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What are the different styles of sofas?

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Are you confused by all the different sofa types? I don’t blame you, sofas have been around for an incredibly long time. With time comes experimentation, with there now being over 15 distinct types of sofa.

Let’s break down the key sofa types. We’ll move from A-Z and explore what each sofa is, its unique features, and who this would be perfect for.

Different Sofa Styles

Bridgewater Sofa

bridgewater style sofa in a living room

A Bridgewater sofa has lower sides than a normal sofa. Each of the arms is slightly turned outwards, meaning you can really sink into the sofa. Both arms will be lower than the sofa back.

Bridgewater sofas were much more popular a few decades ago. Due to this, there are a lot of Bridgewater around older homes. Although a staple of the past, a Bridgewater is still an incredibly comfy sofa.

Who are these for?

A Bridgewater sofa is for anyone who wants comfort over style. Although this sofa will never be the center of attention in your house, it sure will be comfy. A large enough sofa to accommodate someone laying down, you’ll be able to really put your feet up with these sofas.


cabriole style sofa

A cabriole sofa is as cute as it is petit. They base the design on a flowing line, moving across from one side of the sofa to the other. The back of the sofa is completely one level and looks aesthetic. The arms are the direct opposite to the Bridgewater sofa, they curve inwards.

These sofas are not to be confused with loveseats, which offer a similar shape. The difference is that these contain elements of exposed wood and metal

A fun fact is that garden metal sitting locations are often based upon the inner frame of a cabriole.

Who are these for?

A cabriole is for someone who wants to make a statement. These sofas are definitely not the comfiest out there. However, if you want a nice looking piece of furniture, this could be the purchase for you.

Camelback Sofa

camel back style of sofa on display

A camelback sofa commonly has one of the highest backs of all sofas. The center of the sofa is the highest point, with the back and arms then sloping downwards from there. If I had to attach a period to these sofas, I would suggest a Victorian or Edwardian aesthetic.

Camelbacks normally have crafted wooden legs, with an exposed wooden back. The cushioning on the back cushion is often pleated as well. These exposed wooden frames give a real ornate sense to the piece.

Who are these for?

Once again, these sofas are more about style than substance. Although they look fantastic, they aren’t particularly comfortable. The wooden frame and exposed wooden legs look great but can be a bit hard to lean against.

If you want something to fit into an ornate setting, this sofa is for you.

Chaise Lounge

chaise lounge style of sofa

A chaise lounge is for anyone for wants to regally drape themselves over the furniture. By that, I mean they are incredibly long, only meant to fit one or two people. Most commonly you lay down upon them.

Every chaise lounge will only have at maximum one arm. Sometimes, they won’t even have an arm, just having the cushioned base. However, most of the time you’ll have one curved arm that meets the back of the sofa.

The legs are often exposed wood and crafted in an ornate manner. This style is incredibly eye-catching, and will definitely get attention from your guests.

Who are these for?

They are more of a solo affair, so if you’re looking for a family sofa, this definitely isn’t for you. If you live alone and want a comfy sofa to read on or spend lots of time on, a chaise lounge is a great option.

They often come in a leather design, meaning you can mix and match the style to fit your living room.

Chesterfield Sofa

chesterfield style of sofa

A chesterfield sofa is one of the most popular sofas of the modern period. Although stemming from the 1700s, these are definitely making a resurgence.

The chesterfield sofa has a quilted upholstery. This creates little circular pockets on a smooth surface. They apply this circular style across the whole sofa. Even the sides will have staple upholstery framed with circular bolt style visuals.

Who are these for?

I would describe the chesterfield sofa as the business casual of sofas. While they often have a beautifully styled upholstery, they are also very comfy. In a way, they are kind of the best of both worlds. If you want something that looks good, although a little serious, and feels comfy also, this is for you.

Contemporary Modern Sofa

contemporary modern sofa

As the title of this sofa suggests, this is a modern style sofa. If you think of modern architecture, this is the sofa version of that. Often only in black or white, this sofa is minimalist and chic.

