Why The Decorologist Says “No” to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo

If you are in the market for new living room furniture, I urge you not to be a zombie.  You know, the zombie that follows the hordes of people that mindlessly purchase the ole sofa/loveseat combo. 

 s lonny living room sofa Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo source

 

Have you noticed that you don’t see a lot of sofa/loveseat combos in design magazines?  You only see them in furniture stores, where they are trying to hock them as a set (matching set = easy commission for furniture store salespeople).  The sofa/loveseat combination limits your furniture arrangement possibilities – the only way it looks “right” is to arrange them in an L-shape in a rectangular room.  And it still looks like something out of a newspaper ad for a bargain furniture store.

  sofa and chairs living room via cococozy Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo

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It’s so much better to buy a pair of matching sofas – your arrangement options will be so much more flexible. 

MadelineStuart living room design Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo

Madeline Stuart

 

In a very large room, matching sofas back-to-back create two seating areas.  I love this arrangement with a sofa table and a pair of lamps in between the two sofas.

living room via casacullen Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo  source

 

The most flexible option is doing a sofa and a pair of matching upholstered chairs.  You can arrange them in so many more ways – chairs facing each other (like below), chairs across from and facing the sofa, chairs side-by-side to one side of the sofa . . .

eclectic living room via hb Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo  House Beautiful

 

When shopping in furniture stores, don’t rely on furniture store salespeople who want you to buy a matching set so that they make a bigger commission in less time.   Bring a trusted decorator with you to help you make the best design choice for your space and your individual needs.   Your decorator has a vested interest in the outcome of the design once you leave the store – the salesperson doesn’t!

blue sofa living room via takingnotes squarespace Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo

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If you already have a sofa – loveseat combo, you might want to consider moving one of the pieces to another room and bringing in a few chairs to mix things up.

green living room via thevividedge Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo

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If you want to have the matching-sofa-look with your existing sofa and loveseat, try this designer secret from The Decorologist:   place the sofa and loveseat facing one another, add a large side table and table lamp to one end of the loveseat so that the other end is in line with one end of the larger sofa.  This evens out the arrangement – then add in an odd chair, a fun coffee table, and a sofa table with a pair of lamps behind the larger sofa.  I don’t have a photo of this, but I did this in a client’s home and it worked great.

 

pixel Why The Decorologist Says No to the Sofa & Loveseat Combo

Comments

  1. Here, here. Great article & I love the eye candy too!

    Warmly, Michelle

    • Dixie Stine says:

      Hi, I want to use two different sofa styles in my formal living room. Is that OK? Are there any rules for using different styles of vintage sofas in one room? I’m having both of them upholstered in white linen and having the wood stained the same color. What do you think of that idea?
      Dixie

      • That could work, Dixie. When you are mixing sofas, it can look really good if the scale is right. Especially if they are vintage – and upholstering them in the same color is a great way to unite the 2!

  2. I love all of the photos! I will be shopping for a new sofa and chairs very soon. Once I can figure out how to keep my kitty’s from thinking my ” now sofa” is their very own scratching post! UGH…

    • Oh, the travails of trying to keep a house nice with pets are ones I know well. From what I understand from my cat rescue friends, the most important factor is a really good scratching post – the expensive ones with, like, seven different types of surfaces. That, plus liberal use of the spray bottle, plus catnip for the scratching post and that cat-repellent spray for the furniture, seems to usually work.

  3. Ooh, I like this series of photos (and I totally agree with the post of course – nothing more boring than a bunch of identical stuff, plus you get tired of it more quickly). Since you’re starting on my living room design this week, I figured I’d pop in here to point out my favorites – the Madeline Stuart (3rd photo) is number 1; what a showstopping mantle! Adore the art and lighting, but I prefer a bit more color. The House Beautiful (5th photo) is my close second favorite – those particular colors aren’t my cup of tea but they work together nicely, I like the mix of patterns, love the art, and most importantly it’s got the old-new thing going on that says “homey.” Mismatched granny furniture + contemporary fabrics = win. The Casa Cullen (4th photo) is 3rd – it’s got my favorite use of color out of these; I like the use of a couple of bright but not day-glo colors and an unexpected neutral like that caramel color. Honorable mentions for the first and last photos – I hate that stark white everywhere + tiny bits of ultra-vibrant color thing that’s so popular in design magazines (I find it not only ugly but also impractical), but I adore all the furnishings, especially those coffee tables!

