Tips for Buying a Sectional Sofa

Updated 9/20/22

Alexander Sectional

What are “sectionals” shorthand for? We like to think “welcome home.” They’re where you dream of crashing after a long day, where the kids want to hang all weekend, and where good friends sink in for a chat. 

While sectionals offer unique advantages, they carry additional restrictions with them as well. As a result, shopping for a sectional differs from shopping for other furniture items such as standard Bassett couchesoffice sofasreclining sofassleeper sofassmall space sofas, loveseats, or dining room furniture, which you can read more about in our sofa vs. sectional comparison. In this guide, we'll look at sectional sofa types, the individual parts of sectional sofas, and provide some tips to consider when purchasing a sectional. 

What is a sectional sofa?

The sectional sofa is the customary three-piece unit with three seat cushions and three matching back cushions. They may have arms on each side or no arms at all. We’ll discuss this in more depth below.

Types of sectional sofas

Here’s a quick look at four common configurations:

L shape: A structured look that can float in great rooms or go against walls. Add storage ottomans to keep games, magazines, and throws handy but hidden.

U shape: Great for media rooms and rec rooms. Fans and gamers give this comfortable, casual look the thumbs up. Add in ottomans so they can kickback.

Chaise: A classic L perfect for smaller rooms. Use freestanding chairs to create a conversation area.

Pit: A big block of upholstery that corners the comfy market, these work in large family rooms and rec rooms where a laid-back approach rules.

It's worth noting that each configuration features a different functionality and seat depth. You can read more about the most durable sofas and the depth of sofas in our blog.

The individual pieces of a sectional sofa

While each sectional type can vary by model, one can think of its parts much in the way we view anatomy. Each part serves a distinct and separate function that, once placed together, complements each other very well. Whatever sectional model you choose, the basic “body parts” are likely to be:

Recliner: Many sectionals have a recliner section on one or more ends of the sectional. Like a recliner chair, you can pull out the ends whenever you want and stretch out and relax. Oftentimes, if you have the space available, you can find a fabric reclining sofa to match.

Corner Piece:  Usually armless, corner seats or “wedges” function as an elbow, enabling the sectional to fit snugly in the corner of a room. Wedges never have arms on both sides as that would make it impossible for most people to fit comfortably.

Sleeper: On the opposite side of the wedge from the sectional sofa, you’ll find the part of the sofa that folds out to a bed. Just like Bassett's small sleeper sofas, a sleeper can provide extra bedding at a moment's notice.

Chaise: Usually found at the end of a sectional, the chaise lounge enables one to easily stretch out and relax after a long day.

Armrests: Armrests can be placed between seats in a sectional or on each end. Or both. They sometimes have storage compartments or beverage holders.

Drop Down Tray: Great for leaning back and taking in a movie or the big game, drop down trays make the popcorn easy to reach. So everyone can reach them, these are usually placed in the middle of the sofa configuration.

How to buy a sectional sofa

Now that we've looked at different types of sectional sofas and their features, we thought it wise to assemble a “how-to” list for you to use while shopping for your next sectional sofa. If you are considering buying a sectional sofa, below are some important things to take in mind:

Make sure your sectional fits your room well

Do you put your sectional against a wall? In a corner? Or in the middle of the floor?

Stephanie lets room size be the guide. A large room can handle floating arrangements. (Just leave enough space to get around it with snacks and soda!) Moderate and small rooms often look best with sleek frames and corner or wall arrangements. (Remember: If a 90-inch sofa won’t fit, your sectional pieces can’t add up to 90 either.) 

A sectional can be a design asset or liability, depending on how well you have envisioned your room space.

Allure Sectional
Consider a modular sectional sofa

When people think of sectional sofas, they often think of a huge L-shaped leather couch that’s so large it takes up the entire room. And, while this can be the case, the beauty of a sectional sofa is that it can be broken into different sections, each functioning as a separate furniture piece. These pieces can be rearranged together or apart so that they can fit comfortably, even elegantly, into large or small rooms.

“You can separate the pieces out if you’re having a party,” says Stephanie Holdren, a Bassett Certified Design Consultant in Atlanta. “The single looks awesome in a set with chairs. And if you move or downsize, you can take a single out and put it anyplace in your home.” 

Many sectionals have other multi-functional features

With room sizes playing such an important role in your selection, it is important to note that modular sofas can save a ton of space. Sectionals with deep seats or plush roll arms work well in open concepts with lots of breathing room. In short, a sectional sofa is one of the most malleable or flexible pieces of furniture you’ll ever buy.

Explore different sectional designs

Show your style with upholstery, trim, throw pillows, even rugs. For an elegant look, we recommend Beckham collection which features a light creamy Revolution fabric with navy velvet, silver, and gold pillows. For more contemporary appeal, the same frame could take on boldly hued fabric. For a handsome casual look, consider the Ladson collection in chocolate leather with neutral pillows. 

Designer hint: Add upholstery protection to keep wine spills, dog hair, and stray candy from crimping your style. 

Beckham Sectional

The best sectional sofa store

Know what you need to make your living room irresistibly inviting? Order your fabric sectional sofa or leather sectional sofa online or stop by and sink into your favorite. We’ll take it from there.

Don't forget about the other rooms in your home that may need seating arrangements. Bassett Furniture has plenty of fabric sofas and leather sofas to match the sectional in your living room. 

Want more advice from an interior designer like Stephanie? He or she can create a sectional that says “welcome home” to you. 

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