There are literally hundreds of online sofa outlets to choose from, so we’ve created this buying guide to help you figure out exactly what kind of couch you need and where you can find it before you buy. We narrowed down 80 popular online furniture sites and dedicated 160 hours to researching and reviewing the entire buyer experience to let you know exactly what you can expect. Additionally, we go into detail about which materials are good for long-term wear and tear, children and pets. All the couches we reviewed adhere to California’s TB 117-2013.
Buying a couch, or any furniture for that matter, is a nerve-racking experience, especially when you’re in a showroom with pushy salespeople hovering around, anxious for you to hurry and choose something so they can get their commission. Often the selection isn’t the best or budget-friendly, and when you do find a great piece, it may not be available right away. You are also locked into the fabric and color choices that are there in front of you, and you don’t have the option of customizing the sofa.
Buying a sofa online comes with a few risks, but many people find that it is a very economical option. Name-brand sofas can be bought for a fraction of the cost of the same items at brick-and-mortar furniture stores, and they are easier to customize to fit your home’s décor. You can also find more unique pieces of furniture, including sleeper sofas, sectionals and settees, especially if you buy directly from the designer’s website. Sofas you buy online typically come with a full year refund policy and a warranty that lasts 10 or more years, the typical lifetime of a quality-built sofa.
Best Online Sofas
Wayfair is by far the best place to shop for a sofa online. It has over 8,000 name-brand sofas in a variety of styles that are ready to ship. Available brands include Serta, Ashley, AllModern and Lay-Z-Boy. Chances are if you see something you like in a showroom, you can buy it from Wayfair for a fraction of the price. In addition, you can customize many of the sofas with different types of fabrics in different colors – some popular options include white leather and gray fabrics. When you order from Wayfair, your sofa arrives in pieces and you must assemble them yourself, which can be daunting – the time it takes to put a couch together and how it looks in the end depends on the product itself and how handy you are.
The Serta Franklin Sofa is one of Wayfair’s bestselling couches with hundreds of positive reviews and high customer ratings. This sofa is made from a cotton polyester blend that follows California’s TB 117-2013 requirements and has ECO friendly foam filling that doesn’t hold indentions after you stand up. The sofa is sturdy enough to withstand long-term use and can comfortably seat three or more adults. The Serta Franklin comes in two colors and ships quickly since it is usually in stock. The design is very classic and goes with many décor styles.
Best Apartment Sofas
Sofas come in a variety of lengths. Standard sofas range between 80 and 90 inches and typically seat a minimum of three adults. However, many living rooms have limited space, making a small couch more practical. Compact sofas range between 70 and 80 inches in length, while mini sofas are as small as 55 inches long. However, you don’t need to sacrifice quality, comfort and style just because you need a smaller sofa.
Crate and Barrel has a big selection of sofas for nearly any type of room. Most pieces have several different fabric and leg finish options, so you can have a true custom sofa. Crate and Barrel delivers your sofa fully assembled. Additionally, the company has complementary décor pieces that go well with your apartment or home and an Ideas & Advice section to help you decide on the perfect accessories.
The Davis Apartment Sofa from Crate & Barrel is only 70 inches long, making it a perfect option for small living rooms with limited space. It is made to order with your choice of 18 fabric options. Customers rate the Davis Apartment Sofa as one of the best for quality and comfort, with many buyers stating that their sofas have lasted years without showing signs of pilling, fading or lumpiness. The fabric is easy to maintain and clean up spills on, so it's a good choice for people with children or those who entertain a lot.
Another good option for apartment dwellers in need of a compact or mini sofa is Article. Article’s sofas are comparable to Crate & Barrel’s in quality, style and price. Article has some neat options for sectional sofas, including smaller models that fit well in a small living room space.
Best Sleeper Sofas
If you have overnight guests often, or perhaps you have a small enough apartment that you can’t fit both a sofa and a bed, a sleeper sofa may be a good choice.
Pottery Barn has several of its most popular sofa designs available online, including sleeper sofas. The company makes its furniture using flame-retardant fabrics and kiln-dried wood to create high-quality sofas that are stylish and comfortable. Pottery Barn offers free interior design services to help you find furniture that works with your home, style and budget. The furniture comes in pieces that require assembly. However, Pottery Barn does offer its white glove delivery service. The delivery guys will assemble and place your sleeper sofa where you want it then remove all the packaging material, leaving you with a new couch and zero mess.
