Husband is Insisting On a Sectional Sofa; I’m Heartbroken



Dear Laurel,

Thank you for the recent posts about sofas, both inexpensive sofas and more expensive sofas. They’re all beautiful. Seriously, there were at least a dozen I would have no problem going out and getting right this second.

But, it’s my husband. Oh, I wish I could be original. I wish I had a husband who would keep his mouth shut about the furniture, even though he earns all of the money lol. For some reason, he believes that he’s entitled to a say in the matter.

Isn’t that ridiculous? ;]


He insists that he HAS to have a sectional sofa in our living room.


And, he would prefer leather. He really wants one of those hideous shiny leather albatrosses with the stadium seats, but I ran out of the kitchen sobbing and refused to come out of my room. Oh, I know… very juvenile. However, my MANipulating tactics worked. I guess he wanted his supper. So, in a moment of vulnerability, he backed down on the stadium seats and leather. However, I did make him that chocolate cake which made him happy.

In addition, our living room has to double as a family room as there is no family room. It is a smallish Bungalow built in the early 30s; yes, loaded with charm. And, yes, the living room is right there when you open the front door.

He showed me the kind of sectional that appeals to him.


This is the one that nearly caused me to have a nervous breakdown.


fantastic brown leather sectional recliner sofa with chaise and console for modern apartment living room

Yes, Laurel, this is what he wants. And no, divorce is not an option. But, like I said, I got him to see the light.



And, here is his “option B.”


Fortunately, this one won’t work because it is larger than our room. I’m serious! Dodged that bullet.

He says:

“I work hard and when I come home, I want to be able to relax and I want to be comfortable. Is that too much to ask?”


Well, no, it isn’t too much to ask. And, yes, he does work hard and I do want him to be happy. But isn’t there some other way for him to be comfortable and for me to retain my beautiful living room?


Sophie Petit


Thank you Sophie. I hear you. Just curious; is your husband, per chance, the one who calls me “that Laurel” ? ;]

Before I go on, Sophie is a fictitious character out of my imagination. But, she is based on real people and situations I have encountered. So, I am not bound to solving her specific problem of a comfortable sectional sofa for a smallish living room.

I will be addressing broader concerns. But a universal issue is one of comfort. And, a common problem is a sectional that doesn’t fit in the room. Oh, I have seen it more than once. They get it home and it does not fit! Guess they didn’t have a plan!


You know, if it was 200 years ago, for comfort, below is the best we could hope for after a hard day of work.


19th Century Chippendale Style Camel Back Sofa - First Dibs

19th Century Chippendale Style Camel Back Sofa – First Dibs


Or maybe this one, below.


19th Century English Eight Legged Regency Sofa - First Dibs

19th Century English Eight Legged Regency Sofa – First Dibs


Robin Bruce Madeline Sofa Spruce Green available - One Kings Lane

Hmmm… This is reminding me of the Robin Bruce Madeline sofa!

I’m just saying that comfort is obviously a relative thing.


I mean, if we were in early 19th century Sweden, our comfy sofa might’ve looked like this Gustavian Swedish piece.

Origin, Sweden, circa 1800 For Sale at 1stdibs_filesHey, at least it’s an L-shape. hahahaha! That’s about the closest thing to a sectional I could find from that era.


Oh, except for this French canapé, below.


Claude I Sené (French, 1724–1792) Date: ca. 1775–80 Canape - Metropolitan Museum of Art


Claude I Sené (French, 1724–1792) Date: ca. 1775–80 Canapé – Metropolitan Museum of Art


However, it doesn’t come apart, even though it is in sections. Interesting, how the ends face away.

There must be a good reason for the, but I don’t know what it is. :]


When did the first real sectional sofas come into being?


I’m not quite sure about that either, although I think the Flintstones had one. ;] I can’t find much before the mid-20th century modern movement.


boudoir sofa first dibs
Well, we have this 19th century boudoir sofa from France found on 1st Dibs. But, it too is attached. Interesting piece! That’s new upholstery, but they left the legs as is. I rather like that. What I want to know is why there are four seats and in this configuration? And why is there this verrrry tall conical back?


19th century French provincial sectional
Okay, I found one. One 19th century, Victorian-style piece from France. But, that is all I found that is genuinely 19th century.

And, I found this French provincial-style piece. It’s actually 20th century circa 1960.


However, the hey-day of the sectional sofa was in the 1940s-50s. The one above is not what we think of as mid-century, but they are saying that it is on Chairish.

The sectional sofas began to proliferate in the middle of the 20th century.



This Danish Modern mid-century sectional sofa is more what I think of when I think of a mid-century sectional. Aside from the dirty upholstery, I think that this piece is a work of art.

In Evansville, Indiana where I spent my formative years, we had neighbors who had a sofa very much like this one in their family room. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. Everything in their home was mid-century modern. It was always fun to go over as I felt like I was living in alternative reality while there.


So, how did we get from this sinuous masterpiece to the man-eating monster covered in polyurethaned cow-hide?


Good question, I think. :]

Here’s the missing link– or part of it.


