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Sectionals are equal parts comfortable and versatile, allowing you to create the perfect sofa configuration of living room furniture to suit your space and lifestyle. They’re also typically the biggest pieces of furniture in a room, so how you style yours can help to make or break your aesthetic.
Fortunately, these expert-informed tips make styling this comfy piece of furniture a breeze, helping you determine everything from the right colors and upholstery material to the perfect placement.
Finish your space with complementary home decor, end tables, throw blankets, and a convenient storage coffee table for a modern living room
Whether you have a large open concept or a small cozy living room, these living area layout ideas will inspire you.
Meet the experts
To create this guide to sectional living room design ideas, we spoke to some interior design experts to get a professional opinion:
In a nutshell, sectional sofas consist of at least two sofa pieces, aka sections, that you can join together and use to create various configurations for your space. Below, professional interior designer and founder of Dōr Design House, Bri Ussery, shares easy tips for how to buy and style the perfect sectional sofa for the ultimate in comfort and functionality.
18 Sectional Living Room Ideas
1. Place it Against a Wall
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a huge open plan living space to enjoy a new sectional. If you have a small living room, you can still get sectionals to fit beautifully with the right furniture arrangement and sectional shape.
“If your living room is small, choose a configuration that doesn't take up too much floor space,” advises Rohr. “A good option is to place the sectional against a wall to save space; L-shaped and U-shaped sectional layouts are ideal for this purpose.”
2. Pair with Statement Art
Statement art is typically bigger, bolder, or more vibrant than other art pieces, making it a great fit for the footprint of large sectionals. Placing a compelling piece of art above your sofa will create a strong focal point while helping to solidify your living room decor and design. This strategy works best with white walls or neutral paint colors that allow you to keep the focus on the couch and the art.
“You can choose a big statement art piece to elevate the sectional, or you can opt for an asymmetrical art display to help balance the room,” recommends Rohr. And when it comes to art and design, there are no wrong answers so, “don't be afraid to get creative with your styling; mix and match different shapes and sizes.”
3. Use Throw Pillows
Throw pillows are an easy way to add texture and color to your seating area. They’re also relatively inexpensive compared to many other home decor pieces, so you can swap them out for new ones when a new season (or design mood) strikes.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. According to design expert Swanzy, “It is an absolute must to fill up the sectionals with pillows because sectionals tend to have a deeper seat than normal couches.”
Place a base pillow in each corner of the sectional and pair it with an accent pillow. In the corner of the sectional, add some kind of interest with a pattern/texture pillow.
Play with the sizes; more oversized pillows should be placed in the back and the smaller ones placed in the front.
Create layers in the corner with shorter pillows and maybe even some lumbars. This corner should have the most!
4. Add Some Leather
Leather upholstery never goes out of style, and it comes in nearly infinite colors, so you should have no trouble finding a leather sofa that perfectly aligns with your design style.
High-quality leather sectionals are also highly resistant to peeling, sagging, and cracking. And cleaning them is often as easy as simply wiping them down. This means they tend to last longer than many other upholstery types, so it’s a great investment for your next living room makeover.
If you have an expansive living room you’re looking to fill or an awkwardly shaped living room, consider floating the sectional: aka placing the sectional at least a few feet from the wall. “In large rooms, we like to float sectionals in the center to create a buffer,” said Cutler. “Almost like a room within a room.”
Floating it off the wall also means you can add furniture pieces behind it to optimize your style. “If you are floating a sectional, you might want to consider adding a low console or bookcase to the back. Doing so can create a more attractive presentation, especially as you enter the room,” recommends Cutler.
6. Go Grey
We love a bold statement couch as much as the next person, but some spaces call for a more subtle sectional, especially since these sofas are often the largest pieces of furniture in a room. A gray sectional is great because it won’t overwhelm your look.
Grey sofas serve as sophisticated yet neutral foundations that will complement all kinds of color schemes and modern designs. You can pile on colorful throw pillows and blankets to give it a bolder look or more neutral pieces in rich textures to give it an organic, textural feel.
7. Frame a Space
Have an open floor plan? Sectionals are awesome when it comes to framing and defining transitional spaces between rooms. “In a recent Newport Beach, California, project we used sectional couches to frame the living room from the dining room,” said Swanzy.
And you can use thoughtful styling elements to further define the space. For instance, if you want to turn your sectional frame into a cozy reading nook, you can take advice from Swanzy, who “added lamps in the corner of the sectional so our client could cuddle up and dive into a great book.”
8. Add a Rug
Speaking of defining spaces, placing a rug under your sectional is an easy way to do just that. Rugs also have a knack for making a room feel more complete, warm, and intentional. When pairing a sectional and a rug, you have a few options.
A popular option is to choose a small, vibrant rug that fits right in the middle of an L-shaped or U-shaped corner sectional. This is a fun way to add colors and patterns to your look without taking up too much visual real estate. You can also purchase a very large neutral rug that sits under all of your sectional’s legs. Doing so will help make your living space feel warm, cozy, and welcoming.
