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types of sectionals

Sectional Shapes: Our Guide to the Different Types of Sectionals

We’ve all been spending more time at home this year, which likely means more time watching TV, reading, or hanging out with family. It also means the centerpiece of all the action is likely your sofa or, as may be the case for many, your sectional.

It’s not surprising that a sectional sofa is the seating of choice for serious lounging in the living room and family room. They’re super comfortable and offer lots of seating for lots of people.

Not surprising, there are many different types of sectional sofas—from the L-shaped to the sleeper sectional. And whether you’re in the market for one now or thinking about buying a sectional down the line, it’s important to know the different sectional sofa styles out there so that you can find the right design for your space.

So just as we did with our guide to sofa styles, we’re breaking down the most common types of sectionals along with the pros and cons of each one to help you figure out what’s best for you. Read on to see all your options in this complete guide!

Already have a sectional but not sure how to decorate around it? Check out our living room furniture checklist and guide to choosing a coffee table for your sofa shape!

L-Shape Sectional Sofa

You likely recognized this sectional sofa style right away. The L shape is the most common among types of sectional sofas. It’s literally L-shaped, with one side being longer than the other.

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Pros: 

  • You can easily float this sectional style in a living room or set it up against a wall
  • It can nest a coffee table or ottoman and it still leaves tons of walking room all around
  • It’s comfortable and still looks polished.

Cons: 

  • Sometimes these sectionals come fixed, meaning you can’t make the shorter side the longer one in order to fit it in your space. You’ll have to find a different style.

It’s great for… those living in a spacious apartment with an open-concept living room. This L shape is just the right size and can easily zone out the living room from the dining space.

types of sectionals

L-Shape Sectional Sofa With Chaise

Think of this as the L-shape sectional v. 2. It’s an extended version of the L-shape style of sectional, with an additional chaise lounge pulled up to one side for an extra-roomy family seat.

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Pros:

  • You can usually customize these sectionals, which leave one end open for a chaise lounge add-on.
  • Sometimes you can choose a chaise lounge that separates into two parts, with an ottoman that you can move around to make it most functional for your family and space.

Cons: 

  • While the chaise lounge is a great add on, it only works in open concept floor plans or large living-dining spaces.

It’s great for… spacious family homes and living rooms with an open plan. Check out our ultimate guide to living room layouts for ways to work in a big sectional.

types of sectionals

U-Shape Sectional Sofa

This sectional is exactly what it sounds like. It can be U shaped with either tall backs on three sides, or it can have two end chaises and an open center, which gives more walk-around room.

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Pros:

  • It’s perfect for entertaining and TV watching since it can accommodate many people while still making it easy to have conversations from opposite ends.
  • It’s the best seat for a big living room in a household where the entire family likes to have space to lounge and stretch out.
  • With two chaises, no one has to don’t fight over who gets a seat—and there’s room for a coffee table or ottoman in the middle.

Cons:

  • Because of its scale, this sectional is limited to large living spaces—it’s over 120” long on average.

It’s great for… media rooms and rec rooms that are primarily for entertaining. See how to set up a sectional in these spaces with our tips on living room layouts for TV viewing.

Sofa Chaise

Unlike a sectional sofa with a chaise, this popular design is more compact. It has a classic L shape but is closer in looks to a sofa. It’s ideal for apartments or a smaller family room design.

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Pros:

  • It’s a perfectly-scaled alternative to the sectional sofa that fits in any home, and it pairs well with other accent seating, like armchairs and ottomans.
  • The chaise part can usually be swapped from one side for the other—like a right-arm chaise versus a left-arm seat—so it’s a more customizable design than most sectionals.
  • Because it’s compact, it easily fits into any space or layout (and it can be moved around!)

Cons:

  • This is definitely meant for seating rather than lounging and stretching out your legs, and it accommodates fewer people than an actual sectional.

It’s great for… smaller spaces where you want the comfort of a sectional in the size of a sofa. Check out our guide to sofa materials for the best durable upholstery, and also whether you want a sectional vs sofa if you’re undecided!

types of sectionals

The Pit

We call this sectional sofa ‘The Pit’ because it feels like a conversation pit. It’s one big block of upholstery and among the less common types of sectional sofas, though it’s by far the comfiest.

