10 Chic Sofa Styles You Need to Know
Shopping for a sofa is a daunting task no matter how you approach it. There are lots of factors that come into play, from the style you want to how it serves your daily needs and whether it will sit well with the rest of your decor.
But before you dive into the specifics, one of the first things to consider is what kind of sofa style is right for you and your space. As with any design venture, sometimes the sofa you're keen on might not be the best fit. Likewise, a sofa that doesn't speak to you might end up working beautifully in your home. It's a common dilemma that our Decorist designers come across, and solve for, with homeowners.
To provide you with some guidance and inspiration, we've broken down the most popular sofa styles and what sets them apart as perfect seating options. Read on to see what we love about each design and why it might be the right sofa style for your home.
Have an idea of the sofa you want but would like to see all the best options in one place? Hop over to our Decorist sofa shop to browse our curated selection.
English Roll Arm
This sofa style first appeared in English country manors at the turn of the 20th century. It was named for the tighter and lower rounded arms that differentiate it from traditional roll-arm designs.
Why We Love It: Today, the English roll arm sofa is a decorator favorite. It's beloved for its low seating, generous padding, extra-plush cushions, and stubby, turned legs (sometimes on casters). It all adds up to a tailored sofa that's incredibly comfortable. It also has a timeless elegance that easily complements a wide range of decor styles.
Photo by Laura Resen for One Kings Lane. Interior by Stacie Flinner.
The Chesterfield sofa needs no introduction, but its history might surprise you. The iconic sofa style is believed to date as far back as the 18th century. It is said to have been an original commission by an earl of the same name who wanted a seat that would allow him to sit upright and lounge comfortably for hours.
Why We Love It: With its all-around tufting, even back-and-side height, and rolled arms, the Chesterfield sofa is the definition of luxurious deep seating. It's often upholstered in leather and comes with nail-head trim detailing that give it a refined look that recalls gentleman's clubs and manor-home libraries of the heydays. Modern renditions of the Chesterfield sofa, whether in white leather or dark velvet, are equally stunning and perfect in any style interior.
Photo by Jeff Beck. Interior by Decorist Celebrity designer Brian Paquette.
Think of the Tuxedo as the sleek, clean-lined sister of the Chesterfield. Except instead of the 18th century, the Tuxedo style came about during the Art Deco era, which explains its congruent, geometric form.
Why We Love It: Similar to the Chesterfield sofa, the Tuxedo features a high back and arms that are the same height along with leather upholstery and button tufting. All that gives the Tuxedo sofa a luxe formality that instantly elevates rooms with a dose of glamour.
Interior by Chrissy Burgess for Decorist.
This style encompasses a vast range of designs, and there isn't one specific form that defines the Midcentury sofa. It spans from the rectilinear design of Florence Knoll to the armless steel-and-leather seat of Mies van der Rohe. Today, the Midcentury sofa refers to seating that highlight influences from any number of these iconic designs.
Why We Love It: The Midcentury sofa, with its blend of simplicity, clean-lined form, and comfort, has become a modern classic. The most common contemporary take features a rectangular design, shallow tufting, and tapered wooden or metal legs. It's generally low-slung and is exceptionally versatile, making it an ideal anchor piece in any space and decor style.
Photo by David A. Land for One Kings Lane. Interior by Pappas Miron Design.
This curvy sofa style was especially popular during the design boom and loungey, disco era of the 1980s. But its curved form likely originated from the tête-à-tête sofas of the mid-19th century.
Why We Love It: Inherently fashionable and chic, the curved sofa features plush cushioned seating and a low back that runs part of the length of the seat. There's been a resurgence of this sofa style, traditionally seen in hotels and restaurants, as glamorous statement pieces for the home. And it's a trend we're firmly behind. They're a conversation starter no matter where you place it in a room, but we particularly love it in lustrous velvet.
Photo by Tony Vu for One Kings Lane. Interior by Michelle Smith.
During the 18th century, cabriole-stye furniture was prominent across all of Europe, gracing even the court of Louis XV. The Cabriole sofa, thus, was the French seat of choice at the time with its elegant curved silhouette.
Why We Love It: The curvaceous exposed wood frame gives the Cabriole sofa a distinctly French air. The curved legs and carved wood grooving and details add to the overall sophistication of this sofa style, sure to bring a refined look to spaces. Try a Cabriole sofa in a punchy printed fabric or a bold velvet for a fresh take on the design. It might just be the piece you need to balance out the modern lines in a contemporary room.
Photo by Lesley Unruh for One Kings Lane. Interior by Matthew Caughy.
There's a Midcentury note to this streamlined workhorse of a sofa. As its name denotes, the sofa's flat, square arms are its defining characteristic and give it a versatility that no other style has.
Why We Love It: The Track Arm sofa is one of the most functional seating options around since it can work in spaces both large and small. It also pairs seamlessly with any decor style, and the wide low-slung armrests make it especially family-friendly. When it comes to upholstery, the possibilities are endless. You can go with a durable stain-resistant fabric for a practical piece or kick the style up a notch with a bit of contrast piping.
Photo by Nicole LaMotte for One Kings Lane. Interior by Sara Ruffin Costello.
These classic two-seaters have a long pedigreed history dating back far before the 18th century when they were particularly popular. Today, the Settee is also called the love seat, and vice versa.
Why We Love It: Look no further than the Settee for seating that adds style and function to small spaces. Just know that these mini sofas come in myriad forms. You have Settees that nod to Cabriole sofas, except they have a straight back, and you also have armless versions that recall slipper chairs. No matter your pick, the Settee slips perfectly underneath windows, at the foot of a bed, or in an entry.
Photo by Marili Forastieri for One Kings Lane. Interior by Tricia Foley.
A staple in beach homes and coastal cottages, the Slipcovered sofa has come to embody barefoot bliss and relaxed living. If you're in the market for a family-friendly sofa that's all about longevity, this one's for you.
Why We Love It: Who doesn't love a sofa that stays pristine for years to come? Removable and washable slipcovers came about as a means to protect upholstery from dirt, dust, and sweat stains during summer months. However, over the years, the Slipcovered sofa has established itself as a stylish seating option, thanks to the warm, lived-in vibe it lends spaces.
Photo by ©AlyssaRosenheck. Interior by Decorist Celebrity designer Jessica McCarthy.
While the sectional isn't exactly considered a sofa, it has just as many stylish options with many times the function to offer.
Why We Love It: The sectional is known for its generous scale, modular lines, and deep seats that render it the perfect family lounge piece. But they're equally sound as apartment seating, providing a cozy conversation spot that can accommodate big crowds. Many of today's sectionals also have Midcentury influences, be it metal bases or tapered legs, that give the pieces a serious design bent.