70s gross pit sectional sofa


The Seventies.


Oh well… What’s done is done. But, gosh, they still make these monstrosities. If you have one and love it, of course, I will accept that. However, please tell me. What happens when the queen comes to visit? Are you going to make her crawl on all fours to take her seat? Or, do you have some sort of pulley contraption that will hoist her in and out of her seat? I suppose that could work.

The biggest issue I’m hearing, however, is one of comfort. And believe me when I tell you that over the years it was practically a running joke. Invariably, I would hear:


“My husband has to sit in it. He’s afraid the sofa won’t be comfortable.”


[Right. I’m going to sell you a piece of crap that you’re going to hate and find horribly uncomfortable. That’s because I’m an incorrigible masochist. Hope you don’t mind.]


Over the years, I came up with a far more congenial script to explain that they will love the upholstered furniture I sell. Everyone does. And that’s the truth! Although, it took about 15 years to get to the point where I could say it with confidence!


However, in the case of Sophie’s husband, it appears that he’s equating size with comfort.

As in:

BIG, BLOATED BLOB = comfortable

sleek, chic, stylish = UNCOMFORTABLE


Actually, I think that he has it backwards. It’s far more likely that the behemoth is going to be the one that’s uncomfortable.

A sofa doesn’t have to be a distended beast in order to be comfortable. As any woman who’s had a baby knows. It’s not what’s on the outside that counts. It’s what’s on the inside. ;]


And it’s the same with a sofa, whether it’s in sections or not. Comfort is achieved with interior depth, cushion fill and pitch of the back.


In addition, there’s no reason that a sectional sofa has to be different style-wise from its single unit brothers and sisters.


For example:

ugly - fughly sectional sofa -with-no-legs


The sectional sofa with amputated legs. I never got this look. I mean, we already have a huuuuge hunk of upholstery. Why make it even HEAVIER with this exaggerated rail. (the part under the seat cushion.)

amputated chippendale sofa

I mean, imagine amputating the gorgeous legs off of the beautiful Chippendale style sofa above and instead, extending the length of the rail.

So, so bad.


What about skirts, Laurel? Does this mean that we can’t have a skirt? I’ll be so disappointed, because I love skirts.


Of course you can have a skirt. A skirt is a different thing. Although, generally equated with traditional furniture styles, a skirt is actually modern, since they did not appear until well into the 20th century. Always, there are legs underneath the skirt. They might be short block legs. But, I’ve never seen an upholstered sofa with a skirt that didn’t have them.


I love skirts too; especially a beautiful dress-maker or waterfall style skirt like on  the beautiful Jamieson sofa from Serena and Lily. In fact, I’ve featured this sofa in at least three of the Laurel Home Paint, Palette and Home Furnishings Collection boards.

By the way, S & L has sweetened the pot on their Winter Tent Sale by offering an additional 20% off of their sale items with code: HOORAY



Another thing to watch out for with all upholstered pieces, not just sectional sofas are weird shapes.


If you go back up and look at the big ugly green sectional, please notice the strange curve on the side panel.


Scandinavian Empire or Beidermeier sofa

The only time I can recall seeing this affectation in furniture is in the Empire or Beidermeier style which was roughly 200 years ago. And, it is elegant on this piece. Ancient Egyptian had these shapes too, I believe.

But, that sectional is hardly Ancient Egyptian, Empire or Beidermeier. On a contemporary piece, it looks quite strange to me.


Granada+Sectional - weird arm

Same thing goes for this strange arm.


Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. ;]


Therefore, please look out for strange arms and shapes. For some reason, they seem even more commonplace on sectionals than on regular sofas.

As for the shiny leather things with the chaises and cup-holders, aside from their inherent fugly. In a living room situation, it makes the living room about watching TV and that is not really living, IMO. It makes it a media room. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but if it’s the only room for living, conversing, greeting and watching TV, I believe that it needs to function well for all purposes.


Now, does the husband NEED a sectional to be comfortable?


Probably not. He could be just as comfortable, I think with a plush deep sofa and ottoman.

What about the sectionals that come with a chaise?

one kings lane sutton right-facing sectional harbor blue velvet - best upholstery fabricsSutton right facing sectional


I love this piece and have featured it many times in my hot sales. In fact, you can get 20% off this piece by using code: OKL20CARD. But, it’s not going to work for everyone and here’s why.

The problem here is that one person gets to put their feet up and the other people watching TV, don’t. That is, unless they get an ottoman  What makes more sense to me, is to have a piece like this have a back on the right side of the sectional (or left, if a left facing piece.) That way, someone can sit perpendicular. OR that section can still be used as a chaise.

And then, I would put an ottoman in front where everyone can put their feet up.


As per usual, I looked at numerous sofas to come up with my list of the best sectionals.


Here’s what I’m looking for:


    • As always, the first thing I look for is scale and proportion.
    • My preference is for a back, not higher than 34″. The reason is that it is already a big piece of furniture.
    • My ideal back cushions are box-shaped because they are sleeker. However, not all of these have that style of cushion, but they are still lovely pieces, so they made the cut.