The sofa is wide, with symmetrical blocks for arms matching the divided back. The legs are often metal, with a flat bottom giving lots of support.

Who are these for?

If you enjoy modern style design, these sofas will be perfect for you. They are incredibly comfy and look great in modern homes. They are also easy to clean due to their continuous and flat design.

Divan Sofa

divan style sofa

A divan sofa is technically a form of chaise lounge. The difference between these is that a divan has two arms. These two arms are at the head and foot of the sofa. This creates an open box structure. The back and front of the sofa don’t have arms.

You’ll need to supply this sofa with cushions as the sides are often very hard. They are also effective when placed against a wall. Then again, if you’re wanting a back to rest against, simply buy a sofa with a back.

Who are these for?

Who these definitely aren’t for is someone who wants back support. These are back-less, meaning you will either be laying down or sitting up straight. If you like an older fashion design, many divans often carry those patterns.

You’ll want a divan if you want an uncommon statement piece that may not be your main sofa.

English Rolled Arm Sofa

english roll arm sofa in living room

This style of sofa has been plucked right out of the 20th century manors in the British countryside. Each cushion in this sofa is deeply foamed. This gives the sofa an incredibly homely feel. The sides of the sofa slope inwards with an attached cushion.

These sides are perfect for laying against. The upholstery is often very firm, providing lots of support. These provide padding and often give extra cushioning.

Who are these for?

English rolled arms sofas are for someone who is ready to do some serious lounging. If you want to lay on your sofa and read a book or watch tv for a long time, these will be great. They are incredibly comfy and provide fantastic neck and back support.

If you are looking for a seriously comfy sofa with great support, the English rolled arm sofa is for you.

Lawson-style Sofa

lawson style sofa in living room with coffee table

These sofas prioritize comfort over everything else. They are deeply padded and often have layers of cushioning. Both the base cushions and the back cushions are separate from the frame. You can really sink into this sofa. The deeper cushions provide lots of comfort.

Lawson sofas are very versatile, they come in all colors and sizes. Considering how comfortable they are, they have become a family favorite for the home.

Who are these for?

A sofa built for comfort, Lawson sofas will be perfect for any family home. If you’re looking for a larger sofa to accommodate many people, you can always go up a size.

If you want something that can fit into your home and provide maximum comfort, lawson style is for you.

Loveseat Sofa

loveseat sofa in living room

When people say loveseat, they mean a sofa specifically made for two people. Coming right out of a love story, these are to sit two people at once with little space to spare. You’ll be right up close to the person next to you.

Although that was their original purpose, they are also useful in smaller homes. These can fit into small spaces easily, providing solid comfort in a small size.

Who are these for?

These are for one of two people. The first kind is someone who likes being close to other people. If physical touch is your love language, these will be right on track. The other type of person is someone who wants to make every inch of their apartment count. These sofas are small and will be able to match the aesthetic in any room you need.

If you’re looking for something more substantial, maybe look elsewhere.

Low-Seated Sofa

low seat style sofa

A low-seated sofa is exactly what the title suggests, very close to the ground. These fit into a more modern aesthetic. Only measuring under 17 inches off the ground, these sofas move seamlessly from floor to sofa.

They are often very deep with many larger cushions. Frequently one corner will have a back while the rest of the sofa will not. This flow moves up towards a corner peak, creating an interesting visual shape.

Who are these for?

Modern furniture lovers have flocked to these sofas in the last few years. They are stylish and pack a lot of comfort into their style. They achieve a great balance between style and comfort.

If you want one of these sofas, you’re going to want a lot of space. If you need something smaller, try looking at the contemporary modern sofas.

Mid-century Modern Sofa

mid century modern style sofa

If you’ve watched any movies set from 1930-1970, they will have one of these sofas in them. This is the typical sofa of the 90s home. Think clashing colors and three equally spaced cushions. These are easy to clean, chic, and referencing a blast to the past.

Although these sofas have definitely peaked in popularity, they are making a resurgence.

