Choosing a sofa for your living room isn’t always as easy as ordering the first one you see. Instead, it’s essential that you choose the right style to meet the needs of the room. From Modern to Rustic, each different sofa style will give your living room a specific feeling and tone. Not sure what styles are available? This quick guide can help.
When you think of the word “sofa,” you probably think of the traditional sofa styles. Dark wood usually graces these pieces, and they typically have an antique or formal feel to them. Most feature very symmetrical shapes, curved lines, and some even have more intricate wood features. Leather is a common option for upholstery for traditional sofas, but you can also find many in attractive and durable fabrics. While traditional sofas are great for a formal living room, there are many options available with a slightly more relaxed look and feel.
Similar to the traditional style, Old World sofas often feature dark woods and carved details. This sofa style tends to be a bit more formal than Traditional sofas, however, and the detailing tends to be more elaborate. The materials tend to be very rich and luxurious, with leathers and plush upholstery, soft cushions and thick rolled arms.
When you want to project the feel of comfort, casual is the sofa style for you. Plump and relaxing, these sofas are designed to be the perfect place to watch the game or sit around for a relaxing evening. You’ll typically find casual sofas to be soft and overstuffed, with a deep seat and thick padded arms and back. Casual furniture comes in a variety of neutral colors so that it fits into almost any decor.
Sofas in the Modern style are often sleek and cool. They usually don’t have any added frills or decorations. Instead, you get a streamlined piece that is fairly simple in nature, with straight lines or sleek curves. Sometimes covered in leather, you’ll see a sharpness in each of these pieces, which often incorporate geometric shapes. While you can find some fairly bright and bold colors, they most often are available in solid neutral tones, with lightly colored woods and metals. These sofa styles are usually relatively lightweight.
The Mid-Century style, also call Mid-Century Modern, has a good deal in common with the Modern style, and is often considered a forerunner of it. Mid-Century sofas are also sleek and streamlined, but they have a much stronger “1950s” or “1960s” look to them. They often have very thin legs that angle out, giving them an “airy” feeling, and relatively low backs, sometimes with the arms and back the same height. This sofa style often places and emphasis on natural materials, like wood, leather, and linen. Mid-Century sofas are more likely to be found in brighter colors than pure Modern sofas, but they have the same tendency toward simple designs and solid colors.
If you want to step back into the days of yesteryear, typically the seventies or eighties, this is the right style for you. Vintage and retro sofas are often styled very specifically to invoke the best known features of the furniture of a particular era. Keep in mind that styles aren’t really considered retro until they’re at least 20 years old. Vintage sofas often feature very different colors and shapes than you might see today, and sometimes includes colors like avocado green, yellow, or even gold. You can find patterned upholstery too, depending on the era the sofa is meant to reference.
The line between Retro, Vintage, and Mid-Century is often a blurry one, with furniture sometimes being categorized into more than one group. All three share a tendency to look to the past for inspiration and to bring back the best, most useful features.
Really, the term “contemporary” means “right now,” so this style changes with the current design trends. The Modern style has had a strong influence on current trends, so many of the same features are visible in both. Like modern sofas, Contemporary sofa styles are known for their clean, sleek lines and solid colors, but both are softer than in Modern sofas. Furniture in this style tends to put more emphasis on basic lines and forms, including rounded shapes that often feel warmer and more welcoming.
A related style, Transitional connects the Traditional and Contemporary styles. It offers cleaner lines and is more minimalistic than most traditional furniture.
Both Country and Cottage sofa styles tend to be practical styles with a handmade quality. They don’t usually have a lot of over the top frills or details, and both the woods and colors tend to be muted. Pine is common, as is painted wood and aged patinas. Colors tend to be light, with stripes and florals also common.
The difference between Country and Cottage sofa styles is not huge, with Cottage often considered to be a subset of Country. Cottage sofas tend to be a bit more colorful and included more whimsical and dainty touches. Other subsets include English Country and French Provincial.
Shopping for sofas doesn’t need to be confusing if you understand what different sofa styles are available. Before you go shopping, take a look at the furniture you already have and try to determine what style it falls into. While you can mix and match between some styles – Contemporary and Transitional, for example, or Modern and Mid-Century – it’s usually best to pick one for a unified look. If you have a small room, you might consider Modern or Contemporary furniture, as it tends to be lighter and take up less room. A formal room would probably look better with a Traditional sofa.