It is hard to imagine a home without a sofa or a couch if we are being honest. As a matter of fact, it is the first thing that you will look for, especially since we have been conditioned that couches and sofas should be a staple in the living room.
But what makes a good sofa or couch? Are they one and the same? What types of sofas and couches should one know about?
Whether we admit it or not, we are also intimately connected with our sofas and couches. As such, it is very important that we get to know the most popular ones if not all of them, and in this post, we will cover these ones.
In this article:
- What are sofas?
- What are couches?
- Sofas vs couches
- Types of Couches and Sofas
- 1. Chesterfield
- 2. Mid-Century Modern Sofa
- 3. Contemporary
- 4. Sectional Sofas or Modular Sofas
- 5. Bridgewater Sofa
- 6. Ottoman
- 7. Cabriole Sofa
- 8. Recamier
- 9. Low-Seated Sofas
- 10. Pallet couches
- 11. Sofa Lounger
- 12. Chaise Lounge without Arms
- 13. Chaise Lounge with Arms
- 14. Full sofa lounger
- 15. Multi-sofa lounger
- 16. Single sofa lounger
- 17. Settee Sofa
- 18. Divan Sofa
- 19. Love Seat
- 20. Grande Sofas
- 21. Lawson Style Sofa
- 22. Deconstructed Sofa
- 23. Knole Sofa
- 24. Rattan
- 25. Chaise Lounge
- 26. Recliner Sofa
- 27. Petite Sofas
- Types of Sofa Backs
- Sofa Arm Styles
- Types of Sofa Beds
- Sofa Sizes
- Sofa and Couch Materials
- Sofa and couch reviews
- How to Guides
- Sofa decorating ideas
What are sofas?
A sofa is often considered as an upholstered bench. They are overall designed to accommodate two or more people in one seating. Its basic anatomy includes a bench frame, upholstery, cushions, and armrests.
What are couches?
Compared to sofas, couches can accommodate three to more people at once. They are also more cushioned making them softer and more comfortable to seat on. Couches are also used as sleeper alternatives now as new couch designs can now transform into full beds.
Sofas vs couches
Both sofas and couches are basically built for seating and in most instances, they can also take up the function of the bed. There is no limit to where sofas and couches should be positioned.
They are not just meant for living rooms. You can also put a lounging sofa or couch in the living room, have one in the bedroom and of course in offices. They can be practically positioned anywhere and everywhere.
According to Southern Living, if we trace it back to the old days, the main difference between sofas and couches are in terms of armrests and how much they can accommodate. Sofas can accommodate more than couches.
Sofas also have the conventional anatomy of armrest, backrest, and upholstery. On the other hand, couches can accommodate less (usually just one or two) and usually do not come with an armrest.
Types of Couches and Sofas
It is easy to just buy a couch or sofa without really getting to know them or putting up the time to understand that there are more than just five types of couches and sofas.
We might not be able to run them all down because there are more modern types now but here are some of the most popular couch and sofa types that you should get to know.
It is also called the tufted or quilted sofa. It is mostly leather cushioned and can be considered as a straight back sofa because of the backrest levels with the armrests.
Some sofa designs only have a tufted back and armrests while others are tufted all over. The name is traced back to the Earl of Chesterfield in the 18th century.
2. Mid-Century Modern Sofa
The glory days of this sofa is traced in the stretch of the 1930s up to the 1970s. It is a standout for its clean design and minimalist features. It has steel feet and square armrests.
The backrest is a little low but enough for comfortable back support. The good thing is that it is now making a comeback for minimalist rooms and homes.
It takes on the minimalist design of the traditional mid-century modern sofa infused in contemporary details. For example, a Chesterfield can be tweaked a bit to make it contemporary furniture.
The camelback sofa can be more hunched and the barreled sofa can be more extended. All of these would be categorized under the contemporary sofa.
