The first port of call is usually to decide on the type and style of the sofa you want. So to help you, we’ve pulled together a list of the most popular types of sofas and couches — ranging from traditional to contemporary.
Whatever your taste, there will be a style here for you. And once you’ve found a style or two you like, you can begin to narrow down your search and find the perfect sofa for your home.
Types of Couches and Sofas
Made up of a number of individual pieces, modular couches are versatile and adjustable. Each moveable part (often called sections or modules), can be arranged into a shape to fit in most living spaces.
And with a modular you can rest easy with the knowledge that your couch can adapt and expand with your needs. Whether you need to accommodate a growing family, or just want to rearrange your living room and mix things up, modular sofas can be easily extended or downsized.
Modular couches tend to be arranged into L or U-shaped layouts, though sometimes individual sections can also be used as standalone pieces such as footstools.
Essentially when you buy a modular couch, you’re buying flexibility. Your sofa can adapt and change as your needs do. And often, once you have the base sections of your sofa, you can add to it as and when you need to by purchasing new sections/modules.
The popularity of modular couches has increased in recent years due to the sheer volume of great options available now.
Modular sofa examples:
Burrow’s Nomad sofa is a contemporary modular sofa, designed for modern living and delivered in easy-to-move boxes. It can be arranged in a number of ways, with options to add a chaise and sleep kit (to allow the Nomad to convert into a sofa bed. It also includes a built-in USB charger & 72” power cord. Shop now at burrow.com.
Designed to scale up or down at any time, Joybird’s Bryant collection can be handcrafted to suit your space, not the other way around. By adding or removing modules you can create one-of-a-kind combinations that will grow with you and your space forever. Shop now at joybird.com.
So what makes a couch a sectional? Essentially, a sectional is made up of at least two pieces (or sections) that combine to create L or U shaped sofas.
Sectionals tend to work best in larger living spaces or in apartment-style, open plan spaces where the back of the sofa can act as a divider between the kitchen and living room. Like modular couches, many sectionals can also be divided into separate pieces or rearranged into slightly different configurations.
Modular vs. sectional: What’s the difference?
Modular and sectional couches can appear very similar. And, honestly, that’s because they are. But there are slight differences. A modular couch can be added to and rearranged at any time. Whereas sectionals tend to be sofas that are built with multiple sections (but only one or two configurations). For example, a sofa or loveseat with an added chaise.
Sectional sofa examples:
If you love the Mid-Century look, the Burrard’s clean lines, slender arms and tapered legs could be a perfect fit for your style. Its deep seats with comfortable cushions make naps and lounging a no-brainer. Shop now at article.com.
Inside Weather’s sofas are super customizable and the Levi Sectional can be configured to your exact style. Choose your own arm style, upholstery, pillow and cushion shape and details. Inside Weather's direct-to-consumer approach also means you can get more value for your money. Shop now at insideweather.com.
The perfect type of sofa for small spaces and couples, a loveseat is a couch designed to seat two people.
The main difference between a loveseat and normal sofa is simply its size. Traditionally, sofas are designed as three-seaters, and a loveseat is just a smaller version of that (and can sometimes simply be called a “two-seater”). Loveseats tend to be between 50 and 72 inches in length.
When purchasing a loveseat it’s important to think about how it’ll be used. If it’s a secondary seating option for two people, that’s perfect. But if you might want more space for guests, or a sofa that’s great for napping, then a loveseat might not be the best choice.
Loveseats are prominent in living rooms across the world because they are super stylish and offer extra seating without taking up too much space. Loveseats are often used to complete a room and offer supplementary seating (as opposed to being the only seating in a space). Due to their smaller size they are also more versatile that other sofa styles and can make great extra seating options in a bedroom or study.
This Allform piece adds to any style home environment. Designed for for extra comfort and industry leading durability, each Allform sofa is also made in the US and comes with a 100-day home trial. Shop now at allform.com.
Sleeper Sofas / Sofa Beds
As the name suggests, a sleeper sofa is a sofa that can be converted into bed. It’s pretty straightforward, but there are numerous styles of sleepers. Including:
Sleeper Sofa: A sleeper sofa bed is a bed that’s inside a sofa. Sleeper sofas tend to house a foldable bed frame inside of them that can be rolled out to form a bed once the sofa cushions have been removed.