9. Use a sectional to anchor your space
A sectional’s large size allows it to anchor your entire design. You can use it to solidify an already well-honed aesthetic or as a stylistic reference point that can inspire the rest of your look.
For instance, if you have a minimalist style sensibility, then a sectional featuring a pared-back silhouette and long airy legs can help punctuate your look. And if you’re at a loss for how to design a space, consider investing in a sectional that already has a strong design point of view, such as a luxe velvet sofa, that you can use to inform your aesthetic.
Modular sofas are customizable by design, allowing you to pick the perfect configuration for your space, whether you want an expansive U-shaped sectional or a smaller L-shaped couch. But the right configuration for you largely depends on your existing space and lifestyle.
“No matter what arrangement you choose, make sure the sectional fits well with your space, and avoid compromising the good flow or closing too much of the area,” advises Rohr. For example, if you have a sectional in a living room that connects to the kitchen, you probably don’t want to configure your sectional in such a way that it blocks the path between these two rooms, since people naturally tend to flow to and from them.
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11. Make a Statement
Looking for sectional ideas to make your living room makeover pop? Consider creating a statement-making focal point out of your sectional. You can easily do this by choosing upholstery in a bold color or vibrant pattern.
Or you can opt for a sectional in a more neutral color, such as beige or gray, then dress it up with all kinds of fun throw pillows and blankets. While a white sectional may feel scary if you have kids or pets, today’s stain-resistant performance fabrics make the formerly off-limit white sofa accessible for any family.
12. Pair it with an Armchair
Sectionals basically epitomize cozy home design, so they’re a great match for armchairs, which also have a special ability to create a relaxing environment. Armchairs work particularly well for L-shape sectionals since they can turn the L into a U-shaped seating arrangement.
But you can also pair an armchair with a U-shaped sectional, transforming the U into a circle that serves as a welcome invitation to enjoy conversations with loved ones. If you’re floating your sectional and you have the space, consider a reclining accent chair or loveseat to round out the space.
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If you really want to step up your relaxation game, consider creating a cozy pit out of your sectional. Pit sectional sofas feature at least two lines of seat cushions that are parallel and adjacent to each other as opposed to a single line of cushions.
The result is a bed-like appearance that will make movie nights that much more comfy and inviting. And if you don’t want to commit to a 24/7 pit, you can invest in a large modular sectional that allows you to create the ideal arrangement for any given situation.
14. Add an Ottoman
A potential drawback of L-shaped sectionals or chaise sectionals is that there’s only room to put your feet up on one side. Fortunately, this is a super easy fix—all you have to do is place an ottoman on the other side to create a makeshift chaise lounge.
Not only will an ottoman increase the comfort factor of your sectional, but it also provides additional styling opportunities. You can incorporate an ottoman in a different style than your sectional to create compelling contrast, or you can match the ottoman to add cohesion to your look. If your living room is short on space, consider an ottoman that doubles as a coffee table and expands your seating options.
15. Embrace Beige
You can pretty much never go wrong with a beige living room color palette. The timeless hue is at once neutral and sophisticated, and you can incorporate it into virtually any aesthetic, from minimalism to maximalism and everything in between.
A beige sectional will add warmth to your look while offering a blank canvas for your living room decorating ideas You can pair it with funky side tables, colorful throw pillows, and a vibrant area rug to create an eclectic look. Or you can pile on other neutral colors and textiles for a soft, organic appearance.
16. Go Low-Profile
Few pieces of furniture are more inviting than a great low-profile sofa. Featuring low-slung backs and an often deep-seated design, low-profile sectionals are endlessly comfortable and relaxing.
Plus, they’re super on-trend and come in a variety of different styles. You can opt for a low-profile sectional with soft rounded edges for an organic, cloud-like look. Or choose a sectional with sharper lines and airy legs for a more futuristic feel.
17. Pair it with a Circular Coffee Table
Have a small space that you want to makeover with a great sectional? Consider adding a circular coffee table to the mix. “A circular coffee table is perfect for small spaces. It will fit in the small nook of the sectional, keeping circulation open,” advises Rohr.
But you can absolutely enjoy the benefits of a circular coffee table in larger spaces as well. Tucking it into your sectional’s nook means you’ll have even more room to play with other home decor elements and pieces of furniture than if you opt for a standard rectangular coffee table.
18. Go Bold with a Chesterfield
What’s better than a classic Chesterfield sofa? A classic Chesterfield sectional! These pieces combine the ornate details for which Chesterfields are so beloved, like button tufts, with the comfort and flexibility of a gorgeous sectional.
Incorporating a Chesterfield sectional into your living room design also means you’ll have an instant statement piece around which you can create the rest of your style. These beauties are killer conversation pieces and can help elevate your design from good to unforgettable.
Kelly Weimert is a writer, editor, and interior design expert with 10 years of experience writing about design and home decor. She's written for interior design publications such as MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, Domino Magazine, and Hunker. When she's not writing or editing, she's probably busy obsessing over how to beautify her home.
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