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Living Space: 6 can’t fail sofa buying tips

By Kathryn Weber
Tribune Media Services

(Kathryn Weber is on vacation this week. In her absence, we are offering a classic column originally published June 21, 2011.)

Buying a sofa can mean a big investment, so before you head out to shop, consider these tips so you not only get a bargain, but a good buy.

1 Take measurements: The last thing you want is a sofa that’s over- or under-sized for the room. Start by measuring your room. Make a drawing, noting doors and windows, and bring it with you. Most furniture stores have onsite decorators who can put your dimensions into a computer and show you just what your new sofa would look like in the room and if it will fit.

2 Photograph your room and bring the picture with you as you shop: Even a digital photo on your phone is a big help in remembering important details about the room. Better yet, you can show it to the store’s interior designer for input.

3 Ask for a designer: Furniture stores, from large national chains to locally owned shops, often have designers on staff to help you make a selection. Rather than relying on a sales person, a designer can offer considerations and ideas you might not have thought of to help you make a more informed purchase.

4 Give it the Goldilocks test: Size matters, and when it comes to sofas, there’s more to size than length. Size also refers to the size and pitch of the seating. Check that seat cushions aren’t so deep that your feet are off the floor, making you feel like a little kid and your petite guests uncomfortable. Other sofas have backs with a pitch that causes those seated to lean far back, making them unsuitable for formal use, and possibly uncomfortable for guests with neck or back problems. Older family members may have trouble getting up from these sofas. You want to be sure, like Goldilocks, that the sofa you pick is “just right.”

5 Take it for a test drive: Once you’ve found a sofa you like and that fits in your room, it’s time for a test plop. Sit on it, lie on it and generally use it the way you’d use your existing couch. If the sofa is for watching TV, stretch out on it the way you would at home. If you’ve brought the kids along, have everyone sit on the sofa together.

6 Ask yourself, will it blend? To make sure the sofa will match your decor, use the photo you’ve brought along. Does it match the rest of your furniture? If you’re tempted to go with a large or wild pattern, remember that you’ll be living with that for a while, and it may turn stale. A smarter choice is to get a neutral sofa and use pattern in your wall coverings or cushions because you can change these elements more easily.

Weber: redlotusletter.com

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