Best sofas: affordable sofas that are big on style

The best sofas for stylish and on-budget living room comfort
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  • Looking for the best sofas? There are few pieces of furniture that are going to make quite as much impact on our homes as the sofa we choose, or that are likely to be quite as much of an investment, so picking the best sofa for you is an important decision.

    A sofa is the place we sit down and relax in the evening, gather with friends and family, and spend a good chunk of our everyday lives, so obviously any design we invest in needs to be comfortable. And, as one of the largest pieces of furniture in our living rooms – and an item we’re likely to look at every single day – it also needs to score big on style. Plus, of course, there’s budget to consider.

    A sofa has to fulfil a lot of different requirements, and that’s where our best sofas round-up is here to help. We’ve pulled together the best sofas on the Ideal Homes radar, all sit-tested by our expert team, and highlighted the key factors to consider before making a purchase. You’ll also find in-depth buying advice at the end of this guide.

    Whether you want a spacious corner sofa with room for all the family, a chaise sofa to kick back and relax on, a classic three-seater sofa, or a contemporary two-seater, our round-up will help you to narrow down your search. (If you want your sofa to work a little harder still, then make sure to check out our guide to the best sofa beds too).

    Best sofas 2022: the Ideal Home edit

    1. John Lewis & Partners Draper Large 3 Seater Sofa

    Best three-seater: a comfortable high-backed design that will work with almost any decor

    A grey three seater sofa with wooden legs

    Dimensions: H87 x W202 x D95cm *other sizes available*
    Seat height: 43cm
    Seat depth: 59cm
    Upholstery options: 90+
    Average lead time: 1-13 weeks dependent on upholstery choice
    Matching furniture: Armchair
    Does it come in grey: Yes! Over 30 different shades

    A modern sofa with a nod to the classic Chesterfield design in its buttoned cushion detail, this is a sofa that will blend easily into a broad range of interiors, helped by the 90+ upholstery options that are on offer.

    Although, if you opt for the fabric pictured – a nice mid-tone grey with light wood legs – then this sofa can be delivered in as little as 7 days (a rarity in the world of sofa shopping where lead times of 10-12 weeks are the norm).

    Available in a good range of size options, including a 2, 3, and 4-seater plus a chaise, it’s also a good value option with prices starting from £1449 for the most compact design.

    And – the important bit, of course – this a really comfortable sofa to sit on. The relatively high back cushions are soft but firm, helped by a high backrest which means you’re not just relying on the back cushions themselves for support as can often be the case.

    It isn’t a super squishy sofa, but the seat cushions are still comfortable to sit on and offer enough room if you’re a sofa lounger who prefers to curl up rather than sit upright.

    Overall, we think this is a great all-rounder that manages to tick a lot of boxes at a good price.

    Buy now: Draper Large 3 Seater Sofa, from £1699, John Lewis & Partners 

    2. Sofa.com Holly 2 Seat Sofa

    Best two-seater sofa: a compact tall-legged design that’s super comfortable

    A mustard yellow velvet two-seater sofa with tall legs in a brightly lit living room

    Dimensions: H87 x W155 x D90cm *other sizes available*
    Seat height: 50cm
    Seat depth: 54cm
    Upholstery options: 70+
    Average lead time: 8-12 weeks
    Matching furniture: Armchair & footstool
    Does it come in grey: Yes! Over 20 different shades

    If you’re looking for a sofa to fit into a small living room then the Holly is a great option to consider. Although the 155cm width 2-seater sofa is the most compact seating size on offer, the model also comes in a wide choice of larger space-saving options including 2.5, 3 and 4-seater sofas, plus a variety of chaise and corner sofa sizes.

    Its petite proportions are partly down to the slim armrests that lend the design a contemporary edge, and its ability to make a small room feel more spacious is largely thanks to those tall legs which allow the eye to travel under the sofa and reduce the frame’s bulk to give the impression of more spaciousness.

