Sectional vs. Sofa: What's the Difference?

Updated 9/20/22

Sanford Sofa

It feels like every day there's a different name for a new type of sofa. From sectionals and recliners to chaises and swivels, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. In this article, we'll discuss the different sofa types (and chairs), sectionals vs. sofas, and what configuration is best for your application.

Types of Sofas

Below are names, brief descriptions, and images of several of the most common sofa and living room seating types: 

Sofas: Here's your average sofa, for those who believe, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." You simply can't go wrong here. The quality of our leather sofas and fabric sofas is world-renowned. But don't forget, Bassett also has a complete line of office sofas as well. If you decide a traditional sofa is the best fit for you, you can read about the most durable sofas right here in our blog.

Sectional sofas: Perfect for large parties or sprawling out on your day off. You can add, remove, or rearrange different sections of it to make it your own.

different types of couches names bassett furniture Carlisle Loveseat

 Loveseats: What is commonly believed to be a seat made for two, it was actually designed in the late 17th century as a chair that would fit the elaborately large dresses of the time. But you can believe what you want. Loveseats also work great as small space sofas.

 Accent chairs: Sit on it, or don't — that's not the point of an accent chair. The best part of these chairs is that they don't even have to match the rest of the room.

Sylva Accent Chair
Trevor Recliner

Recliners: Who said recliners were for grandpa? You can sit up and watch TV or kick back and take a quick cat nap with the pull of a lever. 

Sleeper Sofas: Perfect for sitting on and sleeping on, sleeper sofas (or sofabeds) and small sleeper sofas are great for guests or yourself in smaller homes and apartments.

Alexander Sleeper Sofa

Reclining sofas: Uniting comfort and communion in one furniture piece. Reclining sofas and fabric reclining sofas are versatile and allow you to sit back and relax with your family and friends as they do the same with you.

Chaises: For the dramatic moments in life, fall back into this chaise and let the chair do the talking.

BenchMade Chaise
different types of couches names bassett furniture Chesterfield Chair and a Half

Chair and a half: Fall into the depths of this chair, and I'll guarantee you'll feel like a star. But don't confuse this with an accent chair.

Swivel gliders: For those who want to feel like the Godfather, but who also want to spin around and around like a two-year-old. They may look stationary, but they aren't.

different types of couches names bassett furniture Harris Swivel Glider
different types of couches names bassett furniture Mercer Ottoman

Ottoman chairs: What, you've never sat on an ottoman before? Maybe you’ve got tons of guests. Or a particularly persistent one. And you’re looking for a place to park them after a long day of whatever they do.

Sectional vs. Sofa

Sectional vs sofa: it’s a choice that defines the living room. Do you prefer a sectional that you can sink into at the end of a long day? Or do you have a room that calls for a stylish Bassett sofa for once-in-a-while entertaining? When making such a big furniture decision, looking at the differences between sectional vs sofa will get you started in the right direction. 

Alexander Sectional

F.A.Q.s for Comparing Sofas and Sectionals

What is the difference between a sectional and sofa?

A sofa is shaped like a straight (or curved) line with one, two, or three cushions. Sectionals are available in many different configurations – U-shaped, chaise, L-shaped, or pit sectionals that can be rearranged however you like.

Sectional or sofa? It all depends on your space and your family’s needs. John Delong, a Design Consultant at Bassett Home Furnishings’ Perimeter Center store in Atlanta, says “seating space is going to be about the same for sectional or sofa. It’s all about how you’re living in that space.” 

Should I get a sectional or sofa?

Below are some considerations to have in mind when deciding on a sectional vs. a sofa, in the form of a few simple questions about how you plan to use your space will help sort out whether a sectional or sofa is right for you. 

• Who will be using your sectional or sofa? When you have a room that’s only used by your family, a sectional may be the coziest choice, and a sectional like Bassett Furniture’s Envelop is a great one to sink into. In a room where you entertain guests, a sofa may be a better choice if people don’t want to bump into each other on the chaise. 

• How much space do you have? While a sectional can be more versatile, all those cushions do take up extra space. If you have a smaller living room, a sectional can overwhelm the room and crowd out other furniture. On the other hand, for a large great room, a sectional sofa in the middle of the room helps define a space to relax and talk with friends. A large, relaxed L-shaped sectional with arms, like the Wellington, is a great fit because it is stylish from all angles?

• Will it be a casual space or an elegant space? You can find casual and elegant versions of both styles, but usually a sectional fills a more informal role.

• How do you plan to use your space? Just reading the newspaper? For hosting large gatherings? Watching the big game – with a couple of family members or a big group of friends? Putting your feet up? Picture how you’ll live with a sofa or sectional. Do you need flexibility? A large and customizable pit

• A sectional has a cushion for every spot, so you can create a seat that's just right for how you're feeling in the moment — or let everyone pile on at once! A pit sectional like Beckham works well because it is so easy to reconfigure. 

Sectional or two sofas?

Maybe you have a large space or need a lot of seating for get-togethers, but you just aren’t drawn to a sectional. In that case, look for furniture combinations that meet the same needs as a sectional, but also offer the more traditional room layout, with the flexibility to change it up. Two sofas and two accent chairs can create the same shape and size as a U-shaped sectional. A sofa and a love seat might take up the same amount of space as an L-shaped sectional, but allow you to create a path between them, or place a coffee table and lamp.

Once you sort out whether a sectional or sofa is best for you, you can look at other factors like the depth and height of the seat. According to John Delong, "It’s all about the comfort at that point."

When should you not use a sectional?

The most important thing to keep in mind when arranging and furnishing a room is walking space. It doesn't matter how beautiful your furniture is if people are falling all over each other trying to walk and maneuver around it. If a sectional is going to prevent a room from having adequate walking space around every piece of furniture, you should probably go with a sofa.

Know What It's Called? Go Find It!

Of all the names and of all the styles, finding the right sofa type and style can feel rather elusive. Your favorite style sofa is no longer a mystery. Regardless of its name, you'll always find the perfect type of sofa at Bassett Furniture. Our online catalogs and local showrooms are filled with sofas of all kinds. Find your favorite today!

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