Sofas & Loveseats
If the living room is the heart of the home, the sofa is the soul. It's where you spend time lounging, cuddling, socializing, playing, watching and, of course, living. As the centerpiece around which home life revolves, your sofa needs to be three things. First, it has to fit both your space and your needs. Secondly, it needs to be comfortable to you as well as to others who will frequent those cushions. And lastly, it should not only fit into the aesthetic of your space, but also express something about your personal style: who are you at home? We can help you define exactly what you need from your sofa and how to get it.
Types of Sofas, Explained
Sectional sofas come in sets of two or more furniture pieces. Together, they make up a complete sectional, but also work on their own. Because it's available in any range of sizes, this style is great for both small apartments and spacious homes. If your space will look best with an L-shaped sofa, a sectional is the way to go—create your own furniture configuration with the pieces and totally customize your living room setup. Sectional furniture will often include corner chairs, chaise lounges, arm chairs and loveseats. Choose the pieces that best suit your needs.
A sleeper sofa is your basic couch with a fold-out mattress that lives tucked behind the cushions during the day. This style is perfect for households that often have guests and lack an empty room in which to house them. Even if your home does have a guest bedroom, you may need to accommodate more than it can fit. Great for slumber parties and family gatherings that last until the next morning, sleepers are both kid- and family-friendly.
A loveseat is simply a small sofa with two cushions meant for two people, though, depending on the design, it can sometimes seat three. Children and adolescents will most likely sit comfortably three in a row, but adults should stick to the tried and true two. Because of the sofa's compact nature, loveseats are also great for small apartments or large bedrooms with extra space for seating. Arrange a pair of loveseats opposite one another for an intimate conversation space.
Apartment sofas offer all the quality of a full-size sofa but are scaled down to a compact size meant specifically for apartment use or for small rooms. The scaling keeps studio-dwellers from having to compromise on either design or space. Though this style is also primarily sold in two-cushion designs, it differs from loveseats in its overall look. Loveseats are an ancestor of the art deco Parisian furniture style in the 1930s, while apartment sofas are as varied in inspiration as full-size sofas.
Daybeds are super-dynamic pieces of furniture typically used as couches during the day but can easily be turned into beds in the evening. Daybeds are backless, but you can form backs by situating them against a wall and piling up plush pillows for back support. Their dual functionality make them excellent space savers, and their form is perfect for lounging or reading in the family room, living room, bedroom or screened-in porch.
A settee is an elongated chair that fits about two people. Typically, its back is higher than that of a regular sofa, and it sits more upright. Settees don't need to be confined to typical sofa spaces—they look perfectly natural against the dining room or entryway wall or pulled up to a desk.
What Material is Right For You?
Many sofas are to be constructed with either full-grain leather or top-grain leather. Both are natural leathers of the highest quality, but top-grain leather has been buffed and sanded to remove imperfections, blemishes and uneven coloring while full-grain is left in a more natural state. Sofas that claim to be constructed with full-aniline dyed leather are dyed only with soluble materials that protect unique outer characteristics without covering or altering them. Depending on your living room style and the look and feel of your other furniture, you may find that one fits your aesthetic better than the other. Leather scratches much easier than fabric sofas but are generally easier to clean, making them a suitable choice for households with children but maybe not for households with pets.
Cotton-blend fabrics are relatively easy to care for and pre-washed materials give the sofa an inviting, lived-in look. Non-leather upholstery fabrics are typically available in a much wider array of colors than leather and offer a lighter look to the space. If you like the textured look and feel of leather sofas but have children or pets, consider a cotton-yarn mix fabric—the handweaving creates an elegant textured design. Machine-washable slipcovers are also available in a variety of sizes and styles for easy care and customizable sofa styling.
The Choice: Design Advice
One of your first considerations should be space. How much space do you have to spare in your living room or family room and how much space do you want your sofa to take? Next, think about construction. Does leather work with your lifestyle better than fabrics or vice versa? Think of functionality first, then fashion. Leather is a classic, but fabric sofas are more versatile. Think about the the style of the arms—traditional rolled arms are a graceful throwback, while straightlined arms have a clean modernity to them. If buying a full-size sofa, you'll have to choose between two- and three-cushion styles. Three cushions invite a greater number of people to sink into the sofa, but the middle cushion can be an awkward place to sit depending on the position of other furniture, such as the coffee table. If your space has an overall modern look, keep the sofa style minimalist. If it's styled with more of a mid-century modern flair, look at styles with chic brass hardware or elegant tufting, both with buttons and without. And consider color: If that bright red sofa will still appeal to you in 10 years, fantastic, but it might be better to go neutral and let the rugs and pillows provide the pop of color whenever you want to change it.
Whatever your space looks like and your furniture needs are, you can find a sofa to seamlessly fit into your life and your home.