    Clever tricks aside, this is also both a stylish and comfortable sofa at a great price point.

    There are 70+ upholstery options on offer, including some brilliant shades of velvet, and feather-wrapped foam seat cushions, feather back cushions, and a high-backed frame deliver just the right mix of squish and support in our opinion.

    It’s also a good option if you want to overhaul your entire living room suite, with a coordinating armchair and footstool available alongside that wealth of sofa sizes. What’s not to love?

    Buy now: Holly 2 Seat Sofa, from £850, Sofa.com

    3. MADE Luciano Chaise End Corner Sofa

    Best chaise sofa: a spacious L-shaped sofa with plenty of bounce

    A contemporary grey chaise sofa with black legs

    Dimensions: H86 x W278 x D154cm
    Seat height: 46cm
    Seat depth: 60cm
    Upholstery options: 7
    Average lead time: 6-14 weeks
    Matching furniture: No
    Does it come in grey: Yes! Fabric or leather

    If you have the space for it, then in our opinion you’ll likely not regret opting for a chaise or corner sofa – especially in a family living room.

    Perfect for stretching out and putting your feet up, an L-shaped chaise gives that bit more room for relaxing (although you could add a footstool instead if that offers more versatility).

    Of course, adding an extra few feet of legroom means you’re going to increase the cost of a sofa, which is why we think this affordable chaise sofa from MADE is a great value option.

    Upholstery options are limited to just 7 choices, but there are some good fabric selections amongst those, including the versatile Mountain Grey (pictured), plus some attractive leathers if that’s more your style (although they will add on an extra £800 to the price tag).

    Comfort-wise this chaise sofa doesn’t miss a beat either. We tested the leather version (which is likely to be a little firmer) and the seat cushions were pleasantly soft with a surprising amount of bounce, plus back cushions offered a good level of support.

    Unlike some chaise sofas you can’t swap the chaise section around on this mode, so just make sure you plan out your room layout before you buy, and lead times can be on the lengthy side, so you may need to be willing to wait to put your feet up.

    Otherwise, we think this is a great option to get comfortable on.

    Buy now: Luciano Chaise Corner Sofa, from £1099, MADE

    4. Sofa.com Holly Corner Sofa

    Best corner sofa: an affordable corner sofa with a great range of size options

    A blue velvet corner sofa with tall legs in a contemporary living room

    Dimensions: H87 x W266 x D266cm *other sizes available*
    Seat height: 50cm
    Seat depth: 54cm
    Upholstery options: 70+
    Average lead time: 8-12 weeks
    Matching furniture: Armchair & footstool
    Does it come in grey: Yes! Over 20 different shades

    So good we included it twice, the Holly sofa from Sofa.com features again as our best corner sofa recommendation.

    All that applies to the 2-seater option applies here too, including comfortable seats, stylish upholstery options and great value starting prices.

    What makes this design special as a corner sofa is the range of corner configurations available, from a super-compact Extra Small 2-seater corner sofa, through Small and Medium to the Large 6-seater design; all making it easier to tailor a corner solution to your individual space.

    The tall-legged design also works well to eliminate the heavy bulk that can often come hand in hand with a corner sofa, making a corner solution an easier win in a small to medium-sized living room.

    Buy now: Holly Corner Sofa, from £1715, Sofa.com

    5. Swyft Model 03 Large 3 Seater Sofa

    Best modular sofa: a versatile sectional sofa that allows multiple configurations

    A contemporary modular sofa upholstered in grey linen

    Dimensions: H71 x W254 x D92cm *other sizes available*
    Seat height: 45cm
    Seat depth: 69cm
    Upholstery options: 5
    Average lead time: 8-Under a week
    Matching furniture: Additional seat modules & footstool
    Does it come in grey: Yes! A linen and velvet option

    A modular sofa can make for a really versatile seating solution, with independent sections able to be mixed and matched to create the configuration that best suits your room.

