But before you shell out the cash for that gorgeous sectional you picked out, you first need to make sure you have enough space for it in whatever room you want to place it in.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to be a mystery. In this guide, we will go over how to measure a sectional sofa so that you'll know exactly how it will fit into your space, and we'll also go over a few tips that will make setting up your new sectional much easier than it might otherwise be.
Meet the experts
To give you the best advice on how to measure a sectional sofa, we asked two professional interior designers to share their knowledge and best tips:
Shana Francesca, interior designer and founder of Consinnate.
Before You Start: Understand the Key Sectional Sofa Dimensions
To measure a sectional couch, there are two key measurements you need to know:
Let’s look at each one so that you can be 100% sure that you’ve taken an accurate measurement and that your new sofa will fit comfortably in the space you’ve designated for it.
"To ensure that your sofa fits properly in your space, always make sure you measure the width and depth of a sectional sofa or any sofa for that matter. By keeping in mind the seating depth and height, you can avoid making small spaces feel full or overcrowded." says Karen Rohr, interior designer at Mackenzie Collier Interiors.
The Overall Width
The width of the sofa is the side of the sofa that will go against the wall, or if it isn't going against a wall, then you can think of the width as being the back of the sofa. Now, some sectionals have two or more sides of equal proportions; if this is the case, then measuring the sectional is even easier because the width and the length will be the same.
Generally speaking, you need to figure out which side of the sofa will be serving as the back of the sofa; in other words, which side will be the principal seating area. The overall width of a sectional sofa tends to fall between 94” and 168”.
The Overall Length
The next measurement you need to take is the length of the sofa. The length will be the side of the sofa the protrudes from the wall. In most cases, if your sectional has a chaise on one end, then that will be what you need to measure to determine the length.
If the sectional has additional seating on one side, then you will measure that instead. Some sectionals have two chaises, or an l-shape seating area on one side and a chaise on the other. Should that be the case, then whichever side is the longest is what you'll measure to figure out the length. The overall length of a sectional sofa is usually between 94” and 156”.
Other Sectional Dimensions to Consider
The depth is the size of the actual seating area. In other words, it’s the size of the seating cushions, plus the back cushions and frame behind them. The reason you want to measure the depth is so that know how deep the seating area will be.
To measure the depth, you should start by taking a length measurement of the cushions; once you have this, factor in another few inches to account for the sofa's frame, and you'll have your depth dimension.
A reclining sectional is perfect for chilled evenings watching movies, but before you buy one, make sure you know the length of the sofa from the top of the headrest to the bottom of the footrest when it's fully reclined.
Typically, it isn't necessary to measure the height of the sofa, but it can be helpful to know in case you have some shelving or artwork on the walls behind where your sofa will sit.
Pro Tip: Measuring a Curved Sectional
When it comes to measuring a curved sofa or sectional, the listed measurements tend to correspond to the smallest possible rectangle that the sofa could fit within. So if you're looking to fit a curved sectional in your living room, you should look at the total measurement of the rectangle the curved sectional could fit within.
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How to Measure a Sectional and Find a Perfect Fit for Your Space
Step 1: Measure Your Room
It can be easy to fall in love with a sectional. You're browsing your favorite online furniture store, see the perfect piece, picture it in your space, and imagine family and friends gathered around it having a good time. Without giving it a second thought, you hit purchase, and spend the next few weeks anxiously waiting for it to arrive.
However, when the day finally arrives and your new sectional shows up, you realize, much to your dismay, that it won't fit through your door, or that when you get it in the room, you want it in, you realize that it takes up way too much space, making your room feel small, cramped and crowded.
This is why it's important to take a few measurements beforehand to ensure that your sectional will fit seamlessly into your space and that it will look great when it arrives in its new home.
So, where should you begin?
Well, the first thing you should do is grab a tape measure and measure the area in your living room where you would like your new sectional to go.
Determine how much space you actually have for a new sectional. Consider your other furniture and how it will all fit together. Once you have those measurements, you can shop without any worries.
