Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sectioned Off

If there is one piece of furniture that makes me cringe nearly every time I see it in a home, it has to be the sectional sofa. Not EVERY time; just nearly every time.

My issue with the sectional sofa is two-fold. First, I have a problem with its design. The big selling point of the sectional is its spaciousness and comfort. People shopping for sectionals are always saying things like, "Just look how much more seating we'll have."  Don't fall for it. Unless you are buying an oval sectional, you will actually lose more comfortable seating capacity than you'd gain with a basic sofa and love seat combo.

Not as big as you think
Take a look at the picture above. That sofa touts seating for five. In reality it only seats four; just three, comfortably. No one wants to sit in the corner of that sofa. And if they do end up as the unlucky one stuck in the corner, they'd better be 6'4" or more, otherwise their feet will not reach the floor. There's also the problem of two people sitting simultaneously in the seats adjacent to the corner. Their knees will inevitably knock into one another. I don't know about you, but the thought of knocking knees with a new acquaintance during cocktail hour sounds pretty uncomfortable to me.

Room too small for sectional
The second issue I have with popular sectional seating is scale. Issues of scale, however, aren't totally the fault of furniture manufacturers. We are the ones who keep buying the bulky, oversized, overstuffed monstrosities that manufacturers try to pass off as sofas. Then we schlep 'em home and stuff the behemoths into rooms only big enough for a pair of club chairs.

It sounds like I am anti-sectional. I am really not. I just believe that too many folks are buying sectionals without really giving the plan a thorough vetting. Sectionals can actually be very useful. They are terrific for visually partitioning off conversation areas in large rooms. In the picture below, you can see the rest of the room where the sectional above was once located.

Long, narrow room; not suited for a massive sectional at the entry
The room is long and narrow. Too narrow, in fact, for the large puffy sectional that is in it. You can also see that the room is serving as both a media/entertainment center and an office. Using a sectional to separate the various room functions is a good idea, but the scale and arrangement of that particular sectional is not good for the space. The long part that should divide the room is on the wrong side, up against the wall. With the right size and shaped sectional, the room could be a show stopper.

Here is an example of a sectional done right. It is a studio apartment where a sectional is used for separating the conversation/living space from the sleeping area. Notice how it properly divides the room. It is flanked by a tall, open bookcase to further delineate the space without closing it in. This is an EXCELLENT example of great scale and use of a sectional sofa. Wouldn't the space above have been great with a similar design?

Great use of a sectional. Serves both form and function.

Bottom line is you need to really think about the size of your room, how much comfortable seating you actually need, and the room's function & style before you head out furniture shopping. Ask yourself if you really need a sectional, can your room hold a sectional, or could a sofa and loveseat work just as well? And remember: Measure twice, buy once. 

1 comment:

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