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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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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.

Ready to Try on Sofas in Your Home?

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The Ultimate Guide to Sofa Materials and Which is Right for You

So you’ve narrowed it down to the sofa style you want, now what? It’s time to think about sofa materials and what you want for your upholstery.

Whether you love the glossy look of leather or prefer synthetic fibers that are easy to clean, the right material for your sofa depends on your lifestyle and how you use your space. If you live alone and want a little luxury, velvet and chenille are chic upholstery fabrics. If your home has kids and pets running around all the time, consider durable fabrics for sofa upholstery, like microfiber to polyester.

With so many options for fabrics and materials to choose from at stores and online, it can all feel very overwhelming very quickly. Don’t worry. Here, we’re laying out the most popular sofa material options and breaking down the pros and cons of each one to help you get a better understanding of what you should look for.

If you’re just beginning to think about investing in a sofa, our best advice is to do some research. For starters, consider whether you want a sectional vs sofa, check out our sofa buying guide for the big questions to ask yourself, and get our tips for buying a sofa online.

Leather

A popular upholstery choice for sofas, leather not only has good looks but it’s also durable. Keep in mind there are different grades of leather, with genuine leather being the highest quality at a more expensive price point. If it’s in your budget, a leather sofa is a great investment piece.

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The Pros:

Easy cleaning. Leather is resistant to stains and spills (just wipe off liquids with a cloth), so no bad smells or damp residues, which can happen with fabrics.

Way durable. If you have pets or need a sofa that can stand up to heavy use and take a beating, leather is the way to go.

Bold and timeless. In addition to being a tough material, leather has a timeless look. A sofa in caramel or tan leather is a statement piece that will never go out of style.

The Cons:

Strong texture. Leather has a smooth yet hard touch compared to fabrics. If you’re looking for a soft sofa you can sink into, leather is not for you.

Streaks and splits. Leather can develop splits and cracks over time, especially if you use it heavily. Also, watch out for fading in direct sunlight.

It’s spendy! Leather furniture is expensive. If you see a cheap leather sofa, it’s likely low quality and not designed to last.

The Verdict: Good quality leather is incredibly durable, easy to clean, and will develop an aged look that gives it character over time. A well-cared-for leather sofa will last for years.

Faux Leather

Made with synthetic fabrics, faux leather is a favorite sofa upholstery option for those who want the durability and look of leather at a less expensive price point.

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The Pros:

Sun protection. Synthetic leathers are usually UV-resistant, so even if you position your sofa in a sunny area it won’t result in fading.

New environmental options. New faux leathers now include cork leather from oak trees (called Swedish Koskinn) and ocean leather made from kelp. Faux leather in general is also perfect for those who support not buying animal hides.

Luxe look for less. First things first, faux leather gives you the upscale look you crave without emptying your bank account. And there’s a wide variety to choose from!

The Cons:

Beware of the materials. Faux leathers are often made with PVC (hard to clean) and other poly-leather types, like polyurethane. While polyurethane ‘breathes,’ PVC doesn’t so the material can get hot in a hot room.

Not-so-durable. Artificial leathers are easily damaged and don’t wear well over time.

Non-hypoallergenic. Believe it or not, real leather is hypoallergenic. Not so much with these simulated fabrics!

The Verdict: Faux leather is definitely worth the savings if you want the look of leather. Just be sure to spend a little more and get the newer environmental leathers.

Microfiber

This sofa fabric is an excellent choice for pet owners. In terms of sofa materials, microfiber is a fine polyester that’s soft, durable, and easy to clean. It has a tight weave, so pet hair, dust, and lint won’t stick or stay trapped in these synthetic fibers—which makes upkeep incredibly simple.

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The Pros:

Superb resistance. Microfiber is fade-resistant. It holds color longer than most fabrics, and the tight weave makes it easy to spot-clean and wipe off stains.

Eco-friendly and durable. Synthetic microfiber is one of the most durable engineered fabrics. But what’s great is that it’s petroleum-based, which makes it easily recyclable.

A+ for comfort. A sofa upholstered in microfiber is warmer than leather and polyester, so it’s cozy to rest on. It’s also hypoallergenic.

The Cons:

Watch for water marks. While microfiber stands up to most stains, if somehow water, especially dirty water, penetrates the fabric, it may show the staining when it dries.

Folding challenges. Due to the softness of the material, it easily folds on the extreme ends under intense heat, which can look unattractive.

The Verdict: Microfiber is soft, comfortable, and relatively low maintenance, so it’s perfect for family homes with kids and pets. Just know that while durable, it can wear in the long run.

Linen

When it comes to upholstery fabrics, linen can be polarizing. One the one hand, linen has a breathable cooling effect and a relaxed texture that gets softer over time. On the other hand, it’s a delicate fabric that soils and wrinkles easily, and it can shrink if not professionally cleaned.

The Pros:

Light and strong. Delicate-looking linen is one of the most durable upholstery fabrics. It’s mildew- and abrasion-resistant, gets stronger when wet, and never pills nor fades.

Green for less. Linen is one of those rare fabrics that is an affordable natural material, which means you can be eco-friendly while having a sofa that’s chic and comfy.

Beautifully soft. Linen has a slubby texture that is responsible for its smooth and alluring feel. It’s very soft to the touch, which makes it super dreamy and comfortable.

