How to Make a Sectional Work in Your Space

Posted by Michael Martin on

how to make a sectional work

You can’t beat a sectional when it comes to family-friendly seating with versatile options, but the size and layout makes it a bit more challenging to place in your living room.

Don’t let the size and shape of a sectional keep you from exploring this seating option for your living room, family room or entertaining space. From choosing the right type of sectional layout, to taking accurate measurements, learning how to place a sectional in a small living room or a larger space isn’t as difficult as you think.


Can a Sectional Fit in My Living Room?

It’s a common question — especially when you have a small living room. But don’t let size intimidate you. You don’t need a massive room to pull off a sectional. With many different sectional sizes, styles and layout options available, you can find a sectional to fit in almost any living space. Even small ones. In fact, a sectional may help you maximize your available space in a small room.

To begin with, a single piece of furniture for seating creates a kind of anchoring effect. The sectional offers one continuous seating option, unlike separate sofas, loveseats and chairs that need space between them. That single seating option often looks less cluttered than trying to pack multiple pieces into a small area.

Experimenting with different ways to arrange a sectional can help you choose the best location for the piece.


Components of Sectionals

Sectionals come in many different arrangements and styles, rather than one standard setup that you must fit into your space. The aspect that makes them perfect no matter the configuration of your room is the variety of individual components that can make up a sectional. Many sectional sofas come with different options for the individual components, so you can build a sofa that works with the arrangement of your room.

Common components of a sectional include:

  • One-armed chair: This piece includes one arm and goes at one end of a sectional. These pieces often come with two options, with the arm on either the right or left side of the chair to give you flexibility  with where it goes.
  • Corner chair: Use this sectional component to form a right angle in your sectional layout.
  • Armless chair: Position this single seat in the middle of the sectional.
  • Armless loveseat: This is another armless component that fits between two other pieces in a sectional. For example, you might place the armless loveseat between a one-armed chair and corner chair to make side of the sectional longer.
  • One-armed loveseat: Just like the one-armed chair, this piece has an arm on only one end, but is the length of a loveseat. It works well on the end of your sectional layout.
  • One-armed chaise: Many sectional setups offer the option of a chaise lounge for one end of the sofa with an arm on just one side. This arm might come on the left or the right side to give you flexibility in the placement.

The pieces in the sectional join to one another to form one continuous sofa. Sectionals pieces are often referred to as “left-arm-facing” or “right-arm-facing.” This refers to the side of the piece where the arm is located when you face it head-on.

sectionals continuous seating option

For example, if you stand in front of the loveseat portion of the sectional facing the piece and the arm is on the left side, it’s a left-arm-facing loveseat. If the arm is on the right side of the piece as you face it, the piece is right-arm-facing. Each sectional is often comprised of both left-arm and right-arm facing pieces. It might have a left-arm-facing chair on one end and a right-arm-facing chaise on the other, for example.

Understanding the orientation of left-arm-facing and right-arm-facing pieces is crucial in choosing a loveseat that works with your space. When figuring out how to find the right sectional for your space, you need to know how you will arrange the pieces and how each component will fit into the space beforehand. For example, you might prefer a right-arm-facing chaise over a left-arm-facing chaise so it fits on the end of the sectional that’s farthest from the flow of traffic.


Comparing Features

Sectionals come in many different layouts with varying numbers of pieces and shapes. Deciding on the features that work best for your space helps you narrow down the sectional options.

The first consideration is the shape of the sectional.

While many sectionals feature a squared shape with pieces meeting at right angles, some sectionals feature a rounded semi-circle shape. Keep in mind that a rounded sectional won’t fit snugly against a straight wall, so it can result in some wasted space.

Squared sectionals, meanwhile, typically come in two different styles: L-shaped and U-shaped.

squared sectionals

If you worry that a sectional is too big for a living room, an L-shaped style is often the best bet. Because it only has two sides with seating, the L-shaped design feels more open when placed against two walls and doesn’t take up as much floor space in the middle of the room. Opt for a smaller, L-shaped sectional with a chaise forming one of the two sides for small living rooms.

A U-shaped sectional features seating on three sides, forming a squared U-shape with two right angles. This style of sectional works well for conversations, since everyone faces inward toward one another. U-shaped sectionals take up more floor space and often create a more closed-off feeling, since only one side remains open. Make sure you have the space to accommodate this style of sectional without making the room feel smaller or crowded.

Another element to consider is the number of pieces in the set. A standard L-shaped sectional often has two pieces that meet to form the angle. This might be two sofas, two loveseats, one sofa and one loveseat, or a sofa and a chaise. Another version uses three pieces: two one-arm sofas or loveseats with a corner chair in the middle to form the angle.

A U-shaped sectional has at least three separate pieces. It may have more if the layout includes separate corner pieces.


Measurements

Taking accurate measurements is one of the most important steps in finding a sectional that fits in your space. Size isn’t only important in arranging the pieces in your room — it’s also necessary to fit the sectional into your home in the first place.

Measure all doors leading into the home and the specific room where the sectional will go. Because the sofa comes in individual sections, you have a little more flexibility for moving the pieces, but they still need to fit through any doorways.