4. Sectional Sofas or Modular Sofas
As the term implies, sectional sofas are made up of individual sofa cushion pieces put together to make a regular, long sofa depending on how many people should be accommodated at a time. You can detach some of the sections for a smaller sized sofa.
5. Bridgewater Sofa
It is a versatile sofa style that is both comfortable and casual-looking. It is unique for its slightly rolled armrests and a backrest that is lower than the typical backrest height. They will blend well
In most cultures, the ottoman is also known as a footstool while in some cases it is used interchangeably for a coffee table.
It functions more as a complementary seating for the sofa. It emerged during the royal rule of the Ottoman empire used as centerpiece furniture in royal bedrooms, hence, the name.
7. Cabriole Sofa
This one is one of the most unique sofas out there. It has a continuous design, with a backrest at the height the same as its armrests. The armrests are curving inwards too.
They also have wood trims at the back which sets them apart from other sofas. Contemporary cabriole sofas have become super trendy throughout the years.
This unique sofa gives off all the royal feels. Its major characteristic is its symmetry. It does not have a backrest but its rolled-up, flap-like ends could cover the function of a backrest. It had its glory run in the 1950s and it is now making a comeback in the modern era.
9. Low-Seated Sofas
These are modern lounging chairs for minimalist designs and compact rooms. They are armless, long sofas which often come with an ottoman at the other end. They are only at 17-18inches. They are best positioned in family rooms and living rooms for lounging purposes.
10. Pallet couches
These ones are mostly DIY couches, making them popular choices for modern homeowners. They are pressed back on the wall because they have no backrests.
The wall itself serves as the backrest and you can top the pallets with layers of cushion. You can add softness to the wall by arranging throw pillows along its length.
11. Sofa Lounger
It is the fusion of a chaise lounge and a sofa. It has pulled out extensions that can be retracted for you to rest your feet. It can also be extended more to accommodate your full length. It comes with three major designs: full sofa lounger, single sofa lounger, and multi-sofa lounger.
12. Chaise Lounge without Arms
This type of couch is classic furniture for luxury suites. They are also found on patio decks and around pools. You can have more ease of movement with this design which is why they are more apt for outdoor use compared to those with arms.
13. Chaise Lounge with Arms
In contrast, a chaise lounge with arms can have one arm or two arms. Those with one arm are the ones you see in luxury suits and posh bedrooms. Two-armed chaise lounges look like a more compact sofa bed.
14. Full sofa lounger
This is the type of sofa lounger that will cradle your body fully. You can still sit-up though even when it is extended fully.
15. Multi-sofa lounger
This one is an overextended sofa. There are retractable cushion sections at both ends. You can unfold them for extra seating. These two extensions do not come with a backrest and arms, however.
16. Single sofa lounger
It is also somewhat considered as the sectional sofa only it has an added chaise lounge making it a good sofa and lounging chair.
17. Settee Sofa
This one is just a wide chair typically found in dining lounges. Settees bear a strong resemblance with love seats only narrower.
They have a wooden frame, wooden arms but they are notorious for having shallow cushions that are not that comfortable. They have the classic, Victorian-style, and seating on them will really feel like you are transported in time.
18. Divan Sofa
This type of sofa is distinct for its lack of back frame. This means that they are designed to be pinned on walls. To get a more cushioned backrest, you have to arrange a lot of throw pillows along with it.
The only downside is of course it limits where you could position them at home but then again, throwing in pillows is never a bad idea.
Related: Throw pillow ideas for brown couches
19. Love Seat
It is generally just a smaller sofa only accommodating 2-3 people in it. They are good for compact living rooms and because of their size and are even positioned in larger bedrooms.
20. Grande Sofas
The grande sofa is the king-sized bed of sofas. They are longer than the conventional sofa but everything else is the same.
They can be quilted or tufted, they can have high or low backrests, they can be covered with leather or fabric. The only difference is that a grande sofa can accommodate more than four people at once.
21. Lawson Style Sofa
The uniqueness of this sofa comes from its already cushioned backrest and another layer of pillows that are separate from the sofa’s frame.
