Should I buy a section? Find the best one for you!

Buying a sofa can feel like a big decision, as it is a large item that you will want to use for many years to come. But what should you consider when buying a sectional?

How do you know you need or want a sectional versus a regular sofa? Do you need a custom size or will a ready-to-buy option work?

We’ll help you navigate some of these important questions before you buy to help you feel confident that you’re choosing the best sectional sofa that’s just right for you!

Do you want styling tips for your living room? Check out these space tours!

Why buy a section? What are the benefits?

In general, the sectional sofa will differ from a traditional sofa in that it:

  • Has more space/seats for larger families or parties. Having the extra section on it means you can fit more people at a time for parties or gatherings.
  • Fills space or sectioning space in rooms that need it. Depending on your room, an L-shaped sofa or a curved sectional can help take up empty space and put it to use. Or it can help separate one room from another with the back of the sofa as a dividing line between the spaces.
  • Allows sun loungers to use the extra section to spread out more and put their feet up without having to have an extra stool nearby.

It is good to remember that it also comes in options for a sofa bed, so it can provide some guest accommodation if you does not have a dedicated guest room.

How do I measure a section to know if it fits?

Although it might feel a little silly, we’re big fans of taking the measurements of the section you’re considering and blocking those measurements on the floor with masking tape (where you think it would go).

That way, you can see exactly how big it is in the room and make sure you still have room for important things like side tables, coffee tables, accent chairs or whatever other furniture you want to use in the room.

Blocking the size also helps you ensure you have enough space for clear walkways around the section so your walking paths don’t feel blocked.

Other things to consider with section measurement:

  • How tall is the section? If you have a lot of low-profile pieces in the room, buying something really tall can look out of place.
  • Should it be next to or in front of a window? Depending on the height of the window, you may want a lower profile piece to block less light (and you may want a fabric that is more UV light resistant to minimize fading).
  • Want a section that is reversible? If you think you might reconfigure your space in the near future, you might want to consider a reversible sectional so you have more floor plan options in the future with any changes you want to make.

TIP: Be sure to find out how big the sections are and where they come apart so you know all the necessary pieces will fit through doorways and hallways before you order!!

What type of coffee table is best for a sectional?

Since coffee tables are an essential part of any sofa set-up, it is good to think about what kind of coffee table best suits a sectional.

General a round coffee table best suited to a sectional design. It gives you plenty of room for food and drink, is accessible from all protruding sections from the main sofa area and you won’t hit your knees on it in the corners.

If you have a corner or an L-shaped profile with right angles in the corners, a rectangle or square coffee table might work best. Just keep enough space for walkways and knees when sitting.

Need tips? Check out our favorite 3 ways to style a coffee table!

Can I get a custom sectional sofa to fit my unique needs and space?

Yes! There are plenty of modular sectional sofa designs where you can “create your own” size by combining different sized sectionals together. It’s a great option when you have a uniquely sized space or just can’t find what you’re looking for.

There are also some companies that offer possibility to build your own size from the beginning (West Elm offers it too), so you can get exactly what you want in your style and fabric choice.

Types of sectional sofas:

L-shaped section:

One of the most popular designs, the L-shaped sectional is a smaller option that has a chaise longue that comes out of the main sofa’s trunk, giving you the option of sitting or reclining.

It’s great for those who don’t have a lot of space to work with but still want more seating options or the ability to relax without moving a stool back and forth.

U-shaped section:

u-shaped sectional sofa

This shape is larger than a standard L shape as it has two chaise longues (or sections) from the main sofa and works better in larger spaces for the maximum amount of seating.

Perfect for larger family rooms, this type of seating makes it easier for larger crowds to hang out together.

Corner section:

brown leather corner profile
white fabric corner section

A corner sectional looks like an L shape, but instead of a backless chaise longue coming out of the main sofa section, you get two sectionals at a right angle that both have full backs and armrests on them.

The advantage here is that you can use one side as a chaise longue if you want to relax, but you can also sit more comfortably, as there is also a full back to lean on.

Curved section:

curved sectional sofa
curved sectional sofa

Curved sofas are also a good choice for conversation areas as there is no awkward corner seat and all people are facing each other. You will also need a larger space for this design and definitely a curved coffee table to follow the curved lines.

Modular section:

Modular sofas come in sections, so they’re an easy way to build your own custom size and shape that can potentially be rearranged depending on what you buy.

Some people will even use a sectional as a matching accent chair, so that’s another option to consider.

Sleeping section:

Sectional beds are great because they allow you to have a makeshift guest room when you need an extra bed, but they can be your primary TV or reading spot again when your guests go home.

Want advice on How to have a guest room (when you don’t have a guest room)? Check out our ideas!

Reversible section:

Reversible sections are usually an L-shaped section that has the ability to move the chaise longue section from one side to the other.

This is a great buy for someone who often rearranges furniture around their home, moves a lot, or isn’t sure what configuration might fit a room in the future, so you have options as needed.

corner sofa in the living room

What type of fabric is best for a section?

Just like a regular sofa, you have to keep in mind when the section must be used, how much it must be used, and WHO will use it to determine the best fabric choice.

When will it be used? If you use it for a lot of parties and gatherings with food and drink around, consider something more spill-proof like a performance fabric or a leather option where it’s easier to wipe up spills.

A raw white linen might not be a good choice if you’re chairing the weekly red wine club, if you know what we mean.

How much should it be used? You can get away with more delicate fabrics or brighter colors that don’t work on a piece that is used by fewer people or not as often.

For example, a more fussy boucle fabric can totally work in a spare living room that isn’t your main sofa, or if it’s just you and your conscientious partner who want to use it as a reading area.

High-use sections should have performance fabrics (check the fabric descriptions when purchasing to see which ones are easier to clean or last longer over time).

While leather can hold up very well with use, softer leather will wear more quickly than a harder or glossier leather, but some people enjoy the character of the worn look.

Who will use it? If the answer is “6 kids and 3 dogs on a daily basis”, then make sure it’s a tough or treated fabric that can keep up with spills and accidents.

We love leather options with kids as it’s easier to clean up spills, but some animals can have claws that leave marks if that bothers you when they jump up and down.

Some fabrics can also be spill-proof, but have a weave that catches pet hair more easily and makes it harder to vacuum when company is on the way.

There are performance and non-performance versions of most fabrics, so check the fabric descriptions carefully and many companies will clearly state which fabrics are also stain resistant or pet friendly.

TIP: There are sections with removable pillow covers, so if you’re worried about spills and stains, washable covers can be a huge plus for you!

Add some DIY pillows to your sectional with these projects!

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