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Couples Design Therapy: Sectional Versus Sofa And Chairs

"Help! My husband is insisting on an ugly brown leather sofa, and I won't have it!"

This was a recent message we received from a Virtual Design Consultation client, who was at her wits end with her husband, who was insisting on a big box store pleather sofa.

She went out to describe it as "poufy and a big block of brown".

She attached a photo of a brown sectional resembling the photo below. I decided not to share the photo she sent me to avoid copyright issues, but I purchased a stock photo similar to what she sent me, except it was a much larger rounded u-shaped sectional. You can imagine I am sure.

Image Via Shutterstock

I could almost hear the desperation in her email. She needed a mediator fast!

Since this was a one hour Virtual Design Consultation session, we did not have accurate measurements, but this is roughly the layout of the room.

Speaking of a Virtual Design Consultation session, you can book one here, and your design challenge may be selected and featured on the blog, with more detailed solutions free of charge. You can book one below.

Approximate Room Layout For Recent Virtual Design Consultation

The room in question is often used for hosting guests and extended family, so a lot of entertaining happens in this room. That is something that we also have to keep in mind for seating in the room.

This sectional versus sofa and chairs issue is nothing new to us. Every few months we come across this situation and we are always happy to help clients visualize what their finished space will look like.

I can totally see why sectionals have such a wide appeal. Especially the "poufy" ones. They look super comfortable, and often have reclining seats, and even cup holders. They are often large and deep, which makes them great for lounging together with the family.

Chaise Sectional In A Kids' Playroom

The problem with sectionals however, is that they don't work as well in most spaces. Very often you don't gain any more seating than a sofa and a few chairs would, yet they will take up more room.

Even if they don't take up more physical space, visually they are heavy and your eye will perceive it as taking up more space. A sofa with two chairs typically work better in the same space. Individual pieces offer better traffic flow and less visual weight

Of course we want to reach a middle ground with our couples who are deep in the sectional versus sofa and chairs debacle. We want them both to feel as if they got what they wanted, and we often come up with a great solution where everyone is happy in the end.

One of the key things this Virtual Design Consultation client mentioned, is that they entertain in this room, and they have a separate room on the second floor where the family hangs out. That bit of information is also useful for the recommendations that I made for her.

Solution 1

If the room is used for entertaining extended family and friends a lot, then it is best to go with a sofa and chairs versus a sectional. If you think about it, people don't like to sit lined up right next to each other on the same piece of upholstery. They much prefer sitting across from each other where it is easier to make eye contact. Therefore the more separate pieces of upholstery the room can handle, the better.

In this example a chaise sectional with two chairs is a great compromise. The chaise portion of the sectional doesn't have a back, so it doesn't feel as heavy as a sectional would.

Floor Plan With Chaise Sectional And Chairs

The room could actually handle one more chair

Floor Plan With Chaise Sectional, Chairs And Swivel Chair

I would make it a swivel chair so it could be turned around for TV viewing

Floor Plan With Chaise Sectional, Chairs And Swivel Chair

Here are a few inexpensive chaise sectionals that would work in a room like this

Chamberlin Sectional | Wilton Sectional | Camila Sectional

Solution 2

A sofa and 4 chairs would typically be my solution to a room of this size and layout. As you can see that there is seating for about 6-7 people, plus 2 ottomans for putting up feet for a bit more comfort.

Floor Plan Layout With Sofa And Chairs

Here are a few inexpensive sofas that would work with this layout.

Olivia Channeled Sofa | Kipton Sofa | Studio McGee Vivian Park Sofa For Target

Solution 3

An actual L-shaped sofa as requested by the husband.

In this particular room layout, a sectional would actually work great and even provide maximum seating. That is not always the case. You can also see that it is not blocking traffic flow, but instead opens up the room even more.

The room naturally has that 90 degree corner and two large walls that anchors the sectional very well.

This would have to be a custom piece to make sure it fits perfectly in the space.

We have a ton of custom options available.

Customizable Sectional Optional. Available In Lots Of Configurations, Fabrics And Finishes

Floor Plan With L-Shaped Sectional And Chairs

I would strongly recommend that the style of the sectional be very tailored with clean lines preferably not in leather, but maybe a performance fabric that will hold up to stains.

If you're not going custom, something modular that has the flexibility to be configured for several types of applications would be ideal.

So, with all these solutions, what is your favorite layout? Are you team sectional or team sofa and chairs? Let's hear it.

Remember that we can help with any design challenge you may have going on through our Virtual Design Consultations.

Book one below.

Or you can book an In Home Design Consultation to kickstart a full service design project, where we handle all the details for you

Wishing You Beauty And Inspiration,


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