Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

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financeidiot
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Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by financeidiot » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:51 am

Hi all!

I've read the prior posts here on couch advice but I'd love to get some thoughts as to how you would approach buying your first couch. There's too many decisions, brands, and methods of purchase and I'm in analysis paralysis.

Here's my situation:
1. Don't have a car.
2. Renter (expect to move from current apt in 3-5 years), so whatever I buy has to be durable enough to move in the future.
3. Have a girlfriend who lives with me but not we're married.
4. The goal of the couch is to have a comfortable place for both of us to sit, watch tv, and work on the computer.
5. The apartment is of good size (1,000 sq. ft) but has small doors (no huge couches or anything).
6. Would prefer to spend $1,000 or less but could be convinced otherwise.

I've looked at Craigslist, but if you factor in the cost and stress of getting a UHaul and picking up a couch myself, it starts approaching the cost of a new couch. In an ideal world, I would go to a store/go online, order a couch, and have all of the decisions made in one day.

I want to know how you all would go about buying your first couch. Specifically:
1. Where can I get a comfortable couch, with delivery, of good enough quality?
2. Would you buy a couch online?
3. How much should I expect to spend?
4. What brands are acceptable?
5. Would you ever consider a futon to primarily use as a couch? I like the idea of being able to break down the couch into smaller pieces, but not if it's uncomfortable.

jehovasfitness
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by jehovasfitness » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:03 am

LoveSac hands down.

Modular so you can buy as many or little as you like, and add on later. And you can configure them many different ways to suit your needs and living space.

We've had ours for 7 yrs now and no problems out of it. You can even change the cover pattern/colors (though pricey).

We have/had 3 large dogs and it's held up well.

We had ours shipped since we got like 6 pieces, but the boxes they come in can be transported in an SUV or small car/hatchback.
Last edited by jehovasfitness on Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:05 am, edited 2 times in total.

jehovasfitness
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by jehovasfitness » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:04 am

www.lovesac.com

They do go on sale, so I'd wait on that.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by adamthesmythe » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:18 am

The only way to know if it will be comfortable is to sit in it in the store.

In that price range consider department store furniture (ideally on sale) or even Ikea (but don't expect it to stay looking good forever).

You can get it delivered. Usually getting it in the door is not the problem. Getting it up stairs or around corners might be.

bloom2708
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by bloom2708 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:22 am

You will be pretty limited by the budget. That is OK. Find something in the color/style/comfort/price range that you can use as a "starter" couch.

No reason to buy "forever" furniture. I'm not even sure that exists.

If you have a Scan Design in your area, they have some awesome furniture. Some is very expensive, but they usually have reasonable options in a variety of price ranges.

https://www.scan-design.com/furniture/seating/sofas/
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead

caffeinefree
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by caffeinefree » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:26 am

Do you have an IKEA anywhere near you? As much as folks like to complain about the quality of IKEA furniture, as a longtime renter I've had nothing but good experiences with it. In particular, the Ektorp sectional that I bought 7 years ago has held up amazingly well. The biggest positives, in my opinion:

- It's priced competitively.
- It's comfortable.
- The cushion covers/slipcover are washable and replaceable (very important for me, since I own two cats).
- The frame breaks into 3 relatively lightweight pieces that make moving it extremely easy. (I just moved again this past weekend, and my "helpers" were surprised and relieved to find how easily it came apart and moved.)

I was recently considering whether I wanted to replace it, since it was starting to get a little worn - however with a little ingenuity, I was able to re-dye the covers to a navy blue and buy a couple bags of cushion filler to re-fluff the cushions and it's like a new couch! I expect to get 10+ years out of my initial $900 investment.

Note that even if you don't have a local IKEA, you can buy online and pay for delivery.

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luminous
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by luminous » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:31 am

I’m also a renter and had to unexpectedly give a couch to a friend once because it wouldn’t fit up the stairs to an apartment. I then bought an $800 couch from CB2 that we still have 9 years later.

I concur with the modular idea, if they are to your liking.

Delivery feels expensive but I say just factor it into the budget and get it delivered.
45/25/30 US stock/international stock/bonds. Target date funds. Hope to semi-retire in 2026.

miles monroe
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by miles monroe » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:47 am

i'd check costco both in store and online.

and while i'm not a fan of ikea furniture given your circumstances i'd check them out as others have suggested.

