Experts from Heal's and Habitat share top tips for getting sofa measurements right

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Co-hosts of interiors podcast The Great Indoors, Sophie Robinson and Kate Watson-Smyth recently discussed the pitfalls of ordering online. Whether it's an armchair or a plant pot, shopping for our homes online can be more tricky than we might think.

We've probably all bought something online that has turned up far bigger or smaller than we expected, at best it makes for an amusing anecdote, but at worst it can be a source of stress and cost us some hard-earned money.

One investment piece of furniture that it's especially important to get right is, of course, when you come to choose the best sofa - or best sofa bed - for your home. Not only does the sofa you plump for have to fit your space perfectly, but it's also got to fit through the door - and possibly up the stairs and around tight corners - first.

living area with blue sofa and hanging light

(Image credit: Heal's)

Interiors expert and author of Mad About the House Planner: Your Home, Your Story (opens in new tab) highlighted the importance of measuring the depth of a sofa. 'Measure the depth of the sofa,' she says. 'I've seen people come unstuck where the sofa's turned out to be much deeper than they wanted.

'Then by the time they've put the coffee table in front, it's all a bit cramped.'

So we asked Habitat (opens in new tab) and Heal's (opens in new tab) for their top tips to help your sofa order go without a hitch. It turned out there were far more factors to consider than we'd realised ourselves.

If you're shopping for sofa beds specifically, take a look at our roundup of the eight best sofa beds out there.

living area with grey sofa and carpet on floor

(Image credit: Habitat)

Hannah Armstrong, Furniture Buyer at Heal’s recommends using masking tape or newspaper to lay out the size of your desired sofa. This gives a clear indication of the space it will take up, and will serve as a 'reminder for anything that might get in the way, like radiators or skirting boards.'

'You can then visualise how the rest of the room will be impacted,' Hannah says, 'such as arranging floor lamps and side tables, or limiting access to plug sockets.' If you have a small living room, Hannah suggests going for a sofa with an upright back that will sit flush against the wall to limit any wasted space. For more small living room ideas, read our piece.

As for delivery day, Hannah says, 'to be absolutely certain that it'll fit into the space, complete a thorough access check, taking into account its measurements, as well as other factors. For instance, whether the sofa’s legs are removable. If you’re ever unsure, always speak to the store beforehand.'

living room with fire place and sofa

(Image credit: Habitat)

Habitat also shared some practical advice. 'Our key watch out when buying a sofa is to make sure it will fit through doorways! This is often something that is overlooked, so the first thing to do is note down the "packaged" dimensions of your chosen sofa – width (W), height (H) and depth (D).'

Habitat also recommends measuring the narrowest point of your stairs, if the sofa needs to go upstairs. If this measurement is wider than the packaged height of your sofa then it should fit.

'If there is a landing, measure its depth, width and height. As long as these measurements are greater than the width, depth and height of your sofa, this should be fine,' a Habitat spokesperson says.

Don't forget that if you need to lift a sofa over a bannister, the distance between the bannister and the ceiling must be greater than the packaged depth of your sofa at the narrowest height.

green living room with pin velvet sofa and flower vase

(Image credit: Heal's)

Related: Sofa company Snug launches first sofa prenup

Another thing to take into consideration is measuring the area where your sofa will go if you have a sloped ceiling, to make sure you can manoeuvre it into place. For more tips on updating your living space, head to our living room advice page.

Buying a sofa and getting it into your home is, evidently, a total minefield, but we hope this helps.

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie Hurst is Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She first joined the team at the start of 2021. Previously, she worked in women’s lifestyle and homes news, writing about everything from budget kitchen makeovers and gardening tips to homeware dupes and cleaning hacks. Millie can often be found looking up trending terms, spotting news stories our readers need to know about and finding ways to decorate her rented flat.