Are you confused as to what sort of seating you want in your living room or which style of sofa would blend well with the rest of your furnishings? Well, thanks to our handy guide to sofa styles, no more will you confuse your Chesterfields with your camelbacks, or your modulars with your mid-century moderns.
Modular sofas are so named because you can take apart the different sections and reattach them into different shapes according to your personal taste/function. Sectional sofa styles, on the other hand, have seats ‘sectioned’ for different purposes (e.g. lounging or sleeping), but cannot normally be taken apart. Such sofas are great for creating intimacy in large rooms – for example, it makes it much easier to speak to the person at the other end of the sofa. It’s also a great way to save space in living rooms, as they fit perfectly into a corner of the room.
Many modular sofas are corner sofas, but not all corner sofas are modular. Like their modular counterparts, though, corner sofas are great space-savers, and will suit those who like to put their feet up at the end of the day. They add a touch of comfort to your interiors too, creating a ‘lounge’ feel.
Chesterfields are grand sofas with high, tufted armrests, and are most often upholstered in leather. They are reminiscent of the more ‘vintage’ look and these days can be commonly seen in civic spaces or pubs. The Grande Dame (below) is one example of an updated Chesterfield-style sofa.
The camelback was first designed by Thomas Chippendale in the eighteenth century and this style of sofa with its humped, camel-like backrests, high-rolled armrests and sometimes-exposed legs, survives to this day. Camelbacks are very formal, and suit rooms with a neoclassical or Georgian theme. These sofas can often clash with modern interiors, but if styled with the right accessories, can create a vintage-luxury feel in your home.
An elaborate piece of furniture where the legs and the base of the armrests and backrest are carved from wood (the seats are upholstered) — a style synonymous with Louis XV & Louis XVI. Perfect for French- and Rococo-inspired rooms.
A type of chair where the seating area is long enough to support the legs. Some modular, sectional and corner sofas have a chaise longue-like attachment. They can often replace a regular-sized sofa in small spaces, which allows room for other furniture, and with the right room arrangement, can make your room feel much bigger than it actually is.
English (aka Club)
A rolled back and armrests, low legs and slightly round, tight seating are major marks of an English sofa. English sofas look best on wood flooring, and can be seen as a more ‘relaxed’ Chesterfield. Particularly in a weathered leather fabric, these sofas emulate an antique treasure.
On a tuxedo sofa, the armrests are often level and as high as the backrest. The lines on a tuxedo ought to be straight, clean and sleek, and are suited to angular, well-defined rooms. Those going for a minimalist look may well be after something akin to a tuxedo sofa, which can be padded out with extra cushions to create an area of cosiness when required.
A sofa that first appeared at Knole House, Kent, in the seventeenth century. The arms are adjustable and as high as the head, while the seating area has considerable depth. The Knole is intended to have many of the same characteristics as an actual throne, and the head of the house would use such a sofa to receive visitors formally.
Square or rolled arms that are lower than the squared backrest are the hallmarks of a Lawson. This style of sofa was originally made for financier Thomas W. Lawson, and was designed with comfort in mind. A typical Lawson will be stuffed to the brim with cushions, and its influence can be seen in sofas such as the Comfy Joe (below).
Interior designers often use a Bridgewater sofa to create a casual, friendly look in a room. However, Bridgewater sofas are extremely versatile and can be made to look very elegant, thanks to the softly-rolling back and low armrests.
Occasionally confused with the tuxedo, the mid-century modern sofa differs in that it has far lower arms and a low, streamlined form. Mid-century modern sofas were influenced by the art and architecture of the mid-twentieth century.