Selecting a sofa for your home can be an overwhelming task for many. There are so many styles, colors, fabrics, sizes, price ranges and vendors. We recommend purchasing the highest quality sofa that fits within your budget. These statement pieces are usually a focal point in your living area and, if you invest wisely, can last decades. In this article, we’ll examine the various types of sofas, key aspects to consider and how to pull it all together for a well-curated space. We hope you enjoy our tips for choosing the perfect sofa.
Types of Sofas
Let’s start by covering the different types of sofas. According to Living Cozy, “A sectional sofa consists of at least two pieces or more that can be joined together in various configurations. One of the most significant advantages of sectional couches is that they are so versatile and can be adjusted to suit the layout of your room and your family’s particular needs and preferences.”
Sectionals are usually 1.5 to 2 times the size of a sofa and give homeowners good versatility in how they’re positioned in a room. Sectionals are frequently arranged in one of three shapes: the L, the U or the curve. In the above photo, Pamela’s living room features a sectional in an L-shape arrangement. This provides seating for a lot of guests and allows Pamela and her husband to spread out when they’re relaxing at home. Of course, sectionals can be rearranged at any point to address new needs or give the setting a fresh look. Another advantage of a sectional is that it allows you to make good use of corners with an L-shape configuration. Since sectionals are larger than a traditional sofa, they tend to cost a premium.
In contrast, a sofa is a single piece of furniture that supplies seating for up to three people. If you don’t plan to use this particular room to entertain or if you don’t have a large family, a sofa is a great option. We often pair a sofa with accompanying chairs (although we don’t suggest buying the matching sets. Use coordinating fabrics and styles but not matching.)
At right, we show a fabulous sofa in a client’s living room that we recently renovated. Note the fabric color and style used on the sofa differs from that of the throw pillows as well as that of the leather chair placed nearby. The art on the back wall pulls together all the hues in the furniture as well. While sofas usually have two arms (one at either end), there are also sofas that feature only one arm on one side.
We like using settees or love seats to supplement sofas in larger rooms. Settees are also ideal in smaller spaces such as at the foot of a bed. They give homeowners a place to sit while preparing for the day and are great for holding a suitcase while packing for a trip. Two examples are shown below with very different styles.
Size of Space Available
When choosing the perfect sofa, it’s important to examine the size of your space. If you’re decorating a quaint cottage or a small apartment in the city, a sofa or love seat may do the trick. However, sectionals or multiple sofas may be ideal if you’re furnishing a spacious estate or have an open floor plan. Plan your seating based on the allowable space and how you can maximize it.
Similarly, look at the traffic patterns of your space. As explained in A Little Design Help, “A room with a bottleneck that stops traffic is never convenient or efficient for living in, and it generally looks overstuffed and crowded.”
Look at how people tend to move from your entrances, through the rooms and around furniture. Since sofas (of any type) tend to be the substantial furniture pieces in rooms, you want to ensure they don’t impede access throughout the home.
Your Home’s Style
While you can have slightly different styles in some of your home’s rooms, you want to aim for cohesiveness, especially in spaces that will welcome guests. Select sofa styles that are consistent with your other furnishings. According to Design Within Reach, “First, a sofa should coincide with the overall aesthetic of your home. For example, if your space is filled with antique pieces, an armless leather sofa with a sleek steel frame and clean lines might feel out of place. Second, your sofa should not only be aesthetically pleasing but also functional for its intended use. A deep-seated sofa with articulating headrests will create a cozy environment for family movie night, while a sophisticated Eames sofa would be well-suited for an evening cocktail party.”
Fabric and Use
Color isn’t the only consideration when choosing your sofa. A critical aspect to consider when it comes to the fabric of your sofa is how the furniture will be used. Choose fabric that aligns with your lifestyle. Do you have children and pets? We recommend more durable fabric that is spill-resistant. Let’s face it. (No matter how many times you scoot your pet from the furniture, their fur seems to gravitate toward the sofa.) “Choose a woven linen to fend off spills. Opt for a sumptuous boucle or tweed to contrast glass and steel accent pieces. Or evoke a ’70s-inspired conversation pit with a sectional upholstered in button-tufted velvet,” recommends Design Within Reach. Leather also is easy to wipe down and doesn’t snag or pull, making it a good solution when durability matters.
Like all aspects of interior design, there are limitless options in terms of sofa styles. Below, we include just a few options to illustrate the vast array of possibilities —all of which courtesy of Living Cozy.
Pulling it All Together
Now that you are prepared to choose the perfect sofa for your needs, don’t forget to ground your sectional, sofa and/or love seats with a quality rug. As I mentioned in the post “Inside Look at Design Influencers Tour at High Point Furniture Market,” there are lots of ways to layer more colorful rugs over neutrals ones for a truly unique look. Rug layering also provides a rich, comfortable look in any room. After you’ve invested in that perfect sofa, you’ll definitely want to finish it with a rug or two that polish off the room. If you’d like help with choosing sofas, rugs or other design elements, contact Pamela Hope Designs for a personal design experience like no other.