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By Leah A. Zeldes, Brand Publishing Writer
Sectionals are back. The advantage of sectional sofas, of course, is that they’re comfortable and can be arranged in any way that suits your room.
“A sectional is good for seating a lot of people — instead of sofa, sofa, loveseat, two chairs and an ottoman,” says Lynn Goral, a designer for Baer’s Furniture, a collection of fine furniture stores with 15 locations throughout Florida. “It doesn’t look so busy.”
Today’s sectionals tend to be shorter and deeper than pit groups of the past, making them cozier and a better fit for small rooms. “Comfort is No. 1,” says Wendy Rossi, another Baer’s designer.
Be sure to test out your furniture before you buy. “It’s almost like buying a pair of shoes,” says Rossi. Go into the showroom and spend time sitting on the pieces before you decide. Check the height of the arms and the feel of the back and cushions. If you like to nap on a sofa or chaise, lie down on furniture in the store, too.
While sectional sofas, particularly the streamlined, low-profile type seen in the 1950s from designers such as Charles and Ray Eames, seem a hallmark of modern decor, there are also styles that mesh well with more classic design schemes.
“It can be a very traditional look,” says Goral.
In fact, the concept of separate pieces of matching seating that can be attached to each other was introduced during the 19th century. Last year, the James Madison Museum in Orange, Virginia, exhibited a surprisingly contemporary-looking multipart sofa built in the 1850s, along with two other early sectionals.
Even more than other sofas, sectionals can be ordered to your custom configurations, not only in the number of pieces, but in their shape. “You can change the arm, change the back,” says Goral. “The customer can design her own for no extra costs.”
Rossi believes that clean, simple lines work best. “People say, ‘This sofa isn’t exciting,’” she says, but what makes it exciting is your accessories. She tells clients to stick to upholstery in shades of beige, cream or brown, and add brighter, trendier colors with pillows and area rugs that can be easily changed when you want a new look.
“If you buy your investment pieces in neutral colors, you can enjoy the trend but not be stuck with it once it’s gone,” Rossi says.
Today’s sectionals are endlessly versatile. The basic pieces are sofas seating three people and loveseats with room for two. Either might unfold into a sleeper. The pieces may or may not have arms, or a single arm in left- or right-arm-facing configurations. A typical layout, says Goral, might be two loveseats with a bridging sofa between.
Next come single-seat chairs, also with or without arms. Recliners or “motion” pieces are very popular options, including powered recliners. Armless wedges let you angle your sectional pieces into a corner.
In smaller rooms, two loveseats with a corner unit make a practical layout, very popular in contemporary decor. In larger spaces, horseshoe-shaped configurations create a cozy feeling. Sectionals can also include a chaise longue at one end, popular with those who like to put their feet up.
Some opt for a large, seat-high ottoman, which may open to provide storage space. The ottoman can be moved from one end of the sectional to the other, placed in front of another piece to emulate a chaise or hold a tray and serve as a cocktail table. If you need more table space, some sofa and loveseat units feature a back cushion that folds down into a table.
Stand-alone single armrests can be wedged between two seats or placed at one end. They also may offer hidden storage spaces. Cup holders, consoles and refrigerated drawers are other add-ons.
You can even get weatherproof sectionals for your lanai — a major consideration for those embracing the Florida lifestyle.
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