Sectional sofas are a popular alternative to regular couches. The attraction is that they offer an ample amount of seating for when you have people around, while still being a great place for you to relax, put your feet up and settle down with a good book or movie on quiet nights in.
Here we will provide a little guidance for you in making the right choice for this rather key piece of living room furniture.
What do I look for in a quality sectional sofa?
When buying a sofa, you should aim to get the highest quality one available for your budget, so that it will last just as long as you need it to. A few things you will want to look out for are:
A robust and durable frame will increase the life of your sofa considerably. This is especially true of often-used sofas, or if you are planning on frequently altering the position of the different sections of it.
With regards to the material, solid, kiln-dried hardwoods such as oak and maple are much better than softwoods such as pine or plywood. They are far less likely to warp and crack.
Joints are also crucial to consider as poorly constructed ones are more likely to come apart. In high-quality sectionals, joints are typically glued, dowelled, and screwed.
The joints should then be further reinforced with corner blocks – triangular pieces of wood attached to every right angle on the sofa to prevent them from twisting out of shape.
Springs are another vital aspect of the couch. These determine how well the seats will hold up against wear and tear, and ensure that you don’t end up sitting practically on the floor.
The best kind to look for is metal coils. Eight-way, hand-tied ones are the gold standard here. Multiple coil springs are supported by metal or fabric webbing. They are secured to one another with twine tied in eight different spots by hand.
A simple way to tell if the sofa has these is to lift the cushion and push firmly down on the seat. You should be able to feel each of the individual springs through the fabric of the sofa.
An alternative is sinuous springs, which are probably one of the common kinds available in many low to mid-range sofas. These are comprised of zig-zagging pieces of metal, which are set in rows. These rows are several inches apart and run perpendicular to the front of the couch.
If the springs are well-made, they will do as well as the eight-way hand-tied ones. Just ensure that the wire is at least 8-gauge and that at least two silent-tie wires are running across and are clipped to each spring. For the springs themselves, ones with many smaller turns are better than the S-shaped curve ones.
The type of filler used within the cushions of the couch will determine not only how comfortable they are, but also how long they will maintain their shape. There are various options open to you here.
The most common type of filling used is foam, and it comes in an assortment of densities. Basically, the higher the density, the firmer the cushion. While you may prefer to go for a lower density foam for improved comfort, just bear in mind that these ones tend to degrade faster.
Feathers or down are very soft - although this is a pricier option.
While preference is undoubtedly going to play a large part in your decision here, there are a few key things to keep in mind when making choices about the upholstery:
- It’s best to opt for tightly woven fabrics over looser ones as they last longer and are more stain-resistant.
- Cotton and linen materials look good, but they can be harder to keep clean.
- Leather upholstery is a good choice as it is both durable and easy to maintain – just be careful about the quality of the leather used. In some cases, part leather and part synthetic materials are used together.
- Microfibre is another good all-rounder. It is also resistant to scratches and tears, making it a great choice if you have kids or pets in the house.
How much space do you need for a sectional sofa?
Most people think that sectionals only work in larger rooms, but that’s not the case. Sectional sofas can really maximize seating areas in a smaller space, especially when placed in the corner of the room.
Sections also come in a range of designs (see below). Some of these are highly customizable, so you will always be able to find the right one to suit the space that you have available.
Just make sure that before purchasing your sofa, you measure the space carefully to ensure you do get the right size. Putting down tape to outline the dimensions of the couch make it easier to visualize it in the room. This is a good way of ensuring that you will have enough space to move around it once it is there.
Which is the best kind of sectional sofa for my living room?
When it comes to deciding which kind of sectional to choose, there are a wide variety of options open to you. Here is an overview of the more standard designs:
The L-shape sectional is the one people often think of when they talk about sectional sofas. As the name suggests, it is comprised of two sections of sofa pushed together to form a right angle. This is a very versatile option, as the individual sofas can be two, three, or even four seats long.
This design looks good either situated in the corner of a smaller room to provide more seating options or floating in the middle of a bigger room, creating its own little independent space.
This design is essentially a sofa with an extended ottoman attached to one side. So, one side can be used for regular sitting, and the other is great for putting your feet up.
This design would ideally suit a smaller living room for one, or alternately could be used to allow for additional seating in a bedroom or a study.
