What Should You Look For When Purchasing A Sectional Sofa?

What exactly is it about a sectional sofa that makes it so appealing?

Chris Weir, a partner at Studio Collins Weir, an interior design business located in Sausalito, California, described this type of seating as “the Swiss Army knife of seats.” You only need a single piece of furniture to convert a room into a functional layout for a variety of purposes. A cocktail party with elevated seating can be held, and there will still be room for guests to relax and watch television after the event. They possess a quality that is both endearing and mysterious at the same time.

Beyond a straightforward sofa with an attached chaise, some makers of furniture offer sectionals with dozens of modules that expand the scope of the personalization options available. So that customers can design personalized arrangements that address specific areas and activities, such as maximizing seats in a tiny movie room, creating a meeting place in an open loft, or responding to the lounging preferences of a large number of family members.

How do you choose a sectional that is going to work for you when there are so many different sofa systems available from different manufacturers and so many different components? We sought the counsel of Mr. Weir and several other designers.

Measure Your Room

Shopping for a sectional sofa is not the same as shopping for a simple chair, which only requires a quick visual inspection at the furniture showroom to determine whether or not it will fit in the space available in your living room. According to Mr. Weir, “the sectional is such a large piece of furniture that if it is not sized correctly, it might give the impression that it is taking up the whole space.”

In order to avoid unpleasant surprises on the day of delivery, he recommended taking measurements of the room into which the sectional will be placed and drawing a basic scaled floor plan with the dimensions of the space. This will allow you to have a better understanding of what you are working with. Also, make sure to take measurements and make a list of the locations of any doorways, windows, and other obstacles, such as fireplaces, that you will need to maneuver around.

When you discover a sectional that you like, sketch it into the plan to ensure that it will fit in an elegant manner, that it will not cause difficulties with circulation, and that it will not be too large for the area.

Choose the Location from the Menu.

It is possible to place a sectional in a space in one of two fundamental ways: either flush against one or more walls, or free-standing as its own individual piece.

It’s possible that the only option to make place for a sofa in a smaller room is to squeeze it up against the walls. According to Jamie Bush, an interior designer based in Los Angeles, “it optimizes the furniture footprint of the room, and it can feel architectural and nearly built-in.” [Citation needed] “We want it to feel warm and engulfing,” the designer explained.

A welcoming seating area may be constructed with the help of a free-floating sectional even in expansive rooms with open floor plans. Studio Collins Weir created a circular sectional that faces a fireplace specifically for this year’s San Francisco Decorator Showcase. The couch may be found in front of the fireplace. According to Susan Collins, a partner at the company, “the room was so huge, but the sofa allowed us to create a very intimate group” of seated despite the room’s expansiveness. “In order for the environment to be relaxing.”

This strategy can also be turned on its head by considering the sectional as an island and placing chairs that face outward on all or most of the sides of the sectional. “Not only does it look unexpected, while keeping the circulation around the room open, it creates opportunities for conversations that feel a bit freer and more casual,” said interior designer Kelly Behun, who created two such seating islands with Living Divani’s Extra Wall sectional in her house in the Hamptons. “Not only does it look unexpected, while keeping the circulation around the room open, it creates opportunities for conversations that feel a bit freer and more casual,” said Kelly Behun.

You can pick either angles or curves.

The vast majority of sectionals are constructed using modules that link at right angles of 90 degrees, although some sectionals offer other angles or curves.

An L-shaped configuration is not required for all sectionals, according to Tori Golub, an interior designer in New York City. “Some of them are considerably more sculptural, and they can be modified so that the area is organized exactly as you want to utilize it.”

For example, Ms. Golub installed a sectional designed by Christophe Delcourt in an open loft in Greenwich Village. The components of the sectional link at right angles to one another, which allowed the sofa to gently wrap around a television watching area in the loft.

Mr. Bush designed a curved sectional for a home in Houston that wraps around one of the corners of a media room and leaves space behind it for windows and a floor light.

“It’s more of a sculptural piece, floating in space,” he said, “by making it a curving element and pulling it off the wall.”

Determine the height and depth of the seat.

There is a wide range of sitting heights available in sectionals, ranging from a low-slung, lounge-like 12 inches to an elevated 18 inches or higher in some cases.