Do you know why there are almost always back cushions on a sectional sofa?


The reason is because it is not easy to make the pieces of a sectional fit perfectly flush together and the back cushions will hide any small gaps. This doesn’t mean that a tight-back sectional will have these gaps, but the cushions will hide them, if there.


What else am I looking for in a sectional sofa?


I look for legs of some kind and they can be straight, tapered, turned or those metallic modern legs for some styles.

However, if your sectional has a slipcover, it will most likely have a skirt and that is fine.

The other details are the same as for any other sofa or upholstered piece.

And also, here is a lot of good information about what to look for in a quality upholstered chair or sofa.

The pieces I have chosen run the gamut for new pieces in the mid-century manner, to English roll arm more traditional styled sectionals.


The following are 15 of my favorite sectional sofas.


Serena and Lily Spruce Street Sectional Sofa

Serena and Lily Spruce Street Sectional Sofa

This is probably my number one favorite sectional that I have featured numerous times on this blog.  It is a wonderful sectional, because it is roomy but still only 35″ deep. It has a lovely pitch and there are dozens of fabrics, choice of leg finishes and nailheads or not.


Spruce Street sectional sofa- Serena and Lily

Another view of the Spruce Street Sectional.


Williams Sonoma Home also has the same frame which they call the Addison. It comes in more size options than S & L and also chairs, sofas and loveseats.

Some of you may remember a rash of posts last summer where I took a real living and/or family room and created some room layouts. And, I used the Spruce Street sectional or some variation of it, in these posts:

about a cramped vacation home wanting to serve as a full-time home

A tricky family room addition

A home with a stunning view, but awkward and unusual lay-out

And this post, featuring two small living rooms and features a Spruce Street loveseat


Serena and Lily Barton Sectional

Serena and Lily Barton Sectional has a more contemporary styling with a partial chaise. I love this piece and as always, it is beautifully styled with throw pillows.


Jonathan Adler Lampert sectional sofa

Above and below is Jonathan Adler’s Lampert sofa in their sectional version.


Jonathan Adler Lampert sectional sofa - living room

Jonathan Adler Lampert sectional sofa


andes-l-shaped-sectional sofa
West Elm Andes sectional sofa above and below


It comes in numerous fabrics and two finish options for the legs.
And, the worn velvet shown above is under $2,500 now, on sale!


andes-3-piece-sectional-performance velvet dove gray

This is a performance velvet with beautiful styling on this Andes sectional sofa.


Room and Board Reese Curved Retro-Style Sectional SofaRoom and Board Reese Curved Retro-Style Sectional Sofa is a faithful reproduction of a mid-century sectional. There are numerous fabric options to choose from.



Room and Board Reese Curved Retro-Style Sectional Sofa above and below


Room and Board Reese sectional sofa

Room and Board Reese sectional sofa in a room setting

It is available in numerous fabrics. Quite stunning, I think.


Robin Bruce curved Oslo-sectional sofa - One Kings Lane


Robin Bruce curved Oslo-sectional sofa – One Kings Lane


Love this piece which makes for an easy conversational sectional sofa, or for watching TV. It comes in several performance fabrics. You can see them all here.


You might recall me sitting in this lovely piece during my visit to their new store in Manhattan in November. And, it is supremely comfortable. If you are interested in any of these, you can get 20% off with code: OKL20CARD.


Joe Ruggiero Collection - One Kings Lane $8495 - Tribeca Sectional Sofa - White Sunbrella


Joe Ruggiero Collection – One Kings Lane – Tribeca Sectional Sofa – White Sunbrella

This piece is more expensive than some, but it is a high-end piece with a down and feather fill.


One Kings Lane Upton Right-Facing Sectional Sofa - Ivory Linen

One Kings Lane Upton Right-Facing Sectional Sofa – Ivory Linen

This is a very stylish, versatile piece and also comes in several fabrics. Use code: OKL20CARD for 20% off.

Robin Bruce Amia Sectional Sofa - Charcoal Velvet - One Kings Lane

Robin Bruce Amia Sectional Sofa – Charcoal Velvet – One Kings Lane

This piece also comes in several fabrics and you can use code: OKL20CARD for 20% off.


Brooke Left-facing sectional sofa ivory crypton

Robin Bruce Brooke Left-facing sectional sofa in ivory crypton

We were looking at the Brooke regular sofa in this post. It also comes in a right facing version. And the promo code works here, if interested.


Jonathan Adler danner_sectional sofa_curved_aberdeen_cloud

Jonathan Adler Danner sectional sofa aberdeen cloud

I adore this sectional. It comes in numerous fabrics and leg finishes for a fully custom piece.


Danner Sectional Sofa-jonathan-adler

The Danner sectional in a room setting. This is very interesting because who would think to put mid-century style furniture in a rustic woodsy home? But it works, I think.


One Kings Lane Davia Right-facing Sectional Sofa retro style - platinum on sale $3135

One Kings Lane Davia Right-facing Sectional Sofa retro style – platinum. This is nearly identical to the Room and Board sectional Reese sectional (above). However, there are fewer fabrics available than the R&B sectional but with the promo code OKL20CARD the price is only $3,135.00 That’s quite good for a curved three-piece sectional.


