Can I Have a Sectional in a Small Space? The Best Sectionals for Small Spaces

Love the lounge-worthiness of a sectional sofa but afraid your living room is too small to fit one? We’ve got you. Here at Modsy, we love a good design challenge. So, naturally, we’re thrilled at the thought of hashing out how to wrangle a sectional into a small space.

After all, sectional sofas are super comfortable! They offer more space for lounging, napping, and binge-watching TV shows (by yourself or with friends and family). But there’s no denying that sectionals are on the larger side and take up their fair share of square footage. And when you live in a small space, every square foot counts! So what’s the solution? Picking out a small-space sectional!

Today, we’re dishing the best sectional sofa options for small spaces, along with tips on how to make them work!

Can you have a sectional in a small room?

The short answer? Yes! Having a small space doesn’t mean you have to skimp on comfort. You simply need to get clever with the types of furniture you have in your space. And that’s just as true with a sectional or sofa as it is with any other piece of furniture. The key is looking for a couple of qualities that will optimize it for a small space. (More on that, below.)

And if you’re wondering if a sectional or sofa is best for your space, check out our blog comparing sectionals vs sofas.

The Best Sectionals for Small Spaces

Ready to explore some small-space sectional options? We’re sharing six different types of sectionals to consider when shopping for small space furniture—plus sharing some of our designers’ favorite product picks with the best sectionals for small spaces.

A white apartment sectional in a contemporary lvining room

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1. Look for Apartment Sofas or Sectionals

Believe it or not, there are actually sectionals out there designed specifically for small spaces. They’re called “apartment sectionals” or “apartment sofas.” They’re essentially more streamlined designs that take popular sectional designs and repackage them for apartment living. Of course, they tend to be smaller (something had to give!) and often comfortably seat two people. But you can certainly squeeze three on there if you don’t mind getting cozy!

Shop Our Favorite Apartment-Sized Small Sectionals

a yellow modular sectional in a blue living room

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2. Consider Modular Designs

One of the problems with small living rooms is that there can be small hallways and doors leading to them. This means sometimes even if a sectional sofa theoretically fits in your room based on its dimensions, it can be difficult or impossible to actually get it through doorways and into the room! One way to avoid or work around this issue is to consider a modular design! A modular sofa or sectional comes in pieces that are designed to be easily assembled in your space. They also often allow you to rearrange the pieces as you’d like as your needs change. (Say, if you want to swap the chaise from the right to the left side after rearranging your room.) This also makes moving to a new place down the line easier!

Shop Our Favorite Modular Sectionals

blue velvet sectional in small electic style living room

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3. Choose a Sofa with Reversible Chaise for Added Flexibility

A specific type of modular sectional, which we briefly mentioned above, is a reversible chaise or reversible sectional. Most sectionals with a chaise are predetermined to be on the right side or the left. (That’s what it means when you see terms like “left arm facing chaise.”) In those cases, once you commit, you can’t change your mind. This isn’t great in small spaces, where flexibility is key! And it can also be problematic if you move to a new place and have a different layout. So, look for sectionals with reversible chaises that you can move from the right to left sides as needed! Maximum flexibility, achieved!

Shop Our Favorite Reversible Chaise Sectionals

brown leather sofa with an ottoman as coffee table and extra seating

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4. Opt for a Sofa with an Ottoman Instead

An easy way to “hack” a sectional in a small space? Buy a regular sofa, but instead of a coffee table, use an ottoman. That way, you can pull it flush with your sofa and use it as a chaise when lounging and relaxing. But it can also act as a coffee table. All you need is to place a tray on top to safely balance beverages. Plus? Ottomans can also act as extra seating when you have guests over! Now that’s our idea of a triple threat. Ideally you’ll find an ottoman that’s the same height as the seats of your sofa, or slightly lower, which will make putting your feet up more comfortable. Just make sure you avoid an ottoman that’s taller than the seat height of your sofa, as this will look odd and feel uncomfortable.

Shop Our Favorite Ottomans

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5. Pick a Sectional with Tall Legs

One problem with sectionals in small spaces is that they look really bulky and can make your small living room seem even smaller. Combat this visual deterrent by choosing an option on tall, slender legs. When you’re able to see the space underneath a piece of furniture, it creates the optical illusion that there is more space. This means you can get all the comfort of a sectional while making your space seem open and airy!

