is best suited to your tastes and furniture needs. You'll likely be surprised by how many different types of filler can exist inside of a couch cushion. Goose or duck feather down, fiberfill, foam, or spring coil are the options that Apartment Therapy lists on their informative couch buying guide. This is important because it determines not only how your couch will feel when you sit on it, but also part of its upkeep and lifespan. 

There are pros and cons to each filling. For instance, while goose or duck feather down is considered the plushest option, you'll have to rotate and fluff these cushions more frequently to help them maintain their shape over time. With that being said, take the time to learn the ins and outs of these options to see what suits you best.

Choosing the wrong shape or type of couch

Sectional, sleeper, or loveseat — oh my! There are so many different types and shapes of couches out there, which many people don't realize until they begin their search for the perfect couch. Home Stratosphere goes deep into the options on the market, listing 25 different kinds and the history of some of them, too. This rabbit hole is worth falling down, though, because not going through all your options and considering what shape will fit best in your space is a big miss. 

By just glancing through the different shapes and types of couches, you'll immediately recognize that they each have a distinct look and feel that can transform your space one way or the other. For example, there is the elegant chesterfield sofa known for its tufted, rounded back, and the English rolled arm sofa, which has a tall plush back and squat, rolled arms. Then there is the cabriole, whose arms and back are the same height and curve inward, and the midcentury modern couch, influenced by 1950s design. Researching and deciding on the type of sofa you want will help you get the most out of this important piece of furniture!

Not taking it for a test drive

Taking your sofa for a test drive is a must before you pull the trigger on making the purchase. Many people aren't doing this now because they're shopping online, but you can learn a lot by taking a moment to sit on your potential couch, or at least one like it. One way to do this is by going to a local furniture store and test driving what they have in their showroom to get a sense of your tastes, even if you ultimately end up ordering your new couch online.  

House Beautiful lists this as one of the most important considerations before you sign on the dotted line for your new sofa, and for good reason! Being sure about the style, feel, look, and comfort will put your mind at ease. Plus, it can help you weigh whether or not it meets your lounging needs. You might not know whether two people can comfortably lounge on it until you see the cushions in person. "For example, if there are two of you and you both like to sit with your legs up, then check that the sofa is deep enough to accommodate you both. Or consider a chaise end or recliner sofa," said Sarah Humphreys, Senior Buyer at DFS. "If you prefer to lie down on your sofa, make sure that it's long enough for you to stretch out. Taller people may also like to consider a sofa with a higher back."

Skimping on quality

You're going to be sitting on your couch a lot, so you want it to be of excellent quality. That's what will allow it to stand the test of time. But it's also something that many people tend to skimp out on, which only leads to regret. Don't let a lower price tag allure you — remember that you get what you pay for! You want your couch to be comfortable and high quality, so be sure to make a sound investment in this important piece of furniture. 

Because of that, you may want to consider investing in a trusted brand for this piece of furniture. Living Cozy shares some of the best sofa brands that are worth exploring as you search for your perfect new place to lounge, such as Maiden Home, Allform, and Floyd. It pays to research a brand before buying and to check out the construction and materials of the couch to understand whether it's of good quality.

Not mapping out your budget

Couches certainly run the gamut when it comes to price range. Going into the purchasing process without having a general idea of your budget can make the search more overwhelming and drawn out. Plus, it may end up becoming frustrating if you continuously end up falling in love with couches that are simply too expensive for your budget. When you know your budget from the start, you can set your search filters to match it to avoid that issue completely. And don't worry if you have your heart set on spending less on a couch — there's something out there to match every price range. 

If you find your dream couch and it's out of your budget, you could always search for dupes for that model that come at a more feasible price point. The Balance has a handy checklist for furnishing not only your living area on a budget but your whole home. It includes waiting for seasonal sales, shopping secondhand, and focusing on quality over quantity, which means spending more on a quality couch and skipping the matching loveseat. 

Making an impulse purchase

Are you prone to impulse buying? This is definitely something to look out for when buying a new sofa! Purchasing a couch on an impulse happens, but it's usually somewhat of a mistake. Again, this is a piece of furniture you'll be using all the time. With that being said, you want to put the right time, thought, and care into selecting this important piece of furniture. You may be tempted to rush through the process, but it will pay off way more in the long run to take your time with the decision. 

RisMedia explains the risks of buying furniture and decor pieces on impulse. It's not only bad for your wallet! It could also put a wrinkle into the overall look and feel of your home. The dimensions might not match the room's proportions, your decor could clash with the vibe of the couch, and you might not be able to return it. Don't let that happen to you, and don't end up with buyer's remorse. You can easily avoid that by doing the research and thinking it through before submitting your order. "Walk away for at least a day, and then decide if you still want it before you buy it," Jeffrey Weldler, interior decorating expert at Vänt Wall Panels, told U.S. News.

Not taking advantage of furniture sales

It's not always possible to line up your couch purchasing needs with a big furniture sale, but if you're able to, it's a great thing to take advantage of. Remember all of those somewhat pesky sales emails and flyers you receive around long holiday weekends? Well, now may be the time to start paying closer attention to them! These sales could be key to significant savings on your new couch. Get more for less and tap into these sales to save some serious dough. You may even have money in your budget leftover for added accents, like throw pillows or end tables. 

Conveniently, NerdWallet dedicated an entire post about the best times of the year to buy furniture from a financial perspective. Since new furniture collections drop biannually, you will find the most deals during the summer and winter months, when stores are clearing stock. If you can, line up your purchase with a big sale and you'll love seeing the slashed price of your new couch. It'll make it that much sweeter to sink into on a lazy day!

Going with the opinions of others

While it's a nice idea to get the opinions of loved ones on your couch search, you want to make sure that you're choosing for yourself and not them. Ultimately, weigh their opinions against your own and go with what feels right for you. In fact, your couch search is the perfect chance to tap into your interior design style to figure out what you want the look and feel of your home to be and find a couch that complements that desire. 

To do so, Curbed recommends narrowing down keywords to capture your style, looking to Pinterest for room inspiration using those keywords, analyzing bars, celebrity houses, and restaurants you love to pick out common themes that attract you, and narrowing down colors and patterns. But most importantly, trust your gut. Your style is inside you. "It's there: You are the person making the decision," Alex Kalita, founder of Common Bond Design, told Curbed, "As you solve the functional challenges of your space, of course you're going to choose things that you like."

Once you do this and buy a couch that aligns with those preferences, you'll start loving your space even more, and it will truly feel like your home. Don't let the ideas and preferences of others take that away from you!

Being careless about color

When you're shopping in person or see a couch online in a virtual showroom, the color will look a lot different there than it will in your own space. Colors that look muted in a showroom may look overpowering in your living room and vice versa. For that reason, you'll want to pay attention to what couch color is best suited for your space. You can even get a color swatch to view in your home to verify if the color is really right for the look you're going for. 

In fact, it may be a good idea to use this shopping experience to really zero in on a color palette that works for your living area. The Spruce has a solid guide to choosing a sofa color, which you can use as a jumping off point for deciding what accent colors to blend in with the space. This includes zeroing on whether you want a light or dark sofa, considering the flooring color, and weighing whether you want a neutral or bold fabric color. Doing this could completely transform your living room in the best way.