Comfortable Couch Company - English-Arm-Pillow-Back-Radius-L-Fabric-Sectional

Cococo – Radius English Arm Sectional


The Comfortable Couch Company (Cococo) is a retail source that I ordered from once and had a very handsome custom sectional made for a client. What’s interesting with this company are their immense customization abilities for their pieces. Not only, the fabrics, but the size, cushion fill legs, nailheads and other details can be specified. And, their prices are quite reasonable.


They actually have numerous styles that I’m quite fond of.


When I worked with them about six years ago, they were quite obliging and sent samples of their fabrics, etc. I was very happy with the experience. (you can see that sofa by clicking the link. It is the leather Chesterfield)

Please note, however, that shipping is completely ala carte and while they can help you set it up, you are going to find out just how insanely expensive it really is. A sectional delivered, could set you back several hundred dollars.


Robin Bruce Maddox Right -Facing Sectional Forest Green Velvet

Robin Bruce Maddux Sectional OKL


Now, at first glance, you might think that this would not meet with my approval. But it’s proportions and chunky straight arms give it a deco modern feel that could see working in many different spaces. Plus, it’s handsome, hunky lines will appeal to men and women alike, I think.
And, you can use your promo code: OKL20CARD for 20% off!


Serena and Lily Miramar Sectional Sofa

This is the Serena and Lily Miramar sectional that’s relatively new for them. Although, they have had the Miramar sofa and chair in their line for years. What I’ve noticed about the Miramar is that their sofa used to come with a bunch of self-pillows and now, they are selling it as is and the pillows are available later.


Bedford 2-piece L shaped sectional
Williams Sonoma Home also has a version of this sectional from their Bedford line. It does look a little different, but the measurements are identical. The only difference that I can see are the legs. This is a deep, luxurious piece, and you’ll definitely need some pillows.


Gorgeous Serena and Lily Miramar Sofa

Above, a beautifully styled with pillows Serena and Lily Miramar sofa


And below is a graphic of these sectional sofas


15 Classic - Comfy - Stylish Sectional Sofasplease pin this graphic to your pinterest boards for reference


Well, guess what? My delightful son is here for the weekend and we are planning a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Really looking forward to that. And then he has a gig in Brooklyn!

Hope that y’all are having a great weekend too!

Please don’t forget to check out the hot sales for lots of new items on sale this weekend.




7th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2020 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Gabriele Braun - January 11, 2019 - 10:58 PM

    Hi Laurel
    What a funny post.
    And I can absolutely relate to the husband-leather-sectional conundrum.
    I own a huge leather sectional ( 10 x 10 feet) in chestnut/medium brown for close to 20 years now.
    We needed new seating for the family room and my husband insisted on both, leather and sectional. I told myself to pick my battles wisely and so I was on the hunt for a little over a year and my husband’s patience wore thin. But finally I found it. Beautiful soft leather, down filled back cushions an acceptable shape, simple with a curved armrests. Really really deep seated. I can’t really sit on it but I’m the exception in my family the guys are all around 6’4″.
    It survived my teenage children and their friends beautifully, still looks really good and is still in really good condition and very comfortable for an afternoon nap.
    BUT: you wouldn’t believe the maintenance it takes. Regular wiping and cleaning. Three times a year I take it completely apart for deep cleaning: shampooing with leather soap, rinsing, drying, conditioning. And fluffing the back cushions is serious physical labour that has to be done fairly frequently.
    The price might have motivated me. It was around $10 000. But it was worth the investment and the effort and my children jokingly discuss who is going to inherit it.
    As for decorating with it, I learned to make it the center of the room as there’s no way around it because of its size alone even if our family room can accommodate it easily.
    A collection of textured high quality pillows and throws in creamy colors grew over the years.
    So I learned to love it and now my grandchildren do too.
    Happy ending, it’s in the family room and perfect for a big family.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 11, 2019 - 11:13 PM

      Thank you so much Gabriele and for the very charming, heart-warming story of your family and a leather sectional.ReplyCancel

  • Jo Chrobak - January 11, 2019 - 3:18 AM

    Oh Laurel, you cracked me today! I think I was on the floor laughing, and I have to say that quote “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

    I used that once in an argument when designing a hotel with a colleague. I almost lost the argument until my boss at the time came to save me (and was stylish and educated enough to agree!)

    Come back to England! I’ll try find some PR that’s worth the trip!
    Jo xReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 11, 2019 - 11:10 AM

      Hi Jo,

      It’s one of my favorite expressions. I would love to come back to England!ReplyCancel

  • susie - January 10, 2019 - 9:51 AM

    I guess it’s a matter of whether your goal is to lie down (to take a nap or while watching TV) or whether your goal is to be sitting (as in watching TV or reading a book). If you want to lie down in the living room, you need a sofa. If you want to sit, you need an armchair (plus ottoman?) or recliner. But how much space you have is MUY IMPORTANTE. Space constraints will automatically rule out a lot of options. If you have the space, I like the L-shaped sofa or sofa with chaise at one end. Good luck!!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 10, 2019 - 12:12 PM

      And sometimes people want to do all of the above. :] I love the Spruce Street sectional or the same one at Williams Sonoma Home which are both by Lee. It’s only 35″ deep over all and some configuration will fit in just about any space, if a sectional is desired.ReplyCancel

  • Kimball Cookie - January 9, 2019 - 9:52 AM


    Thank you for your 2 wonderful posts on sofas.