    A sectional design also makes a good bet if you’re renting or planning on moving house in the near future, as it’s more likely you’ll be able to adapt the seating layout to suit a new home.

    Swyft’s sofa-in-a-box design is also a boon for apartment dwellers or anyone with tricky access, as the individual sections are delivered in far more easily manouevrable boxes that mean you don’t need to contend with negotiating flights of stairs or narrow hallways with a ready-built full-size sofa.

    The design is contemporary and that low back won’t be for everyone, but our testers found this a comfortable seat that’s perfect for those who prefer to lounge or lay rather than sit upright.

    Just bear in mind you will probably need a large room to accommodate this sofa, as although you can add or subtract seating modules to tailor the width to your liking, we think the low-to-the-ground blocky shape tends to suit a large room best.

    In fact, this design is perfect for an open-plan layout where you can use an L-shape or U-shaped configuration to zone a seating area within a larger space.

    Buy now: Model 03 Large 3 Seater Sofa, £2385, Swyft

    6. Sofa.com Bluebell Sofa

    Best classic sofa: a traditional-style sofa that’s ideal for a period home

    A classic sofa with traditional rolled arms and turned wooden feet in blue upholstery in a period living room with panelled walls

    Dimensions: H91 x W218 x D106cm *other sizes available*
    Seat height: 53cm
    Seat depth: 60cm
    Upholstery options: 70+
    Average lead time: 8-12 weeks
    Matching furniture: Armchair & footstool
    Does it come in grey: Yes! Over 20 different shades

    If you have a period property, or want to add some character to a new build, then incorporating furniture with classic proportions can be an easy win.

    The rolled arms, piped upholstery and turned wooden legs on castor feet means the Bluebell sofa delivers big on just that kind of traditional detail.

    As one of Sofa.com’s bestselling designs, this sofa also comes with a <b>lot</b> of options.

    Firstly, there’s the 70+ upholstery fabrics which allow you to keep things classic or go more contemporary with a jot of colour.

    Then there’s the size options, including 2, 2.5, 3 and 4-seater plus chaise, corner sofa and sofa bed, complemented by the matching armchair and footstool.

    And lastly, for around £200 more you can opt for any of the straight-backed sofas to be delivered in 4 pieces and assembled in the room of your choice to make tricky access and awkward layouts one less thing to worry about.

    It makes for a sofa that solves a whole lot of the usual compromises regarding size, colour, fabric and fit.

    Although… we found the model we tested wasn’t the most comfortable sofa we’ve sat on as the unplumped the seat cushions ended up feeling pretty firm. But, the backrest was soft yet supportive and considering its combination of classic good looks and price, we might well be tempted to add a few extra cushions to compensate for some lack of squish.

    Buy now: Bluebell sofa, from £1115, Sofa.com

    7. French Connection at DFS Zinc 4 Seater Sofa

    Best four-seater sofa: a spacious sofa with a super affordable price tag

    A contemporary pink 4 seater sofa from DFS

    Dimensions: H88 x W227 x D93cm *other sizes available*
    Seat height: 48cm
    Seat depth: 56cm
    Upholstery options: 40+
    Average lead time: 8-12 weeks
    Matching furniture: Cuddler, armchair, tub chair, footstool, storage footstool
    Does it come in grey: Yes! Over 20 different shades

    Designed by French Connection in collaboration with DFS, the Zinc sofa comes in a whole host of size options, from compact two-seater to more spacious chaise and corner sofa, and this option – somewhat of a rare breed – the straight-backed four-seater sofa.

    The design is contemporary, with angled, lozenge-shaped arms that give the sofa a fun, modern feel and there are plenty of playful colours to match. Choose from blush pink, bright yellow, teal and plenty of versatile greys, whether in woven fabric, velvet or leather upholstery.

    We can vouch for the Zinc’s comfort too. The seat cushions are firm but comfortable and keep their shape well. Whilst the back cushions are squishy which makes it good for lounging on.

