How Sectionals Can Maximize Seating In An Open Floor Plan
Jun 08

The Sofa Conundrum

Ah, the open floor plan – the holy grail of modern home design. That glorious expanse of uninterrupted space, where the living room seamlessly blends into the dining area, and the kitchen island serves as a natural gathering point. It’s a dream come true for many homeowners, promising an airy, inviting atmosphere that’s perfect for entertaining and everyday living.

But then comes the sofa dilemma. How do you furnish such a vast, free-flowing space without it feeling like a cavernous void? Enter the savior of seating: the sectional sofa.

The Rise of the Sectional

As a more sizable alternative to standard sofas, the sectional is definitely worth your consideration if you have a large family or regularly host a crowd – or even if your sofa style just leans more towards lounging than perching. And while past options may have been dowdy or downright unwieldy, today’s sectionals are much more sophisticated, ranging from streamlined versions upholstered in velvet to slipcovered linen styles.

On top of that, sectionals can be much more versatile than they appear, working as well in a small study as they do in a cavernous living room. As the team at One Kings Lane aptly puts it, “Sectionals can really help maximize seating options in smaller spaces, especially when placed in a corner.”

Sectional Shapes and Sizes

When it comes to sectionals, the options are practically endless. But let’s dive into the most popular configurations:

L-Shaped Sectionals: As the name suggests, this style takes on an L-shape, looking like two sofas merged together at the end to form a right angle. You’re most likely to find a three-cushion style connected to a two-cushion style, though larger four- with three-cushion styles are popular too. The L-shape design is the most versatile of sectionals, working well wedged into a corner or floating in the middle of a room.

Chaise Sectionals: The chaise sectional is essentially a sofa with an extended ottoman attached to one side. Think of it as the simplified cousin of the L-shape style that can go just about anywhere a conventional sofa might go.

Curved Sectionals: The curved sectional brings sculptural appeal to a space, acting almost as a piece of art with its elegant silhouette. Keep in mind it’s not your best bet when it comes to small spaces, as it doesn’t sit flush against a wall, so you’ll have to position it farther out into the room.

U-Shaped Sectionals: If you have a huge space to fill – or if you just want to get as much seating out of your sectional as possible – the U-shape style is for you. What’s more, it’s perfect for fostering intimate conversation thanks to its two extended arms that face each other.

Modular Sectionals: Most sectionals come in multiple pieces that are meant to be stationary and connect only in a certain configuration. Not so for the modular style, which can include as many as five pieces that you can rearrange at a whim.

Sleeper Sectionals: Yes, the ever-functional sectional can get even more functional, making more room not only for sitting but for sleeping too. Sleeper sofa additions are typically featured with chaise-style sectionals.

Sizing Up the Options

With all these tantalizing choices, it’s easy to get swept up in the sectional shopping frenzy. But before you dive in, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:

Know Your Left from Right: This is the most important choice to make when buying an L-shape or chaise sectional. Do you choose a left-facing or a right-facing style? The distinction is simple, but it’s also easy to make a mistake. So, before making your purchase, imagine you’re standing in front of your sofa, facing it head-on and not sitting on it facing outward. If you want the sectional to extend out at the right side, choose a right-facing sofa; if you want it to extend out at the left, choose a left-facing sofa.

Do Your Homework: Unsure how the sofa will sit in your home? Try taping out its exact shape and dimension onto your floor to ensure you’ll have enough room to maneuver around it and that it won’t disrupt traffic flow. In fact, it’s never a bad idea to draw up a floor plan with any new piece of furniture you’re considering.

Consider the Corner Seat: Be aware that for L- and U-shape sectionals, the seat in the corner will likely be boxed in on both sides, leaving little room for lounging legs when the rest of the sofa is occupied. If this doesn’t float your boat, try a rounder style that allows extra room for legs.

Don’t Be Afraid to Float It: The most common placement for a regular sofa is against the wall, but this doesn’t have to be the case for a sectional. If you can spare the real estate, floating the extended arm – or the entire piece – out in the middle of a room is a great way to visually mix things up.

Styling the Sectional Sofa

Styling a sectional with other furnishings doesn’t differ too much from styling a regular sofa, but there are some distinctions worth noting:

On Rug Sizing: When choosing a rug to pair with a large piece of furniture, bigger is typically better. We recommend a rug that extends beyond the boundaries of the sectional, which will help make the room feel larger. If you have a small rug you’d like to incorporate into the space, try layering it on top of a large natural-fiber style.

On Choosing a Coffee Table: If the rug extends beyond the sectional, then the coffee table should stay within its boundaries. Just make sure it’s large enough that everyone who might sit on the sofa can reach it.

On Pillow Formations: Place decorative pillows at the left, right, and center – in other words, in each of the corners – of your sectional, and make sure they’re large enough to stand up to the sofa’s extra bulk.

On Consoles: If you have a free-floating sectional, considering placing a console table against its back for an extra decorative flourish. It’ll also help visually anchor the sofa to its spot.

Sectionals for the Win

Ultimately, the versatility and functionality of sectional sofas make them a game-changer for open floor plans. Whether you opt for a sleek, L-shaped configuration or a sprawling U-shaped design, these seating powerhouses can help you maximize your living space and create distinct zones within the larger area.

So, if you’re looking to breathe new life into your open concept home, I highly recommend exploring the world of sectional sofas. After all, as the team at Cantoni so eloquently puts it, “Sectionals can create the ultimate space to unwind.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to measure my living room and start mapping out my dream sectional…

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