    Also, on the post topic, I just wanted to mention that it’s relatively easy to find nice living chairs secondhand if you like traditional or antique furniture. I’ve lost count of the number of lovely pairs of Queen Anne chairs I’ve seen in ReStores and consignment shops for $40-$200, depending on the fabric condition. Even antique sofas usually go for $150-500; they’re not nearly as common, but I see them periodically on Craigslist. You can buy quality antique furniture, have it upholstered and filled with down, paint the woodwork if you want, and hire a decorator to pick coordinating textiles for the same cost or less than an overstuffed sofa-loveseat set from a generic furniture store that’ll last 15 years if you’re lucky. Though sadly I’m in the market for slipcovered furniture these days (my upholstery suffers the unholy trifecta of dog hair, drool, and stinky paws), so I can’t follow my own advice.

    • Of course you know all that about antique living room furniture, but I thought it was worth mentioning because new living chairs are kind of expensive. Just for the folks who may be thinking, “Yeah, but I could buy a new sofa with that amount of money.”

      Speaking of which, I love your posts about decorating with antiques, mixing old and new, stuff like that. This reader wants more!

    • I’m a vintage chair junkie, and i find them at estate sales in near-pristine condition for around $100. Works great for me, but most people don’t want to bother with the all the steps and time that reupholstering takes – all the more for me!

  4. Totally agree!

  5. Your post is so right Kristie! My last client wanted a sofa and love seat. I talked her into loveseat and two chairs for her space. Much, much better! Great post!

  6. Well said Kristie….I couldn’t agree more!
    I’m loving your Blog!!

  7. Jennifer Driver says:

    Sounds like my house! :)

  8. Great post! I love how you gave examples with photos :) Have a great week!

  9. Barbara@TheTreasuredHome.com says:

    I love this post! So true and the same rule applies to the dreaded sectional! And yes, I love mixing the old and new. I started looking around the house recently to realize that most everything is as old or older than me! I’m in good company!

  10. Great topic – I made this mistake and have lived with it for too long. And now ready to move on. Any way while on the topic can you suggest a lounge seating layout that would work for say 10 couples when entertaining, ie pre/post dinner drinks and fire side chats?

  11. When we moved to our current home I had a friend who was a designer come over to give me her thoughts on what furniture pieces I should choose. She, like you, urged me not to buy a loveseat. Her words: They are a designer’s worst nightmare!

    • Karen,
      I actually like a loveseat as a get-away kind of seating – in an alcove, a bay window, or an entry hall. It’s the sofa/loveseat combo that looks a bit dated. I usually try to get people to break them up and use one of the pieces in another room.

  12. I would for sure rather see a couple of club chairs with a sofa rather than a loveseat, but that isn’t always functional for family living. When you have 3 kids, a dog a mom and a dad, have a sofa and a loveseat really meets their needs for lounging in front of the tv. I know I dread when I am left with the club chair and want to spread out on the sofa. So I agree, but not 100% {oh by the way, I am an empty nester, so now I get the sofa to myself 24/7!}

    • I agree! As nice as the love seat plus chairs combo looks, my husband and I are both tall people, and it is miserable trying to recline on a love seat while your feet stick a foot off the end. Is there a compromise? While the side chairs look smart, they aren’t very comfortable or practical.

  13. Sally SMiles says:

    I have just found your site – great advice and ideas here. I am with the idea to nix the matchy matchy of sofa and loveseat – ours is leaving this weekend! We will move another loveseat into an entry side nook. I like the look of chairs, but we are loungers and have to have something big enough to stretch out on, sofa or daybed (I like mixing old and new = eclectic) Empty nesters have opportunity to ignore some of the rules.

    My problem is a long room with lots of windows, one wall for tv and a corner woodstove – - not going for club chairs – the “it looks like a showroom’ thing is just bad.

  14. Hello Kristie,
    I love this post, being myself an eclectic decorator mix mach decor is my favorite!
    Have a great day! xo

  15. Thank you thank you thank you for this great article! I’ve been desperately trying to figure out what to do with my sofa-loveseat combo and you’re right…didn’t see one in any of the design magazines out there! I’d love to see a picture of the client’s house that you did the sofa-loveseat combo.

  16. How do you arrange furniture in an open concept Kitchen/FR where the entire rear of FR and kitchen is a bank of windows. In FR specifically this window wall connects to a wall that has a Fireplace (which faces to the kitchen) and wall opposite of the window wall is blank. (blank wall is 19′ long opposite the wall of windows). Do we put TV arrangement on blank wall with sofa opposite? Now back of sofa is ~6′ off the windows not against the wall. Down side here is that when you sit on sofa your back is to the rear window wall. What would you suggest in this environment (lesser of all evils)? We want to be able to view TV, FP and rear window wall in the seating arrangement. If we use an L shape sofa set I envision we can have one side facing the fireplace and the other side facing the TV. The side facing the TV will mean your back to the windows. I imagine we will have to compromise somewhere. Plus, we refuse to put TV over or to side of fireplace. So, long blank wall opposite windows seems like only option here.
    We definitely want to add chairs but would love a comfy couch directly in front of TV. Do we stay away from L shape and go for single sofa with chairs? We were thinking of adding chairs behind sofa against window walls as well as 1 chair off side of sofa near FP wall facing TV. Seems there are many
    options. Our taste is transitional combining some tradition with contemporary elements.
    Thanks for listening and for any suggestion.

