Every once in a blue moon, despite our desire not to make big purchases that cause us stress, we have to buy a new sofa or sectional. Perhaps when the couch sags so badly you can only sit in one spot – you just roll into it. Perhaps when the material is so worn you can see the foam cushions within. Perhaps when your significant other has hounded you for eons and you can no longer take the verbal onslaught. Whatever the reason, a purchase must be made.

“How hard can buying a couch be?” you ask. Well like most things in life, you can really screw it up. Then you will have to live with your mistake for years and constantly be reminded of your ineptitude. As we already have enough of these things in our lives, I suggest trying to buy a piece you actually like. Thus, consider:

Measure your current sofa (or sectional) and room dimensions before heading to the showrooms. These stores are notoriously big and throw off all sense of proportion. Cavalier buyers who don’t bother to measure are often amazed when their surprisingly huge purchase can barely be crammed into their home. Also consider if your purchase can physically make it into the room for which it’s intended: Hallways, stairs and doorways should be measured.

Seat height
Sofas come in different seat heights so think about what works best for you. For example, consider the hip, low-slung sofas which come in and out of style. You know, the ones that feel like they are about six inches off the floor. If you’re young and spry, go for it. But older folks who sit on these often feel like it’s an Olympic event to hoist themselves up to a standing position.

Seat depth
Sofas also come in various seat depths. Loveseats usually have shallower seats thus are a good option for smaller folks. If you’re a bigger person or like to curl up on a couch, then a deeper seat is good.

Now there are super deep sofas and sectionals available. Some come with an entire row of pillows in front of the row of back cushions. This cushion and pillow management is a major time commitment and should probably only be considered by the wackadoodle folks who currently have seven to 15 pillows on their bed.

Cushions come in all types and sizes. If you like a neater vibe, then look at sofas with no back cushions. However, these structured couches are usually not as comfy as they are very firm. If you do get a sofa or sectional with loose cushions, it’s best to have ones with the fabric on both sides so you can stain or damage one side. You know it’s going to happen.

Some sofas and sectionals offer a cushion upgrade option to make them softer. You think this wouldn’t matter much. But as a homeowner with one upgraded couch, I can tell you it’s the one my tuchus wants to sit in. The tuchus knows.

In general mid tones and mottled fabrics hide schmutz, which of course is why I didn’t choose these. No, for our couches I opted for dark, dramatic colors so that our cat’s fur can really show up and create lots of cleanup work. Really, I could only have made things more difficult if I ordered velvet. But there’s always next time and another purchase, so I could screw things up even more then.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her at [email protected]. To read previous The Lighter Side articles, go to athomecolorado.com/the-lighter-side.