    Our one gripe is that because the back and side cushions aren’t fixed, they do need repositioning regularly, but overall this family-sized sofa is a winner.

    And that’s before we’ve even talked about the price… From just £899 for a four-seater sofa? That’s definitely a price that’s very hard to beat.

    Buy now: Zinc 4 Seater Sofa, from £899, French Connection at DFS

    8. Swyft Model 04 Sofa Bed

    Best sofa bed: a stylish yet practical sofa-bed-in-a-box

    A putty coloured sofa bed in a box in a high ceilinged living room with full height windows behind

    Dimensions: H86 x W208 x D94cm
    Seat height: 45cm
    Bed depth once extended: 135cm
    Upholstery options: 7
    Average lead time: 8-Under a week
    Matching furniture: No
    Does it come in grey: Yes! A mid and a light grey

    If you want seating that will work a little harder in your home, then opting for a sofa bed can mean you get an extra place to sit plus a versatile sleep solution for overnight guests.

    However, finding a sofa bed that delivers as both a bed and a sofa – not to mention in terms of style, practicality and budget – can be tricky at best, yet the latest launch from sofa-in-a-box aficionados, Swyft, aims to do just that.

    The contemporary 3-seater Model 04 sofa bed is certainly stylish, with it’s low profile that wouldn’t look out of place in swish city apartment, and the good news is that when we put it to the test it delivered in terms of practicality too.

    There are 7 attractive upholstery options on offer, all designed to offer the kind of stain resistance that makes this sofa bed ideal for family living, and as this is a sofa bed where the seat and backrest become the UK double-sized sleeping surface, it gives extra piece of mind that even if you opt for a lighter colour, the sofa isn’t going to show any marks.

    Even more upholstery protection is offered by the mattress topper which is included with integrated storage unit (a rarity as with most sofa beds you’ll need to buy your own). This also works to up the sleeping surfaces’ comfort levels a notch, as despite the 300 pocket-sprung foam the sleeping area does remain quite firm.

    As long as you don’t mind sacrificing some squish, then we think this option certainly looks good enough to use as your everyday seating in the living room, but we think it really comes into its own as a versatile spare bedroom or home office guest solution – doing away with the need for a static guest bed and freeing up more of your for everyday enjoyment.

    Buy now: Model 04 Sofa Bed, £1995, Swyft

    9. IKEA Soderhamn Sofa

    Most affordable sofa: a great value contemporary sectional sofa on a budget

    A contemporary affordable sofa in grey upholstery with metal legs

    Dimensions: H83 x W192 x D99cm *other sizes available*
    Seat height: 39cm
    Seat depth: 70cm
    Upholstery options: 5
    Average lead time: None if bought in-store, otherwise 1-2 weeks delivery
    Matching furniture: Additional seat modules
    Does it come in grey: Yes! But only one shade

    The cost of buying new furniture can drain even a healthy budget pretty fast, so if affordability is key right now, then IKEA’s Soderhamn sofa is a contemporary and very Instagram-friendly option that at just over £500 for a 3-seater sofa makes a great value buy.

    Its sectional design makes a very good option for renters, being relatively lightweight and easy to transport, and allowing the option of reconfiguring the layout to suit a new room or even separating the sections to create a set of lounge chairs. It could even work well as an interim solution whilst you save for the sofa of your dreams.

    Why is this not the sofa of your dreams itself? Well, it’s actually more comfortable than we expected, although the seating verges on the firm side of the equation, and the low back doesn’t offer a great deal of support, although the generously padded cushions and lumbar cushions definitely help you to get comfy.

    It’s also very low with a particularly deep seat that is much more suited to curling up or laying down than sitting up straight. That said, we love the contemporary looks, and there is plenty of room to add as many cushions as you want to that deep seat to add extra comfort.

    Loose covers are also available to buy separately from IKEA – as well as a wider selection of fabrics from places like bemz.com that specialise in alternative IKEA upholstery – making it a great option for families with young children who don’t want to invest in a new sofa whilst the risk of spillages are at their peak!

