Buying a sofa can be a huge commitment. Not only is it definitely an investment piece of furniture, but depending on what you’re looking for or where you are looking… the price of a new sofa or sectional can cost you a pretty penny. This two part sofa guide is for you to select the perfect sofa for your home and shop for it with confidence!
First things first… you might be wondering, what’s the difference between a couch and a sofa? Not much. The two are interchangeable. A sofa is known to be more proper while “couch” is almost like the slang for sofa. I use both words here on the blog… but using the proper term “sofa” was engraved into my head during college so I lean on that side a little more.
Knowing what you’re looking for is the first step to stress free buying. Always always always measure first. If you learn anything from this post or Defined Designs in general, I would want you to remember a saying that my dad always told me… measure twice, cut once. It applies in so many situations. Double checking your measurements to verify that you’re getting the right size item or cutting something properly will save you in case you measured wrong the first time. Preventing getting the wrong size sofa or a desk that won’t fit in your office, or shelves that are too small for your living room.. whatever it may be.
Okay, let’s talk sofa styles.
Rather than thinking in a sense of traditional, modern, mid century, etc. and different styles in the sense of design, I like to look at sofa styles by their features and how it’s built. I think this lends more to the furniture designer in me, but might be a good twist for you to look at it from a different point of view. I bought my sofa thinking about how it would function and how I would be using it. And I’m so happy with my choice.
Selecting A Cushion Style
3 cushion – This is the typical industry standard.. a sofa is typically meant to seat 3 people so 3 cushions would only make sense.
Bench cushion – This is the sofa you see when there is one long cushion that spans the entire sofa. Definitely has a more modern or feminine look.
2 cushion – This is the happy medium. More of a custom look with longer cushions, but not one single bench cushion so you have more flexibility in rotating and flipping cushions if needed.
Selecting A Back Style
NOTE: Your back cushions typically match your seat cushions in number.. 3 seat/ 3 backs, 2 seat/ 2 backs, bench cushion varies.
Loose back cushions – This is where the cushions are not attached at all, you can remove them, flip them, rotate them, whatever you need.
Sewn in back – This is when your back cushions look like they’re loose cushions, but they are actually sewn into the back frame of the sofa at the top. You typically see this in more basic or traditional style couches. I always like to stay away from this style because they are easy to rip during moves or re-arranging if you try to grab the weight of the couch from the back cushion.
Tight back – This is where you don’t have back cushions at all, but the back of the sofa has enough foam and padding to be a cushion itself. This is usually more of an ultra modern look, and not that common. Or on the complete opposite side, something you might have had in your old college apartment, emphasis on old.
Selecting An Arm Style
Square Arm – Most common currently. There are a few different looks of this type of arm but you really can’t go wrong.
Rolled Arm – This is a more traditional look. This style has been more modernized by creating a thin arm with a rolled top.
English Arm – A very feminine style arm. You can point this style out by its curvy look, low height and folded fabric on the outer edges. Typically has a very low profile arm compared to others.
Slope Arm – Similar to the square arm with a slight feminine touch. This is where the arm is the same height as the back but slopes down to be a normal height closer to the front of the arm.
Selecting A Leg Style
Block legs – this is more common on traditional styles or a sofa with a heavy scale or look to it. Block legs are low to the ground and very chunky in size.
Pencil legs – this is more common in mid century style sofas. Pencil legs are higher off the ground, typically tall, thin wooden legs.
Skirt – this is when you have extra fabric that hides the legs from being seen completely. Similar look of a bedskirt, the actual legs are hidden. This leans to a traditional or more feminine look.
Tufted – I’m sure we all know what tufting is… those pretty, feminine buttons that are set into a cushion to give it a nice tuft. You can find sofas with just tufting on the back cushions, tufting on a tight back, and even tufting on both the back and seat cushions.
Chaise ottoman – I like to qualify this one under a sectional sometimes, mainly because this typically turns into a two piece sectional rather than a sofa with a chaise ottoman with most of the popular furniture brands. This is where you’d have 2 normal seat cushions and either a right or left chaise piece which looks like a long double cushion. This opens up a whole new world of lefts and rights and making sure you get the correct orientation/layout for your space.
What are your favorite sofa styles? If you could have any combination, what would your dream sofa consist of?? I’d love to hear!