ThriftyPhD
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by ThriftyPhD » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:52 am

Buy a futon with a solid wood or metal frame that can be easily disassembled and reassembled. Then if it has a thin mattress, spring for a nice thick inner coil mattress replacement. It will be more comfortable than most couches, can double as a bed which is great for smaller apartments, and can be fully disassembled to make moving easier. Don't buy a couch until you get a house and are then 'all in' on furniture.

alex_686
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by alex_686 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:55 am

caffeinefree wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:26 am
Do you have an IKEA anywhere near you? As much as folks like to complain about the quality of IKEA furniture, as a longtime renter I've had nothing but good experiences with it.
I too will second Ikea. For their price they offer excellent value.

miamivice
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by miamivice » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:56 am

financeidiot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:51 am

I've looked at Craigslist, but if you factor in the cost and stress of getting a UHaul and picking up a couch myself, it starts approaching the cost of a new couch.
Just as a comment about that, I've started selling stuff on Craigslist, and it appears that one of the new trends is to ask the seller to deliver it. While I don't care for this as a seller, it seems that many potential buyers have no issue saying that they'll buy it if I deliver it.

miamivice
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by miamivice » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:57 am

miles monroe wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:47 am
i'd check costco both in store and online.
Costco furniture is very expensive. While it is probably high quality and probably cheaper than buying it at Nordstrom's, I wouldn't think of Costco furniture as appropriate for a rental. And if I had a known move in the future, I certainly wouldn't drop significant change on a nice sofa since so much gets damaged when one moves.

Also, most Costco furniture that I have seen is designed for larger homes rather than apartments. It's a bit "heavy" (dark colors) and often times their furniture is physically larger than would be suitable for an apartment.

bungalow10
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by bungalow10 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:05 am

Costco furniture is crap. I've purchased two couches, neither lasted beyond four years, a patio set (two years - returned it), and my kids bedroom furniture (finish looks horrible).

I am buying two couches when returning to the US in a few weeks... IKEA. I've started shopping here in Europe and love the dining room table we bought and the wardrobes are really nice.

IKEA also delivers for just $29!!!!!!!

edit - the couches I'm buying are both Stockholm - the gray velvet and the camel leather.
Last edited by bungalow10 on Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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LiterallyIronic
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by LiterallyIronic » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:08 am

$1,000 is a pretty high budget, so you should be able to get something nice. I would only buy something from a local brick-and-mortar, like RC Willey or wherever, so you can sit on it before you buy. They'll probably be able to deliver it as well.

When my wife and I were buying our first (and so far only) couch, we wanted it long enough that I (the taller of the two of us) could lay on it, but also light enough that the two of us could carry it. I noticed you mentioned you wanted to both be able to sit on it, but I wasn't sure if you had considered that you may want to lay on it. I know I like laying on mine.

jminv
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by jminv » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:10 am

If you have an IKEA near you, then check them out. Even if you don't, they have (somewhat expensive depending how far you are from one) delivery available on online orders. Even with the delivery costs it can be less expensive than buying at a local furniture store. I bought two sofas once from them and was 7 hours away by truck. Delivery costs included, it was still cheaper than any other option at the time. I liked one of the sofas more than the other though, problem with not trying out first. Lots of reviews though now so can avoid this issue somewhat. This goes for ordering furniture online in general - you might not like it in person.

Online I would go with:
CB2: to fit your budget check the sale section. I owned CB2 furniture and accessories and was very happy with it.
Costco: Items in your price range don't look so nice though.
Sam's Club: I've bought furniture and other large things from them and delivery was fine, no problems. They have better quality sofas within your price range.

Make sure whatever you buy will fit through your front door! This can be a problem in some old apartments. Had this happen to a relative. Sofa entered the house through a window and a fire escape. When relative moved it was during an ice storm - sofa stayed inside apartment as did the deposit.
Last edited by jminv on Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

stimulacra
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by stimulacra » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:11 am

IKEA for couches if you're on a budget. I would look at swapping the feet or legs out to make it look less basic. You can google “IKEA hacks” for the myriad ways people use IKEA products as a cheap canvas for some custom furniture hacks. Once you go into the mid-tier products the quality goes way above post-college particle board stuff.