    Buy now: Soderhamn 3-seat sofa, from £395, IKEA

    How to choose the best sofa for your room

    Size Firstly, how many people your sofa needs to seat? If you can, opt for one a little bit larger than the maximum capacity to make things less of a squeeze. However, it’s also important to keep your sofa in proportion to the room to stop things from feeling cramped or your sofa getting lost in a larger space. Measure out where the sofa will go in your room – including the sofa depth – to make sure there is plenty of space to walk around it. Check heights to make sure it fits under windowsills or existing wall furniture, and if it isn’t flat-packed then measure doors and awkward hallway angles carefully to ensure you will be able to get it into the room.

    Layout A sofa can be a really useful zoning tool in an open-plan layout, helping to create designated areas for dining or relaxing within a larger space. Chaise sofas, corner sofas or modular sofas in an L-shaped or U-shaped layout can be particularly useful here, or – if you have the space – you might want to switch up the usual layout of the sofa facing the fire or TV, and have two similar-sized sofas facing each other to create a space that works better for socialising and entertaining. If you need some layout ideas then make sure to check out our living room and small living room ideas pages.

    How to choose the most comfortable sofa:

    Style To our mind, sofa sitters fall into two main camps; those who prefer to sit up straight with good back support – in which case you might prefer a shallower seat depth with a higher backrest that means you can keep feet planted on the floor and your back aligned – or, those who instantly curl up or recline to lounge – in which case deep squishy seats and plenty of seat depth to add cushions could suit you better. A chaise sofa can combine the best of both worlds and keep everyone happy, whilst a corner sofa can be a great option for family living.

    Cushioning Most sofas either have foam-filled or feather cushions; foam cushions will bounce back into shape more quickly but generally provide a seat with more resistance, whilst feather cushions create a deeper cushion to sink into but will likely need plumping regularly, and when they’re not plumped the feathers can become compacted and feel quite hard. Many manufacturers have now combined the best of both worlds by wrapping resilient foam cushions in plumptious feather outers.

    How to choose a sofa style you’ll love:

    Upholstery Once you’ve chosen your favourite sofa shape, then it’s time to choose colour and fabric. Most sofa retailers offer models in a range of fabrics, generally including more affordable polyester and cotton mixes (which often have better stain resistance so are useful for homes with young families), and more expensive linens, velvets, and leathers. Take advantage of fabric samples to view colours and textures in your own home, as lighting can often look very different to that in showrooms or online representations, and bear in mind that the more luxurious fabrics are also likely to increase the sofa price quite considerably. As much as you might love pale colours, for family living a darker or marl shade is likely to prove more stress-free, helping to disguise any mishaps!

    Legs A sofa’s legs can transform the look quite dramatically. Tall legs will lift the bulk of the sofa away from the floor and can be a good option for smaller rooms where being able to see more of the floor gives a feeling of spaciousness. A sofa that sits directly onto the floor can feel bulkier so is best for larger rooms – although this style also has the bonus of stopping dust-balls and toys from rolling under it! Shapely, curved legs add a classic touch, whereas straighter clean-lined legs give a more modern feel. Some sofa models may offer a choice of leg finish as well as upholstery – if you already have wooden furniture in your living room, try to tie in any wooden leg finishes to keep tones coordinating.

    Lead time If you’re choosing from made-to-order upholstery options, then it’s important to bear in mind that there’s likely to be a lead time whilst your sofa is built. This can be anywhere from 6 – 14 weeks and will differ by retailer and the time of year you’re ordering. October and November are generally when sofa demand is highest ahead of the festive entertaining season, but you’ll find some top tips for shopping at this time of year in our guide to where to buy a sofa before Christmas. And, of course, a sofa-in-a-box could be perfect if you need seating fast, with many models available for delivery in well under 7 days. Read our review of the Swyft Model 03 sofa to get the lowdown.

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