Sofa or Sectional: What’s the right choice for your home?

Sofa or Sectional: What’s the right choice for your home?

Decorating a living room, family room or great room poses an interesting challenge. It’s important to establish a focal point, get the lighting just right and find attractive, functional pieces that provide storage. The most important aspect of decorating these rooms where so many people gather is providing comfortable seating.

Sofas and sectionals give the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to seating the most people, but how do you choose between a sofa and a sectional? Evaluating your decorating style, your lifestyle and your seating needs will help you make the right decision.

Formal Rooms

Does your room have symmetrical features, such as a fireplace flanked by twin windows? When you decorate, do you look for pieces with elegant lines, accents gilded in gold, dark wood tones and delicate fabrics? When selecting art for your walls, do you prefer portraits and landscapes to family photos and abstract pieces? If you answered “yes,” to these questions, your decorating style is formal.

Many traditional sofa designs work well with a formal decorating style, but a sectional sofa looks out of place in a formal room. To make the most of your formal room, select sofas with carved wood trim and rolled arms. Look for upholstery fabrics that are smooth or fabrics that have subtle texture, such as damask or moire. To achieve a classic look, center your sofa in front of a focal point such as a fireplace or a picture window.

Informal Rooms

A sectional looks best in an informal setting like a great room or an open-concept family room. An informal decor style is characterized by clean lines, sturdy fabrics and no-fuss window coverings. Generally speaking, if a big-screen TV set is the focal point in the room, the decor is informal. Sectionals are well suited to today’s casual, family-oriented lifestyles, and they work well with companion pieces like ottomans and recliners.

Because sectionals are kid-friendly and pet-friendly, contemporary, easy-care fabrics are your best choice. Microfiber sectionals are easy to clean with vacuum cleaner attachments. In households where pet hair is an issue, leather is the ideal choice. Leather is attractive and long-lasting, and you can wipe dog or cat hair away with a damp cloth.


Another consideration when choosing between a sofa and a sectional is how much seating you need. Do you need a lot of seating every day, or can you bring in chairs from other rooms when you entertain large groups?

A long sofa that seats up to four people works well in a large room, but the middle spots aren’t as comfortable as the ends. Keep in mind that older individuals may have a hard time standing after being seated on a center cushion. Most people use the arm rest on a sofa to help them stand up.

A sectional virtually always seats more people than a sofa. On family movie night, it’s easy to tuck a child into the corner of a sectional, and sectionals don’t follow the one-person-per-cushion rule that some sofas seem to dictate. If you have a large family or if you entertain a lot, a sectional can provide adequate seating where a sofa can’t.


If you want seating that wraps around the corner of a room, a sectional is best for you. Sectionals can be customized to suit the shape of your room, with a recliner built into one end and a “chaise lounge” extension on the other end. Some sectionals can even be separated into smaller pieces to provide a variety of seating options, then locked back into place when you want a one-piece look. A large ottoman in a matching or coordinating fabric provides even more seating, and many ottomans are now available with hinged tops, so they double as storage pieces.

Providing adequate, comfortable seating makes a large room seem friendly and inviting. Choosing the sofa or sectional that works best for your home will make your guests want to come back again and again.

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