Spring has sprung: we need a new couch!
October 3, 2016 5:26 PM   Subscribe

What do I need to know to purchase a good quality couch?

I'm not looking for something designer but would like to avoid discount or poor quality options. Help me learn all I need to know as I do not have time or energy to research. We will likely want to buy a sectional to replace our current couch and loveseat but are open to any ideas/thoughts/suggestions/advice.
posted by rglass to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
If anyone has respiratory problems, let me highly recommend leather over cloth upholstery.
posted by Michele in California at 5:28 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am also in the market for a new sectional, and have been pricing them out in the 4 or 5 grand range. However, my SO found these folks: Home Reserve dot com. They are half as costly on the average but you have to put it together yourself and unlike most traditional furniture dealers they won't take your old one away and make it vanish. We are pretty close to pulling the trigger- reviews seem to indicate that the product holds up well and putting together simple enough. Was actually going to post an askme to see if anyone has ordered from them, so thanks, I hope we both find our dreamcouch.
posted by vrakatar at 5:44 PM on October 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

We shopped endlessly and ended up with the leather sectional from ikea. You can hack to your hearts content (we did two chaises next to each other and then a long couch - oddly long room) and the leather and springs and padding have survived 6 years of rambunctious kids, 2 dogs, an international move, and me falling asleep nearly nightly on it.

Ikea stuff, when you buy the slightly higher end stuff is really very good. It was also 70% less than leather from anywhere else. Full disclosure, me and the chihuahua are getting dozy on the souther chaise right now.
posted by chasles at 5:53 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

We bought a Jonathan Louis sectional last year and it has held up really well. Around $1200 for the smallest possible configuration (one end piece, one middle piece, one chaise) in easy-care microfiber. It's custom-built in their LA factory so you can choose among a billion fabrics. Our light grey couch is still light grey after a year of the cat vomiting on it, that's my credential for easy-care. We wanted warm and cozy, hence ruled out leather, but I'm sure they offer it as an option too.
posted by serelliya at 6:24 PM on October 3, 2016

You might find some helpful advice in this recent ask. Including my recommendation to check out Macys for reasonably priced furniture.
posted by hydra77 at 9:14 PM on October 3, 2016

One of my previous answers might help. Two questions: what is your budget and what is your style? Some folks go into serious sticker shock when shopping for furniture, since the range can be enormous, depending on what you want. I would probably expect to spend something in the $4-6K range for a sectional, more for leather, but I tend to stick pretty middle of the road, and you could easily spend $10K for a really nice sectional.

A really good couch will cover most (but not necessarily all) of these criteria:
Heavy (try to pick it up; it also shouldn't wobble)
Kiln-dried (not that anyone will ever admit to making couches with green pine, but still)
Hardwood (named wood, like maple or oak is a big plus, but good quality plywood is also okay)
Solid joinery (Double-doweled, corner blocks = good! Staples = bad!)
Made in the U.S. (bonus: made in North Carolina!)
8-way hand-tied springs (this is the "gold standard", but other springs can be okay, depending)
Dense (i.e. heavy) foam (wrapped with batting is totally fine, but 100% down is WAY too much fluffing work)
Legs as part of frame (usually a sign of a good couch, but removable feet are also way easier to get through doors)
Tightly woven upholstery (synthetics are easier to clean, leather is near bombproof when properly maintained)
Cushions completely upholstered (so you can flip them over if needed)

BUT, my absolute #1 rule for couch shopping is to sit before buying. Sit on everything, even if you don't plan to buy it, because it will give your butt key insights into what you really want in a couch. This is sometimes a big pain, particularly if you're crunched for time, but there are a huge number of couches that look really great that are just awful to sit in. Floor models also give you a better sense of what a couch will feel like broken in, because a brand new couch usually takes a little while to settle into a proper couch-like slump.

If your taste runs to transitional or more contemporary designs, I recommend checking out Room and Board or even Crate and Barrel. These aren't the absolute highest quality, but I found them to have some of the best quality stuff readily available at the national chains. I believe Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams provide Crate and Barrel with a lot of their pieces, but I would assume the things they sell under their own name are even higher quality.

For more traditional styles, Stickley is generally pretty solid, but you'll have to find a local furniture store to hook you up.

A local independent furniture store is often a good idea anyway, since they usually carry a range of brands and can help tailor the selection to your space and can provide some interior decorating services. They also have access to a lot of trade designs the average consumer doesn't. A local store here hooked me up with a Bradington Young sofa, which I absolutely love, but would've never found on my own and probably would've written off as way too old-fashioned if I'd only looked at it online. But be warned that furniture salespeople can come across as hungry vultures, sometimes even worse than car salespeople.

Personally, I would not consider Ikea to be particularly high quality, although the more expensive stuff there is certainly much better than their cheap stuff. I mean, I have a lot of Ikea in my place, and I think it looks pretty good, but it's still Ikea.

Finally, if you are planning to ever move, consider a couch and loveseat combo instead of a sectional. I love sectionals, but they're much less flexible and difficult to fit into a space they weren't intended for. Salespeople will try to tell you that the modular nature of a sectional makes it more flexible, but I have never ever found that to be the case.
posted by Diagonalize at 9:31 AM on October 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

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