  17. Barbara Smith says:

    Not ALL furniture salespeople are just after the quick wam-bam-thank-you-maam sale when selling furniture. Some of us furniture salespeople genuinely care about the customer creating a room to be proud of and happy with in the long run. So, I think it would be fair to say that one should find a furniture store that cares about the customer and their needs, not just a quick sale. And sometimes a sofa and loveseat combo IS the best way to go in certain situations.

    • Barbara,
      Of course, you are right – I apologize for making that generalization! People are always making generalizations about decorators and designers, which irks me – then I turn around and do the same thing! Thank you for your input, and you are right about finding a furniture store that cares about the customers’ needs and not just making a quick sale. That being said, I still say “no” to the sofa and loveseat combo :)

  18. Bish Rolo says:

    Do you have any pics similar using leather? I have a dark brown lether/vinyl coach and want to try two or three chairs?

  19. Okay…does this count for a sectional and large chair combo? I have a very large/long family room to furnish. I was considering a sectional with matching large chair (called chair and half) in addition to other non matching pieces. I thought this would help integrate/pull together the room. Needs to be family friendly and comfortable space, but would also like it to be attractive. I’m looking at the Crate and Barrel lounge sectional and chair. Is this a bad idea from a design perspective?

    • Michelle,
      I am not a big fan of most chair-and-a-halfs, mainly because they take up a ton of space while still only providing one seat (unless you are piling up there with a child). I would opt for a comfortable pair of chairs that aren’t quite so large – much more flexible and functional!

  20. Well, this caught my eye. I have to disagree with the majority of you. Sometimes in a rectangular room with a wall of windows and a FP and TV wall, I believe a sofa loveseat makes perfect sense. I don’t want to have 2 lounge chairs, we both like to curl up on the couch while reading or watching tv. In an open concept room the corner design helps define the area. 2-3 more chairs help make it feel like a cozy, inviting place. When you have a crowd, there is plenty of seating. I have tried to use a sofa and chairs on paper but they don’t feel as warm as a corner arrangement. You can break them up at a later time. You can put a square corner table between or not. I think it lends to many configurations. Never say never!

  21. Michelle,

    I actually just purchased two loveseats and will be pairing them with two chairs in a small den for a cabin.  I am choosing this rather than the sofa loveseat and one chair combo for 6 folks which is the most common arrangement that you see.  Three couples are more comfortable sitting paired together or in their own seats rather than the threesome sitting close on a sofa and the odd man out in the chair.  You can still lounge on a loveseat as well when there are no guests.  I think this is the best arrangement for a space that will not accomodate two sofas but you want more seating- not one sofa and adding more chairs . . .

  22. When we bought our furniture eons ago, I only wanted to buy the loveseat in the loveseat/sofa combo. The store wouldn’t break up the ‘set’ so we bought them both. I struggled for years to make it work out and yes, in our former home I had to do the L-shape because the living room was so small. However in our current home I did place them opposite each other and balanced out the line with an occasional chair at the end of the loveseat. It worked out quite well and looks very balanced. And truth be told, we do enjoy the loveseat and the couch because when my hubby and I take naps in the living room, he fits the sofa and I like the loveseat :-)

  23. Caroline says:

    Hi Kristie,
    I really like this post, I came across it as I also can’t stand matchy matchy furniture! However I would really like your advice. I bought my first sofa 2 years ago, It is a three seater, neutral couch. I only bought the one piece as that’s all I had room for in my small apartment. I am moving to a larger home soon so I have been giving a lot of thought about my new living room. My colour scheme is very neutral with light greys and duck egg blue throw cushions. I have considered a contrasting arm chair but my partner likes comfort over style, so as a comprimise we have been looking at the Snuggle Chair/ Love Seat. Do you think it will be ok to have a contrasting style and colour Love Seat to my sofa, tied together with thow cushions and throws?
    Really appreciate any advice.

    Many Thanks

    • Caroline says:

      I just thought I should add, the shape of my new living room is almost a perfect Square with a fire place in the centre.

      Thanks

  24. Ashley Martinez says:

    I was wondering if you can pair two matching sitting chairs with a sectional sofa. They would be the same color. I’m looking at the charcoal sectional and charcoal sitting chairs at world market. Do you think that could work? All I seem to find for inspiration is a sofa paired with chairs.

