Many Sofa Styles
What is Your Favorite?

So many sofa styles to choose from, but what does it really matter?

You may be curious whether your sofa belongs to any style group or has a name associated with it particularly if you are beginning your decorating around your sofa. It will certainly help determine the direction of which you may want to go.

The style of a sofa is for the most part determined by the cushions, arms and whether it has a skirt versus an exposed leg.

Those three elements can lean toward a modern or traditional styling but it is not written in stone. The fabric application can also be a factor.

Fabric can dress up or down a basic frame and what you put with your sofa in terms of other furnishings.

So if you are in the market for a new sofa, other than curiosity and direction, don't let the labels of traditional and modern limit you in any way. Just go for what you like and find comfortable and within your budget because you will find that anything works if need be.

  • For example if what you love happens to fall in the “country” category and the rest of your furnishings is modern the best sofa styles are still what works for you.
  • But if you are working in a particular theme and want to stick with it, you can find a sofa to work with any design style, because the sofa will have a big impact on the rest of the room.

A country style sofa encompasses a lot of different themes from shabby chic, French country, cottage country, and rustic country with each having their own “twist” that makes it so.

They are user friendly and work very nicely in a family room situation with pets and kids. The fabric selections are a wide range of fabric types including pre washed slipcovers, mixed fabrics, chenille, and cotton in solids, checks and other patterns.

Two sofa styles that fall into this category are the English style and the Camelback.

The English sofa has a pub arm which is a slightly rounded arm set back from the front of the seat, and sits on turned legs with small castors.

The camelback is traditionally used in a more formal setting but depending on the fabric application, can also fall into a country theme. This style sofa has a curved tight back and generally one seat cushion with exposed legs that are straight or cabriole, or sometimes (and especially in this case) a skirt with possibly a ruffle detail.

Modern or contemporary sofa styles have clean straight lines, little ornamentation, with possibly a little wood or steel accent. They are usually upholstered in a solid plain fabric and good for small spaces.

They do have a different “feel” to them when seated because they are more sleek. Their sleek silhouettes are definitely masculine but can also be feminine and blends nicely with other furnishings of any kind and look great with bold color accents.

Some of the more typical sofas that might fall into this modern category: I could see a tuxedo style sofa where the arms (flair or straight) are the same height as the back. Some might find it hard to lounge in this style because of this feature, and the seat is generally one cushion.

Another option for a modern style of sofas is the streamlined form of Mid-century with its low and often squared legs.

Sectional seating is sections of seating in sofas, love seats and armless pieces of various sizes including . . . corner pieces and ottomans, and when put together form a seating arrangement in any configuration.

Sectional seating can be used in this type of room setting as well as any other, but can only be configured for that particular room's layout and take up a lot of space visually but do make a nice option for use in a casual setting of a family room.

  • Classic sofa styles of the following work best in traditional living room designs as the names suggest. These frames stand the test of time and show well in a multitude of different types of fabrics.
  • This sofa was originally designed for an English country house and has a straight back with arms of the same height that are tied to wooden finials on the back with decorative cording. Originally the arms were tied to the back to keep out drafts.
  • The cabriole sofa has a wood frame which is often carved of one continuous curve to the back and legs, dating to the 18th century.
  • The Lawson sofa has arms that are lower than the back with either a rolled arm or square shape. This is a popular style because it is very comfortable if you like to lounge horizontally on your sofa.
  • A chesterfield is what some might call a sofa but is indeed a distinct style of its own. It has a deep tufted back and high arms and a tight seat. Sometimes they have a cushion but usually are tight seats so it is not really conducive to lounging. It is often upholstered in leather and is more often than not associated with libraries, a gentleman’s club or lawyer’s office.

Another traditional style for a sofa is the Chippendale camelback with a straight leg and stretcher base, and a high serpentine back and high rolled arms.

Unlike the casual camelback used in a country style room, this one is more formal but could work in a modern setting. That’s how classic the line to this frame is.


The Bridgewater sofa has low arms that are set back like the English sofa, but with a high (dressmaker) skirt instead of the turned leg and castor and very comfy.

Slipper sofas are armless sofa styles that work great for extra seating when entertaining and in small spaces. The settee is a small exposed wood frame sofa with an upholstered seat and back. This frame is a great look in a bedroom, the foyer or a French formal living room.

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Related Pages 

Furniture Arranging

Sofa Styles

Decorative Area Rug Placement Tips

  • A room size rug should leave a minimum of 6" but ideally a 24" border of bare floor from the walls all the way around the perimeter.
  • Add at least 24" to each side of a bed to place a rug completely under it.
  • In order for your dining chairs to be pulled out without extending beyond an area rug under the table allow 54” to the length and to the width of the rug.