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How Much Should A Sofa Cost?

There surely is no shortage of online information about sofas. Most of it (by hired content creators and A.I. bots) categorizes different sofa styles and arm shapes or else promotes a particular brand.

This is not that. What follows is practical, insider advise to help you understand how much money you need to spend for a good sofa. If you don't feel like reading any further the short answer is $1200-$2400.

The Old Days

To begin with please disregard all those posts describing the ideal sofa with 8-way hand tied coils and double-doweled mortise-and-tenon solid hardwood frame. These traditional constructions techniques were developed for deep, box-like, big-arm styles of days past

Even if that's what you do want, be aware that a sofa crafted to those specs in the modern world (even in a boring fabric) will cost upwards of $3500.

Back in the day this type of sofa was intended to be a lifetime purchase. It's natural habitat was a formal living room used mainly on Sundays and holidays.

Judged by contemporary standards people were ridiculously careful. You did not put your feet up, eat your dinner on it, or ever sit on the arm (you really shouldn't do that today either). The kids were barely allowed near it - and only when the adults were in the room.

You'd better like the look of a big rolled-arm, or at least get used to it. Because even if social styles or your personal taste evolved you were stuck. The only change was every decade or two when the 8-way springs were tuned-up and the sofa was re-upholstered with new fabric.

How It Is Now

That's just not how people live anymore, especially since 2020.

  • People use their homes differently. The interior walls have come down. Open floor plans and larger family rooms have replaced the more formal, underutilized (and misnamed) Living Room and Dining Room of the past.
  • People live on their sofas. In addition to watching the big screen - they work, eat, and nap there.
  • People are more knowledgeable about interior design and embrace change. 70% of American households want to redecorate their homes.
  • People leave jobs, shift careers and relocate. They need the option to re-invent their surroundings.
  • Re-upholstery is becoming a lost art in America. If you can find someone skilled and reputable, their waiting list is long. Repairing and recovering now costs as much as buying a new one.

Everyone likes to be comfortable and surrounded by quality but do you really want your sofa to last forever? Isn't it kinda nice to be able to change and revamp every so often?

Big Rolled Arms and Colonial Curves have been replaced by Track Arms and Mid-Century Modern Design. Besides keeping costs down, the partial use of some engineered wood (plywood), sinuous springs, and Pirelli webbing is common even in very expensive sleeker, more modern styles of today.

When re-upholstery is not desirable or practical, the extra cost of traditional construction is not well spent. The truth is that fabric coverings and seat cushions wear out before the frame and springs break down.

Too Far The Other Way

But in today's hyper-disposable world things can swing too far. How about the $400 sofa on Amazon or the $600 version at the big box store? Are these viable alternatives?

Well maybe. But be real and don't expect too much in looks, comfort or durability. For this kind of money the fabric will feel cheap and not breathe well, the padding will be minimal, and the seat and back will quickly loose comfort.

If the sofa ships in pieces and you assemble it yourself at home expect the joints to become loose and squeaky. Within two to three years of daily use this sofa will be in the landfill and you will need to buy another one.

Suggested uses: dorm room, super short-term, or really can't afford anything more and it's better than a lawn chair.

In Conclusion: The Middle Way

So 8-way traditional sofas are needlessly expensive and not well-oriented to modern day living. And Cheap imports both lack pleasure of ownership and cost more in the long run because they need frequent replacement. At what price lies the middle way?

The truth is that a modern, good quality American made sofa - even it has some engineered wood (plywood) instead of 100% hardwood and sinuous springs instead of 8-way hand tied - will usually hold up just fine.

Before the big inflation of 2021-2022 (when gas was three dollars a gallon) a good American Made sofa in a basic fabric could be purchased for $900-$1700.

But costs have gone up about 35%. Today you will find the sweet spot for quality and value is $1200 - $2400. That's how much you need to spend to get a good sofa.

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