Alright, folks! Today’s topic hits a little close to home – and I mean that literally: I’ve spent almost a week now doing a lot of awful, grueling research trying to pick a new loveseat to finish off my basement renovation. The good news for you is, you get all that knowledge (plus my top picks) in the time it takes you to read to the bottom of the page. So if you’re here because you’ve been trawling loveseats and small sofas to squeeze into your guest room, office, basement, or small living room, buckle up. I’ll get you through it!
Step One: Figure Out What You Need It To Do
Before you start shopping, the absolute first thing you need to do is decide what you want to get out of the sofa or loveseat you’re buying. How often will people be sitting on it? How many people (or pets) should it fit at a time? Do you need it to work as a guest bed? Is this a purchase you want to last a long time, or do you expect to replace it within a few years? How much space do you have? If there’s a hard cap on your budget, what is it? Trust me: answering these questions up front will help answer basically every question that follows, and go a long way towards narrowing and refining your search. Go ahead, make the list. I can wait.
Step Two: Figure Out How Much Floor Space You Have vs How Much Seat Space You Need
Okay, you have your list? Good. Now, the next step is to figure out what size sofa or loveseat your space can accommodate. This is important for two reasons. First, if there’s a hard limit on your space, the size of any piece you’re looking at has to be the top consideration. Even if you have a little wiggle room (like I happened to), spending half an hour blocking out your space with a measuring tape and a roll of painter’s tape can save you a lot of suffering – especially if you’re buying online.
Having solid numbers to work with (and a good visual of what 50″, 60″, or 70″ looks like) will help ensure you don’t get blindsided by a too-big or too-small piece. This last bit is doubly important: if you need to be able to seat two people, you want to make sure you get something that can, comfortably – even if it means pushing the limits of your space or budget. Loveseats that clock in at 50″ or less can be quite cute-looking, but uncomfortably cozy if your two people aren’t both 1) petite or 2) children. Also remember, the listed width is the full width from end to end; the amount of seat space will always be lower once you factor in the width of the arms.
Step Three: Find A Look You Like
Coolest Looking Chair You Probably Don’t Want To Sit On: Viola Chesterfield from Modway
If you’re decorating a small space, you want to choose furniture that’s big on style. And good news: lots of small sofas and smaller loveseats are designed to fit the bill. Think bold colors, unique shapes, elegant detailing, and a healthy dose of mid-century modern aesthetics. Used either as a main sofa or an accent piece, they’re perfect for adding a pop of color or finishing touch to your room. A word of caution, though: if fall in love with a style at first sight, the very next thing you should do is check the product dimensions. Some of the most distinctive pieces you’ll find clock in around or under 50″. That’s perfect for a small space, but not the best for seating two. This rule also holds for traditional-looking sofas: if you’re shopping online, it can be almost impossible to judge size by a product image alone.
Step Four: Take A Deep Breath, And Decide How Much You Want To Spend
If You’re Gonna Sleep On It: Ashbury from Edloe Finch
So here’s the bad news: pricing on small sofas and loveseats is pretty much universally stupid. It’s not unusual to find loveseats that are more expensive than larger sofas from the same collection, or similar-looking loveseats in the same size with prices that differ by as much as a thousand dollars. One of the few constants is that if you need added functionality like a pull-out sleeper, a fold-down futon, or a recliner, you’re going to pay a premium for it.
That said, the price of a loveseat is a good indicator of comfort and durability. You can probably guess where this is going: the more you pay for a loveseat, in general the higher quality, more comfortable, and longer-lasting it’ll be. The biggest complaint I’ve seen from reading (lots and lots of) product reviews is that you tend to get what you pay for in the under $400 range: scratchy fabric, uncomfortably firm seating, and parts that are prone to break down.
Keep In Mind: Durability Matters
Of course, there’s no exact price point where a loveseat tips from so-so into something you’ll be sitting on comfortably for a decade. But you absolutely need to factor wear and tear into the price. If it’ll only be seeing occasional use and mostly act as an accent piece, you can get away with a bargain piece. But if you know it’ll be getting heavy daily use, take the price of almost any inexpensive loveseat and double it, because you’ll be replacing it within 2-3 years. It can be galling to spend big-sofa money on a small sofa, but if it will be your main seating in a small living room, a higher price tag will likely save you money in the long run. To squeeze as much life out of any sofa or loveseat as you can, there are a few features to keep an eye out for.
Best Bigger Choice (If You Have The Space): Harlow by Edloe Finch
- Removable, machine-washable cushion covers. These are relatively rare, but can keep your loveseat looking new much longer than upholstery you have to spot clean.
- A good manufacturer warranty. The less money you spend on your sofa, the more you should spend on an extended warranty. Bonus for interchangeable parts you can replace yourself.
- The rare, elusive, X-years later review. I always read as many reviews as I can before I buy, but the word “update” is worth more than it’s weight in gold. Let someone else find out how long it’ll last.
Key Comfort Features To Look Out For
Best Accent Piece: Adina by Contemporary Design Furniture
The whole concept of “comfort” is subjective. My ideal sofa might be too soft or too firm for your taste. But if you’re shopping for a small, inexpensive loveseat, there are a few features you want to keep an eye out for that might not be immediately obvious from a product picture. These are culled from a LOT of one star reviews for a huge number of products, and represent a pretty solid range of bad surprises and weird quirks that can sneak up on you when buying a big piece of furniture online.
Best Antique Replica (You Might Not Want To Sit On Much): Lady Elizabeth from Toscano
- ‘The Back is Too Low” – This was one of the most common negative reviews of loveseats around the 50″ mark. Many midcentury-inspired looks in particular hit many people uncomfortably at mid-back, making them a poor choice for lounging, especially if you’re over 6’
- “The Legs Are Too Short/Seat Is Too Low” – Another common complaint on both loveseats and small sofas is that they sit too low to the ground, making it difficult to get comfortable without an ottoman.
- “It’s So SMALL” – Most of these reviews are clearly from people who made a purchase based on the picture. Don’t be this person. Check the product measurements and compare them to your space!
- “It’s Fine, But The Cushions Are…” – a) too firm, hard as a rock, scratchy, flatten easily, or wrinkle (check reviews!) b) not removable or a different material on the back, so they can’t be flipped (check the product images and description!)
Bonus: So Nice It Made The List Twice: Prospect Again, But In Velvet
Buying any big-ticket item online can be stressful. Buying a small sofa or loveseat can be doubly so, especially if it’s one you plan to spend a lot of time with, but might not have a ton of money to spend on. That said, forewarned is forearmed. Knowing the worst pitfalls of buying small, inexpensive seating online will help you dodge the worst offenders. And don’t despair: even on a limited budget, with limited space, and no in-person testing, there are good options out there. Last piece of advice? Before you hit buy, check the return policy – it can save you a big, big headache if something goes wrong!