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Sectional Sofa Buying Guide

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Sectionals are family-friendly sofas that provide enough seating for everyone. They fit neatly into a corner or can help break up a large space, such as a great room, by floating in the middle. Sectional sofas are typically found in two shapes: L-shaped and U-shaped, but can also be found with curved backs. In this guide, we look at the most common sectional sofa configurations.

Sectional Components

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Sectional Sofa Orientation

Doty Left Hand Facing Sectional

Left Hand Facing

When purchasing a sofa, you will often hear the phrases left-facing and right-facing, which can be a bit confusing. Generally speaking, when you are facing the sectional, left- or right-facing refers to the longest dimension coming toward you. This is easy to determine for L-shaped sectionals, as it is whichever side the chaise is on. This can be tricky for U-shaped sectionals and other configurations, however it is always the longest side pointing toward you when facing the sofa.

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​Right Hand Facing

When facing the sectional, the longest dimension coming toward you is on the right hand side.

Avery Symmetrical Sectional


​This type of sectional features equal seating on both sides. For example, if you combined the left arm love seat and the right arm love seat with the corner chair from the illustration above, that would be a symmetrical sectional. 

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Reversible sectionals refer to the chaise part of the sectional. The chaise on these models can be moved to either the left or right side, depending on your need. The chaise is the only part of the sectional that can be moved; the rest is stationary.

Sectional Sofa Designs

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These sectionals can be found in any sort of configuration. Stationary sectionals are simply those that have no added features and no moving parts. Though they cannot be reconfigured, some can be detached for transport. Check individual specifications for details on whether the sectional is a solid piece or interlocking.

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When a sofa is described as reclining, it means at least one or more of the seats recline. Check the specifications of the individual sectional for details on exactly how many and which seats are reclining seats. 

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Modular sectional sofas are made up of individual pieces that can be arranged and rearranged according to the desired layout. These are the most versatile of all the sectionals, as they allow you to configure your own sectional. For those needing extra long sectionals or a specific setup not normally found, modular sofas are the best bet.

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Sleeper sectionals are those that come with a pull out, folding bed frame and mattress that can be stored within the sofa itself when not in use. 

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Convertible Sectionals

These sectionals can convert from a couch to a flat surface that can be used as a bed. The sofa cushions themselves act as the mattress.

Sectional Sofa Shapes

sectional sofa

Standard L-Shaped

The standard L-shaped sectional sofa can look like two sofas, two small loveseats, or one sofa and one loveseat pushed together. A standard L-shaped sectional sofa arrangement allows for entertaining and conversating and TV watching, though the room's focal point (TV, fireplace, window, or additional feature) may not be visible from all seats. 

sectional sofa

L-Shaped Sofa and Chaise

Ideal for smaller spaces that still need to seat a large amount of people, in this L-shaped sectional sofa, a chaise at one end of the sofa forms the "L." This type of sectional allows most of those seated to face the same direction, making TV watching easier.

sectional sofa


A U-shaped sectional sofa is ideal for conversations because it allows everyone to face each other. It can resemble three sofas pushed together to form two 90-degree angles. It can also be made of two chaises at each end of a sofa or of two sofas and one chaise, both forming a U-shape.

sectional sofa


For a contemporary look without harsh corners, opt for a curved sectional. As it lacks the 90-degree angle of most sectional sofas, it can be tough to push curved sectionals into a corner to save space.

What to Consider When Shopping for a Sectional

1. The number of people you would like to accommodate. 
Sectionals can accommodate large groups of people. The more people a sofa can seat, the bigger it will be. Consider the dimensions of your space and the number of people you want to seat before purchasing.

2. The size and shape of your space
While a sectional is indeed a great way to maximize seating in a small space, there still should be enough space to navigate. Measure your room to ensure there is enough clearance room for guests to maneuver. The most important measurements are the length of the sectional itself and the span of the chaise, if any. Additionally, consider whether a curved, L-, or U- shaped sectional is preferable in your space. For small areas, a flat-backed sofa may offer the most floor room. A curved sofa, alternatively, is ideal for separating spaces or creating an intimate seating area.

3. Fabric and durability.
Just like any other sofa, choosing the correct fabric is very important. Especially for sectionals, as they are often for families or entertaining, you may want to consider a darker or stain-resistant fabric.

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