Pro Tip: Don't Forget to Measure Doors and Hallways
Remember to measure your front door and the entryway to the room where the sectional will be going. Remember, if the sofa can’t fit through the door, then it’s of very little use to you. A number of brands now ship sofas in easy-to-move boxes so you don't have to worry about this issue.
Step 2: Find a Sofa You Love
Now that you have measured your space and you know exactly how big your new sectional sofa can be, the next step is to look for a sectional that you love that falls within those spatial parameters. This step can be the most fun, as you get to shop around, compare different shapes and styles and find your dream sofa.
Sectionals come in all different shapes and sizes, but there are a few common shapes that you’re likely to encounter. The method of measuring them is the same as outlined above, but it’s still worth knowing about them so you can get an idea about what type you might like and begin measuring your space accordingly.
Here are the most popular types of sectional:
The most common type of sectional these days may be the chaise sectional. This type of sectional is typically a two or three-piece sectional sofa that features a chaise lounge on one end — the chaise can be right or left-arm facing.
L-Shaped Sectional Sofa
An L-Shaped sectional is similar to a sofa chaise, but the seating extends down the side of the sofa (rather than the length being generated by a chaise). When measuring this type of sectional, you will only need to measure one side, and you will know both the length and the width of the sofa.
L-Shaped Sectional Sofa with Chaise
This type of sectional, as the name suggests, is an L-shaped sectional sofa that has a chaise on one side. The chaise is typically shorter than the "L," so when measuring the length, be sure to measure the longer side and not the chaise.
Modular Sectional Sofa
A modular sectional sofa is a sectional that can be re-arranged in different configurations. If you plan to leave the modular sectional in one configuration, then take your measurements based on that configuration. However, if you plan on re-arranging it, then measure it based on the largest possible configuration so that you'll know if it fits when assembled that way.
A U-shaped sectional, as you might guess, gets its name from its distinctive “U” shape. In other words, it’s a sofa that has three equal sides. Again, you will only need to measure one side to get both the length and width measurements.
Thanks to the popularity of RH's Cloud Sofa, pit sectionals are trending right now. Pit sectionals are modular sectionals that can be arranged to make one extra-large sectional. When measuring this sectional, put the sectional into the full "pit" configuration and measure all four sides, which in most cases will be roughly equal.
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Step 3: Measure How the Sectional Will Fit in Your Space
Once you find a sectional you love, pick up some masking tape or painter's tape, and mark out the sofa's dimensions on the floor of your living space. Doing this helps you to visualize how the sofa will fit in your space.
By marking out the sofa dimensions using tape, you can also start to think about how you might want to configure your sectional: For example, do you want a right-arm facing chaise, or left? Should the "L" go on the left side or right? Do you have space for a pit or only a small sectional? Could you fit in a sleeper sofa? etc. You can only really answer these types of questions once you know exactly how a sectional can work in your space.
Pro Tip: Leave Space Around Your Sectional
It can be tempting to try and fit the biggest possible sofa into your living space, but that isn't always the best idea according to Shana Francesca, interior designer and founder of Consinnate.
"As far as measuring, I recommend you make sure there is room on either side of your sofa, for a table, a lamp you do not want it bumping right up against a wall," says Francesca. When furniture is too large for a room it makes it feel tight, and overwhelming like in the winter when you try to wear a bulky sweater underneath a winter coat, it fits but its tight and you can barely move your arms," she adds.
So, That's How to Measure a Sectional Sofa
Whether you're looking for a small, loveseat-esque sectional for your dining room or a stunning corner chair for your living room, the process is the same. With the tips and advice shared above, you can now shop around knowing exactly how to find the perfect sectional for the space you have to work with.
Ash is the founder of Living Cozy. He's been featured by publishers like MyDomaine, Realtor, Real Homes, Architectural Digest, The Spruce, Homes and Gardens, and more. As a writer his work has appeared in publications like FastCompany, TNW, and Entrepreneur.
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