The SoMa Brady Sleeper is the most popular sleeper sofa offered by Pottery Barn. The slipcover is made of durable fabric that adheres to California’s flame retardant laws. The bench cushions fold out into a mattress, and there is a foam mattress that is sold separately you can place on top to make it more comfortable. Still, users report that the sleeper sofa is comfortable even without the extra mattress. The couch itself is over 78 inches long, and when folded out, the sleeper is 65.5 inches long, which is about 3 inches shorter than a standard queen-size bed. Pottery Barn offers replacement slipcovers and cushions for the SoMa Brady sleeper sofa in case you ever have a need to change yours out.
Interior Define is another good place to find sleeper sofas. It has three sleeper models, but each has between 12 and 66 different fabric options, so your sofa is custom made to fit your decorating style. The company offers free delivery on several furniture pieces, and its white glove service ensures that your sofa is correctly assembled and setup in your home once it is delivered. Interior Define has only been in business for three years, so there isn’t a lot of history or customer feedback just yet, but those that have rated their purchases say they are happy with the overall quality and comfort of Interior Define’s sleeper sofas.
Best Custom Sofas
One of the things that impressed us about west elm’s custom sofa services is not only do you have several color and fabric options, but you can also choose between patterns if you are not into the solid color trend. west elm also has several color options such as navy, red, turquoise and silver. This means you’re not limited to the neutral palette that is in now or the typical custom sofa options offered by other online sofa outlets. While the couch will need assembling, west elm has a white glove delivery service that will ensure your custom sofa is assembled and set up in the room of your choice.
The Henry sofa is an impressive 86 inches long, so it can comfortably hold an adult who needs a place to temporarily crash, even though it isn’t a sleeper sofa. West Elm has three popular fabric options available and in stock, so you receive your custom sofa within a few weeks. If you want a bolder fabric style or color, West Elm can build your Henry sofa from scratch and deliver, assemble and set it up in your home. The Henry sofa comes in other lengths as well, so you can enjoy a stylish, custom sofa if your living room space is a bit smaller or if you need a bigger model to expand your seating options.
Joybird is another online sofa outlet that specializes in custom sofas. Though it hasn’t been around for very long, Joybird has over 50 sofa styles to choose from. After you choose a style, the site walks you through the customization process. The couches can only be upholstered in leather or a softer fabric, but there are several color options. You can also choose a wood stain finish if your sofa has exposed legs. One big drawback is that even though there are several fabric options in stock, it takes seven or more weeks for Joybird to make your couch and send it to you. You can customize your sofa’s fabric and color even further, but it will take even longer to get to you.
Best Trendy Sofas
While clean lines in neutral colors are currently trendy, European-influenced décor is also considered quite fashionable. One Kings Lane sells furniture and accessories in both styles in its online store. It also has a nice selection of settees in stylish, busy patterns that go well with more subdued accents around the room. One Kings Lane’s settees and sofas are high quality, comfortable and reasonably priced. Some of them come unassembled and you have to pay for the company’s white glove delivery service to have someone else set up your sofa when it is delivered.
The Nicolette Settee from One Kings Lane is a hot and trendy sofa, especially in the unique leopard blue fabric print. The Nicolette Settee is 51 inches long, so fits in a small living room, sitting room or apartment, but it can also be used for additional seating in a larger space and complements many standard sofa styles. It doesn’t come assembled, but One King Lane’s white glove delivery service means you don’t have to lift a finger to set it up.
Design Within Reach is another online sofa store that sells trendy and modern sofas, including sectional sofas, compact sofas, settees and uniquely designed sleeper sofas. Each one has a healthy variety of fabric options and comes in several colors, including bold and vibrant choices such as scarlet, tiger lily and basil. You can order free fabric swatches so you know what you are getting before you purchase your couch, and Design Within Reach provides white glove delivery service so you don’t have to worry about moving or assembling your couch when it arrives. Most of the store’s furniture items don’t have long turnaround times and arrive within two to four weeks.
White Glove Delivery Service – What Is It?
Many online sofa stores deliver your furniture in pieces, which means you may need to break out the hammer and screwdriver to put your new couch together. Most of the time, the assembly process is straightforward, though some people feel a bit overwhelmed at the prospect. One of the most difficult steps is stuffing the cushions just right so they don’t look lopsided.
Most sofa stores offer white glove delivery services as part of the shipping and handling. This means the delivery service guys set up the sofa completely in the room of your choice so you don’t have to worry about assembling it yourself. As an added perk, the delivery persons also remove any packaging that your sofa came in. This means your trash can won’t be overloaded before trash day.