The Cons:

All the wrinkles. Linen wrinkles easily. There’s no way around that.

Not your everyday. A linen sofa is not meant for rough use. It’s prone to soiling and should be professionally cleaned whenever that happens.

The Verdict: While caring for linen is a bit more particular, it has a natural luster and sheen and its natural, earthy color makes it effortlessly elegant. It’s a sofa fabric that’s best for formal spaces or for homes without children or pets.

Cotton

The durability of cotton upholstery will depend on the weave count. A tighter weave means a stronger, higher-quality sofa fabric. But cotton is a natural fiber that has good resistance to fading. It’s less resilient to soiling and wrinkling, though.

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The Pros:

Style and strength. Cotton is also high on the list of most durable fabrics for sofas. It can also be dyed in almost any color, so the decor pairing possibilities are endless.

Totally natural. Cotton is 100% natural, and it’s soft, comfortable, and breathable. It’s also hypoallergenic, so it’s perfect for those with sensitive skin.

Good feels. One of the benefits of cotton is that it resists pilling and it’s also resistant to abrasion, so you can lounge in it comfortably for hours on end.

The Cons:

Consider the dye. While it’s super easy to dye, it’s not always a good thing. Cotton catches dye so easily that it can sometimes catch the color of your blue jeans.

Don’t get it wet. Because fabrics like cotton are breathable, it makes them porous. That means they can soak in spills quickly, which can cause wrinkles and potentially odors.

Pretty weak weaves. Cotton upholstery often has beautiful weaves, like canvas and damask, which look nice but tend to wear down faster and aren’t as easy to clean.

The Verdict: Cotton is a great option for slipcovered sofas, like linen—but slightly lower maintenance. It’s a heavier fabric than linen but you’ll have lots of color and style options.

Polyester

It’s one of the most common synthetic fabrics used for sofa upholstery. Why? It’s an affordable option that’s wrinkle-resistant, durable, and easy to clean. While the material may not sound exotic or glamorous, polyester sofas can be very stylish.

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The Pros:

Strong and fast drying. Polyester is stain-resistant and abrasion-resistant, which makes it quite durable. And when you wash the fabric for cleaning, it dries very quickly.

Odor free. Polyester is only slightly breathable, which means it will not absorb smells like other breathable fabrics, such as cotton and linen.

The Cons:

Check the temperature. Polyester upholstery can crack if it is exposed to extreme or fluctuating temperatures, so make sure your polyester sofa is in an even-climate room.

It’s sensitive. Polyester is a tensile fabric, which means that it will stretch over time. It’s also flammable, so don’t light candles near it, as that can be a safety hazard.

The Verdict: Polyester is a soft and comfortable sofa fabric that’s great for families with children, given its liquid resistance and easy care. Just keep it in a moderately cool room.

Chenille

Elegant and soft, chenille has tufted threads (made from natural or synthetic fibers), which give it a soft, fuzzy texture that’s very comforting. It’s also surprisingly durable. Although, if you have cats or dogs with claws, the tufted threads can get snagged in them when you’re not watching.

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The Pros:

Unbelievably soft. When it comes to upholstery fabrics, chenille is luxurious and very very soft. It’s what makes chenille sofas so utterly comfortable and coveted.

Made to last. Chenille is pretty durable and also easy to clean. That means it can stand up to lots of traffic and wear and you can easily keep it looking new for years.

Endless possibilities. Chenille comes in a number of colors, which means you’re certain to find a hue that goes with your aesthetic. Color and comfort, the perfect combo.

The Cons:

It can shift. Chenille is extremely stretchable, so it can loosen up on your sofa over time. And adding a backing to strengthen it adds to the cost.

Catching on. With chenille, dust and debris can get stuck in the long fibers. Likewise, animal claws can easily unravel the threads, so pet owners should really consider before committing to a chenille sofa!

The Verdict: While it’s a sofa fabric that stands up to heavy use, it’s a high-maintenance choice. Chenille sofas need to be regularly vacuumed and liquid spills will need professional cleaning.

Velvet

If you’re looking for an upholstery fabric for a sofa that looks and feels glamorous, go for velvet. The fabric has a luxe sheen, which catches light and reflects it across the shape of your sofa. What that does is accentuate the form of your sofa, making it look like a true statement piece.

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The Pros:

Warm luxury. Velvet is luxuriously soft, but it also has excellent insulation properties. Which means it’s perfect in cooler rooms and gets cozier the longer you lounge in it.

Colorful luster. Velvet can be dyed in rich colors. Most notably, when it’s dyed in jewel tones, it looks especially bold and captivating given the fabric’s reflective finish.

Good with pets. A flat pile similar to a rug makes velvet highly durable and any dirt or pet hairs will just fall away. And unlike other fabrics, velvet also has no raised weaves or loose threads, which means no snagging from claws.

The Cons:

Highest maintenance. The durability of velvet depends on the density of the piles of woven fibers. But in general velvets are difficult to clean and maintain.

It’ll cost you. There’s no way around the high price tag. It’s a very expensive fabric.

The Verdict: Velvet is a regal sofa fabric choice that’s guaranteed to look and feel luxurious. But it’s really best reserved for formal spaces, not your everyday busy household.

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