Shop Our Favorite Leggy Sectionals

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6. Choose a Sectional with Interior Storage

If you really want a large sectional, that sometimes means you won’t have room for much else in your space. This is perfectly ok—unless storage becomes an issue. To help avoid clutter in your small space, consider a sectional that serves double duty and has interior storage! Some options have chaises that open up to reveal a hidden cubby for stashing blankets, extra pillows, games, and more—whatever you want to keep out of sight!

Shop Our Favorite Storage Sectionals

Want even more design inspiration? Check out our living room design ideas feed for tons of home design inspiration. And if you have a small home, be sure to check out our blog full of small living room design tips!

Need help picking the right sectional for your space?

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Sofa vs Couch: What’s the Difference? (And Why We Call It a Sofa)

We often get asked about the difference between a sofa and a couch. “Is that a sofa or a couch? What’s the difference??” We don’t blame you for being confused. There’s long been a heated debate in the interior design world over the use of the word sofa vs couch.

So, which is the correct word to use for that comfy piece of living room furniture? Or do they mean the exact same thing? In the United States, these two words are generally used interchangeably. But these two words actually have different histories and slightly different meanings.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of a sofa vs couch and want to know more about when to use which word, keep reading!

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What is a Sofa? The Origin of the Word “Sofa”

The word “sofa” is derived from the Arabic word “suffah.” And what does “suffah” mean? It’s simply a bench or long seat made of stone or wood, or a platform used for sitting. Traditionally, these benches would also be draped in blankets and cushions.

Today, the English word “sofa” refers to a long, upholstered seat that has a raised back and two arms and is large enough to comfortably fit two or more people. The intention of this piece is to give people a place to sit.

This is currently the most common word used to refer to that primary piece of furniture in our living rooms. It’s also the word that we most commonly use here at Modsy! That’s what you’ll see them referred to on our shoppable product pages.

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What is a Couch? The Origin of the Word “Couch”

The word “couch” comes from the French word “coucher,” which means “to lie down.” Historically, a couch was a bench with two armrests but no back. The point of this type of furniture was not to sit but to lie down and lounge.

Interestingly, today the meaning of a couch is not a bench with two armrests and no back but a bench with a back and optional armrests. With that, couches tend to have a more casual appearance.

Sofa vs Couch: What’s the Difference?

On a practical level? Nothing, really. Like we said earlier, these two words are used fairly interchangeably in the United States. (Kind of like the words “soda” and “pop.”)

However, colloquially, the word sofa tends to imply a more formal piece of furniture that’s design-driven, while the word couch tends to be used more in reference to large, over-stuffed pieces that are more comfort-driven.

Think of it this way: a sofa goes in your formal living room, while a couch is the perfect piece for a family room or den. The former is what you’d invite guests to sit on during a cocktail party, while the latter is where you’d curl up for a family movie night.

But again—these are very nuanced differences, and in general you can use either word!. When it comes to working with a Modsy designer, you can use the word sofa or couch, and they’ll know exactly what you mean!


Wait—so what is a loveseat, settee, sectional, and chaise lounge then?

While sofa and couch are the two most common words used to describe this piece of living room furniture, there are quite a few other terms—some of which are interchangeable, others that have slightly nuanced meanings.

A loveseat is simply a smaller, two-seat sofa. (A hybrid between an armchair and sofa!) A settee is a different type of small sofa, usually with a slimmer profile; high, straight back; and a shallower two-person seat. This is a more formal piece of furniture. A sectional is a sofa, but with an extra section that’s perpendicular to the main section, which allows more people to be seated And a chaise lounge? It’s an upholstered sofa that has more of the shape of an elongated chair, which supports your legs while you’re—you guessed it—lounging.

And then there are the other terms—divan, davenport, chesterfield. These are all just different words for the same thing: a sofa. (Interesting tidbit: “chesterfield” is the word many Canadians use to refer to a sofa—but here in the US, chesterfield is a specific style of sofa.)

Shopping for a Sofa (or a Couch)?

While we love a good design history lesson, there are more practical matters at hand when it comes to sofas and couches. If you’re in the market for a sofa, you’re probably wondering what style to choose and how much to spend. We have a ton of other sofa content on our blog. Find some of our favorite posts, below!

And don’t forget to check out our living room design ideas page to see some of our favorite sofas in action!