When measuring for the sectional, consider the length and width of the room. If you have a general idea of where to place the sectional, measure the walls or parts of the room where the pieces will rest. For placement under a window, measure the windowsill height. This helps you select a sectional sofa with an overall height that fits below the sill.

While shopping for your new seating, get dimensions for all parts of the sectional, including the depth. This helps you determine how the pieces will fit into your space. If you find a sectional you like, mark out the shape on your floor using painter’s tape to get an idea of how much space it takes up in the room.

If the sectional is modular or reversible, cut out large pieces of cardboard or paper to represent each piece. Test out possible arrangements in your space to get a visual on the different sectional sofa layout ideas.


Consider the Use

How you use the room and sofa affects your choice in a sectional layout. Before you choose your sectional, ask yourself several questions about how you plan to use the seating.

questions about sectionals

The following considerations can help you narrow down the options:

  • Amount of seating you need: If you have a small family and don’t entertain often, a smaller sectional works great. If you have a larger family or have friends over frequently, opt for a larger, U-shaped sectional with more seats. Also, consider any additional seating you plan to have in the space.
  • Use of the sectional: What types of activities do you plan to do on the sectional? Do you want to have as many seats as possible facing the TV? Will it be used primarily as a place to sit and chat? Do you like to lounge around or sit up? Choose a style and design that best facilitates those activities to maximize your use of the seating.
  • Additional functions: If your sectional also needs to provide sleeping accommodations for overnight guests, look for a sleeper sectional.
  • Kids and pets: Families with kids or pets need to consider the fabric of the sectional carefully. A leather sectional lets you clean up messes easily, but it may show scratches or claw marks more readily. Certain types of fabrics are more durable and can better resist stains that sometimes occur when you have kids or pets.
  • Traffic flow: When deciding on a layout and style, consider the flow of foot traffic in the room. Choose a sectional design that lets people easily access the seating without interrupting the flow of traffic. For example, a chaise sticking out into the normal traffic area can make it more difficult to navigate your room.
  • Style: Like other seating pieces, sectionals come in almost every style, from rustic and casual to sleek and modern. Consider the overall style of your space to find a sectional that complements the look.

Compare the sectional options to find a layout and design that best fits your space and your needs.


Custom Pieces

If you can’t find the perfect sectional sofa to work in your space, consider ordering a custom sectional. This allows you to choose the specific pieces and layout best-suited to your needs. The custom sectional will fit your room perfectly, based on the available space and the overall layout of the room.

Expect the custom sectional to take eight weeks or more to arrive.  However, if you plan to enjoy the sectional for many years to come, it’s worth waiting on just the right one.  Don’t settle for something that’s not perfect!

If you don’t want to fully customize your sectional, another option is to choose a reversible sectional. This option lets you flip the setup for a better fit in your room.

custom sectionals take 8 weeks to arrive


Tips for Placing the Sectional

Figuring out how to arrange a sectional sofa in a living room sometimes takes some work, especially when you’re working with a small space. Use these tips for placing your sectional:

  • Cut back on furniture: Cramming too much furniture into one space can make it difficult to find the perfect spot for your sectional. Get rid of extra end tables, floor lamps and other freestanding items in the room that take up floor space. If the sectional provides enough seating to accommodate your needs, consider getting rid of your existing seating pieces, or move them to a different room.
  • Wall considerations: A major decision is whether to place the sectional against the walls or away from them. Placing the sectional in a corner of the room with the pieces against the wall keeps as much floor space open as possible and minimizes changes to the traffic flow.

If the sectional sticks out into the middle of the room, it may make the room difficult to move around in or restrict access to certain areas. Other people prefer to place the sectional away from the wall to help define your space. This option allows people to walk on all sides of the sectional.  If possible, floating the sectional in your room is best from a design standpoint.

  • Consider focal points: Your room likely has at least one focal point, such as a fireplace or your entertainment center. When considering placement options, find a position that emphasizes that focal point rather than making the sectional the focus. This can help minimize the appearance of a large sectional in a small room.
  • Go light: If you’re concerned about the sectional looking too bulky in your space, opt for a lighter color. Adding light accent pillows can lighten up a sectional if you choose a darker upholstery color to help hide stains.
  • Avoid overlap: Choose a sectional size and a location that prevents any overlap of doorways or walkways. If the sectional hangs over into a doorway or another area, it makes the furniture look too large for the space.
  • Scale other pieces: If you want to use a coffee table with your sectional, choose a piece that’s on a similar scale to your sectional. A tiny coffee table gets lost next to a large sectional and doesn’t provide enough space. A large coffee table next to a smaller sectional takes up too much space and looks out of place. The same balance applies to area rugs, side tables and other pieces placed near your sectional.
  • Give yourself options: Choose a sectional that allows some flexibility to rearrange within your space. The size can sometimes feel limiting, but you may eventually want to change up the layout of your space.

If you’re ready to make a seating change in your living space, contact Davids Furniture & Interiors for a design consultation, or visit one of our showrooms. Let our design experts help you find a sectional or another seating option that works well for your space, traffic flow and use.


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