Modular Sofa: What It Is and How to Choose One


Everyone knows what a traditional sofa is. It's that big rectangle thing with the arms and the cushions that's really comfortable to sit down on. A modular sofa is a highly customizable version of that same thing. If you're the kind of person who likes to rearrange furniture or change your mind a lot, you'll find that a modular sofa is going to satisfy every interior decorating urge you've ever had.

What is a Modular Sofa?

A modular sofa is a combination of a couch and a puzzle. It comes in pieces that you can arrange or configure however you see fit. You can play with the positioning of every part of your modular sofa until you have it exactly the way you want it, even if the end result winds up looking like the average everyday sofa. 

You probably think that a modular sofa sounds a lot like a sectional. You're both correct and incorrect. Both sectionals and modular sofas come in multiple pieces that you can arrange, but their configurations are different. Sectional sofas are almost always a combination of a sofa and a chaise lounge. A modular sofa consists of any number of any kind of pieces. There are traditional sofa pieces, ottomans, and corner pieces. A modular sofa will give you more freedom than a normal sectional. 

Why Choose a Modular Sofa Instead of a Traditional Sofa?

A traditional sofa always has a rectangular footprint. If you want more seating, you need to buy more sofas. You're locked into one design that you cannot modify, and changing your arrangement will always involve purchasing more furniture.

A modular sofa allows you full control over your seating area. Modular sofas are perfect for entertaining areas that are slightly unconventional, like home theaters or gaming lounges. You can seat more people on one piece of furniture, which technically saves space. Rather than pushing a bunch of lounge chairs or several sofas close together, you'll enjoy the seamless fit of each piece of your modular sofa. 

Modular sofas come with an advantage that most traditional sofas cannot provide. They can be customized for lazy lounging, afternoon naps, and snuggling. Modular sofas boast a lot of room for sofa pillows and throw blankets. They make an excellent place for impromptu overnight company. Did your best friend have a little too much wine to drive? That's fine. She'll get a great night's rest on your modular sofa and head home after brunch. 

Your modular sofa will work just as well when people aren't so excited to get cozy with each other. If you're inviting family and friends over and not everyone is well acquainted, they may feel uncomfortable sitting squashed together. If you're really close to your best friend or parent, it's not uncomfortable to share a loveseat. If you're next to someone who is a perfect stranger to you, you probably don't want to risk getting thigh to thigh. 

Since modular sofas are generally more spacious, everyone can keep their own personal bubble unpopped. Your guests are less likely to feel uncomfortable, and you won't wind up with friends or siblings sitting on the floor or in an entirely separate room.

Consider Your Available Floor Space

Modular sofas work just as well in large living rooms as they do in small living rooms. Small living rooms, like those in apartments or condos, are perfect to utilize modular seating. If you'd like to leave the center of your small living room open, you can create a modular sofa that will fit comfortably in the corner of the room. The couch won't be an obstacle, and you'll be free to use the open space for other things. With all that empty space, you won't have an excuse not to take the folding exercise bike out of the closet anymore. 

In larger living rooms, modular sofas will allow you to build your seating scheme around your focal point. If you have a large TV or a projector setup, a modular sofa can be arranged in a way that everyone will be seated in the right position to easily see the screen. You can also build your sofa around your fireplace or your gaming table if media isn't the main purpose of your living space. 

How Many People Do You Need to Seat?

If you live alone or with one other person in a small apartment and you aren't the type to entertain, you probably don't need a modular sofa. If you won't ever encounter a need to seat more than two and you can find a comfy sofa, you're probably alright. Modular sofas are best for living rooms that need to seat three or more people. 

Choose Your Configuration and Take Measurements

Modular sofa designs can get very big, very quickly. Adding all those ottomans will make your modular sofa super comfortable, but it will also make your sofa the entire room. Before you start grabbing up sofa pieces, take accurate measurements of the area in which you intend to place your sofa. 

Measuring for a modular sofa is not like measuring for a regular sofa. The footprint of your modular sofa won't be a typical rectangle. While you're taking measurements, envision your layout. Do you want an "L" shape? An "E" shape? A square with an open front? Are you building off of a corner? How many ottomans do you want to place, and where will they go?

If measurements alone aren't enough to help you visualize the amount of space you're occupying, try using painter's tape on the floor. It will easily peel off without damaging your flooring, and it will give you a visual representation of the space you're trying to fill with your sectional. 

Consider the way your modular sofa will impact the rest of your room. You want to be sure you have enough space to comfortably fit your coffee table. Can you easily walk around or behind the modular sofa, or will it turn your living room into an obstacle course?

Keep in mind that conflicts won't necessarily prohibit you from building a sectional. It just means you'll have to reconsider your desired layout. A little creative thinking will allow you to make it work. It might be as simple as removing a piece or two to make everything come together.

Choosing The Height and Depth of Your Modular Sofa

The height of your modular sofa is important. You don't want the back of your sofa to be too tall if you intend to place your sectional against the wall. It may partially block windows or shelves if the dimensions aren't correct. If you're placing your sectional in the center of the room where the back of the sofa won't obstruct anything, height may be less important to consider.

Sofas that are about 40 inches deep are perfect for lazy loungers. Shallower sofas will encourage people to sit upright, making them a better choice for living rooms with game or activity tables. Some sectionals offer the same pieces at different seat depths. You can create a sectional that's half business, half pleasure. A lounging side and an upright side can be put together and arranged to make a versatile living space.

Choosing Your Upholstery

Modular couches usually work out to be quite large. You may not want to commit to a loud color or pattern for your couch. It's going to speak very loudly, and it can easily overwhelm all the other decorative components in the room. It may be better to opt for a modular sofa that is a more neutral shade. Neutral does not necessarily have to be boring if you dress it up well.

Sofa pillows and throw blankets can be used to add different colors and patterns to your modular sofa. Work with your living room's color scheme to pick three accent colors you can use for your pillows. Pick three patterns, and try different configurations of those colors and patterns. You can also incorporate textures, like knit or faux fur, to create contrast between your couch and your pillows.

A large modular sofa can handle a lot of big comfy pillows without looking overcrowded. If you have a lot of pieces, it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to toss a dozen different pillows around your sofa. When arranging your sofa pillows, you can overlap them where necessary and leave enough gaps to break up the clusters of color with the neutral shade of your couch. 


Choosing and building a modular sofa is a more involved process than picking a regular couch or couch and loveseat set and plopping them down in your living room. You have a lot more control over the comfort and design of your living space - you just need to be willing to put a little more work in. If you want a modular sofa but are having trouble coming up with the perfect configuration, Whom offers modular and sectional sets in tried and true configurations. It's the best of both worlds!


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