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The Best Sofas for Short People: A Guide to Finding The Perfect Fit For You

pillow back sofa with shallow seat in living room with wicker chairs and boxy coffee table

If you’re on the shorter side, it’s an everyday struggle trying to fit into a world that, well, seems to cater to those of average height. It's frustrating when, technically, 50% of us are below average!

And when it comes to furniture... come on, this is stuff that you’re meant to live in and enjoy. How can you possibly be comfortable when you can’t find a sofa that really fits and works with your frame?

You’ve been on the hunt for that perfect sofa, and so far, you haven't found anything that satisfies your needs. It shouldn’t be that hard, right? Because you’re not asking for anything out of the ordinary – you just want to be comfortable like everyone else.

At McElheran's Furniture + Design, we cover a lot of ground with the sofas we carry. And throughout our many years in business, we’ve helped our customers find exactly what they need – no matter their height or preferences! We’re here to create beautiful spaces that you love and love to share.

Many of the brands we carry offer customizable programs so you can pick and choose the appropriate dimensions for your height. Our in-house designers, known as Design Guides, are trained to answer any questions you might have and provide insight on the sofas and brands that can help you achieve optimal comfort.

In this article, our Design Guides will go over the best styles and sofa brands for shorter people. There isn’t an exact science since comfort is so subjective, but we can throw a couple of tips and measurements your way to give you an idea of what you should be looking for.

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Factors to consider when evaluating sofas for short people

The function

Time and time again, when it comes to furniture and seeing what’s right for you, it boils down to what you use it for. If you think you’ll primarily lie down on your sofa, the seat dimensions may not be as crucial to your comfort since there’s less need for back support.

However, if the sofa is more for formal use - where you’d like to sit upright with your feet on the ground - the depth and dimensions are much more important.

Thinking about who uses your sofa, how they will sit, and how often will also help you choose the best size and style based on your lifestyle.

And if you’re on the shorter side and the sofa will mainly be used by you, why not put in the extra effort to make sure it’s a perfect fit? As one of our Design Guides, Teresa (who’s also on the shorter side), points out, “Anyone can sit on a sofa, the real question is whether or not you’re comfortable.”

And you certainly don’t want to compromise on comfort when you’re looking for a piece of furniture that will likely get a lot of use.

Seat depth

This factor right here contributes a lot to a sofa’s comfort because it can dictate how you sit.

Seat depth is taken from the front of the sofa to the back cushion. On average, this measurement is around 22 inches. If you’re shorter and would like to sit upright without your feet leaving the ground, you might want to opt for a shorter depth – closer to the 20-inch mark.

Basically, the shallower the seat depth, the more likely you’ll sit up straight.  

Seat height

This measurement is taken from the floor to the top seat cushion. Essentially, you’re measuring how high off the ground the seat is. If you’re short, a seat height between 17 and 20 inches should serve you well and prevent your feet from dangling.

Seat height + seat depth

Believe me, the last thing we want to do is get super mathematical about this, but there are some combined measurements that can help get you in the ballpark of a better seating position.

If you take the seat height and add the seat depth of a standard sofa, it usually totals somewhere between 40 and 42 inches. And for a shorter person, it may be more comfortable for that total to be around 38 to 40 inches.

The height and depth of a seat are very much linked to each other in relation to comfort.

For instance, if the seat height of your sofa is on the shorter side, you can increase the depth and still sit comfortably. This goes for a higher sofa, too. As the height increases, the seat depth would need to be shallower for optimal comfort.

The best sofa style for shorter people

Multi pillow-back sofa

A multi pillow-back sofa has several large pillows that support the back instead of fixed cushions or tightly pulled fabric. For the most part, the pillows are unattached allowing for flexibility and rearrangement, which is perfect when you’re on the shorter side or tend to sit with people of varying heights.

The pillows can be stacked, fluffed, pulled out, or rearranged for extra support and to push yourself forward.

To be honest, this style isn’t particularly trendy right now, but if function is more important to you than fashion, this type of sofa is a great way to give yourself additional support when needed.

Sofa chaise

sofa chaise with pillows behind a coffee table next to end table with lamp

As mentioned before, when the primary use of your seating area is for casual lounging, your height becomes less of a concern. The chaise on the sofa gives you a spot where you can lay out, put your feet up, and relax comfortably, regardless of how tall you are.

Customizable sofa

Perhaps you found the sofa of your dreams, but it’s just a bit too big for your stature. Did you check to see if it can be customized? Taking an inch off the depth could make all the difference, so it never hurts to see if that’s an option. See below for a few brands that can offer that for you.

Sofa brands that cater to shorter people

Sherrill Furniture

The Sherrill 2 Series is designed specifically for those who are looking for a piece of furniture with a shallower seat depth. Beyond that, you can really maximize your comfort by choosing the type of arm, back cushions, base, and many other features to create the perfect place to sit.

One of our Design Guides, Shelley, notes that when she has a client considering a shallower sofa because of their height, she directs them right to Sherrill Furniture. Sherrill’s selection of smaller-scaled pieces and opportunity for customization make them an easy choice for anyone worried about an appropriately sized sofa.

Check out this sofa from Sherrill - great for a shorter person - currently available at McElheran's.

tufted and upholstered sofa in a living room on top of an area rug and in front of a fireplace and two matching dressers

Century Furniture

Cornerstone is a customization program that allows you to adjust the depth of your seat with three different options. There’s also a variety of frames, arm, and base styles to choose from. Century not only recognizes your desire for style but your need for comfort and functionality – which can really be determined by the dimensions of your furniture.

Marcantonio Designs

If you find a Marcantonio sofa that you absolutely love but notice that it’s a little too deep for your shorter height – not all hope is lost! There’s a good chance they’ll customize a shorter seat depth for you and it’s worth it to ask and find out. Because when it comes to sofas, an inch or two can have a huge impact on your overall comfort and support.

What can I do to make my sofa more comfortable?

Apart from buying a new sofa altogether, there are a few other things you can try to make yourself more comfortable. Actually, this applies to anyone, regardless of height.

Add extra pillows to your sofa

Stacking and adjusting pillows can drastically change the way you sit. If you find yourself in a sofa that’s a bit deeper than you’d like, the extra pillows can push you forward in your seat while supporting your back.

And another great thing about pillows – you can always add more or take some away as needed.

Add ottomans to your seating area

Incorporating an ottoman is a quick way to create a more inviting seating area - where you just want to kick up your feet and relax! You don’t really have to worry about whether your feet can touch the floor when, essentially, you’re bringing the floor closer to you.

Add more padding to the back of your sofa

If you think your sofa could do with just a bit more padding in the back to truly support you in the way that you need, see if an upholsterer can do that for you. If you’re thinking about getting your sofa reupholstered anyway, that’s a great opportunity to fill out your sofa more.

How can I tell if a sofa is good for short people?

We’ve given you a few measurements to play around with, but at the end of the day, actually sitting on a sofa will give you the best idea of what works for you. If you’re in the Edmonton area, drop by our showroom and take a seat on any of the sofas we have on the floor.

Schedule a visit with one of our Design Guides, too. They would love to assist you in finding that sofa that not only fits your space but fits you perfectly, as well. 

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