If you got some extra $$ to work with I've had great luck with Crate and Barrel for key pieces that look very cozy and modern. Decent selection of upholstery and configurations, professional delivery service.

Overstock is another option but you have to gamble a bit with the online-only aspect. I had a friend that furnished his entire home via Overstock, he just measured the spaces he needed to fill with furniture and ordered things to fit (he only uses the bedroom, master bath and living room day-to-day, the rest of it is showroom clean unless he has friends over)

FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish » Fri Feb 23, 2018 11:12 am

I recommend you two spend a day going to every furniture store in your area. (Hopefully you live near a few) I expect you'll find something comfy for less than $1,000 including delivery charge. I did that ten years ago and found a leather couch for $500 that I still have today.

I'd be very hesitant to get a used couch be it Craigslist or consignment. With Craigslist, you'll probably spend too much time looking for something decent. With consignment, I've found that it's never enough of a markdown to justify the used factor and lack of choice. The only reason I can see going used is if I can get a $6,000 + couch for $2,000 or less. With your budget, I don't see a benefit to going used.

Here are my answers to your specific questions:
1) To determine comfort, you're going to have to sit in it before you buy. With furniture, it's very difficult to determine quality of build, especially in the budget category. I think as long as you go to a proper furniture store, whatever you get won't fall apart within a couple years.
2) I would be hesitant to buy a couch online, but I could be swayed with reviews and a generous return policy.
3) I think your budget of $1000 is more than reasonable for a first couch. This puts you well above cheap and entry level couches. You can probably get something nice for around $700.
4) When it comes to furniture I associate brand names with super high end products. With your budget, recognizable brand names are IKEA and other online retailers. I don't consider brands when shopping at local furniture stores. This makes it difficult to do an objective analysis. You just gotta find something you like and go for it.
5) no no no no no - you have a very good budget at $1000! Get a grown up couch!

Good luck...your first couch is a big deal even though it's generally not considered a milestone like a first apartment, first car, or first house.

ThriftyPhD
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by ThriftyPhD » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:18 pm

financeidiot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:51 am
5. Would you ever consider a futon to primarily use as a couch? I like the idea of being able to break down the couch into smaller pieces, but not if it's uncomfortable.
ThriftyPhD wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:52 am
Buy a futon with a solid wood or metal frame that can be easily disassembled and reassembled. Then if it has a thin mattress, spring for a nice thick inner coil mattress replacement. It will be more comfortable than most couches, can double as a bed which is great for smaller apartments, and can be fully disassembled to make moving easier. Don't buy a couch until you get a house and are then 'all in' on furniture.
Heh, I missed your actual question when I gave my answer. So just to make it clear, YES, going with a futon is a superb option compared to a couch, especially if you know you're going to be moving. These have a bad reputation for being uncomfortable, but that's because the mattress they come with is usually cheap and thin. You can buy a thick innerspring replacement mattress, shipped to your door, for under $200. It will be more comfortable to sit on than most couches you can buy.

We have futons and have no plans on getting rid of them. One has been through over 6 moves and 4 states and is still rock solid. We upgraded the thin mattress with an 8" inner spring and it's great to sit on and is very comfortable to sleep as well. They disassemble to various degrees. You can simply take the mattress off, which makes it easy to move the frame short distances. If you're actually packing up and moving, you can disassemble it down to individual parts in under 10 minutes with a hex wrench. Then each part is small and light, easy to pack. Make sure to have a ziploc bag to store all the parts in.

Another benefit is you can get completely enclosed mattress covers to keep over the mattress. Then you don't have to worry as much about spills, as the mattress cover can be water proof and then go into the wash as needed.

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Toons
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by Toons » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:27 pm

I would shop Amazon,
Have it delivered,
Set Up.
:happy
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anonenigma
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by anonenigma » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:28 pm

Try sale and clearance at Macy's, which may have free or reasonably priced delivery in your area:

https://www.macys.com/shop/furniture/co ... t?id=35419

armeliusc
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by armeliusc » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:33 pm

Our first sofa (for an apartment) probably cost about $400 or so (can't remember) from a local furniture / warehouse-style store with delivery. It's twelve years later and we still watch TV on it and I sometime take naps in it on Saturday afternoon.

