Sofa in a Box: What To Know Before You Buy
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Check out the sofa-in-a-box trend! No high shipping costs or squeezing through the doorway. Here's everything you need to know to see if it's for you.
If you’ve shopped for a mattress lately, you know the game has changed. Gone are the days of showrooms and pushy salesman. Now a few clicks delivers a mattress right to your door, conveniently packed in an easy-to-move box.
Ready for more good news? You now can get your sofa delivered in a box, too. Sofa manufacturers are taking a page from the boxed mattress world, which means buying a couch just got a whole lot easier.
What Is a Sofa-in-a-Box?
The sofa-in-a-box is exactly what it sounds like — a full-sized couch packed in boxes for easy delivery. Unlike a one-piece couch, the boxes are easy to move through doorways and up staircases. They’ll even fit in an elevator.
The sofa-in-a-box cuts down on delivery costs as well. Shipping fees are high for big, bulky couches that can’t be stacked on top of each other. A sofa-in-a-box, on the other hand, ships in compact boxes that fit within the FedEx and UPS commercial weight guidelines. That saves you, the consumer, money.
How a Sofa Comes In a Box
You might be thinking, to fit in a box, the sofa must be in a million pieces and you’ll be putting it together for hours. But a sofa-in-a-box typically doesn’t require much assembly time.
For a three-seat sofa, you’ll usually receive three boxes containing the seat sections and cushions, and one additional box with the armrests and legs. To put it together, you simply latch the seat sections together, attach the legs with the provided screws, place the cushions — and you’re done!
You still might need a friend to help move the boxes and put the sofa together. If you purchase a Burrow sofa, for example, each box weighs about 40 pounds. They recommend two people, one at either end, place your assembled sofa in the upright position.
Sofa-in-a-Box Pros and Cons
The biggest reason people opt for a sofa-in-a-box is convenience. Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review, puts it this way: “Big showrooms aren’t in vogue anymore. Most rural areas don’t even have them.”
Sofa-in-a-box allows anyone to purchase stylish furniture and get it delivered to their doorstep no matter where they live. Another selling point are the custom options. Many sofa-in-a-box styles are modular so you can pick and choose shape, size and color.
“No one wants furniture that’s static when they can get something dynamic and customizable,” Costa says.
So what’s the catch? Some reviewers weren’t happy with the size. A sofa-in-a-box is sized for fast and cheap shipping, so most styles are on the smaller size. If you’re looking for a gigantic sectional with deep, enveloping cushions, sofa-in-a-box is not the way to go.
If you’re considering a sofa-in-a-box, here are the pros and cons based on our research:
- Convenient packaging that’s easy to move;
- Easy assembly;
- Low or no shipping cost;
- Customizable to fit your space and style. Depending on the brand, you might be able to choose the number of seats, color, fabric type and more.
- Cushions might be too firm. The level of comfort will depend on which one you buy, but some brands can be a bit firm due to their modular, easy-ship components.
- Smaller in size than a regular sofa. Sofa-in-a-box styles come in various sizes, including four-seaters and ones with a chaise. But taller people might wish for more depth in the seats, or find the sofa back is too low.
- Delivery could be an issue. If you’re ordering a custom sofa, it could take six to eight weeks for delivery. Many sofa-in-a-box sites promise a quick delivery on their in-stock items. But due to the pandemic, delivery times have been delayed even on quick-ship items.
- Fine print on returns. Be sure to check the return policy. Some sofa-in-a-box manufacturers require a restocking fee or hold you responsible for return shipping cost.
- Help with assembly. Most reviewers found the sofa-in-a-box assembly instructions to be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never run into an issue. And because sofa-in-a-box brands operate entirely online, you might have trouble contacting a real person to help you troubleshoot. (Some brands, like Albany Park, offer help in the form of a Task Rabbit discount.)
What Does a Sofa-in-a-Box Cost?
Just like regular sofas, sofa-in-a-box prices vary. Most are in the $1,000 to $2,000 range for a three-seater. Shipping, white glove delivery and extra options like adding a chaise might increase the price.
Here’s a rundown of some of the top sofa-in-a-box brands and what you can expect to pay:
- Albany Park
- Price for a three-seat sofa: $1,399 to $1,599;
- Shipping: Free on all items (no shipping to Hawaii or Alaska);
- Custom add-ons: Matching ottoman that doubles as a chaise.
- Elephant in a Box
- Price for a three-seat sofa: $1,699;
- Shipping cost: Free;
- Custom add-ons: An ottoman, decorative pillows and an armrest with a built-in USB port.
- Price for a three-seat sofa: $1,895;
- Shipping cost: $149 for purchases over $1,000;
- Custom add-ons: A chaise, for extra leg room.
- Price for a three-seat sofa: $1,295;
- Shipping cost: Free for orders of more than $100 to the continental U.S.;
- Custom add-ons: Extra cushion inserts and covers.
Tips for Buying a Sofa-in-a-Box
When shopping for a sofa-in-a-box, do your research, just like you would when buying any other piece of furniture. Look for the right size, fabric durability and cushion softness to fit your needs.
With the click-and-ship concept being so easy, you might be tempted to make an impulse decision for a quick seating solution. Keep in mind you’re still making a big purchase. You’ll use this couch every day for many years. And pay close attention to return policies so you don’t get stuck with a couch you’re not happy with.