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1 Feb 2020

Cheap sofas in a box: is this the future for furniture?

With new companies promising speedy delivery, generous trial periods and fuss-free returns, will the days of waiting weeks for a new sofa soon be a thing of the past?

Buying a sofa that comes packed up in a box for you to assemble isn't a new concept. After all, Ikea has been churning out flatpack furniture for years.

But this year, more and more new companies are popping up on the market offering a small range of sofa styles delivered in a compact box that arrives within a couple of days of your order.

Perhaps inspired by the booming phenomenon for boxed mattresses, these brands have identified a gap in the market for sofas that arrive in a matter of days, rather than the traditional weeks-long lead time. They claim to be easy to assemble and take apart - an attractive concept for renters frequently on the move.

Plus, their compact delivery boxes could mean they're the only possible option for those in small homes with doorframes and corridors so narrow that a traditional sofa may not fit without removing a windows or banisters, or scuffing paintwork.

Below, we've listed some of the new sofa brands on the market. We haven't run these past our trusted survey panel yet, so can only give a first impression. If you'd rather stick with one of the classics - and read our sofa reviews of brands as rated by customers - head to our guide to the best sofa shops.

Related: We've tested all the main mattress in a box brands if you're considering buying one. From Simba to Eve, discover which boxed mattresses come top in our tests.

Snug Shack and Swyft: new boxed sofa brands to look out for

Snug Shack sofas

The Rebel 1.5 seater snuggler, Snug Shack

Snug Shack claims to be the original UK sofa in a box company. Its suggested reasons for buying a sofa in a box hinge on speed, convenience and ease of installation.

Its main claims are:

  • Three-day delivery
  • Three-minute installation
  • No tools needed
  • Free delivery and returns
  • 30-day trial period
  • Stain-resistant fabric
  • Fits through any door

Much like many boxed mattress retailers, Snug Shack only sells one design of sofa. It comes in three sizes (a 1.5-seat 'snuggler', a three-seater or a modular L-shaped sofa) and five colours.

Snug Shack's 1.5-seater costs £599, its three-seater sofa is £899 and the modular version costs from £1,599.

There are a couple of showrooms where you can test them out (located inside Bridgman stores). If you don't live near one, you can order free fabric swatches to choose your colour. There's a 30-day trial period during which you can return the sofa if you find it doesn't suit you.

Swyft sofas

Swyft is the latest sofa-in-a-box company on the scene. It's more or less the same concept: its sofas can, allegedly, be delivered in 48 hours and assembled in minutes. It's supposed to be as just as easy to take apart, should you wish to move it later on.

There's just the one sofa style, called Model 01. This is available in three sizes (one, two and three-seaters) and six fabrics - three velvets and three linens. An armchair costs £595, a two-seater sofa is £895 and the three-seater is £995.

Depending on the sofa size you choose, it may arrive split out into two or three boxes, but each box is light enough to be carried by one person. Like Snug Shack, no tools are required for assembly.

Swyft sofas are backed up with a 15-year frame guarantee and a 100-day money-back returns guarantee.

In a bid to appeal to environmentally conscious shoppers, Swyft uses FSC-certified wood and biodegradable packaging. Plus, it's pledged to plant two trees for each one it uses in manufacture, through the Trees for Cities scheme.

Sofa in a box
Model 01 three-seater sofa, Swyft

How much does a sofa in a box cost?

The convenience of a sofa-in-a-box doesn't necessarily come cheap. The two emerging brands in the UK have both pitched their sofas to a mid-market audience - they're not as expensive as luxury brands, but still relatively pricey.

Snug Shack's prices range from £599 to more than £1,599, while Swyft will set you back from £595 to £995.

For a cheaper alternative, Argos has recently developed its own sofa-in-a-box, called Evie, which costs £200. It's only available as a two-seater, and in two different colours. It comes in two boxes and you can choose to pick it up from store or have it delivered to your home almost immediately.

You can certainly find other affordable sofa options online and on the high street, but you may find you have to sacrifice a little speed or convenience.

Want to buy a new sofa?

We've asked nearly 6,000 Which? members to rate the shops they bought their sofas from, to bring you our guide to the best and worst sofa shops.If you're looking for a new sofa, find out which shops come out top for delivery, quality and customer service before you buy.

Plus, read our step-by-step guide to how to buy a sofaand find our practical sofa cleaning advice.