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Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Sofa Online

While online shopping has been ramping up for years, 2020 was the year where many of us bought more online than ever before. With COVID cramping our style, we’re not just turning to online shopping for clothing and electronics but more and more people are also purchasing everything from groceries to furniture through ecommerce sites.

This year, more than ever before, we need new or different furniture to make our homes more functional. But it can feel difficult to find the right pieces for our homes without going into a furniture store. While purchasing a pair of shoes online is easy, ordering a large piece of furniture from a website can feel stressful and overwhelming. After all, you can’t just drop a sofa in the mail if it doesn’t fit or look the way you hoped!

It might seem terribly risky to buy a sofa online, but it can actually be a simple, easy, and even enjoyable experience!

Want some guidance? Keep reading for our online sofa buying guide, complete with five tried and true tips—gleaned from our real-life experiences—to help make the process of buying a sofa online as comfortable as lounging on one.

green color scheme living room with large white sectional sofa and leather accent chair1. Shop for What Makes You Comfortable

Are you inclined to recline? Find a sofa that supports the way you like to lounge.

Would you believe us if we told you that you can determine if a sofa is comfy online? Although nothing quite compares to the real-life test drive, there are key factors that can help you to gauge a sofa’s comfiness by looking on a website.

Do you want a sofa where you can sit cross-legged and enjoy all the poor-posture slouching you want? Look for an option with a greater seat depth. Do you like to lean back against your sofa’s armrest and stretch out? Be sure to pay attention to the arm height and shape to ensure maximum comfort.

Think about how you really use your sofa and look for the factors that will make it most comfortable for you.

Wondering about different sofa styles and the merits of a sofa vs sectionals? Check out our other interior design buying guides for more tips! 

2. Read the Reviews

You are not blazing this trail alone!

The next best thing to sitting on a sofa is reading reviews by other people who have sat on that sofa. Just a few of the many things you can learn from the reviews are the quality of the piece, how comfortable it is, and if it looks the same in real life as it’s pictured online. 

There’s no telling how much time, money, and energy you can save by reading product reviews—so don’t skip this step! (P.S. Check out our sofa buying guide, which answers the question of how much should you spend on a sofa.)

3. Get Acquainted With the Return & Exchange Policies

Your last line of defense when buying furniture, online or in-store.

Before buying a sofa online, make sure you can answer the question, “If I hate it, how easily can I return it?

Researching a company’s return policy is an absolute must when looking to buy a sofa online. Many furniture retailers have strict return and exchange policies, so it’s important to do your research. For big-ticket items, like a sofa, some retailers require you to ship the piece back yourself and then pour salt in the wound with a hefty restocking fee.

It’s no surprise, then, that many people keep furniture they don’t even like simply to avoid the hassle of returning it. But here’s the good news: there are still many retailers that have super generous return policies, so you can avoid this sofa-sized headache. Do your research first, then shop confidently.

swatches of colors and fabrics4. But First, Swatches

Test drive the material before you commit.

Many retailers offer to send you fabric swatches for a small charge or even for free! This is a great way to test drive the fabric you’ll be lounging on, so take full advantage.

Don’t be afraid to get handsy with your fabric swatches and see how they hold up to everyday wear and tear. Spill some wine on them to gauge how easily they stain. Wipe down the fabric to see how easy it is to clean. Even rub them on your pets to see if their fur clings to the fabric.

how much should I spend on a sofa?5. Visualize It

Make sure it looks good and fits in your space.

A customer recently told us that, prior to designing her space with Modsy, she had tried reconstructing the form of her potential new sofa out of cardboard boxes. And we totally get it! Imagining how a big piece will look and feel in your space is difficult, but it’s also one of the most important steps toward buying a piece of furniture online.

Before you buy a sofa online (or even at all) get confident by knowing how it will look and fit in your space. You can use the magical powers of Modsy to see your sofa in an exact 3D version of your actual room.  (And hey, you can also get other living room design ideas on our website!) Alternatively, you can always rely on a measuring tape, or even compare the dimensions of your new sofa against another piece of furniture.

Whichever method works for you, avoid having to return your new sofa (even though you thoroughly researched the return policy like a pro) because it doesn’t fit or look good with your wall color, rug, or coffee table.

Shopping for a new sofa?

Are you in the market for a new sofa but still a little nervous to buy a sofa online? Snag yourself a Modsy design package and try on all your favorite sofa options in a life-like version of your living room. Not sure where to even start looking? Our designers can help recommend sofas based on your style and budget.

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