Sectional vs Sofa: What’s the Difference?

Sectionals and sofas are very often confused, used interchangeably or even paired together as “sectional sofas.” There are a few reasons for this, the primary being the fact that many people are simply confused between the two. So let’s clear up the confusion!

Living Room with White Modern Sectional

Photography by Oyvind Solstad

Sofas vs Sectionals

According to Websters Dictionary:

Sectional – a type of long seat (called a sofa) that has three or more separate sections
Sofa – a type of long seat (called a sofa) that has three or more separate sections

That’s the dictionaries definition but what about from a design perspective. Well, sectionals are usually much larger than regular sofas and are made up of multiple pieces. You’ll often see L-shaped sofas with a built-in chaise lounge on a left or right arm. Sofas on the other hand are one-piece 3 seaters. Also the closely related loveseat should be considered to make the distinction even clearer.

      Loveseat = two seat sofa
      Sofa = 3 seater sofa
      Sectional = a sofa with multiple sections that can often be arranged in various           configurations. Also referred to as modular seating.

To be clear, sectionals and loveseats are both types of sofas. This is where some of the confusion comes from.

Tufted Chesterfield Loveseat

ZUO NOB HILL BEIGE LOVESEAT – $1,190.00

How to Decide Between a Sectional or Sofa

When trying to decide between a sectional vs sofa, it’s important to consider the amount of space you have available. This is going to be the largest determining factor. Put simply, a sectional will require much more space that sofas and loveseats especially when you consider the overall layout of your room. You’ll have to keep enough space in between doorways, walkways, and high traffic areas (18 inches recommended). Here’s a quick checklist of things you should consider to help you make your decision.

ZUO BENJAMI SOFA WITH GRAY PIPING

ZUO BENJAMI SOFA WITH GRAY PIPING – $1,758.00

Sectional vs Sofa – Pros and Cons

  1. Ability to Rearrange – If you savor the ability to rearrange your furniture and freshen up the place with a new layout to kick off the season, a sofa is probably best for you. Often time’s sectionals can only be arranged one way. You should consider purchasing a reversible sectional in these cases
  2. Seating Capacity – In all cases, sectionals offer more seating space for friends, guests, and family followed by sofas and finally loveseats.
  3. Modern Appeal – Modular seating and sectionals have a much more contemporary feel. The sharp symmetry can bring a fresh update to your room and accentuate crisp colors.
  4. Layout – Sectionals create the sense of a well put together room. Imagine putting a sofa and loveseat directly against each other in an L-shape (raise your hand if you’re guilty of this!). Now, imagine a beautiful sectional against the walls in your living room with a look that is just meant to be. Got it?
  5. Commitment – Yes, home design brings in the big C Word – commitment. Sectionals require commitment since they are much more permanent. What works in one apartment may not work in another so this is something to consider if you plan on moving sometime in the near future.

Conclusion – What to buy and When

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HOLLY & MARTIN ALASTAIR 4PC SECTIONAL COLLECTION – $1,499.99

Sectionals – Sectionals are great in large living rooms where lots of seating space is a must have. Chaise sectionals are a heaven sent feature that will change the way you binge watch your favorite television shows. Although they require more space in multiple angles (width and length) and have to fit your specific layout, sectionals are a great choice for those with growing families and those who enjoy throwing large events.

HOLLY & MARTIN ALASTAIR STATIONARY SOFA

HOLLY & MARTIN ALASTAIR STATIONARY SOFA – $599.99

Sofas – Sofas are ideal when a long space is available. The sofa will normally become the primary focus of the room and serve as the main anchor where all the attention is focused. It’s where you’ll spend the majority of your time so extra seating space will make the room feel much more spacious and homey.

HOLLY & MARTIN BRAXTON STATIONARY LOVESEAT

HOLLY & MARTIN BRAXTON STATIONARY LOVESEAT – $649.99

Loveseats – Loveseats are often a great combination in small living spaces and are great when paired with a sofa. This gives you the luxury of additional seating to comfortably entertain guests. With smaller dimensions, sofas can also be placed in between tight space where a sectional or sofa wouldn’t fit. This gives you the ability to maximize the space in your living area without inhibiting access to key areas of your home. Not to mention, the loveseat is a must-have for any bachelor pad!

Shop for Home Furnishings

Shop for sofas and sectionals, coffee tables, occasional chairs, and so much more at NestandHome.com, the web’s best kept secret for authentic home furniture. Below is just a sample of our selection.

HOLLY & MARTIN MONTROSE MIRRORED COCKTAIL TABLE

HOLLY & MARTIN MONTROSE MIRRORED COCKTAIL TABLE – $249.99

HOLLY & MARTIN CLOKE CONSOLE TABLE

HOLLY & MARTIN CLOKE CONSOLE TABLE – $249.99

Giraffe Ottoman with Storage

HOLLY & MARTIN SAFARI STORAGE OTTOMAN-GIRAFFE – $99.99

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