When you’re in the market for a new sofa, all of the options available can make it challenging to figure out where to start. The “perfect” sofa can mean something different for just about everyone, and the process usually comes with many questions. After years of specifying sofas in all shapes and sizes, I am excited to share my style guide to help you find your perfect sofa.

couch and chairs great room high ceiling

There are countless details that can change the look and feel of a sofa - seat cushions, fabric, arm style, legs, nail heads, or welt cord! These are the things that create the wow factor but also functionality - so it’s important to get them right.

Of course as is the case with just about anything, more customization means a higher price tag. Below, we break down the top three things to consider.

cat on sofa arm

WHO'S INVITED?

For large families, empty nesters who love hosting their kids and grandkids, or those who enjoy having friends over for game days, sectionals are great for accommodating a large group. The downside is that they can start to feel a little boring, they don’t have as much dimension, and there is not a lot of opportunity to play with the arms and add character.

room with sectional sofa and wood accents

As an alternative, though, I much prefer two sofas facing each other in the same fabric or two different style sofas in a similar color hue. You get the best of both worlds here - if one person likes the roll arm and one person likes the stiff back, then you can have one of each. If the room is big enough, two additional chairs with a nice oversized coffee table will complete the look.

yellow chair details side by side

FORMAL OR CASUAL?

Living Rooms are typically more formal and dressed up while Great Rooms are more casual and dressed down. The more formal details to me are tufted cushions, dressmaker skirts, and decorative cording or trim. If you’re looking for something more casual, then look for sofas with bench cushions, exposed wooden legs, or large nail heads.

Renae Keller Interior Design Minneapolis Backyard

WHAT ABOUT THE CUSHION?

I approach sofa selection in each room differently, and I do this because every room often has its own purpose. My go to cushion type for a sofa is a bench cushion. This is one, long cushion along the sofa where you sit. I like it for a number of reasons…

  1. Allows for a more random seating pattern
  2. Better for napping or laying down
  3. Great for a den area and reading spot
  4. Can be casual or you can adorn the cushion with details. For example, consider adding a cording in a contrasting color for a bit more formality.
blue tufted couch in living room

If you can’t do a single bench cushion, go for the two cushions. Avoid a loveseat. Two people never end up sitting on those!

Renae Keller Interior Design Living Room

Lastly, if you have a sofa you love, then I recommend reupholstering it. This won’t save you money, but you know the sofa is comfortable and the right size for you and your family.

Even if it starts to sag in one area or the cushions are totally flat, the springs can be repaired and cushions can be re-stuffed. This is an investment that can last a long time with the right amount of care.

pink couch

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