There isn’t a clear standard for manufacturers charging more for white glove service or including it as part of the delivery service. However, those that do charge tend to keep the fee around $100.
Best Budget Sofa
IKEA is known throughout Europe and the United States for its low-cost quality furniture, and its specific style follows popular European trends. Most fabric-covered furniture pieces have multiple cover options, and you can buy extras to update your sofa with a new look in the future for a fraction of the price of purchasing a new couch or reupholstering an old one. IKEA’s biggest drawback is that you assemble the furniture yourself, and the company is notorious for having instructions that aren’t the most user-friendly. However, IKEA has been actively working to make its instructions easier to follow and offers assembly services so you don’t have to build your budget sofa yourself.
The IKEA EKTORP sofa has a clean look and comes in multiple sizes. You can customize this couch by choosing one of eight different sofa covers – you can even purchase two covers if you like and switch them out depending on the time of year or your personal taste at the moment. Because it is a popular budget sofa, IKEA keeps covers in stock, so you can always purchase a replacement or one in another color later.
Choosing A Fabric
Whether you buy a sofa online or in person, you need to know what type of upholstery is best for your room and lifestyle. For example, while a linen couch might look amazing in your family room, it’s not the best option if you have young children or pets in the house because of how easily it wrinkles and stains.
Fabrics are generally grouped into two categories: natural and synthetic. No matter which you choose, it is important to look at the overall thread count, or how many individual threads are woven in one square inch of fabric. The higher the thread count, the longer the fabric will last.
Cotton: Made of the ultimate natural fiber, cotton fabrics are a good choice for high-traffic areas because they are easy to clean. The way cotton is woven determines how durable the fabric is. For example, a damask weave is more formal and begins to pull and fade quickly, while a canvas weave (also known as duck or sailcloth) is more durable and a good option for casual living areas.
Cotton blends combine natural cotton with another, usually synthetic, fiber to create a more durable fabric. These blends are some of the most durable and family-friendly fabrics, and depending on the weave, they can last a long time without fading or pilling. Cotton blends are easy to clean yourself, and you can apply a stain-resistant finish to your sofa. Polyester is the most common synthetic fiber blended with cotton.
Microfiber: Microfiber is gaining popularity for furniture upholstery. It is made using a blend of polyester and nylon, so it’s super soft and easy to clean, and it lasts a long time. It doesn’t generally fade or pill, which makes it a top choice for many manufacturers that make sofas for families and high-traffic home areas.
Leather: Leather is a tough, natural material made from animal skins, or hide. It is durable and easy to wipe clean, which makes leather one of the most popular upholstery options for sofas. Because it doesn’t have the fibers most materials have, pet hair doesn’t catch and stick to it, so it’s a nice choice for homes with furry friends. Leather sofas can be vacuumed or wiped down with a damp cloth if they get dirty, though too much water, or liquid of any kind, could damage it and cause permanent staining. A true leather sofa costs more than most consumer’s budgets allow, and repairs are also very costly.
Vinyl: Vinyl is often a great, affordable substitute for leather. Vinyl looks like leather. It is easy to clean with soap and water or a vacuum, making it a good option for homes with children. Look for a durable, good-quality vinyl if your sofa is going in a high-traffic room to help avoid cracks and other damage that can occur over time. Vinyl becomes very cold or warm depending on the surrounding temperature, so it isn’t as comfortable in that respect as leather.
Wool: Wool couches are very durable and typically resist wrinkling and pilling. While wool is a natural material, it is usually blended with a synthetic fiber since it isn’t easy to clean on its own. Wool couches can fade over time, especially if it is exposed to continual sunlight. Wool also attracts insects, such as moths, that can damage the material.
Acrylic: Acrylic is a synthetic material that looks and feels like wool but is less expensive. It is also easier to clean than wool and doesn’t fade in sunlight. However, it doesn’t last as long as wool, so depending on your lifestyle, it may be more cost effective to go with the real thing.
Olefin: Olefin, a synthetic fiber, is one of the most durable fabrics available. It is stain-resistant as well as mildew-resistant and insect-resistant. This makes it a good choice in humid climates or where bugs tend to be more of a problem.
Silk: Silk is beautiful, but it doesn’t wear well. This natural material wrinkles easily and fades quickly. If it gets dirty, it must be professionally cleaned to avoid staining, pulling or tearing. Silk couches are good for formal living rooms and in adult-only homes where they won’t be used very often. Because of the fabric’s delicate nature, silk sofas aren’t good for homes with active pets or those with claws that can easily tear the material.