Design Guide: How to Style a Sectional Sofa

One of the design consultations I had recently got me thinking about the do’s and don’t of styling a sofa.  Not just any sofa, a sectional sofa.

I think a lot of people are attracted to sectional sofas because they offer abundant seating and because they seem to provide a bit more comfort than a traditional sofa.

After a while I think people can become disenchanted with their sectional sofa because they recognize that a sectional can limit the traffic flow within a room and sometimes a sectional feels overpowering in a space versus relaxed.

In my years of designing rooms, I’ve recognized that it’s not always the size, scale or placement of a sectional that causes the disenchantment, but instead its the fact that the sectional and the space around it are not styled or accessorized in the best way.

The size of the coffee table, the placement of the pillows and even the rug under the sofa can have a profound impact of whether a sectional works or doesn’t in a room.

Here are a few do’s and don’t to guide you when styling a sectional…

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A sectional or traditional sofa, for that matter, will look messy and uninviting if there are too many pillows on it.  Six to seven pillows are ideal for a large sectional.

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Create a comfortable arrangement between the sofa and the coffee table and end tables.  The coffee table size should fit within the boundary of the sofa edges.  In the photo above, one side of the trunk extends beyond the arm of the sofa and blocks the traffic lane.

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Make sure to place the coffee table or ottoman so that it is within a comfortable arms reach from the sofa.  Coffee tables should be place 16″-18″ from the sofa.

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A rug that is too small will make a sectional feel off scale to the size of the room.  Choose a rug that fits under the front legs of the sofa and extends at least 3 feet beyond the coffee table.

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 Crate and Barrel

Choose a coffee where the size feels balanced and proportionate to the size of the sectional.

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Lillian August for the 2012 Hampton Designer Showhouse via Blulabel Bungalow
A large, oversized coffee table is a great option to pair with a large sectional.  The weight of each will feel balanced against each other and within the room.

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For a more eclectic look, opt for a multiple ottomans as a coffee table instead of a traditional coffee table.  Ottomans provide extra seating and can be moved around easily within the room.

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The back of a sectional sofa can appear flat and uninviting.   A long console table behind the sofa will fill that space and create a functional spot for lamps and accessories.

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The perfect pillow placement on a sectional is left, right and center with space in between for someone to easily sit.

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A sectional with a chaise provides the perfect perch for a decorative throw–it’s a simple and easy way to add a pop of texture and color into the space.

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The right size rug will fit under the front chair legs and anchor the entire seating area surrounding the sectional.

A sectional sofa may not be for everyone but if styled right, it can be a winner in any home.

Shelly

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