18 Types of Sofas & How to Choose the Best One For You

Posh Pennies
by Posh Pennies

After buying many sofas I didn't love, I realized you need to know which types of sofas you like best, to narrow down which one to buy. A sofa is a big purchase. So it helps to know the available types of sofa styles.

1. Chesterfield sofa

This traditional sofa has a low, deep seat and usually features deep tufting. The arms are typically rolled and flare out from the sofa.

The armrests and the back are the same height. It’s typically upholstered in leather with nailhead trim.

It’s said that the very first sofa in the Chesterfield style was commissioned by the fourth Earl of Chesterfield himself. Here’s a fun fact: It used to be common for Canadians to refer to any kind of sofa as a Chesterfield but not so much anymore.

2. Tuxedo sofa

This is similar to a Chesterfield in that they both have the same height backrest and armrests. The main difference is that the arms on the Tuxed sofa are usually perpendicular to the floor, the silhouette is a little slimmer, and the design is a little cleaner.

The pillows can be attached or loose.

There’s often a tufted back and matching bolster pillows.

Channel tufting on a Tuxedo sofa is popular.

The style comes from the 1920s and fits in well with a more formal Art Deco type of look.

3. Midcentury modern sofa

The key elements of a midcentury modern sofa include the unmistakable tapered legs and clean silhouette.

Sometimes a wooden plinth serves as a base.

The sofa is low to the ground yet the frame is typically elevated with wooden tapered legs.

4. English roll arm

This traditional silhouette looks relaxed and inviting at the same time. It has a deep seat, statement legs (sometimes on casters), sloped arms, and a tight back (the pillow is built into the frame).

Other names for the English roll arm sofa include the William Birch sofa or the Birch arm sofa. William Birch produced furniture for Liberty London in the late 1800s.= and early 1900s. Here’s one of his armchairs. It’s also called the Bridgewater or a Howard-style sofa. Howard & Sons was a British 19th-century upholsterer and furniture maker and one of their original designs was named the Bridgewater.

This sofa brings in a relaxed, English country manor vibe.

5. Lawson

The IKEA sofa, Ektorp, is a Lawson sofa. It features loose back cushions and the back is as high as the seat is deep.

The arms are rolled and lower than the back or have track arms.

It can be skirted for a traditional or farmhouse look or the legs can be exposed for a more contemporary look.

6. Sectionals

First, let’s discuss modular vs. sectional sofas. It’s easy to confuse the two. Modular sofas are flexible and sectionals are inflexible.

A sectional has two, three, or more pieces to be placed in an L or U configuration. There’s a left- or right-hand facing chaise, or both for a U-configuration. The pieces of a sectional have to be attached in a specific way. Sectionals are non-modular and the pieces cannot stand alone or become separated.

7. Modular sofa

Modular sofas are made of independent pieces. You can mix, rotate, and join pieces any way you want or they can stand alone.

8. Chaise longue

Chaise longue (or chaise lounge) in French means “long chair.” It was created in France so the wealthy could rest during the day without returning to their bedrooms. Chaise longues have a back, and zero to two arms.

Some are curved and contoured while others are more upright and contemporary. One-arm chaises are called  Meridiennes or fainting couches.

9. Recamier sofa

This backless sofa has raised, scrolled ends and no back.

It comes from a painting of a French socialite named Juliet Recamier painted by Jacques Louis David in 1800.

It works great for extra seating in a living room.

10. Daybed

This is a cross between a bed, sofa, and chaise longue, featuring a back and sides with a twin-sized mattress. Sometimes they feature a trundle for extra sleeping room.

This versatile piece is good for rooms that serve multiple purposes, such as a guest room and office.

11. Love seat

This is a sofa that seats two people. Uncommon love seats with an S shape are called a tete-a-tete, courting bench, kissing bench, gossip’s chair, or conversation bench.

12. Settee

Similar to a love seat, a settee is more upright and slender.

They are placed in an entryway or at the foot of a bed or even at the dinner table.

13. Knole settee

Originally from the 1600s, this sofa is like a type of throne for monarchs featuring adjustable sides and back at the same height and a deep seat.

They may be exposed wooden finials in the rear corners. It’s named after Knole House, an English country house in Kent.

14. Cabriole sofa

This sofa from the 18th century has a curved back and arms into the arms. The arms are upholstered with a tight seat and back.

It’s named after the French word “cabriolet,” a similarly-shaped seat in a single horse-drawn carriage.

15. Sleeper sofa

This transforms into a bed.

There are also futons, pop-up sleeper sofas, or standard fold-out sofa beds.

16. Camelback sofa

This traditional shape has a curved back.

The backs can have one, two, or three humps and are tight backs.

17. Reclining sofa

If you prefer comfort over style, I recommend this sofa with a recliner mechanism and bells and whistles such as charging ports, lighted cupholders, massagers, and built-in coolers.

Types of sofas

I hope you enjoyed learning about all types of sofas. I’m sure you resonated with a few different types of sofas in this mix and did not like a few others. That’s great information to use when shopping for sofas. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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