    How do you measure a sofa so you know what will fit up a curved stairway?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 9, 2019 - 11:57 AM

      Hi Kimball,

      You know, I would call in a professional person who measures to tell you that. It also depends how open the staircase is. And, the other thing you might try first is to google that query. I’m sure that it’s out there. It’s a good question. I do know that some furniture companies give advice about this but am not sure about curved staircases.ReplyCancel

  • Diane Sanderson - January 8, 2019 - 8:11 AM

    Hi Laurel, I suppose a sectional in some cases would be a good solution, but from personal experience the square corner was not very useful. Praying you are feeling much better. Diane SandersonReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 8, 2019 - 2:38 PM

      Hi Diane,

      Thank you for your kind thoughts. Mostly, I am feeling better. I don’t disagree with you about the corner. But kids don’t mind. And if you like to fold your legs under or put your head there, it can work. But, it was often my argument for not getting a sectional and instead, being able to have a table and another lamp.ReplyCancel

  • Julie S - January 7, 2019 - 12:31 PM

    Yaaaayyyy! I have the same husband. We got a small scale L shaped sectional from a local company for our teeny 1000 sq ft cottage about 4 years ago and it was a bit of a struggle to get him on board with my choice. Luckily most of the awful things he liked were way too large for our corner, so that helped. He insisted on round stuffed arms for comfort lying sideways (deaf to the persuasions that you can feel the edge of the square interior frame just as much, or that a pillow placed against the arm negates any difficulty) but luckily I was able to find a model with a smaller roll that didn’t eat TOO much valuable space. Similar look to the Ikea Ecktorp but way more comfortable.
    The sofa transferred well to a new floorplan in our new slightly larger home, so that’s nice, and has been holding up a lot better in both comfort and looks than I expected for the reasonable price we paid! Still, I’m pinning your image for down the road 🙂ReplyCancel

  • PFW - January 7, 2019 - 7:13 AM

    And then there are the modular sectionals where each sofa is in three or more pieces and sometimes they move when you try to sit on them (let alone nap ). Supposedly versatile for moving (easier to move in and out and to reconfigure) but I’ll bet there often ends up being an unused section or one they wished they had bought! Regular sofas and loveseats seem more practical. That said, we used to own one that was heavier built and it was practical for us and our kids to cuddle on.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 7, 2019 - 9:30 AM

      After assembly in any sectional, the pieces are supposed to hook together, but it’s not always easy to do. And, not all sectionals are designed to do this, but they should be, I think.ReplyCancel

  • Miriam - January 6, 2019 - 3:03 PM

    Just as a heads up, we purchased a sofa/chaise version of the Room and Board Reese several years ago, and it has not held up well at all, despite being rarely used. I loved the clean, mid century lines and the comfort level is alright with added pillows, although not a sink-into-and-curl-up affair. However, the bench seat cushion broke down quickly, as the foam was poor quality. The tufting also became an issue with clothing catching and pulling on the buttons. I gave up and put a throw over the seat, which killed the vibe. Time to move on!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 6:19 PM

      Hi Miriam,

      I’m sorry you had a problem with your R & B sofa. I just took a look at their reviews and over-all, they are very good. But, it’s definitely not a sink-into style. If you like the sofa in general, you could get a new and different cushion insert from a local upholsterer and perhaps he could do something about the button tufting, so that it doesn’t catch on clothing.ReplyCancel

  • Deborah L hattoy - January 6, 2019 - 2:24 PM

    Oh boy I have the same issue ….except my husband wants the puffy recliners!!! Please no! I am a designer and will not let that puffy fake leather furniture in my house. EVER! I have tried and tried to find a mfg that makes a recliner, a large one, that does not look like a recliner! Any suggestions.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 6:13 PM

      Hi Deborah,

      Oh, I should’ve linked to the ugly reclining chair cousin post. Here it is! I did update the recliners about a year ago. Hopefully, it’ll help you find something that will work for you.ReplyCancel