They often have four metal legs, sustaining the sofa off the floor. This helps the clean aesthetic, revealing the floor underneath. The mid-century modern sofa also has low arms, moving equally from the lower cushion, to the arms, to the back.

Who are these for?

These sofas are for any period piece lover. If you’re going for a 60s or 70s aesthetic, you’ll want to have a look at these sofas. The sofas also are making a come back, and fit well in modern architecture homes.

Clean lines, beautiful spacing, and perfect symmetry, these are for the aesthetic lovers.

Pallet Couches

pallet couch

Pallet couches are the epitome of DIY sofa construction. Often just flat cushions placed on top of pallets, these look great in modern situations. If you’re in a New York City loft, lift up the sofa blanket and you might find a pallet or two there.

These are low to the ground, and incredibly cheap. Most of the time if you live in a major city, you’ll be able to find pallets behind major retailers. These have back cushions that balance against a wall and one or two base cushions.

Who are these for?

The DIY lovers flock to these sofas. They can look fantastic if you’re going for a modern aesthetic on a budget. You can also use the pallets for storage, meaning these are good if you lack lots of space.

If you want a multi-purpose space that is easy to assemble and cheap to obtain, these are for you.

Recliner Sofa

recliner style couch in living room

This type of sofa is commonly linked with America. Popularised in the states, these sofas provide ultimate comfort. Huge pillowed cushions made even better by the addition of the recliner mechanism.

These sofas will lean backward and give ultimate comfort. You can either get electric or manual recliners, both ending up in the same reclined position. They come in all shapes and sizes but are commonly a leather material.

Who are these for?

If you’re a movie buff and want to spend every weekend on the sofa, these are for you. They provide fantastic comfort and also give a great level of support. Two or three reclining sofas placed together is all the seating you would ever need for a home cinema.

These are great for those looking for comfort and a classic sofa style.

Sectional Sofa

sectional sofa

Sectional sofas are the couch-speak for multiple part sofas. There are often between three and five parts in a sectional sofa. These are very much a build as you want formal.

Sectional sofas come in all shapes and sizes. You can pick whichever shapes you want and push them together. By mixing and matching, you can get the exact size and shape you want. They are often low to the ground with metal legs. Between pieces will be clamps that slide into one another to secure the sofa.

The most common shapes are ‘U’ and ‘L’, with both these shapes resembling the letters.

Who are these for?

These sofas are for anyone who wants total control of their sofa experience. You can build exactly what you want, in any style you want.

They are modern and can fit into any sofa space. If you love DIY and want something specific, this style is for you.

Settee Sofa

settee style sofa

A settee resembles a love seat. They are traditionally smaller than normal sofas, but have a little more breadth than a love seat. The difference between those styles is that a settee is narrower than a love seat.

Honestly, I would advise you to avoid this style of sofa. They aren’t very comfortable, and often don’t even look that great. They are hardwood, with upholstery patterns placed over the central cushions.

Who are these for?

These are for people looking for a very specific Edwardian or Victorian style. If you’re looking for comfort, run the other way.

Sleeper Sofas

sleeper style sofas

Sleeper sofas are another way of saying a pull out sofa bed. These transform between a sofa and a bed. They have low arms and a high back, emulating a bed board.

Who are these for?

If you need some extra space, a sleeper sofa will give you two in one functionality. These are for people looking to save space and money.

Tuxedo Sofa

This sofa is the most symmetrical sofa out there. The arms are higher than normal, creating a beautiful straight line from arm, to back, to arm. These sofas are higher and definitely make a statement.

They often have metal legs which decrease in size as they get nearer to the ground. Tuxedo sofas are stylish and comfortable. They have smaller pillows, meaning you won’t sink down into the upholstery.

Who are these for?

These sofas are for anyone looking for a statement piece. The symmetry will draw the eye of any guest. They often are one singular color, meaning they fit in a modern aesthetic.


If you’re looking for comfort, I would suggest a Lawson Sofa . If you’re looking for a modern statement, I would go for the Contemporary Modern Sofa. Finally, if you’re on a budget, pallet sofas are the ones to go for.

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