The sofa has been a staple of socializing and living comfortably for centuries. It’s where we hang out, connect, unwind, and increasingly (in the age of the remote worker) get things done.
But no matter how you use your sofa, there’s no doubt that you use it a lot. Few pieces of furniture see more time with us, apart from our beds. This makes choosing between the different types of sofas all the more important.
Which sofa should you choose? Are sofas and couches the same? Does appearance or comfort matter more?
These questions and more will come up as you shop. We’re here to help you answer them. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the types of sofas you can choose from.
Sofa vs Couch: What’s the Difference?
When people say “sofa,” they often think of a more formal piece of furniture. A “couch,” on the other hand, evokes a more relaxed concept.
However, in spite of these connotations, the two words mean basically the same thing. They have different origins. “Sofa” comes from Arabic, while “couch” comes from French. But in modern-day U.S., people use the two terms to mean the exact same thing.
So, as you shop, don’t get hung up on the difference between the two words. There really isn’t one. Just learn these sofa (or couch!) styles, and pick the one you like best for your home.
Let’s start small, with the “loveseat.” While it has its own term, this piece of furniture is essentially a sofa. It’s just a little smaller.
These sofas seat two people, creating a cozy environment and a clear reason for the name. Many people like to pair a larger sofa with a loveseat to give more seating options. Of course, this will depend on how much room you have at home.
A loveseat is also a good option for unconventional places. For example, if you want to create a reading nook in your bedroom, a small loveseat can offer a comfortable options without taking up much more space than a chair.
In most types of couches, the function is straightforward. You sit on it, sometimes sleep on it, and maybe lose some things under the cushions. We ask nothing more of the typical sofa.
However, a sofa bed marries form with function. They offer a dual function that’s great for short-term hosting. In fact, a sofa bed can even help maximize the space in a studio apartment.
Even when it comes to sofa beds, though, you’ll need to choose between options. You can get a futon that folds out into a bed with minimal effort. Or you can get a pull-out couch that transforms into a complete bed with a bit more effort.
These couches also come in a range of sizes. The largest ones can easily sleep more than one person.
A sofa bed makes a great choice if you often host people on short notice, or want to maximize a small living space. Thinking of buying a sofa bed? Read more now before you make your choice.
The sectional might be the most grandiose of couches. These massive sofas require lots of space. As the name suggests, they’re so large that they come in sections.
A sectional makes sense if you have a large home with a lot of people in it. They’re great for hosting movie parties, sleepovers, and other large, laidback gatherings.
Sectionals also offer some flexibility, since you can add or remove sections as needed. While you can connect them for stability, you’ll also have the option of taking apart and rearranging your sofa whenever you’d like.
If you like aesthetics, you might find yourself drawn to the mid-century modern sofa style.
Of all the different types of sofas, this one isn’t the most comfortable. But it does offer a trendy look that works with many different home decors. This versatility is one reason why mid-century modern furniture has been so popular for so long.
While this sofa style came about in the mid-20th century, it has enjoyed a resurgence for the last few years. The clean, minimalist designs look modern but not too severe. Many people like these sofas in neutral colors or bold brights.
If you like styles that look more classic and less modern, you might find yourself drawn to a Chesterfield sofa instead.
You can recognize a Chesterfield couch by the quilted design on the surface. This style lends it a luxe, old-world charm. These fancy sofas can also be fairly comfortable, but since they look so nice, you might find yourself treating yours with extra care.
To get an even fancier look, try a camelback couch. These aren’t the most comfortable couches, but they do work well with certain types of decor.
Camelbacks have a single or double arch feature in the back, hence the name. The curved back slopes down into the sofa’s arms. The arms, legs, and back tend to all use exposed wood trim, which gives the sofa a classy, old-fashioned look.
While you won’t sink into a camelback couch, they do offer a specific style that’s hard to match.
If comfort matters more to you, opt for this sofa design instead. A Lawson-style sofa has built-in pillows along the back for maximum comfort.
These sofas offer simple, unassuming designs and come in an array of colors. But most importantly, they offer one of your most comfortable choices for movie marathons or mid-day naps.
Choosing Between These Types of Sofas
While you can divide the different types of sofas up into countless subcategories, these main types of sofas will give you a great starting point for shopping. Now for the hard part: choosing the one that suits your home best.
When you take a look at your existing decor, and consider your needs, the answer will probably become clear. If appearance matters more to you, you can get a design-heavy sofa that’s a little less comfortable. If you’ll use it for hours-long hangouts, opt for one of the more comfy designs featured here.
Once you get your new sofa, you’ll also need to sync it with the rest of your home. We can help with that, too — check out our “Living Room” blog section for more design and decor tips!