  • Donna - January 6, 2019 - 1:34 PM

    I have a unique situation. I just moved my mother 250 miles to live with us. She is 84 and has Parkinson’s. She came with three large, puffy, electric recliner/lift chairs. I certainly don’t mind the one in her bedroom or the basement (finished, walk-out, basement used as a rec room), but I now have a big, puffy, brown leather, lift chair in my den, and I just have to live with it, and I can because, well, it’s my mother. We are also in the market for a sectional sofa for the basement. My husband works a few days a month at a furniture store commonly known for big, puffy, recliners, but Brook Shields will tell you they have hundreds of options now, haha! The designers in this store are very helpful and my husband chose a sectional that is very nice and fits the room perfectly. We almost bought it, but now we think we might need a sleeper sectional to accommodate family and friends that may visit more often now that my mother lives with us and suddenly my choices are limited to two sectional sofas based on the size that I need for the room. One choice is the ugly, puffy kind, so I really have only one choice, but it has no legs. 😊 Yes, two sofas would work, but this room is long and although I’m not a giant fan of sectional sofas and have never owned one before, this room seems perfect for a sectional sofa. The employee discount is tough to give up, but I’m thinking of looking at other sleeper sectional sofa options. Other than directing visitors to a nearby hotel, got any suggestions? Favorites? Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 6:10 PM

      Hi Donna,

      Well, I have a sleep sofa. But get this; my son never opens it up.(unless his GF is with him) He just removes the cushions and the cushion is 26″. And, he’s nearly 6’3″. Or, you could do air mattresses. Sleep sofas aren’t usually that comfortable, anyway. Also, since they are a store, maybe they have some other options available?ReplyCancel

  • Linda D. - January 6, 2019 - 1:04 PM

    Thanks for the informative and amusing read, Laurel. I nearly snorted my coffee when I saw the bit about the 19th century boudoir sofa. I’ve seen this seating configuration featured in Victorian style hotel lobbies, but never in a boudoir —unless it was the waiting room for Emile Zola’s Nana. I could just picture the courtesan’s patrons vying for her favors! Nice upholstery job, though.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 6:05 PM

      Hi Linda,

      Oh gosh, when I did the posts about enfilades, I learned that back in the day, women would entertain in their boudoirs which were in the farther reaches of their manors. Maybe they used these for a type of Musical Chairs? hahahaReplyCancel

  • suzanne - January 6, 2019 - 12:39 PM

    I would build a house just for the danish modern sectional. I’m not even a fan of MCM but I think they did them well. I probably just associate them with that era.
    My sister solved this problem by getting an Eames lounge chair. It adds a punch to her traditional living room.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 6:02 PM

      Hi Suzanne,

      I agree. A shot of MCM seems to go well in any room.ReplyCancel

  • Jenny R. Johnson - January 6, 2019 - 11:50 AM

    Sofa are always too deep for me and I am 5’4″, but some of those that Laurel found are fine. as long as they are plain enough, no one will even notice.the simple fact that a sofa is a sectional does not mean that you will be ejected from junior league and your daughter won’t marry well. I think velvet is great for a family room, and I really like walls painted to blend with the sofa, another way to make it stick out less. I AM REALLY SURE YOU WILL NEED A NICE PAINTING TO GO WITH THAT SECTIONAL! It will have to be big. Or an original multiple or some other works on paper. and here is a great source of slipcover fabrics, several that are budget minded, that I really love. Good luckReplyCancel

  • Mary - January 6, 2019 - 11:26 AM

    Oh Laurel,
    Your fictional wife’s story made me chuckle. The sad fact that there are a lot of husbands out there like your story described makes me appreciate my husband.
    He let me furnish our home however I wanted.
    Our friends that live next door bought a sectional. It’s too big for the room. And now there’s no room for any chairs. When we visit we all have to sit next to each other or on the floor. The husband makes all the decisions in that household & he selected it.
    I hope you have a great time with your son. Spending time with our grown children is such a gift.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 5:52 PM

      Hi Mary,

      Smart husband you have! And yes, the all-too-common sectional that’s too big for the room. Verrrry common.

      I’m having a terrific time with my son. Alas, he’s leaving tomorrow morning early.ReplyCancel

  • Serena Butler - January 6, 2019 - 11:19 AM

    It’s definitely a “man” thing. My husband has his own media room in our house that no one ever watches TV in besides him and sometimes our son, and he still wants a huge sectional for it! Maybe it’s some sort of caveman instinct? Granted, my husband is 6’1″ and weighs around 270#. (too much). He has this need to feel large amounts of space all around him. Furniture that he finds comfortable makes me feel like a tiny child (feet don’t touch the floor, etc.) and there’s no way I can comfortably sit on it without curling up in it. Furniture that I find comfortable makes him look like an adult trying to squeeze into kids’ chairs in a Kindergarten classroom. We have been able to find a happy medium for our family room…..we have 2 white slipcovered sofas arranged in an L-fashion. They are more to my scale, but he isn’t uncomfortable on them. Now to furnish the rest of the room…..

