Types of Sofas: How to Buy a Sofa for Your Space - Pier 1


On the search for a new sofa? When it comes to sofa shopping, it pays to do your research. After all, a new sofa is an investment -- not only financially, but functionally and aesthetically. Your sofa is usually your most-used and most prominent piece of furniture in your living room. 

Our ultimate sofa buying guide will help you find the comfiest couch or loveliest loveseat to suit your style, fit your family’s lifestyle, and create the look you love in your living room. 

How to Choose a Sofa

There are so many things to consider. Sofa or sectional? And what is a settee, anyway? Let’s dive in to help you discover how to choose a sofa for your home. 

Types of Sofas

Before you start scrolling through your many sofa options, it helps to start by figuring out what type of sofa you are looking for. Usually, the type of sofa is chosen by how many people you plan to seat and how you will use it. 

Standard sofa. This is the typical sofa that you see in most homes. It usually measures around 72-84 inches and comfortably seats three or four people. 

Sectional. Sectional sofas are modular and usually come in two or more pieces. They’re designed to offer flexibility and maximize your seating, often for five or more people. You can find sectional sofas in L- or U-shaped configurations. 

Loveseat. Aptly named because they seat up to two people, a loveseat is usually just a smaller version of a sofa and typically measures between 48 and 72 inches. 

Sleeper sofa. Sleeper sofas come in a couple of varieties: sofa beds and day beds. Sofa beds offer a pull-out mattress that tucks away under the cushions. A day bed is a deeper sofa that you can lay out on, perfect for afternoon naps. 

Sofa Styles

Choosing the right sofa style for your home is a bit of a balancing act between finding the sofa styles that work for your lifestyle and having a stylish look you love. 

Mid-century modern. The mid-century modern sofa style is known for its clean lines, bare leg style, and overall minimalist aesthetic. And even though its style is modern, the look is classic enough to harmonize quite cohesively in design styles including traditional, modern farmhouse, and even industrial. 

Lawson. A lawson is your typical three-seater sofa. A classic in every way. The shape is squared with straight lines, and the arms may be rolled or square. Its versatile style means it looks right at home in traditional or modern living rooms.

Settee. A settee seats two or more people and can be described as a bench with a back. A hallmark look of a settee is that the back is high and positioned for upright seating. Which is why they’re so versatile. Settees can be used in conversational areas or as bench seating in the dining room. 

Chaise. The term “chaise” means long chair in French, which makes perfect sense. A chaise lounge is an upholstered seat for one and made specifically for reclining. It customarily has a back and may have one, two, or no arms. If you see the term “fainting couch,” that is describing a chaise with one arm.

English roll arm. This comfortable yet distinguished sofa style is defined by its low contoured rolled arms, cushy curves, and often turned legs. While a bit more traditional in style, it is versatile enough to look great in modern designs, too. 

Tuxedo. A tuxedo sofa is known for its tufted cushioning and arms that are the same height as the back, creating a squared-off, boxy design. Since the tufting on the back is the focal point, there are no cushions or pillows on the back to detract from this detail. 

Chesterfield. You’ll know you’re looking at a classic Chesterfield sofa when you spot tufted details and rolled arms that are as high as the back. You may even see nailheads in this classic British sofa style. 

Camelback. This classic sofa style is defined by the shape of its back that resembles -- you guessed it -- a camel’s back. Some have one hump, some have two. 

Sofa Size

While the type of sofa and sofa style are important factors to consider when choosing your sofa, you want to make sure it is appropriately sized and proportioned to your space -- and will fit through your door. 

Take note of the height, width, and depth of the sofa. If necessary, tape out a section of your floor in the living room to make sure there is plenty of space to set end tables, lamps, and your coffee table. Also, consider its height and overall scale. A large, bulky sofa next to a delicate, dainty chair will look off-balance. 

To avoid reenacting the Friends’ infamous PIVOT! scene, measure your doorways before selecting a sofa. Make sure it will maneuver through the door, up the stairs, around the corners, and into its ultimate resting place. And be sure to factor in some wiggle room for packaging --and your fingers!  

Finding the Right Sofa for Your Lifestyle

Taking your family's specific needs into consideration will likely dictate your fabric choices and other important factors as you move through the sofa buying process. 

Kids and Pets

If you’re looking for a pet friendly sofa or a kid friendly sofa, steer toward durable fabrics. Think performance fabrics, leather, or synthetics that will stand up to daily wear-and-tear and frequent scrubbing. You may also want to consider slipcovers to protect your sofa from dirty paws and sticky fingers. 

The Best Sofa for Your Needs

Next, be honest about how you use your sofa and find the style that will best suit your needs. If you typically nap on your sofa, a deeper sofa with fewer cushions will be more comfortable. If you like to read, surf, or watch TV from an upright position, you may lean toward a sofa with firmer cushions.  

Colors & Patterns

The choice to go with a neutral sofa, a bold color, or a pretty pattern goes beyond aesthetics. 

Go Bold

When choosing colors and patterns, consider how long you expect to keep your new sofa. If you are likely to replace it as your style preferences change, go for that on-trend look that’s caught your eye. You can keep a bold color or pattern from overwhelming your space by choosing simple lines and accessorizing it with neutral pillows and throws. 

Darker colors and patterns are great options for your new sofa if you have young children or pets, as these can hide a whole host of stains and wear marks. 

Keep It Neutral

If your new sofa is an investment piece and you would like it to stand the test of time, a classic neutral color is the way to go. Gray, tan, navy, and brown will serve you well for many years to come. You can easily upgrade your look with new on-trend accent chairs and give your sofa a seasonal refresh with stylish pillows and throws

Ready to Start Sofa Shopping? 

If it’s time to upgrade your living room look with a stylish new sofa, shop Pier 1’s selection of sofas, sectionals, loveseats, settees, and chaise lounges. You’ll find a wide variety of styles, colors, and fabrics that will fit your family’s needs with a stylish look you love. Start shopping now!

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