As with the L-shape, you have some options here. You could choose to go for a double chaise, which offers two extended seats with a regular one in the middle. This would provide comfortable seating for two, that is less bulky than other sectionals.
U-shape designs are typically formed using three sofa-sized pieces that create two 90-degree angles when pushed together. They are perfect for creating more intimate spaces in very large rooms.
These sectionals are a great luxury option if you have the space to accommodate them. They provide a large amount of very comfortable seating. Not only that, but the symmetrical design is great for creating a feeling of balance within the room.
Curved sectional sofas can look both stylish and elegant, making them a popular choice for improving the overall aesthetic appeal of a room.
This kind of sofa is also useful for avoiding the sharp corners of other designs, which limit the number of seating options. However, as they don’t sit flat against the wall, if this is where you are trying to place them, you will lose some room space.
A modular sectional is one where each of the seats and ottomans can be separated. It is specifically designed so that it can be reconfigured, rearranged, and just generally moved around.
These are great for people who like frequently changing things up to keep them fresh. The seats can be set out individually or pushed together as you please.
These sectionals are also ideal for any size space as you can always add more pieces for a bigger room, or divide the pieces between more than one place if your living room is on the small side.
How do you place a sectional sofa in a living room?
Finding just the right spot for a section sofa can be a tricky business, especially if you are working with a smaller space. There are a few things you will need to think about when doing this:
Consider the main functions of the room and ensure your arrangements is well-suited to these. If the room is a social space, fight the urge to simply place the sofa up against the wall.
Drawing the seating towards the center of the room, with a table placed directly in front, creates a more cozy and intimate feel within the room. The space around the outside is suitable for bookcases, plants, or computer areas.
When you have a large, room-defining item like a sectional sofa, it’s crucial that you find the best spot for it so that it works with the room rather than overwhelming the space. If you position it to one side, the whole room can feel a little off-balance.
A good way to prevent this from happening, if you can’t center the couch, is to place it directly across from another sturdy piece of furniture, such as a large entertainment stand or oversized bookcase.
Wherever you position the sectional sofa in the room, you will need to ensure that people can easily move around it. Take into account when measuring up any adjustable or reclinable features of the sofa, so that you can allow space for them.
Moreover, placing the sofa, if possible, in the corner opposite the door can make the whole space appear more accessible, more open, and more inviting.
As well as style and convenience, you will also want to think about comfort in how you arrange this crucial space. Your sectional sofa is likely to be the largest piece of furniture in the room. As such, it should be positioned opposite the main focal point.
In many instances, this would be the TV, but depending on the function of the room, it may also be a large window, a fireplace, or a bookshelf. This will provide both optimal comfort and convenience for anyone using the room.
In a much larger room, sectional sofas can also be used to break up the space into smaller, cozier nooks with different focal points for a better sense of comfort across the entire area.
What color should my sectional sofa be?
When selecting the color of your sofa, you will need to consider the other colors used in the décor of the living room, unless you are going to base a new palette around the sofa itself.
Either way, you will have to decide if the sofa is going to be neutral/matching or take on an accent role.
Opt for neutral/matching if…
- You’re concerned about the sectional looking too big or bulky in the space. Selecting a neutral color or one that matches the walls can make the room feel larger.
- You’re looking for a harmonious feel to the room. Matching colors can unify a room’s décor, and neutral ones add a feeling of calm.
Opt for accent if…
- You want your sofa to be the focus of attention. Just make sure that it still compliments the rest of the colors within the room.
- You’re looking to brighten up a neutral room. Take care to add other accessories in the same color to the rest of the room to balance out the effect.
Once you have made your decision regarding this, you will then want to think about whether you would like your sofa to be a light or dark tone.
Opt for light if…
- You have a dark floor. Putting a dark sofa onto a dark floor will make it disappear into the room.
- Your room has little natural lighting. As dark fabrics absorb light, this could have the effect of making the space look a bit gloomy.
Opt for dark if…
- You have children or pets. Darker fabric is less likely to stain.
Overall, while it may seem that there is a lot to get your head around when selecting your new sectional sofa, the truth is that the number of options available to you actually make it a lot easier for you to find the perfect sofa for your living room.
As long as you are careful with making sure the sectional you have your eye on will comfortably fit within the space, and blend with the décor, then you are likely to be incredibly happy with your new purchase.