As such, one can say that the Lawson style sofa is specifically designed for more cushion and comfort. It is considered as the derivative of the classic straight back sofa.
22. Deconstructed Sofa
As the term implies, a deconstructed sofa is really a remade sofa out of stripped upholstery from old furniture. They can be made of burlap, muslin, or raw wood.
The rough edges are part of its beauty and they are perfect for rustic designs and a clean sea-side look. Layering them with heaps of cushions are the best amendments.
23. Knole Sofa
It gets its name from being specifically built as a settee sofa for the English noble family Knole from the 17th century. It is like the prototype of loveseats and modern settees.
It is distinct for its deep seat and it also features an adjustable armrest. The side arms add additional details as they are braided or tasseled to the back of the sofa.
This is the lounging chair that you will typically find in pool sides, backyards, and patio decks. They are lightweight, airy, and portable. They are comfortable too even without cushions. They are durable and resistant to weather changes. They are oriental and trendy, all at the same time.
25. Chaise Lounge
The name chaise lounge is a French term that equates to a long chair. Characteristically, chaise lounges are reclined seats that look like the fusion of daybeds and the normal one-seater couch. It is also sometimes called the ‘Cleopatra seat’ as they resemble the designs of Egyptian royal chairs.
26. Recliner Sofa
We have only grown accustomed to the recliner single couch which means that recliner sofas are just recent trends.
They are very comfortable for family watching and good for kids who get asleep while hanging out on the sofa. They can be adjusted at a certain angle to support enough back surface for lounging.
27. Petite Sofas
It looks like the traditional sofa but with a shallower seating surface. It might look smaller than the standard sofa but it actually stands at the same height and has the same size as it.
This type is good for kids and shorter people who often find their feet hanging on the sofa. You would also enjoy their backrest because everything is more compact and not very reclined.
Types of Sofa Backs
The backrest of the sofa is one of the reasons why they are loved and are staple furniture of the home. They provide optimum comfort and back support so that we could all relax and lounge on it comfortably on a tiring day. To further identify which sofa is which, here are the most common types of sofa backs.
28. Pillow Back Sofas
If you do not want to invest in sleeper beds but love their comfort, pillow back sofas are made for that. They come with thicker layers and oversized cushions resting on the rolled arms.
29. High Back Sofas
It is the exact opposite of the straight back sofa as it is primarily characterized by a backrest that is not at the same level as the seat’s armrests. It mostly comes with a square armrest and is considered a more popular choice compared to straight back sofas.
30. Curved Back Sofas
This one is a fresh addition to a compact living room. As the term suggests, they have a curved back sloping down to the armrests. They have a curved frame too and firm cushions.
You may add throw pillows for more character, but it is chic on its own. It is typically found as a lounge chair in wellness centers, therapy centers, and modern bedrooms.
31. Straight Back/Tuxedo Sofa
It is technically called the straight back sofa because the backrest is leveled to the height of the armrests. It can cluster other types of sofa including the classic round arm sofa and the Chesterfield sofa.
The other name Tuxedo sofa was due to its prominence as a lounge chair in the 1900s for the parties of the elites who were all wearing tuxedos.
32. Round Back Sofas
Ever seen a coral-like or mushroom-shaped sofa? That is exactly what round back sofas are. They are one of the most comfortable back sofas that are made entirely for comfort. The backrest is cushioned bulkily, and there are available loveseats and full-length sofas with this type of backrest.
It is called as such because it resembles the camel’s hunch in the middle of its backrest ridge. The design is traced back to some 300years during the time of ancient civilizations and is now making a comeback in the furniture industry. Its only downside is that it needs regular upholstering when it gets dirty.
34. Wingback Sofas
This is another classic luxury sofa but it is no longer as popular as before. It gets its name because of its extended flap on both sides, resembling small wings. It is specifically designed for single seating and it is also called the Strandmon sofa.
