Ideas + Advice


Your Guide to Sectional Sofas

Whether you want to replace a worn-out sofa or go all out and redesign your living room, purchasing a sectional sofa could be the ideal solution. Read on for a breakdown of the styles, designs and other features these functional pieces offer.

— Size/Shape —

  • Size: Because sectionals provide abundant seating for large families and gatherings, it’s more important than ever to measure. From the actual design itself, to the space you plan to put it in, you want to get that measuring tape and ensure you record accurate numbers for the overall width, depth and height.
  • L-shape Sectionals: This sectional extends in an L-shape, either to the left (left-arm facing or LAF) or to the right (right-arm facing or RAF). Sections often have two to five seats.
  • U-shape Sectionals: This sofa features a shallow or deep U-shape, depending on the number of seats on each side.
  • Curved Sectionals: The curved sectional lacks the sharp angles of other varieties. It is best for larger rooms due to the extra floor space required.
  • Chaise Sectionals: Appearing on one or both sides of the L-shape or U-shape varieties, the chaise takes the place of several individual seats and allows for proper lounging.

— Style —

  • Stationary Sectionals: If you prefer to leave your sofa in one layout, go with the classic stationary sofa - it won't let you move around individual sections, but will provide a timeless appeal.
  • Modular Sectionals: If you prefer a bit more customization, modular is the way to go. Each piece detaches from the rest, letting you rotate the layout at will.
  • Reclining Sectionals: The reclining sectionals let you stretch out to read, nap or watch TV.
  • Sleeper Sectionals: Perfect for guests, sleeper sectionals offer a pullout mattress that you can easily fold away after use.

— Design —

1. Back design

High back: The more traditional of the two, the high back supports your back without requiring extra cushions.

Low back: A more modern design, the low back works well in minimalist styles and/or as a sleeker couch without the bulk.

2. Back cushion type

Plush/Loose Cushions: These cushions are typically unattached and let you move them around. They have extra padding and often resemble pillows.

Standard Cushions: These cushions are semi-attached or fully attached and are not as padded as plush cushions.

Tight Cushions: These cushions work well for sleek designs but often need additional pillows for full comfort.

3. Arm Type

Roll Arms:
The rolled arm offers a bit of curve and can give your sectional a more traditional look.

Track Arms:
The track arm extends straight out and can have either a high profile or a low profile

4. Leg Type

  • Narrow: The narrow leg appears most often in mid-century modern styles, and it draws the eye to sleek, clean lines. It may or may not be tapered.
  • Thick: The thick leg appears in many design styles and can be either high profile or low profile. Thick legs are often square, but can also be round.

— Material —

  • Linen: As a natural fabric, linen will be the most breathable and most comfortable in hotter weather.
  • Polyester: This fabric is more durable and stain resistant than linen and works well in family households.
  • Leather: Those who love hard-wearing materials often turn to leather sectionals. Full grain leather shows a natural patina over time, while top grain leather better resists stains.
  • Faux leather: Similar in appearance to real leather, faux leather is more affordable and holds up well to stains

— Sectional Sofa Care —

Do you know how to care for your sofa? Make sure to follow the cleaning tag instructions to avoid damaging the material.
Here are the main symbols you’ll see:

  • W – Use distilled water/soap solution.
  • WS – Use distilled water/soap solution or water-based cleaning solvents.
  • S – Use water-free cleaning solvent, never water
  • X – Vacuum only.
  • E – Use a special leather cleaning kit.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.