  25. Ugh! This is so true! I wish I would have seen this post before we bought new furniture last week. We went with a super-comfy couch/love seat combo for our small living room and I’ve had a a heck of a time arranging them!

  26. Hi! This is a great article – something I wish I had known a few years ago when I still owned my house! :) Unfortunately, I’m about to move into a small apartment and purchased two leather armchairs (that are probably too big for my space) from Ashley Furniture. There was no matching sofa available. What sort of sofa options exist for someone in my predicament???

    Thanks!

    • How about a sofa in a light neutral? Or a solid color (like blue, green, or yellow). All would work with a pair of leather chairs.

      • Thanks! I’ll keep an eye out for light neutral or solid color when I go shopping this weekend. Do you think the style or fabric matter? Since the armchairs are so large and my space is so small, I don’t think I can buy a sofa that would be proportionate to the size of the armchairs, which means they’d probably be a different style/feel. What do you think?

        Thanks again, Kristie! :)

  27. Is it ok to mix and match two different styles of Sofa in one room? Both are leather, one is traditional style, rounded arms and dark brown. The other is beige, straight lines, with tufting. Would love your feedback! Thanks.

  28. Heather Wojteczko says:

    Love your post! It totally confirmed that I will NOT be buying the matching loveseat to my sofa for my upcoming move into a bigger home. One question though. I currently have a couch and a club chair (in a vibrant fabric to add a little style to the room). If I wanted to add another chair for more seating, is it weird to place two chairs next to each other that are not the same exact chair? I was thinking of angling them towards one another and placing an accent table between the chairs. I’d love your opinion! Thank you!

    • It’s fine to do that, Heather, it’s just not as ideal as a pair of twin chairs. If you have enough room, sometimes a twin pair of chairs + couch + a fun accent chair is really nice in a seating arrangement. Do you have room for that?

  29. Hi, I love this article and the photos; its good to know that you don’t have to get a loveseat and couch. I have a question and a comment though.

    1) I want a loveseat and couch, the loveseat is more of a theatre feeling, Palliser, with recline chair and a console (High Park from Sears), but we want to save money and not get the couch which is a recliner too… the question is, does the loveseat and couch “have to” match if you go for them? The loveseat is more boxy, modern, low to the floor, will be espresso, about 69X44, but we want a couch for snoozing on, any advice?

    2) I volunteer for the Red Cross, they try very hard to maintain the integrity of their program so when you see the Red Cross you know it is a safe place, more information can be foudn at the link below, but I’d just like to say that the Red Cross Emblems are protected and although it is displayed correctly above, it doesn’t say if it is in a Red Cross Location or another approved location, i just thought I’d let you know.

    http://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/2014/protection-red-cross-crescent-crystal-emblems-icrc-eng.pdf

    Here is some of the infomration I pulled from the Link:
    The red cross, red crescent and red crystal are the symbols recognised and protected by international humanitarian law. The adoption of domestic measures to ensure their respect is a fundamental step in maintaining the impartiality associated with the providing of humanitarian assistance. Consequently, the care and protection of those receiving aid is enhanced. The failure of a State to take the appropriate measures can lead to the misuse of the emblems and lessen the respect and confidence which they enjoy. In addition, the failure to suppress abuse during times of peace will contribute to abuse during armed conflict. This will erode the protective value of the emblems, endanger the lives of those legitimately entitled to employ them, and interfere with the care and protection of civilians and
    combatants alike.

    besides that, I love this article!!! Thank you!

  30. I am looking at purchasing 2 chairs for my living room. I have a mod grey unpholstered couch. There is a chair that matches it that I’ve been wanting. I’ve also had my eye on a walnut chair with black/brown leather. My question is- should I get 2 walnut chairs or 1 walnut and 1 grey upholstered?? I can’t decide. I definely don’t like matching couch and love seat. Help!

    • No!!! Wait!!! Don’t do gray upholstery + brown leather! Gray upholstery sofa would look much better with a pair of chairs that are a real color – yellow or blue or green, but not brown. You could do a nice modern pattern on those chairs, too! I NEVER do a sofa and chair in exactly the same fabric – way too boring.

  31. Radhika Anand says:

    Hi Kristie- I am so glad I found your site. I am in the market for a new living room and have recently bought a sectional from Pottery Barn- I am planning to keep twin chairs to go with the sectional. I haven’t found any decent chairs though- my sectional is performance tweed ecru color, please can you suggest what color chairs and rug will go best with the sectional? My living room space is not very big and it doesn’t get a lot of light either, trying to give the space a bright and airy look…your suggestions will be much appreciated…

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