Ideas + Inspiration

Ask An Expert: How Do I Choose the Right Sofa Size?

Q: I’m redesigning my home, and I need to find the best furniture setup for my space. I keep going back and forth between a regular sofa and a sectional, but can’t settle on either. Are there any rules-of-thumb about sofas and sectionals that can help me make my decision?

A. To help differentiate between sofas and sectional sofas and how to choose the right option for a certain space, I spoke with the experts at Gus* Modern. Here’s their take:

There’s nothing more exciting than designing a new home or redesigning a current home. The empty room stands out like blank canvas waiting for that first brushstroke. And, with a little information and a lot of creativity, you can turn any space into a captivating portrait of form and function.

Modern convertible sectional sofa.

When you get right down to it, “sectional vs. sofa” is all about flexibility and functionality. With a sofa, you can easily play around with setups in a small or big space. With a sectional, you will always have a chaise (a perpendicular seat) to workaround. That being said, there are a number of sectionals out there that are actually quite flexible. Take, for example, the Gus Modern MIX Modular Collection, which is made of 5 separate components. This collection includes chairs, slipcovers, and ottomans, all of which you can mix and match to best accommodate your space.

Versatile sectionals aside, you’ll have to decide whether a sofa or sectional is best for your given space. The following are a few helpful hints that will hopefully point you in the right direction.


Modern sleeper and lounge sofa.
Bedford Sleeper Lounge Sofa from Gus Modern

By virtue of their linear shape, a 2 or 3 seat sofa is more streamlined and versatile when compared with a sectional. By not being boxed in with a chaise, your living space becomes much more open and much more accessible. Also, keep in mind that if you ever want to rearrange your furniture, a sofa is significantly easier to maneuver and can look stunning in a variety of setups, whether it is up against a wall, at an angle, or free-floating.

If you have a small space, sofas really are the way to go. You don’t want a chaise blocking a walkway or doorway. Plus, a bulky sectional squeezed into a small space would appear disproportionate and clumsy.


Modern, reversible sectional sofa.
Atwood Bi-Sectional from Gus Modern

On the other hand, sectionals provide more seating and look positively stunning in a variety of room layouts… as long as you have enough space. The importance of taking measurements of both the room and the furniture in question cannot be overstated. Make sure you leave around 2 feet of open space around the sectional (unless it is placed against the wall) to maintain comfortable walkways.

That being said, sectionals work better as room-dividers than sofas. The right-angled chaise (whether on the left or right) helps define the shape of the room, mimicking the opposing wall in such a way to have the area feel self-contained, as though it were a room unto itself.

Certain sectionals can be disassembled into multiple pieces of standalone seating (lounge or secondary chair). Some sofas can do this as well, but at a much smaller scale, that may or may not fill the area in a psychologically satisfying manner.

And so, before you run out to buy that perfect sofa or place an order for that lavish sectional, consider the flexibility and functionality of the piece as it relates to your living space. Sofas tend to be better for smaller areas, while sectionals fit well in larger spaces. Sofas are incredibly mobile and can work in a variety of setups, while sectionals are comparatively inert and often look best in a symmetrical setup.

Mix and match sectional sofas.
Mix Modular 4 Piece Sectional Sofa from Gus Modern

However, if you don’t remember these simple rule-of-thumb if the rush of excitement is too much to bear. You can always piece together your own Gus Modern MIX Modular Collection and be done with it. The choice is up to you. Either way, happy designing!

Team Y

Team Y

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