Building a unique and comfortable living space is an important step in feathering your nest. You’ll likely spend a great deal of time in your family room, and should you entertain guests, this will most definitely be a popular spot. As such, creating a relaxed yet polished and inviting atmosphere is crucial.
While aesthetics are something you will absolutely have to consider when designing your living space, comfort must be considered congruently therewith. Build a beautiful living room with furniture that doesn’t sit well, and you’ll begin getting more regrets than RSVPs. Offer seating that feels amazing but looks like you bought it from a fraternity house, and the result can be the same.
The foundation of your living space is almost always going to center around your choice of seating. Selecting the perfect sofa can be a daunting task, made more complicated by thoughts of future entertaining and the need for additional seating, space confinements, and budget. If you’re considering whether or not to purchase a sectional or a standard couch, we can help.
At Whom, we specialize in custom-built, sustainable furniture that not only makes a visual statement, but feels as comfortable as your favorite pair of jeans. We’re specialists when it comes to combining form and comfort. As such, we’ve got some great tips for determining if a sectional sofa is right for your space.
Sectionals v. Regular Sofas: What are the Differences?
If you’re brand new to the wide world of living room furniture (hey there college grads!), you might need a crash course in the differences between standard sofas and sectionals.
- Sofas are single pieces of furniture that typically seat three to four people.
- Sectionals can consist of multiple pieces of furniture that fit together like a puzzle, can be configured in different ways, and can sit numerous people. Some sectionals are so massive they can seat twenty people, although we aren’t sure how ideal that arrangement is.
- Sofas, in general, provide a more formal, and polished look. A standard formal living room suite will consist of a sofa, loveseat (two-seat sofa), and chair.
- Sectionals are inviting, and create an atmosphere that is more relaxed.
These are the main differences visually between sectional sofas and standard sofas. Now that you have a bit of background information, let’s dive into how to determine whether your space is best suited for a sectional or standard.
The Case for Standard Sofas
In the world of interior design and décor, you will likely run across sofa purists. These are people who would never consider a sectional in their home décor for a single second. Drawn to the clean, simplistic, and formal lines of a standard sofa, they demand a polished and comfortable look that includes more than just one piece of furniture.
Many designers also point out that standard sofas and the furniture that typically accompanies them allow for guests to seat themselves at a comfortable distance from other guests. However, this typically does mean you have less seating, which can be problematic when entertaining more guests than you have seats for (enter super uncomfortable foldable chairs).
Proponents of regular couches will argue that they give you the opportunity to build and rebuild your space numerous times. Unlike a sectional, which sometimes cannot be configured in a different shape or moved around a room, a regular couch can be moved practically anywhere, which allows you to create a new and fresh feel in your room without purchasing new furniture or investing a lot of time into a complete redesign.
The Case for Sectionals
Sectional sofas are the ultimate in providing additional seating in a space-limited area. They are inviting and comfortable, and create a more relaxed and informal atmosphere than a standard sofa.
The configurability of modular sectionals make them fairly easy to place in any room. Most sectionals come in parts that can be joined or pushed together to create the shape you need to fit your space and are typically U-shaped or L-shaped. Think of configuring a sectional like playing Tetris. Because they have this super shape-shifting power, sectionals are a great fit for spaces that are asymmetrical, not well-defined, or otherwise difficult to outfit with proper seating, especially with corner sectionals or those with a storage ottoman.
However, doing a little planning in advance is important because some sectionals are chaise sectionals, meaning they have a longer section that is oriented to a specific way like "left-arm" or "right-facing," unless of course it's a reversible chaise or armless reversible sectional, in which case you can stick the "tail" on either side.
Sectionals are also a great option to consider when thinking of additional bedding. While a sleeper sofa is arguably one of the most uncomfortable inventions of all time, a sleeper sectional or reclining sectional can actually be configured to sleep additional guests atop the modular pieces versus having a pull-out mattress. This can be a great way to provide additional bedding when needed without investing in a pull-out sofa sleeper that no one wants to lie on.
Additionally, sectionals come in such a wide variety of options that it's easy to find one that comfortably fits your space and matches your style; there's microfiber versus chenille, there's leather sectional sofas (or faux leather earth-friendly ones), sectionals with plush memory foam seat cushions and even comfier back cushions, power reclining sectionals with cup holders, USB ports, and adjustable headrests, and even 2-piece sectionals designed for the small space. Even though sectionals are the epitome of lounging, you can still also make them a focal point with 21st century modern sectionals that offer that clean, symmetrical look, or even mid-century sectionals with more luxurious upholstery, throw pillows, and that chaise lounge feel.
How to Determine Whether to Buy a Sectional Sofa or a Regular Couch
Ultimately, the decision of whether to purchase a sectional or standard sofa will be determined by three things: the space and design of the room you need a sofa in, the amount of seats you need to provide, and the overall aesthetic feel you are trying to create in your room. Let’s look at these three things individually.
- Room. Your room and room size will be the biggest determining factor in deciding on a standard couch or sectional. Some spaces simply cannot handle a sectional, regardless how small the sectional is. If you are working with a room that is incredibly small, a sectional can be overpowering and cause your space to appear cluttered and “packed.”
The one caveat for this small room rule, however, is a small room that has an odd configuration to begin with; i.e. the door is in a strange place, there is a staircase to consider, the cable television outlets are against a particular wall that makes a standard sofa a bad option, etc. The asymmetry of a sectional can work in a small room’s favor if the configuration is already non-standard.
- Seats. If you live alone and never entertain, it’s unlikely you actually need a twenty seat sectional in your living room, unless you just have your heart set on it. When attempting to determine how many seats you should have in your living room, a good rule of thumb is to provide seating in your living space for as many seats as you have at your dining room table. In other words, if you have a dining table that seats ten guests, you’ll want ten seats in your living space.
Keep in mind that even though a standard sofa or sectional seats three guests, it may not seat three guests comfortably. Not everyone will want to cozy up to one another in a manner in which they are directly seated next to another person.
- Aesthetics. What kind of mood do you want to create in your living space? Are you more relaxed than polished? Do you plan to use your living space to entertain more business associates than family members? Do you want to have space where you and your guests feel comfortable putting your feet up to watch a football game? Is this living space going to be used for after-dinner cocktails? These are all considerations when determining how to create mood and atmosphere in a room.
A regular couch will likely yield a more polished and professional look to any room, while a sectional sofa will appear more comfortable, inviting, and familiar. Making a determination of what this space will be used for most will help you pick the correct piece of furniture to outfit the space.
Both sectional sofas and regular couches offer additional seating, charm, comfort, and atmosphere to any room in which they are placed. Determining which one is the best fit for your needs depends on specific needs for seating and atmosphere, and is only confined by the size of the room.