Pull-out or futon? Sofa or sectional? These are important questions for anyone furnishing an apartment, but especially for those living in the Big Apple. For New Yorkers like us, it’s not just a question of style or comfort. We need to find a couch that fits — both our lifestyle and, more importantly, our living space. After all, Mom’s old five-piece sectional might have worked beautifully in the Connecticut family room. In our Lower East Side studio… not so much.

We recently came across a very instructive blog post on DNAInfo, and we thought it was perfect for anyone moving in to a new city apartment — or redecorating their old one. So read on, and happy couch-surfing!

Best Small Couches for Tiny NYC Spaces

By Elizabeth Wolff

NEW YORK CITY — Here’s one city apartment rule you can live by — the bigger the couch, the more cramped the room.

A huge couch in a tiny room is going to leave little space for living. If your sofa crowds out the end table, or if it pushes the coffee table into the media console, it’s clearly too big.

If you’re serious about a pretty home, you must be prepared to forgo the luxury of being able to sprawl in front of the TV. Put your feet up on your coffee table instead.

Beware of what stores call their “apartment” couches — even they are typically too wide and too deep for your “charming” New York space. Even Crate & Barrel’s Vaughn Apartment Sofa and CB2’s Avec Peacock Apartment Sofa — two couches often touted for apartment living — are 78 inches and 65 inches long, respectively.

If you’re in the market for a new seat, here are some city-specific rules:


Measure out the area that will be your living room. If your room has multiple spaces in it, for example a living and dining room or living and bedroom, be sure to leave approximately two to three feet between each “space.”

Once you’ve established how much room you have for your couch, allow at least a foot — preferably 18 inches — on either side for end tables or standing lamps.

If your room is small, chances are your couch will be against a wall. Remember this when buying, and consider if your new couch will block windows.


Don’t buy a couch without seeing and measuring the space.

Don’t measure right up to the table of the dining area or the bed in the sleeping area.

Don’t buy a fat couch, meaning don’t buy anything over-stuffed that resembles a La-Z-Boy.

Don’t buy a futon. Leave those where they belong — at college — and invest in an air mattress instead.

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