Sectional or Sofa? – Four Questions to Help You Decide

Picking a sectional or sofa for your living area may not be the biggest decision you’ll ever have to make, but quality furniture is an investment that can be a part of your world for a decade or more, so you want to get it right. 

Comfort is paramount, but there are many other variables to consider before settling on a sofa or sectional for your space.

Ever been in a smaller living room with a gargantuan sectional? If so, you’ve seen firsthand how the feng shui is flipped on its head. Too much seating, not enough room. The opposite is likewise disconcerting—an enormous basement den that would have been perfect for a sectional has a lonely looking sofa. It might as well be an upholstered raft drifting in a vast carpeted ocean.

You may have read that there’s no wrong answer when it comes to choosing a sectional or sofa for your living room, but we must beg to differ. In most cases, one of these in-home seating solutions is the clear winner. You just have to know which questions to ask to make sure you’re picking the right piece of furniture for your life and style. 

The answer to “Should I buy a sectional or a sofa?” actually depends on how you answer these four questions. So, without further delay, let’s figure out if you’re on Team Sofa or Team Sectional.

1. How big is your living room, and how is it configured?

As we’ve mentioned, room size is critical when deciding whether a sectional or sofa makes the most sense. You might assume a sectional is only appropriate for larger rooms, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes a sectional can actually save space, depending on the room’s configuration and furnishings. 

Typically, though, sofas are better for smaller living rooms. Still, every rule has an exception, and compact chaise sectionals are more widely available than ever before. Not all sectionals are massive modular behemoths meant to accommodate 15 people. Not wanting to overlook a huge segment of buyers, furniture makers have right-sized sectionals for smaller homes and apartments.

Depending on your room’s dimensions, the right sectional could be flush against—or very close to—the walls. Such an arrangement frees up usable space and opens pathways for better traffic flow. 

In short, a sofa, sofa-loveseat combo or smaller sectional is probably best for a more modest living area. If the space is larger, an L- or U-shaped sectional will instantly transform it into a hub of conversation and comfort. Going the sectional route also removes a lot of the interior design guesswork, which is a welcome stress reliever for many. 

2. How many seats do you need?

The size of your family and social circle also play into the sofa vs. sectional debate. If the space allows, sectionals are great for big families who congregate in a common area. Most sofas will comfortably seat two people, but three can be tight.

Sectionals, on the other hand, score a point for their ability to serve as a gathering place that doesn’t require each person to give up their personal space. Four or five people on a sectional can easily spread out or snuggle up if they prefer. If you like the idea of having more space when several people are together, a sectional could be the perfect solution.

Sofas may only be able to seat two or three people comfortably, but they’re not meant to do all the work. If a sectional isn’t right for your space but you need more seating, look at pairing a sofa with another sofa, loveseat or accent chairs. This more traditional approach guarantees your guests or family members will have ample personal space. 

3. How formal is your room?

Along with size, you’ll want to consider the room’s overall ambiance. Will it be a spot for teatime and hors d’oeuvres with guests or video gaming and vegging out with friends? Generally speaking, sofas round out a more formal feel while sectionals have a casual vibe. 

Do you host a book club or invite people over for fondue parties? If so, your room is likely well-designed, well-lit and ideal for social interaction. Sofas facing each other and accent chairs arranged around a coffee table or near a fireplace work nicely for these spaces. This type of setup encourages eye contact and dialogue.  

Sectionals are great for cozier rooms made for lounging. Whether you want to circle up for a board game, relax with a pet or binge-watch your favorite show, sectionals invite you to settle in and stay awhile. That said, don’t rule out a sectional for a more buttoned-up living area. Upscale sectionals with higher-quality upholstery can dress up a living area and provide plenty of seating for larger groups when needed.

4. How often do you rearrange your furniture?

Lastly, how finicky are you about furniture placement in your primary living area? Do you find yourself getting bored easily and wanting to rearrange things on a fairly regular basis? If the answer is yes, you may want to opt for a sofa over a sectional.

While sectionals offer a degree of versatility due to their modular construction, they’re rather heavy and can be challenging to move around in a confined space. Sofas require less effort to move and are easier to move back if you decide that new layout isn’t quite working the way you envisioned.  

Sofas and complementary furniture items give you more flexibility to move things around on a whim and see what’s clicking. If you like being able to reconfigure your living room on the fly, then a sectional probably isn’t for you.


If you’re still having trouble deciding whether a sofa or a sectional is right for your living room, contact us today for a consultation. We can help you answer the questions above and any others you might have. And if you’ve already made up your mind, then be sure to check out our diverse selection of sofas and sectional couches.

Jerome Rackers

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