When we moved to a house we got another sofa for living rooms from Rooms To Go and it costs about $700 something and it looks good and comfortable. We were also looking at IKEA's but DW didn't find the style / color that she liked. I would probably just have gotten one from IKEA in a half an hour or so. But as we say, I deal with the 'functionality' and DW with the 'aesthetic', so this was her department.

I wouldn't overthink this. This should not be a huge decision or a make-or-break financial decision. I don't know anything about sofa brands. But $1000 is more than enough budget. I wasn't necessarily looking for "forever sofa" but the one we have held up (with kids!) quite a while. I would rather buy new and not worry about Craigslist for the kind of price range (plus the hassle, etc).

kaudrey
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by kaudrey » Fri Feb 23, 2018 1:34 pm

Read Yelp reviews on local furniture stores; visit local furniture stores; sit on couches; buy one and have it delivered. Don't overthink this - just go find one you like!

inbox788
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by inbox788 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:00 pm

I came across this idea in one of the other threads here. Looks interesting, though haven't tried them myself. Main advantage is modular and movable.

https://www.homereserve.com/features#ups

Exafchick
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by Exafchick » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:12 pm

I bought a living room set from Rooms to Go over 15 years ago and still have it! I did have the cushions replaced with something a bit firmer, mostly because my mom had trouble standing up from a sitting position so wanted to try and make it easier for her. Very reasonably priced too!

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lthenderson
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by lthenderson » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:15 pm

financeidiot wrote:
Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:51 am

Here's my situation:
1. Don't have a car.
2. Renter (expect to move from current apt in 3-5 years), so whatever I buy has to be durable enough to move in the future.
3. Have a girlfriend who lives with me but not we're married.
4. The goal of the couch is to have a comfortable place for both of us to sit, watch tv, and work on the computer.
5. The apartment is of good size (1,000 sq. ft) but has small doors (no huge couches or anything).
6. Would prefer to spend $1,000 or less but could be convinced otherwise.

I want to know how you all would go about buying your first couch. Specifically:
1. Where can I get a comfortable couch, with delivery, of good enough quality?
2. Would you buy a couch online?
3. How much should I expect to spend?
4. What brands are acceptable?
5. Would you ever consider a futon to primarily use as a couch? I like the idea of being able to break down the couch into smaller pieces, but not if it's uncomfortable.
In your situation, I certainly wouldn't be looking to buy a couch that you will have ten years from now. For starters, your next apartment/house will most likely be laid out differently and your couch that fit your current apartment perfectly might not work so well in the next place. Also, once you get married and get more furniture, spouses like to dictate patterns/colors to make everything mesh. The couch that matches the rest of your apartment furniture is almost guaranteed to not work at the new place down the road.

1 & 2: For your situation, I would go get a couch at the local furniture store during their Memorial Day blowout because their President's Day blowout is probably over with now. Do the old butt test by sitting in a few in your price range and then arrange them to have it delivered. Many offer free delivery and haul off the old furniture during their sales.

3 & 4: I would spend just enough to get something comfortable that will last you the 3 to 5 years you foresee in your current place.

5: I have sat on a lot of futons and they all have one thing in common, they aren't as comfortable as a couch. They are designed to be a compromise between a couch and a bed and aren't very good at either in my opinion. Our futon is essentially a pillow holder until we need a makeshift bed because all the others are full.

tryterry
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by tryterry » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:53 pm

Ikea couches are decent but take a while to break in

sbaywriter
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by sbaywriter » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:56 pm

If you are young, you can probably get best deal with ordering online. Older people like me have back issues that require test drive.

I would check out a few local furniture stores first. If you find several you like in store you could note details like: height of back, depth of seat , height of top of seat cushion from the floor, since these would help determine what is comfortable for you. I've just started sofa shopping. My old sofa that I gave away when moving across country had detachable back cushions so you could easily sleep on it by removing the back cushions. The new trend in sofas under $1000 (which is where I'm looking) seems to be to have attached back cushions, which makes it too narrow to use as spare bed. I suspect cheaper to manufacture. I found a bunch of comfortable sofas with these attached cushions at LazyBoy for around $700-800 on sale. You can choose the fabric for these sofas.

If you buy in a store, buy on sale or negotiate - you should be able to get 25-30 percent off.

financeidiot
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Re: Help! Buying my first sofa/couch

Post by financeidiot » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:57 pm

Thanks, all!

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