Sofa Bed Futon: A futon is essentially a mattress that can fold into a sofa-like shape for seating and they lay flat to form a bed ready for sleeping on.
So typically, sofa beds are designed to lay flat to create a mattress to sleep on. Whereas a sleeper sofa has a bed frame or mattress concealed within it.
Sleeper / Sofa Bed Examples
Aiden Sofa Bed
Styles of Sofas and Couches
First designed for financier Thomas Lawson near the turn of the 20th century, the Lawson couch features back cushions that are separate from the frame. It was crafted in this way due to Lawson’s desire to create a couch that was more comfortable than the traditional, ornate Victorian styles that were popular at the time.
As well as the detached back cushions, Lawson couches tend to be recognized by their straight lines and will often have seat depth that’s equal to the height of the sofa back above the seat, and the arms tend to be lower than the back.
The Lawson style is perfect for people who enjoy a nap due to the lower arms, and its construction also tends to make the Lawson a super comfortable sofa.
Lawson sofa examples
York Square Arm Sofa
This Pottery Barn sofa is deeply cushioned, offering super comfortable seat, and features visible stitches for a tailored finish. Shop now at potterybarn.com.
With super-plush down-filled cushions, a corner-blocked wooden frame, and a leather look, this classic lawson-style couch will add a touch of class to any room. Shop now at article.com.
Thought to have originated back in the 18th century, Chesterfield sofas unique style makes them instantly recognizable. Key features of a Chesterfield include rolled arms that are the same height as the back, deep button tufted upholstery, and nailhead trim.
Chesterfield’s are traditionally covered in darker leather. But more modern Chesterfield’s can feature velvet or other cloth upholstery, with taller legs, and a slimmer back and arms.
Allmodern is known for its beautiful, yet affordable sofas and the Quinton is a perfect example. The Chesterfield-inspired design features diamond button tufting giving it a classic, stylish look. Shop now at allmodern.com.
This button-tufted Chesterfield sofa remains features nailhead trim and rolled English arms. Shop now at anthropologie.com.
Bridgewater sofas help to create a casual and friendly atmosphere in a room. Their design is simple and classic, and defined by having a low profile and arms that are set back from the front of the sofa.
Bridgewater sofas tend to feature loose seat and back cushions and the arms are usually lower than the sofa back.
This Bridgewater-style sofa adds a perfect touch of class to any living room setting. The Sauer is expertly crafted with a solid hardwood frame and engineered wood. Shop now at wayfair.com.
The Hartwell sofa is a sophisticated blend of clean timeless lines and deep seat comfort, featuring Bridgewater-style features such as arms that are set back from the front of the sofa. Shop now at ballarddesigns.com.
A product of the Art Deco era, and like the formal attire, named after Tuxedo Park, New York, Tuxedo sofas are smart and elegant.
These sofas are defined by high arms that sit level with the sofa back, and a clean-lined and geometric style. The back and arms also tend to sit higher than most other sofa styles. The Tuxedo style is perfect for a more formal style of room.
Tuxedo sofa examples
A Modern Tuxedo sofa, the Avent from Joss and Main has a unique geometric style with its rectangular shape contrasted by button tufting and cylinder accent pillows. Shop now at jossandmain.com.
Aidan Velvet Tufted Sofa
Accented with hardwood legs finished in a lustrous brass, the Tuxedo sofa gives any living room or study a buttoned-up sense of elegance. Shop now at crateandbarrel.com.
Characterized by their height, the seat height on Low-Seated sofa tends to be below 17″ (the typical height of a sofa seat is 17″ to 18″).
Low Seated sofas tend to have a minimalist aesthetic but can look great in almost any room. Often featuring low backs, and plump, comfortable cushions that are connected to the sofa base, Low Seated couches were popular in the 1950s and '60s and have started to re-emerge as a popular choice for millennials — especially in urban centers like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
Low-Seated Sofa Examples
Low-slung and boxy, West Elm's Remi sofa is a great example of a low-seated sofa. It's also modular so can adapt to almost any room or space. Shop now at westelm.com.
Camelback’s are curvaceous. Their main design feature is a back that’s highest point is in the center and curves downwards to meet the arms (similar to a hump on a camel’s back… so the name makes sense, right?).
Every Camelback sofa needs at least one arch (or hump), but sometimes you’ll see sofas with two. These curvy designs can be great to add a traditional, elegant feel to a room, or simply as a way to break up a room filled with straight lines.