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Pros:

  • Like a U-shaped sectional sofa that is filled in the center with ottomans, it’s comfy, cushy, and oh-so cozy, recalling the amazing conversation pits of the Mid-Century playboy era.
  • It’s casual and bed-like, so if you’re looking for a unique piece that can also work as a sleep spot if needed, this is it.

Cons:

  • It takes up a lot of space, more so than your normal sectional since it’s one big rectangular block that’s both wide and deep.
  • That also makes it not the most flexible option since you can’t separate any section or chaises from it and there’s not much room to walk around it.

It’s great for… large rec rooms and family rooms. And families with kids who like to snuggle up and move around a lot in the living room.

types of sectionals

Modular Sectional Sofa

With individual seats that can be separated, moved around, and reconfigured, modular sectional offers the greatest flexibility in style and fit for any living or family room.

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Pros:

  • Because it’s so malleable, it’s the perfect sectional choice for casual spaces, like rec rooms, laidback guest bedrooms, and playrooms (they’re super kid-friendly!)
  • They’re also a stylish solution for awkwardly shaped spaces since they can be pulled apart and tucked into corners and alcoves and along short walls.

Cons:

  • They can sometimes get moved out of their intended spot since they’re a little more lightweight than other sectionals.

It’s great for… a modern, contemporary, or minimalist living room. They can easily be worked into any size space. Find great layout tips in our gallery of living room design ideas.

Find more sectional design ideas!

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sofa or sectional

Layout Ideas: Deciding on a Sofa or Sectional For an Open Living Space

Often the trickiest part of designing a space is finding the right layout. In our “Layout Guides” series you’ll find layout solutions for rooms of all shapes and sizes. From the square-shaped to the narrow to the just plain awkward, this is your one-stop shop for layout ideas that work.

sofa or sectional layoutThe Homeowners: A couple with a two-year-old son.

The Space: A 22’ x 25’ open living space used everyday and for everything.

The Challenge: Designing a kid-friendly space that’s also stylish, and figuring out what couch/seating layout would work best for the space – a sofa or sectional.

sofa or sectionalIdea #1: The Conversation Ring Layout

Layout idea #1 opts for a sofa with extra chairs sprinkled all around. The space feels more decorated is perfect for entertaining and conversation. This layout also helps shift the focus away from the TV as the main feature of the room.

Why It Works:

  • The sofa is perfect for low-key family nights but it can still easily accommodate lots of guests when entertaining.
  • Pulling in standalone chairs makes for a flexible layout. Easily reconfigure your layout for game night or pull a chair to another room in your home as needed.
  • The sofa frees up a lot of walking room in and around the seating area.
  • A round table checks the box for a super kid-friendly centerpiece.

sofa or sectional

sofa or sectional

This Is Great If You…

  • Enjoy having people over for drinks and conversation as opposed to movie marathons.
  • Prefer a living room that’s more open and has a slightly formal and designed look to it.
  • Want a living space that doesn’t revolve around TV-watching.

See the layout idea #1 in 360!

 

sofa or sectionalIdea #2: The Viewing Corner Layout

Layout idea #2 opts for a sectional. This helps to define the living area as a cozy corner where you can totally lounge out. the sectional also helps turn the space into a TV lounge area with a casual atmosphere.

sofa or sectional

sofa or sectional

Why It Works:

  • The sectional helps clearly delineate the seating area from the rest of the space, making it feel like a room within a room.
  • A huge tiered coffee table provides practical storage space for you to stash remotes and other tech gadgets out of sight.
  • The bigger the sectional the more pillows you can have. Pile them on for lots of cushy support!
  • This layout factors in lots of extra lighting as well, which means you can set the mood as needed.

sofa or sectional

This Is Great If You…

  • Want to have a clearly defined living space that doesn’t face the entry area.
  • Mainly use your living space for watching TV and movies with family and friends.
  • Enjoy a more laid-back and relaxed living room where you can lie down and stretch out your legs.

See the layout idea #2 in 360!

 

Need help finding the best layout for your space?

 

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