New renters and new homeowners are often on a tight budget, and yet they want to outfit their home with furniture that works for their surroundings. If you have limited dollars to spend, interior designers recommend focusing on a big-ticket item, such as investing in a good sofa that will last for the long term.

We asked Cheryl Eisen, founder and president of Interior Marketing Group in New York City, to share her advice about which factors are important when choosing a sofa to fit any budget. Here are her recommendations:

Shape: Modular sofas work in many different layouts. They allow you to swap pieces and adjust the shape if you move to a new home or get tired of your look. If you’re going to invest in a piece, you want something that is adaptable for different spaces and uses.

Size: The size should be consistent with the size and layout of your space. That’s another reason modular pieces are a great investment, because the size and configuration can be easily tailored to suit your space.

Design/construction: You want to choose a piece that’s timeless. This means clean lines, neutral colors, high quality and durable construction. Choose a piece that is simple yet classic, nothing too trendy or bold. Over time, you may outgrow anything too taste-specific.

Quality: Durability is essential. A high-quality piece will stand the test of time and offer the comfort that will make it a worthy investment. Don’t compromise quality for a piece that looks great but is of poor quality.

Where to shop: Don’t purchase a sofa online unless you are able to view it in a showroom before purchasing it. You want to be able to test the look and feel to ensure you’re getting the quality you’re looking for. The only way to know how comfortable a sofa will be is to test it out for yourself.

Custom design: Custom design is necessary only if you have a very specific style in mind or an unusual room layout that doesn’t accommodate a typical shape or size of sofa.