When shopping for a sofa, it can be easy to focus on design without considering comfort. It's helpful to imagine how you want to use your new furniture—and if your vision includes long, cozy lounge sessions, movie night hosting, or collapsing into a good midday snooze, there are a few things to consider. We've been doing this for a while (15+ years!) so, we've done the research and put it all together for you. Read on friends.
Rule 1: Start with the right sofa seat depth for you
Finding the right seat depth starts with thinking about how you like to sit. Do you mostly sit with your feet on the floor, or do you like to tuck your legs in?
If you like to sit upright, you'll likely respond well to a seat depth that supports your thighs, keeps your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and allows your feet to comfortably touch the floor. For a person between 5'4 and 5'10, a seat depth of 21" to 22" will allow plenty of clearance between the legs and the front edge of the seat. For a taller person, a seat depth of 23" to 25" is a good option, and for a smaller person, a seat depth of about 20" could work well.
If you like to curl up rather than sit straight, you'll benefit from some extra room—a deep sofa would be a great choice here. You can start by adding a few inches to the standard measurements listed above; if you plan to add a lot of accent pillows, you can go a little deeper and factor that extra support in. Depending on what you're looking for, you might also consider opting for a sectional over a sofa to give yourself more space.
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Rule 2: Consider your sofa seat height and filling
When a sofa's seat height is really off, taller folks can feel as though they are simply squatting instead of sitting, while those on the shorter side might find their legs dangling above the floor.
A general rule is that the deeper the seat depth, the lower the seat height needs to be and vice versa. Seat heights on modern comfortable couches can vary, but a standard range is typically between 15" and 20" from the floor to the top of the cushion, with an average range falling between 17" to 18".
High-resilience foams are quite common and known for their comfort and durability. At Medley we use materials that are good for you and good for the planet, including both poly foam certified by CertiPUR-US® (the cleanest synthetic choice on the market) and GOALS certified organic natural Dunlop latex. Down and wool filling are also popular for creating a more relaxed look.
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Keep in mind that if you choose a down filling for your seat cushion, you might sink a little more than a straight foam cushion. Also, note that the down filling may shift (which is totally normal!) and the cushions will need to be fluffed on occasion to keep their shape. Check that your sofa cushions are constructed with baffling, which helps regulate the movement of the down filling to keep it in place under you.
If you need extra back support or prefer sitting up, a sofa that features a tight back and firm cushions would be an excellent option. On the flip side, you might like looser back cushions that you can shift around for support if you'll use your sofa to recline and take naps.
Rule 3: Focus on length to lounge the way you like
If you plan to recline on your sofa regularly, you might consider opting for a 3-seat couch over a 2-seat couch.
A typical length for a 3-seat sofa is about 7 feet, or 84 inches, but you can go longer or shorter depending on how much you want to stretch out and how tall you are.
Rule 4: Consider back height for support and style
The ideal back height for your sofa will again depend on your own height. If you plan to place a tv in front of the sofa, consider if you'd like to have a head rest. A typical back height for the most comfortable couch generally ranges from 26” to 32”, with taller people usually finding a higher back to feel more supportive.
In addition to impacting how comfortable your sofa feels to you, the back height will impact how comfortable the furniture feels in your space. If you have standard 8’ ceilings, consider how a higher-profile sofa with a tall back might feel in your room versus a low-profile piece. It all depends on your preferences and how much space you have to work with.
Rule 5: To recline or not to recline? Consider the back pitch angle
Pitch sofas (aka sofas with slightly angled backs) are excellent if you mostly use your sofa to recline. You can still sit up straight on this type of couch with throw pillows, however a sofa with a straight back is potentially a better choice for you if you have back problems or simply prefer a more vertical seat.
Look at you! You've reached the end of our five tips. You're going to be a pro at picking out the most comfy sofa or sectional now, but if you need more advice, you can chat with one of our furniture stylists to order exactly what you need.
We can also customize your couch to make sure that it's the best match. With a sofa built to your specifications, you'll feel confident knowing that it fits just right for you and your space.
Get started by ordering free fabric swatches—from cozy velvets to crisp organic cottons, you'll make your vision of comfort all the more real.