Expert Advice: How to Measure a Sofa

Expert Advice: How to Measure a Sofa

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The worst time to realize a sofa doesn't fit in your room is when it arrives. So before you buy a new sofa, you should always double-check the measurements.

It’s incredibly important to check not just the dimensions of the sofa you’re buying but also the space where you plan to put it and areas you’ll have to navigate the sofa through to get into that perfect spot.

“You can save your relationship and avoid a lot of cussing and profuse sweating by taking a few minutes to consider a few things,” says interior designer Arlene Lord of Lord Designs.

In this quick-read guide, we’ll share some tips from expert interior designers on how to measure a sofa and ensure your new furniture fits perfectly in your living room.

Grab your tape measure and let's get started.

Sofa Measuring Guide

“There are several important measurements to keep in mind when buying a new sofa online. Make sure you measure the length, depth, and area around the sofa in the space you will be placing the sofa in your home,” says interior designer Caitlyn Davidian, who serves on the advisory board for Home Life Digest.

Here are the sofa dimensions you need to pay attention to:

Length/Width: You should measure the width of your sofa using the widest points — this tends to be from arm to arm.

Depth: The depth is a really important measurement to know. The way to measure sofa depth is from the outside edge of the back of the seat all the way to the front of the sofa. Often you'll see two measures for depth: one for overall sofa depth and one for seat depth (which tells you how large the actual sitting space is). It can also be worth checking the depth of the back cushion so you know how they impact the seat depth.

Diagonal depth: This measures the distance from the highest point of the back corner of the frame to the front of the arm.

Height: The final super important measurement is height. The height of a sofa is the distance from the floor to the highest point at the top of the seat. Some sofas can vary in height at different points so you should also pay attention to the height at the top of the seat cushion and arm height. “The seating height of sofas typically range from 18”-20”. Typically arm heights of sofas are 25”-30” and the seatback is dictated by the arm height,” says Davidian.

Here’s an example sofa measurement diagram from Allform: 

Allform sofa measurements
Sofa measurements (via Allform)

— and a breakdown of the measurements shown:

  • 90” width
  • 38” depth
  • 34” height
  • 6" leg height

Every sofa brand should have accurate measurements on its website. It's important to double-check the definitions of each measurement to make sure you're getting it right. For example, sometimes brands use width and length interchangeably.

How to Choose the Right Size Sofa for Your Room

“Your depth and length of the sofa are what will be crucial for comparing your space to the sofa online,” explains Davidian.

But it’s also important to think about your size in relation to the sofa and how it’ll fit into your room. If you’re on the taller side then having a sofa with more depth might make more sense so that your legs can stretch out comfortably while still hitting the floor. If you’re shorter, then a smaller sofa with less depth would be more ideal.

The style of sofa you choose can also impact how easy it is to maneuver into the right place too as some styles have more elaborate arms and legs. Here are some common sofas styles and what to watch out for:

  • Recliners: Recliners can also take up additional space as you'll need room for the chair to recline without colliding with any other piece of furniture.
  • Sectional sofas: Often larger than the average sofa. Sectionals will often have chaises which can be awkward to get through doorways and other tight spaces.  
  • Loveseats: Perfect for small spaces and much simpler to navigate through tight spaces.
  • Modular sofas: Designed to be adaptable, modular sofas are easier to take apart and put back together. Great if you move often or fancy changing up your interior design from time to time.

Read more: How to Find the Best Size Loveseat for Your Space

Consider other pieces of furniture

Make sure there is enough space for side tables or any other structural elements in the room prior to purchasing as well. “Typically you’ll want an 18”- 32” of space around the front of the sofa so that you can sit and have enough room for a coffee table,” says Davidian. It's also important to consider entry clearance so that there's room for the living room door to fully open without colliding with your new sofa.

To figure out how a sofa will fit into your room, CB2 recommends that you sketch out your sofa on a scale drawing or tape out the space the sofa will take on your floor:

“To help you decide if the piece fits the scale of the room, you might want to sketch it into a 1/4" graph paper drawing of the room along with other pieces that will be in the room. Or, tape newspaper together to create a true-to-size "footprint" of the piece, position it on the room floor.”

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How Do I Know If a Sofa Will Fit Through My House?

Before going right ahead and buying a sofa, you need to assess and measure the space where you'll place it to ensure it fits perfectly. But you also need to be confident that the sofa will fit through your entryway, hallways, and doors into your living space.

“Measure all doors that you will have to fit the sofa through width, length, and diagonally so that you won't be stuck with something that doesn't even fit through your front door,” advises Davidian. “Always look for the spec sheet of the sofa you are interested in, that should always be located on the website and if not, try to steer clear of that particular brand.”

“Always look for the spec sheet of the sofa you are interested in, that should always be located on the website and if not, try to steer clear of that particular brand.”

“Pay attention to any sharp turns or low ceilings en route to your sofa's new location,” Arlene Lord.

“If you can't turn the sofa on end you may not be able to get it where you need it. Also, when measuring the doors that the piece is coming through, measure the narrowest space. Also, be sure you know how to remove a door if need be. If the door can't swing completely out of the way then it will absolutely be in the way in tight situations.”

And when it comes to maneuvering a sofa into the ideal space in your home Lord encourages you to find out whether or not the feet are removable — “those few inches can make all the difference in the world,” she says.

You’ll also want to check how your sofa will be delivered to ensure it’ll fit through all of the doors and hallways in your home. Many brands will now ship sofas in boxes (which is perfect for small spaces), but others will ship single-piece sofas pre-assembled, so ensure you know the delivery details before you hit purchase.

Sofa Measurement FAQs:

What is the Size of a Standard Couch?

Almost every sofa is slightly different in size. But most standard three-seater sofas will vary from around 72 inches to 96 inches, with loveseats (two-seaters) often measuring between 50 and 72 inches.

How Far Should a Couch be From the TV?

The TV is often a focal point in a living space and when considering the size of sofa you’d like, it’s important to also think about how your new sofa will fit in relation to the TV.

According to B&H, “a general guideline is to sit between 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal screen measurement away.. For example, if you have a 40" TV, you should be sitting somewhere between 5 and 8.3 feet from the screen. Just keep in mind that viewing distance recommendations are a general guide, and it’s largely a matter of personal taste.”

Written by
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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