5 Types of Couches and How to Choose One For Your Home

Illustration showing the types of couches

The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

When selecting a couch for your space, there are obviously many types of options to choose from. Experts advise first taking into account general limitations before focusing in on a specific style. "The size is the first and biggest limiting factor," designer Tara Miller explains. "Once you find the right size for your space, then look at the style of your room. Is it formal? Casual? Eclectic? All of this information will inform you on the style you should look for so that it compliments your existing furnishings."

When examining size, you'll also want to keep in mind scale. "Scale is the most important consideration, because you want your new furniture piece to feel right at home and not be oversized or undersized," Miller notes. "If you aren't working with a designer who draws a furniture plan for you, you can easily take blue painters tape and a tape measure, and tape out different furniture sizes on your floor."

Once you take these factors into account, you can then consider the various types of couches on the market and determine which is the best fit for your needs, living style, and material preferences. "One should also think about where they fall on the 'sofa spectrum,'" designer Cathy Purple Cherry says. "At one end is a firm sofa, and at the other end is a down sofa. This spectrum also translates into what the sofa looks like when it is not being used. A firm or tight sofa will spring back into its clean look. On the other hand, a down sofa will look more like a rumpled bed. There’s no right or wrong answer—it’s simply personality-driven as to who is okay with what." Picking a material based on your family's lifestyle is also of the utmost importance. "For example, if the client has children and/or pets, we will then use a washable slipcover or a Crypton or protected fabric for better durability," Purple Cherry adds.

Feeling ready to get shopping? Keep reading to learn more about five popular types of couches and their merits, according to interior designer experts.

  • 01 of 05



    LOOK Photography / Getty Images

    Best for: Small spaces and experimental accent seating

    Designer Nina Grauer of Dekay and Tate Interiors calls the loveseat "the modern day version of the settee." Loveseats are great for small spaces, such as studio apartments, and they can even function nicely in bedrooms, whether in a reading nook or at the end of a queen or king bed. Feel free to sit on a loveseat alone or share with one other person, Grauer says. "Some loveseats are almost like oversized club chairs, whereas other love seats can function more like mini sofas." In addition to functioning well in small spaces, loveseats can make for wonderful additions to larger living rooms where a full-sized sofa is present but there isn't necessarily room for two of such pieces, Grauer explains. "Loveseats can also be fun," she adds. "Feel free to experiment with different colors and textures in upholstery, even different styles than your main sofa, to add some interesting visual tension into your living room."

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    sectional couch

    TerryJ / Getty Images

    Best for: Lounging

    "Sectionals have become so much more popular in recent years in large part as a response to the way we are living now," designer Georgia Zikas comments. "With the amount of time we spend at home, comfort and versatility is key—not to mention room to lounge." Better yet, sectionals can even serve as makeshift beds for guests—some offer pullout options, she adds. "These workhorse sofas truly deliver so much... and in this day and age, you can get gorgeously stylish sectionals that complement your overall design." Zikas says that when shopping for sectionals, prioritizing performance fabrics in neutral colors is always smart to ensure a piece is long lasting and withstands wear.

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    English Arm Rolls

    english arm roll

    Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

    Best for: Customizing to the look and style you want

    This type of sofa is "perhaps one of the most classic and traditional styles of sofas you can own," designer Lacy Hughes of Julian Designs notes. But there's nothing wrong with a tried and true option, she notes. "They are classic for a reason—they work in so many different living room arrangements, and nowadays, come in so many modern fabrications and styles that you cannot go wrong with this workhorse style couch!"

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    Tuxedo Couches

    tuxedo sofa

    athima tongloom / Getty Images

    Best for: Formal spaces

    Feeling formal? This is the route to go. "Tuxedo couches tend to be a bit on the formal side, often upholstered in leather with tufting," designer Kristina Phillips says. Just be sure to plan for other furniture pieces accordingly. "The arms also are quite high, usually the same height as the back, something to consider when selecting side tables," Phillips explains.

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  • 05 of 05

    Modular Couches

    modular sofa

    snorkulencija / Getty Images

    Best for: Spaces requiring adaptability

    Designer Leslie Murphy is seeing this type of couch become increasingly popular. "It's exceptionally great for scaling out a living room, as it keeps functionality at the forefront and typically offers the most amount of seating," she says of the design. "We also find that it allows you to flex your creative muscles to change up the layout." Plus, modular couches come with a lot of versatility should the purpose of a room shift, she adds. "There's also a lot of flexibility and longevity with modular sofas, particularly as your needs or family's needs change over time as it opens the floor to a more intimate living space."

    Designer Bryan Yates also praises the modular couch. "Modular sofas give the client the ability to move things around as needed for entertaining or when they move," he explains. "We always make our selections based off of the proportion of the space, but using a modular provides longevity which is so important when making such a big investment.”

How to Choose a Couch

It's no secret that purchasing a couch of any kind if a major investment. “The phrase ‘You get what you pay for’ isn't always true when it comes to sofa shopping," designer Jennifer Stoner notes. "You need to know what you're looking for or work with a professional you trust who knows how to determine whether the quality matches the price point." Factors to keep top of mind include where the sofa was made and how it was constructed, Stoner adds.