    Love your blog! So glad I found you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 5:49 PM

      Hi Serena,

      There are plenty of nice deep sofas that are attractive and that a larger person will find comfy and then the more petite people can make themselves more comfortable with throw pillows. I’ve had lots of clients where there is a foot or more of height difference between the husband and wife.ReplyCancel

  • sandyc - January 6, 2019 - 11:15 AM

    I have never ever seen a pic of a sectional IN USE, and no matter how “comfortable” the “sitting” is, all I can think is that, given the uncomfortable social experience of being the person who gets stuck in the middle of a sofa that theoretically holds three people, things are going to be magnified with a sectional. I think of my dentist’s office with its longish narrow waiting room where stylish chairs are lined up side by side by side on one long wall and adjacent short wall. Comfortable to sit in and read a mag, but certainly NOT a place to sit and visit. Now if the only reason for getting a sectional is so that your hubs can stretch out and nap somewhere other than the bedroom, give him his humongous recliner or even a regular “comfortable” couch or better yet, send him to a furniture showroom and let him “test” the sectionals on display. You’ll save a lot of money and a lot of headaches.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 5:47 PM

      Hi Sandy,

      I’ve had clients who have large families and one advantage is that you can pile a bunch of kids easier on a sectional than a regular sofa. But, you are right. Most of the time, a sofa and chairs will seat the required number and you can put a lamp on both sides of the sofa.ReplyCancel

      • Valerie - January 9, 2019 - 12:42 PM

        I like the “long sofa table behind one side of the sectional with lamps on it” look, but I guess there’s a risk of knocking lamps off if their bases aren’t heavy and sturdy and people have more rambunctious kids.

        Every time I’ve been tempted to get a sectional I remember the hassle of not being able to rearrange my mom’s den when I was a teenager. We have two sofas now and there are a ton of options if you have a big room anyway.

        I enjoy your blog posts, as always.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 9, 2019 - 1:38 PM

          Thanks so much Valerie!

  • Donna J - January 6, 2019 - 11:15 AM

    Love your posts Laurel! I like sectionals but hate the sofa/chaise lounge thing.The foot end of the chaise sticks up after someone sits on the chaise because the manufacturers cant figure out how to stuff it appropriately. boy the things i could say about the manufacturers of my sofas. I do not think they are in your rolodex! Of course i bought mine before i started reading your blog. Like, who would think the slant of the couch back matter? It does when they get it wrong and I couldn’t for the longest time figure out why my deep sofa was so uncomfortable! Most sectionals are too huge for old bungalows where you step right into living room – like mine which measures 12 wide by 19 or so, with a dining area off one end. Furniture was much smaller when they built these homes in the 40s. Next time I will check Laurels Rolodex before buying!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 5:45 PM

      Hi Donna,

      All that you say is true. I’m still confused by the proliferation of sofas with one chaise appendage. It doesn’t make sense to me.ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - January 6, 2019 - 10:49 AM

    Dear Laurel,
    I’m Sophie! I think I mentioned before that we have a hideous blue pleather monstrosity that looks just like the first photo in your blog. Not only does my husband adore it, but so do our 5 kids. They love the fact that it reclines, has drink holders and USB ports.

    I FINALLY got the go-ahead to replace this when we move into our new house, but they have all told me it has to be comfortable or they will all hang out in the basement with the old yucky couch.

    The USB ports broke, and they shouldn’t have drinks on the sofa anyway.

    Thank you so much for these awesome alternatives! We have about 6 months, so I’m going to keep referring to this article over and over again as we pick our new couch.

    Thank you again for your teaching moments!!!!!

    I did not want to have another sofa fail again.


    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 5:42 PM

      Hi Michelle,

      So funny. But, I do recall this and parts of it definitely made it into the story.ReplyCancel

      • Michelle - January 6, 2019 - 6:03 PM

        I’m hoonored! I just read it to my husband and he loved it. This article will be a big help And, when we agree on the perfect couch I’ll order through your website. He is actually working his way through the article – my suggestion for all sofa conflicted husbands.

        BTW, I’ve been cleaning up my email accounts and I noticed I had at least 2 for your website. I’ve started deleting the extras.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 6:21 PM

          Thanks Michelle. I never look at unsubscribes or subscribes. I used to, but at this point, it’s too many in both directions.

  • Lotte Meister - January 6, 2019 - 10:01 AM

    Hi Laurel. I used the Room and Board Jasper sectional for a clent’s small space primary sofa and it has worked wonderfully for them. It’s very attractive and 100% comfortable. We went with the 103 x 103 size.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 10:35 AM

      Hi Lotte, Happy New Year! I like Room and Board a lot and good to know about the Jasper sectional.ReplyCancel

  • Tsippi - January 6, 2019 - 9:46 AM

    Great post Laurel! Love those Jonathan Adler sectionals.

    For me, the biggest argument against investing in a sectional is that the odds that it will fit in/work in your next home are maybe 30%. If it’s L shaped, the odds are even lower. On the other hand, a not-too-long sofa and a couple of beautiful easy chairs and ottomans are going to work almost anywhere — even if you have to move one of the chairs or ottomans to a bedroom. Also, what happens when you need to make space for relatives to stay indefinitely, or when you or your spouse takes up a new hobby and need to take over part of the living room for a while? It’s tough to push a sectional out of the way or move it to another room.

    And then there’s the whole moving the furniture to vacuum and putting it back challenge. . .