The Eliose features camelback silhouette, exposed wood base, and plush jade velvet upholstery to give this classic design a fresh, modern look. Shop now at onekingslane.com.
The Torbay sofa sports a camelback silhouette and is wrapped in a blue velvet upholstery, while turned solid wood legs, finished in black, complete the look. Shop now at wayfair.com.
The Cabriole is a traditional style sofa with a very distinctive look. Cabriole’s key features are its curvaceous, exposed wooden frame that is typically one flowing line all around the sofa, and its equally curvaceous, bowed legs.
This style was popularized by King Louis XV in the first half of the 1700s, and is ideal for breaking up a room dominated by straight lines. Cabriole couches are very ornate and can also work well by windows, overlooking outdoor spaces.
This regal-looking sofa is features an elaborately carved, Cabriole-style frame with an antique champagne finish. Shop now at hayneedle.com.
As the name suggests, the key features of a track arm sofa are its straight and square arms.
Track Arm sofas tend to have a Mid-Century Modern style and they can work in almost any living space — especially smaller rooms as the straight arms can take up less room that rolled arms and other sofa styles. The flat arms are also the perfect place to rest your phone or tv remote.
Track Arm Examples
Modern Arm Sofa
The Modern Arm Sofa’s minimal, streamlined shape fits in anywhere—it pairs well with mid-century woods, bright pops of color, or soothing neutrals. Shop now at westelm.com.
The Charly is designed with clean lines, including slim track arms and box cushions to create an elegant profile that appeals to adult tastes. Shop now at interiordefine.com.
English Roll Arm
English Roll Arm couches were popular in Britain’s country manors at the turn of the 20th century. But possibly the most famous example is the Central Perk sofa in Friends.
This sofa is defined by its rounded arms that are lower than more traditional roll arm sofas. Combined with the low arms, a low seat, short legs and rounded, plump cushions give this sofa its style.
English Roll Arm couches are versatile and can fit with almost any design style and the large, soft cushions make it the perfect choice if you love to sink into your couch for a comfortable, relaxing evening.
English Roll Arm Examples
The Carlisle is stylish, easy to care for and built to last. Its intricately turned feet and subtle S curve in the base create a subtle parallel with the traditional English roll arms. Shop now at potterybarn.com.
English Roll Arm Sofa
As its name suggests, this sofa from Restoration Hardware is crafted around its setback rounded English arms and large loose cushions. Shop now at rh.com.
Divan / Day Bed
With roots in Peria, a Divan was originally a long seat formed of a mattress laid against the side of the room. Nowadays, a Divan is fairly similar — it’s essentially a couch without a back or sometimes a party-backed or open ended couch.
Divan’s still tend to be placed against a wall, with plenty of pillows to make a seating area during the day and potential to be used as a small bed at night.
Like Divans, Day Beds are mattresses that are used to create a seating space — they’re a cross between chaise lounge, couch and a bed. Some day beds will also have solid backs and sides.
Divan and Day Bed Examples
Divan Mist Gray Sectional
This divan features moveable back pillows that can be configured any way you like.. Shop now at article.com.
This versatile daybed crafted from durable wood in a classic silhouette works in just about any space. Shop now at urbanoutfitters.com.
Types of Sofa FAQs
What is the difference between couch and sofa?
Today the words sofa and couch are fine to use interchangeably, and essentially mean the same thing. Historically there could have been a slight difference with a couch being a place for sleeping or napping, whereas a sofa was more of a place to sit and read or converse.
What kind of couches are in style?
Two trends that are big right now are Tuxedo sofas and deep-seated sofas. Tuxedo’s are timeless, and beautiful pieces of furniture that can always add a touch of sophistication to space. And deep-seated sofas are perfect for a nap or Netflix binges.
What are traditional sofa styles?
Some sofa styles have been around for hundreds of years, and the styles considered as traditional include: Chesterfield sofas, English Roll Arm sofas, and Camelback sofas.
How are sofas measured?
There are several important measurements to keep in mind when buying a new sofa. The most important parts of a sofa to measure are length/width, height and depth. When it comes to length/width, most standard three-seater sofas will vary from around 72 inches to 96 inches, with loveseats (two-seaters) often measuring between 50 and 72 inches.