In a broad sense, according to Ms. Golub, the sectional will come off as more formal if the seats are raised higher. In a more formal living room, a sectional with raised seats could be appropriate; but, in a more casual setting, such as a media room, seating at a lower level is typically preferred.

She offered the following advice: “If it’s genuinely for lounging and lying around, the lower to the ground it is and the deeper it is, the better.” If you want to sit comfortably on a sofa, it should have a lower profile. This is because the higher it is off the ground.

Shallower sofas, with a depth of approximately 36 inches, are perfect for individuals who prefer to sit in a more upright position, similar to that of a chair. Deep sofas, with a depth of more than 40 inches, are often suitable for those who wish to curl up as if they were on a bed.

The fact that many sectionals are available in a selection of seat depths, with components that can be combined, is excellent news for couples who have varied preferences in this regard. Ms. Collins suggested making one side of the seating area deeper while making the other side shallower in order to create two distinct types of seats.

If you are planning on moving, you should think about adaptability.

Some sectionals’ components are more maneuverable than others, depending on which one you choose. Mr. Bush picked a Tufty-Time sectional from B&B Italia for the media room in his house in Los Angeles. The sectional features three ottomans that can be pulled into the sofa to create a large improvised mattress. He explained his intention by saying, “I wanted it to be a place where people might crash in this modular mosh pit.” You only need to raise those, and there is enough room for five people to sleep there.

And in a home he designed for a young family close to Lake Tahoe, he installed a Togo sectional from Ligne Roset. This is because the components of the Togo sectional can function as stand-alone seating — for example, as separate lounge chairs and a small sofa — or they can be pushed together to form a single sectional when needed for movie night.

“You can even create forts out of it, or flip the pieces upside down to crawl through them like a tunnel,” he said, which is one of the reasons why the children appreciate using it so much.

Sectionals such as these are also simple to rearrange in a new location, in contrast to other sofas on the market, which do not provide the same degree of adaptability. After they have been ordered and installed, it may be extremely challenging or even impossible to change their configuration. You should make preparations for a new residence if there is a possibility that you will relocate in the near future.

Create a Configuration

Because sectional modules are available in such a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles — both with and without arms and backs — the possibilities for stitching together a sectional are practically limitless. However, there are some general guidelines that might be useful while designing the configuration of the system.

To begin, select a few primary sites of interest. Ms. Collins stated that “oftentimes, with a sectional sofa you want to achieve two things,” such as looking at a view while also looking at a fireplace or TV. “Oftentimes, you want to accomplish both of these things at the same time,” she added. According to what she said, this might lead to a layout that consists of two primary areas that “encourage two alternative ways of using the space.”

When you go into a room, it is often not desired to view the back of a sectional sofa (or any sofa, for that matter). “When you enter the space, you want to come into the open end,” said John Beckmann, the founder of the New York-based design firm Axis Mundi. “You want to walk into the open end.” “Coming in from behind is not a good idea; it’s simply going to make things difficult.”

It is typically possible to include ottoman-like modules that simply have seat cushions in places where the back or arms of a sofa would block sightlines. These modules look similar to ottomans. For example, Mr. Beckmann installed a large Let It Be sectional from Poltrona Frau in an apartment in Manhattan that featured expansive views. This sectional was designed by Poltrona Frau and featured several modules that opened up views to the windows and a fireplace. These modules were interspersed with more supportive modules that featured backs and arms.

Pick the Type of Fabric.

A sectional sofa that is covered in fabric that features a striking design can easily take over a room due to its size. If you want to err on the side of caution, use a cloth that has one consistent hue throughout.

Mr. Weir stated that because there is so much fabric on a sectional, they would not select a pattern that was very bold. “We often do something neutral, where we can play other fabrics and finishes off it,” utilizing accessories like cushions and rugs. “We often do something neutral, where we can play other fabrics and finishes off it.”

And with any luck, that will provide the sectional longevity as styles change, he said, by allowing the appearance of the sofa to be modified with new accessories, which is something that can be done with the sectional.

Mr. Weir referred to it as a “investment” in his statement. It makes a lot of sense to move toward a style that is more neutral so that you can work with it over time.


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