    I would like to hear from more men about why they like sectionals so much. It seems like anything a sectional offers can be accomplished with more flexible furnishings.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 5:58 PM

      Hi Tsippi,

      Many great points you brought up. I think that Jim (Parnassus) probably explained it well. Maybe it wasn’t published when you wrote this. But, I imagine that most men wouldn’t be able to verbalize why they prefer a big legless piece, except that it looks sturdier. That’s not necessarily true, but I guess it’s the illusion, that appeals to them.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Diamond - January 6, 2019 - 8:45 AM

    Sectionals are hideous. Just get 2 sofas and be done with it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 9:12 AM

      haha! I don’t disagree with you Jennifer. And over the years, many times, I was able to make clients see that two sofas served their needs better than a sectional did. But, when a sectional made sense, I either ordered the Lee Industries version of the Spruce Street sectional which is actually very pretty. And, I also ordered at least a dozen of a modified J. Redmond Seattle sectional which was less expensive and a little larger, but still a very nice piece.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - January 6, 2019 - 8:36 AM

    For any folks out there wanting to customize color, fabric, size, and shape of their sectional, we had a wonderful experience working with Interior Define. We got a big sectional for our finished basement. It was very affordable and has been holding up really well. The only drawback is that you can’t sit on it first unless you happen to live in one of the few cities where they have storefronts. However, their customer service makes up for this and can very accurately describe the feel of each and there are free returns if you are unhappy for any reason. I highly recommend them.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 9:07 AM

      Thank you Rachel. Good to know.ReplyCancel

      • ann cariola - January 6, 2019 - 9:27 AM

        Funny, I was going to write the same thing…Laurel, please check out Interior Define…there is a store in New York now 🙂 No, I don’t work for Interior Define but I love my sectional soft that I purchased from them. I was able to sit on it before I bought it as I live in a city that has a a retail Interior Define store. The customer service is great and my sofa is gorgeous…sapphire blue velvet, turned legs and super comfortable. Anyway, as long as you are discussing sectionals, I thought you would like to check out their products 🙂ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 5:56 PM

          I thought that I answered this, but it says that I didn’t. Sorry about that. Thanks for the info, Ann!

  • Linda Leyble - January 6, 2019 - 8:00 AM

    Hey Laurel…

    Great post. I stage vacant homes and 9 times out of 10, male investors will ask me to put in a sectional in the living room or great room! I have yet to purchase a sectional for my inventory because not all rooms can handle a sectional …and I want to have all versatile pieces in my inventory. Seems like “sectional” and “male” go together! Even if the room is way too small to handle it!

    About 10 years ago, I helped a design client re-cover a mid century curved sectional she had made for her room. The pattern she had on it was god awful – but I chose a Norbar pale teal performance fabric ((she had grand kids and a cat!) and it came out beautifully. It was so worthwhile to transform this piece, rather than buy a new sectional (which, of course was a demand from her husband!).

    Happy New Year!


    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 9:07 AM

      Hi Linda,

      Love, love, love Norbar! It’s one of the 35 or so sources in Laurel’s Rolodex that I can’t live without. I ordered from them, hundreds of times starting in 1992 (working for someone else) and then when I began my own biz in 1996. Great company.

      This is also reminding me of the phone call I got at least a half dozen times from an elderly woman who had purchased a sectional some thirty years ago and wanted it reupholstered. When she found out that the fabric alone was going to set her back at least a couple of grand, they would quickly say “thank you and goodbye.” lolReplyCancel

  • Margaret Vant Erve - January 6, 2019 - 7:20 AM

    Laurel, you are so funny – my Sunday morning entertainment. Love the Massive polyurethaned brown leather sofa, lol. Thank God my hubby is not in that camp. Have loved your last several blogs on flooring and sofas. Very informative. I have used them to send to clients who get stuck on thinking they want something that really won’t work in their space. Thank you! I hope you are feeling better.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 9:02 AM

      Thanks so much Margaret. And yes, I am feeling a lot better, on the whole.ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - January 6, 2019 - 4:41 AM

    Hello Laurel, Perhaps the mere presence of visible legs on couches makes them visually delicate and uncomfortable looking to certain people, regardless of the actuality. Almost every sofa you illustrate in these articles has legs, and you have mentioned that these same legs are often one of the problem design areas! A sofa built near to the floor looks solid, sturdy, and comfortable. Of course, badly designed deep skirts or rails would only compound the problem, but all design choices involve avoiding what is ugly or awkward.

    With a few rare exceptions, generally concerning large or curved areas, I have always disliked sectionals. They seem uncomfortable to me (too wide is as bad as too narrow), so I am not sure why they look good to your prototypical client’s husband. Also, the mere thought of lying down on an angle or curve makes my back start to hurt!

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 9:02 AM

      Good points as always Jim. I guess it’s like us humans. We all need legs, some are an asset and others not so much.ReplyCancel

  • Cindy Beres - January 6, 2019 - 3:55 AM

    The round 19th century French boudoir sofa reminds me of the Ladies Restroom in the Student Union of my university. Back in the early 70’s, the Ladies had a very posh lounge area. The boudoir style sofa sat in the center of the lounge, surrounded by mirrored counters.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 6, 2019 - 9:00 AM

      Hi Cindy,

      I think I’ve seen something like that in a fancy hotel ladies’ room where there’s a large ante roomReplyCancel