35. Barrelback Sofas
This one is unique for its curved back extending up to the armrests. So overall, it looks like a barrel, a lower back, for single-seating and made for very cold winter mornings.
36. Rollback Sofas
It looks like the straight back sofa but the backrest is not leveled with the armrests. It has a square arm and backrest but with another layer of rolled cushion at the back. In many ways, it can also be considered as the ‘Grandma’s couch’.
Sofa Arm Styles
For this section, we will look at some of the most popular arm styles for sofas. Most of the types of sofas and couches that we have outlined previously fall along the lines of these sofa arm styles. This aspect is one of the defining characteristics of sofas, helping us in distinguishing them better.
37. Classic Round Arm Sofa
It is more fondly called ‘grandma’s couch’ because it is the typical sofa piece that you can find in old family homes. The whole upholstery features a round arm and typically a floral or checkered pattern for the sofa cover.
38. Retro Square Arm Sofa
This one has an upright, square cushioned arm looking more contemporary than retro. This arm style will look beautiful in studio-type apartments and homes with no kids. Covering it with skirted slipcovers will make it stand out more.
39. Hard Wedge Arm Sofa
It is also called the Stockholm sofa, a flagship product of IKEA. Like the retro square arm sofa, it features an upright, square arm but it is more of a single couch made for just one person. It is called a hard wedge because the square arms are wedged out making a V-shape than a U-shape arm.
40. Rounded Wedge Arm Sofa
It is considered as the ‘designer look’ round arm sofa but looking at it, one could say that it is more of the fusion between the classic round arm and the square arm. At best, it retained the upright, square arm but the tips are rounded instead of wedged. If you visit IKEA, it is known as the Farlov sofa.
41. Sloped Arm Sofa
It is like the barrel sofa but its curved backrest extending to the arms are sloped in descending elevations. It is a good choice for a sofa centerpiece because it invokes both a modern and conventional look. And since it will look odd if pinned on a wall, it creates a more intimate vibe for compact living rooms and offices.
42. English Rolled Arm Sofa
This is another of the restoration hardware furniture and it is also known as the Stocksund sofa. It is a square rolled armed but with a prominent angled curvature. It is also one of those sofas whose slipcovers are harder to replicate.
43. Sofas with no Arms
If you are not a fan of sofa arms, you can always opt for sofas with no arms. With these, you get 100% to ease of movement on all sides and it also provides one of the most minimalist looks for a room.
44. Belgian Roll Arm Sofa
It is clustered under the restoration hardware furniture because this design is a revamp of the rolled arm sofas of the 1920s. The Belgian roll arm sofa is a hybrid of the round arm and the sloped arm sofa. You cannot find a ready-made slipcover because of this arm design.
45. Track Arm Sofas
This type of sofa is like a loveseat positioned on top of a square arm sofa base. As such, the track arm sofa is unique for its square and straight frames and arms. They are good choices for more compact rooms because their rolled arms are also compact too.
46. Sofas with Wooden Arms
Sofas with wooden arms are as rustic and as timeless as it could be. It is perfect for hardwood floors, log cabins, and country-style homes. If you want an industrial or retro feel, leather cushioned seats are the best choice. It is also called the Lillberg sofa.
Types of Sofa Beds
Sofa beds are modern trends and generally imbibe the meaning of multi-functionality. These types of sofas could take the role of beds and can be folded when they need to be just regular sofas.
Without contention, they are really space-savers and are beneficial for compact rooms and small living spaces. Here are some of the most popular sofa beds that you should know of.
47. Trundle Sleeper Sofa
A trundle is basically a pull-out sofa bed, only smaller and narrower. All you have to do is to unfurl the front rail to pull out the mattress underneath. When you fold it up, it becomes a long chaise lounge with a lower square backrest.
48. Pull Out Sofa Beds
It is not always a beautiful piece at first sight but with its added function, you can always invite friends and family for a sleepover.
With the rise of studio type apartments and compact bedrooms, pull out sofa beds are becoming an alternative bed trend and you can count on them for their comfortability.
