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Selecting and Styling a Sofa

A sofa is a core component of every living room, but not all sofas are alike. Read our sofa shopping and styling tips and be sure you select the right size, type, and configuration for your family.

Selecting and Styling a Sofa

A living room without a sofa is like a kitchen without a sink—it’s incomplete! While a sofa is a must-have, not all sofas are equal, so you should think carefully about how and who will be using your sofa before you shop. There are a few important variables when it comes to sofa shopping, namely: size, type, and configuration. Read on below for a few tips on finding the perfect sofa for you.

Sofa Types

Sofa Types

A traditional typical sofa seats two to three people and may have one, two or three cushions. This classic sofa comes in a variety of sizes (length, depth, and height) and styles (from modern to traditional). For the average living room, this sofa works, but depending on the size of your space and your family, and your entertaining needs, you may want a larger or smaller sofa or an alternate configuration.

The little sister to a traditional sofa, the loveseat is a smaller, two-seat sofa that can be used as a companion to a larger sofa. This is great for large rooms and open-plan spaces, and for those who entertain. A loveseat is also a great choice for small spaces, such as studio apartments, small reading rooms, or even bedrooms.

A bit larger than a loveseat is a settee. This piece of furniture, which has a bench-like shape with armrests, usually seats two to three people. These compact sofas are usually a bit more upright and a better fit for formal entertaining. Settees which are backless or only have a partial back are known as “fainting sofas” and were popular in the Victorian age.

Key Sofa Considerations

Key Sofa Considerations

Size—and the number of people you intend to seat—is a primary consideration when it comes to sofa shopping, but there are a few other things to consider as well before you buy.

Do you prefer a single seat cushion or a sofa with two or three cushions? Some people prefer a single cushion—no lost remote controls!—while others prefer multiple, which can be easier to maintain.

Cushion feel is also important. Do you prefer the more supportive, resilient feel of a poly-fill cushion or do you like the sinked-in feel of a down or down-blend cushion?

Beyond feel, how do you prefer your sofa cushions to look? Do you like the relaxed look of loose-back cushions? Or do you prefer the tailored look of a tufted cushion integrated into the frame, or a sofa throw pillows but with no back cushions? There are numerous options to choose from.

Key Sofa Considerations
Key Sofa Considerations
Key Sofa Considerations

Decorating with Sofa Pillows

Once you select your sofa, it’s time to add style, color, and personality with pillows and throws. Adding textiles to your sofa is an easy way to update your sofa’s look, and they’re easy to swap out from season to season with different patterns and prints.

There are a few general rules of thumb when it comes to decorating with throw pillows.

  1.  Pairing solids, prints, and textures will give you a balanced look—try one or two of each. 
  2.  Repeating any pillow throughout your living room will tie the look together and give your space polish. Shop pillows in pairs; you don’t have to use them both on the same sofa; sprinkling around the room is fine. 
  3.  Too many patterns can be overwhelming, so break them up with solid or textural pillows. 
  4.  Create visual interest in the room by mixing pillows of varying size—i.e. don’t buy all 20”x20” pillows. Feel free to mix pillow shapes as well as sizes.
  5.  This should go without saying, don’t use so many pillows that there’s no place to sit down. Living rooms are meant to be lived in, remember?