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Couch Shopping
Get ready to sit back and relax. / Marc Leon/Getty Images

Not only does your couch anchor the look of your room, but it also fulfills a number of practical demands. Given all you need this piece of furniture to do, it can be an intimidating purchase — but it doesn’t have to be. Tom Delevan, editorial director of, offers tips to buying a couch with confidence.

Think timeless, not trendy

Delevan recommends styles like tuxedo (the height of the back and depth of the seat are the same); Bridgewater (an English style with loose seat cushions and turned legs); sectional (ideal for family rooms); and standard roll arm (elegant and comfortable).

Focus on how you'll use it

“Ask yourself: ‘Am I going to be eating on this couch? Are my kids and dogs going to be using it?’” If your couch will sit in a high-traffic area, Delevan suggests durable fabrics in dark colors, such as mohair velvet or microsuede. Indoor-outdoor fabrics, such as Sunbrella, are a smart solution to rough-and-tumble living.

Get comfy

Couches with loose back and seat cushions made with 100% or partial down are the most comfortable. If you know you are going to use your couch for quick snoozes (or a full eight hours), Delevan suggests one with a long base cushion. (He does not recommend convertible couches.)

Mock up the measurements

Find a couch or a chair you find cozy and measure the depth of the seat. When shopping online, use that measurement as a guide.

After you’ve found a couch you like, map its measurements out on your floor with masking tape, which will take the guesswork out of whether it’s the right size for your room. And most important, measure the doorways through which the couch will have to fit. “If the height of the back or the depth of the seat are wider than your narrowest door, you are going to have a problem,” he says.

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