A timeless, high-quality sofa is one of the best investments you can make when designing a room. Not only is it something that will be used everyday, it’s a piece that, if well-made, can stand the tests of both time and style.
Here, we’ve rounded up seven classic sofa styles that will work in your home for years to come (or, with the right care and perhaps the occasional reupholstering, even decades).
English Roll Arm
Style: Elegant but inviting
The English roll-arm sofa strikes a happy medium between elegant tailoring (thanks to its tight back and traditional curved feet) and inviting comfort (a wide seat and ergonomically positioned arms make it perfect for curling up on). It’s the ideal sofa for a transitional-style home, and its english country vibe will add warmth to a contemporary space
Style: Casual and relaxed
With its cushioned back and overstuffed seat, this casual sofa style is designed for maximum comfort (it’s actually named for the comfort-seeking gentleman it was originally designed for), making it a popular pick for family rooms or informal seating spaces. It’s also versatile from a style standpoint: a slipcover gives it a beachy and romantic feel, while a skirted Lawson sofa skews a bit more formal.
Style: Tailored and simple
This tailored sofa is characterized by its low profile and a back and arms that are the same height, giving it a refined, streamlined look that’s just right for small spaces. Style-wise, a tuxedo sofa can feel at home in a traditional or modern space — tufting or skirting make the silhouette feel traditional, while simple, unembellished versions create contemporary appeal.
Style: Petite and elegant
A settee is a sofa on a small scale, so it’s often used in smaller spaces, like at the end of a bed or in an entryway, or in conjunction with a larger style sofa or a pair of armchairs. A settee can also make an unexpected and stylish option in lieu of chairs on the side of a dining table.
Style: Refined and regal
With its regal look, exposed wood frame, and tight cushioning, it should be no surprise that the Cabriole sofa was popularized in the Louis XV-era. This formal sofa adds a sense of provincial elegance when done in a neutral upholstery, or can take on a bold, vintage vibe in richly hued velvets or jacquards.
Style: Classic but glamorous
Chesterfield sofas are easily identified by their signature button tufting and rolled arms. The detailed look of the style lends itself easily toward a variety of spaces depending on the upholstery. In a jewel-tone velvet, it would easily work in a sophisticated, glamorous space, while leather makes it feel industrial and masculine, and linen gives the style a shabby-chic or farmhouse-inspired feel.
Style: Sophisticated and traditional
This elegant style features an arched-back silhouette (hence its name), which gets gradually lower toward the arms. It’s tight cushions and wooden frame give this style a look that’s purely traditional and make it ideal for a more formal living or seating area. To make it look classic, not historic, choose a solid-colored upholstery or bold, large scale print.
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