5 Tips To Take The Stress Out of Buying a Sofa (or any other large home decor purchase!)

sofa shopping

I bought a new sofa!

celebrating this life


Cindy 84" Sofa by Robin Bruce (Rowe Fine Furniture) in a soft grey

I didn't think I would be saying that this early in the new year. This winter has been especially long and the dry indoor air has finally taken its toll on my old brown leather sofa (aka the thing I coveted for years and never thought I would part with!) Conditioning the leather and investing in a humidifier didn't save the leather from drying out, cracking and ripping. My sofa was over 10 years old and had lived through two kids, now teenagers, and four dogs. It was just time to look for a new one but...

Shopping for a sofa stresses me out! In twenty years I have only bought 3 sofas, including this new one. Every time I have gone shopping for a sofa, or any big ticket decor item, I get overwhelmed at the selection. I'm always afraid of making the wrong decision, and that mistake costing me money. I have no professional design experience, everything I do is based on years of reading magazines and blogs, so I have always felt like I was "winging it" when I would go shopping. The last time I went looking at sofas, I got so overwhelmed at the selection that I gave up (and just bought a new blanket to cover the holes in the back of the sofa 😆 )

I wanted this time to be different. No stress, no second guessing. Just a new sofa that I could enjoy so I could get to more important things like playing with my puppy Ivy who is officially 9 months old and is very happy to have a nice new couch to lay on!

I'm a planner and I write down everything. It helps me keep my anxiety in check. I wrote down 5 tips or words to live by to take the stress out of buying a sofa and followed it over the last few days. And I am happy to report that there was much less stress this time around and I am incredibly happy with the final result!

When I shared the choices in sofas over social media I heard from many people that just like me, they stress about sofa shopping. The tips that follow helped me keep my stress in check so that I could confidently make the right purchase, here's hoping they help you, too!

1. You need a Pinterest board - First you need some inspiration. Spend an evening scrolling Pinterest and build a dream sofa (or bed or dining room table or whatever your big purchase is) board. Find what speaks to you and save it. Once you have a few inspo photos, see if you can find a common theme. I pinned a number of living rooms (follow me on Pinterest!) and after taking a second look I realized that I was drawn to light coloured sofas, which is not at all what I expected! I have only ever had dark sofas and I assumed that's what I would be sticking with. Reviewing my Pinterest board before heading out to look at sofas helped me know what I really want.

2. Phone a friend - Bring someone you trust with you. I purchased my new sofa from Cornerstone Home Interiors and I actually visited three times before I made my final decision. The first trip, I spent sending pictures to a friend who I trust (@kendrabesterdesign), second trip was with The Oldest (who has always had impeccable taste) and the third was with AMH who is great at figuring out logistics (like how to get the darn thing home!) Having a second opinion around can help you get out of your own head. When I was sitting on a dark navy sofa, and having everyone around tell me that it would look great with all the blue and white in my living room (I was showing staff photos of our house) AMH could see that I just wasn't happy with it. He really questioned me and I finally admitted that based on what I was saving on my Pinterest board, I really wanted a light coloured couch. That helped me get back into the right headspace and eventually lead me to find the sofa I now get to call my own!

3. Too much choice is, well, too much - Have you ever walked around a furniture showroom (or mall or grocery store) and just been overwhelmed? Decision making of any kind is a complex task and the more options we have, the more likely we are to be indecisive (I use the term analysis paralysis all.day.long at work. It's a real thing and a real problem) Having more options isn't always a good thing. It also can lead to the 'what if' scenario. When you eventually do make a decision you will inevitably wonder if you made the right one and it can haunt you for days/weeks/months. You need to limit your options.

In the situation of my sofa, I did a bit of online searching but ultimately decided that this was something I would much rather purchase in person. I had a budget in mind and I wanted to focus on quality and longevity. That crossed off a few big box stores and furniture outlets. Ultimately I ended up at a local home decor shop that is known for quality and style. Once there, I walked around with my family and friends (see step 2) and took pictures of the styles that I liked and felt comfortable to sit on. Each visit, I would delete a photo on my phone of a particular sofa that I no longer liked. That left me with five sofas to choose from and when I was home from my second visit, and had my Pinterest board open, I easily narrowed it down to one choice. I went back for the third time, got the blessing of all involved, and made a purchase! 

4. Visualize or Photoshop - Take lots of photos. Take photos of different angles, and make sure to take a photo of the tag for reference. Once home, either sit in your space and look at the photos and visualize it there, or photoshop (or use Paint or any other creative app) and place the item in a photo of your home. Sometimes an item, especially a sofa, will look great with all the styling in a showroom but it just won't match your decor. Unless you are willing to redecorate around your new sofa, you need to take your existing room into account. I spent late 2017 and early 2018 redecorating my entire main floor and was not about to do it again. Whatever we got would have to work within the space. I sat on a side chair and held up my phone to cover the sofa to see how each one would look in the room. It was then that I really knew that the choice I was making was the right one.

5. If you still can't make a decision, get a designer - If all of these tips are of no help and you still feel stressed and overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing a sofa or other large home decor purchase, it's time to outsource it. Interior Designers love making a million decor decisions every day and can save you time, money, and stress. They have access to brands you may have never heard of and can sometimes get you a decorators discount saving you money. Yes, they charge a fee but I promise it will be worth it in the end. It is so easy to find a great designer today (I recommend my bff Kendra Bester Design who is a design genius and helps me make all of my decor decisions!), all you need to do is look on Instagram to find one in your region. Find someone that has a similar aesthetic as you and send them a quick inquiry. Some designers will only take on clients that are doing a full renovation but others are willing to help you make some quick decisions. 


It's been a few days since the new sofa arrived and I just know I made the right decision, all thanks to following these tips. They really can be applied to any home decor purchase you have to make but I think they work best with the ones that really stress you out. Maybe it's the thought of buying a new fridge that's keeping you up at night, or the fact that you know that coffee table of yours just doesn't work in your space. Mine has always been, and always will be, sofa shopping. Just the mere mention of it made my heart skip a beat. Making a plan and being organized about it really takes all the anxiety and panic out of it, which leaves you with a clear head, ready to make the right choice.