During the daytime, daybeds can act like a loveseat but at night, they can be extended out to be an immediate alternative to beds. However, they can be a little short for a tall person. Some designs even add trundles to daybeds for them to become more functional especially for kids.
They are also dual function as they can be comfortable sofas in the daytime when the cushion is folded in layers and equally comfortable bedding at night when the folded cushion is unfurled.
It is often compared with the convertible sofa but unlike them, they do not have sectional cushions.
51. Bunk Bed Sleeper
They are like pull-out sofa beds but with a large gap in between needing stairs for the other person to reach the top bunk. They are one of the most go-to choices for kids’ rooms now because they are space-savers and kids love unique beds like this one.
This aspect is commonly measured through the number of people that it could accommodate at once. At maximum, the longest and widest sofas should accommodate five people at once while the smallest one of course only accommodates one person at a time. But to have a more visual perspective, here are some figures to look out for.
Length: Sofas are within the range of 70-96inches. A three-seater sofa is between 70-86inches in length. Five and above seaters would be at 87-110inches in length.
Seat depth: In terms of the depth of the seating surface, the standard range is 20-38 inches. Less than or more than this range makes the seating experience uncomfortable (and even painful for the back and buttocks if done so in an extended period.
Height: In terms of height, the best range for sofas should be at 26-36inches. Classic sofa types tend to have higher backrests while modern ones are shorter or have shorter backrests too.
Sofa and Couch Materials
When it comes to sofa and couch materials, we are mostly talking about the materials used for the surface and upholstery. For the frame, wood and steel are of course the most common materials. But when it comes to upholstery, the following are the most used materials:
- Natural fabric (the most diverse upholstery choice but more prone to tearing)
- Microfibers (more durable than natural fabric but comes with more limited styles and designs)
- Faux leather (hypoallergenic, sustainable but vulnerable to tears too)
- Leather (most low maintenance upholstery material)
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It might feel like we have covered everything that must be known about the types of couches and sofas but there is still more to know so here are some FAQs about couches and sofas that you can reflect on if you are choosing to buy one.
What is the most popular sofa color?
In choosing a sofa, color is an important factor because it must fit the aesthetics of the home or the room. Neutral colors are often the go-to choices but there are others that could be considered. The following are the most popular sofa colors out there:
Which type of sofa is best for the living room?
This one is a tough decision. This is basically the reason why we have these rundowns in the first place. But since we are specifically asking for the best sofas for the living room, the following should surely make it on your options’ list:
- Sectional sofa
- Rolled arm sofa
- Grande sofa
- Sleeper sofa with ottoman
- Mid-century sofa
- Tuxedo sofa
- Lawson sofa
- Bridgewater sofa
- Settee sofa
What is the most comfortable sofa?
Again, there is no one definite answer for this because it depends on the user experience. But for what it is worth and since we know that you are here precisely to get straightforward information, here are some of the most comfortable sofas out there:
- Down-filled single sofa lounger with ottoman
- Sectional/modular sofas
- Sleeper sofas
- One-arm chaise lounger
- Recliner sofa
- Barrel sofa
What couches are in style now?
If you are more of a couch person and you are wondering about the trendiest sofas in the market now, here is the list that will fulfill your curiosity:
- Curved/retro style couches
- Convertible couches
- Leather upholstered couch
- Chaise loungers
- Compact straight back couches
- Barrel couch
- Sloped and curved arm couch
- Bean or kidney couch
Couches and sofas are clearly not the same, but it is more convenient to treat them interchangeably. After all, they still follow the same standard sizes, upholstered with the same materials, built with the same frames but only differ in terms of how many people they could accommodate.
These seating types can be distinguished in terms of backrest and armrest designs. Contemporary couches and sofas have provided a more functional dimension for them. They have always been used as sleepers but with pullout sofa beds, recliners, and bunk beds, they are now more imperative to have in homes than before.