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Sectional sofas: What to consider when buying one, and top sectional picks for 2023

The Crate & Barrel Lounge II Sectional in our house

There’s a lot to think about when buying a sectional sofa. For one, it needs to be both durable and comfortable, since it’s something you’ll spend a whole lot of time on. It also needs to be stylish, since it’s a large piece of furniture that’ll dictate how you overall room looks. And finally, it needs to suit your budget and timeline. And those are just the basics.

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This year, I bought two sectional sofas; one for the basement in our Vermont cabin, and one for the new family room we created during our home renovation. For each room, I had a vague idea of what I wanted, which I narrowed down after hours (and hours. and hours) of browsing online and in person, until I found options that were my style, in my price point, and would be at my house before I got so used to sitting on the floor that I didn’t need a sofa anymore.

I’m not sure if the fact that I write about interior design for a living helps me when I shop for furniture, because I know all of the different qualities and options to look out for, or hurts me because I weigh too many variables so it takes me forever to decide on something. But either way, it’s good news for you, because I’m going to share the fruits of my research with you, below.

I’ve rounded up a number of the best sectional sofas I saw while shopping for my own homes this year, along with a few options I noticed while visiting stores & showrooms or that I saw in press releases, new product launches, etc.

But before I share the sofas I love, here’s an overview of what to consider before purchasing a sectional.

How to buy a sectional sofa

Buying a sectional sofa is *literally* a big purchase. It’s expensive, and you’ll be spending a lot of time on it, so it’s important to get one you love. Here are the important things to consider when buying one.

Sectional sofa size and shape

The term ‘sectional sofa’ encompasses a few different sofa shapes, including L-shaped sectionals, chaise sectionals, bumper sectionals, and U-shaped sectionals.

U shaped and bumper sectionals are usually the largest, followed by L-shaped and chaise lounges. The shape and size of your room (also the size of your family), will dictate the right choice for your home.

Generally, people are drawn to sectionals because they’re comfortable and large, so you can fit lots of people on them, or sprawl out and take a nap. But, it’s important to choose something that works with your space, too. You want to choose something that fit into your room without blocking the flow of traffic.

Consider traffic flow when choosing the orientation of your sectional, too. Unless it’s a symmetrical sofa, like a U-shape, it will likely be labeled “right arm” or “left arm.” This distinction determines which way your sofa faces, or which side of the sofa the chaise is on. Think about the ideal situation for your room before purchasing, i.e. would you have to hop over the chaise to enter the room? Will an L-shaped sectional block a doorway or window if it’s oriented a certain way? Etc.

The size of your sofa is also about more than just whether it’ll fit in you room. The height of the seat back, and depth of the cushions are also an important dimension that’ll affect the overall comfort of the sofa. A deep sofa isn’t inherently more comfortable than a narrower one, and a high-backed sofa isn’t necessarily better than a low-backed on. It’s all about personal preference.

My husband is 6’3″, and loves a deep couch, so we went with the deep version of the sofa we bought for our family room. At the same time, if you have mobility issues or prefer to sit on the couch with your feet touching the floor, a deep sofa isn’t for you.

The shape of your sectional sofa will also impact the type of coffee table you can have. A square or round coffee table is typically best for a U-shaped sofa, while a rectangular or oval shape is better for a chaise. However, the size of the sectional (and thus the size of the space available for a coffee table) will ultimately determine the best shape.

Sectional sofa style

As far as sofas go, sectionals are usually considered to be a more casual option. That doesn’t mean they’re always informal, but if you’re looking for a sofa for your living room, you might want to consider something more tailored than you might for your finished basement or family room.

There are lots of high-style sectionals out there. Retailers like Interior Define, Maiden Home, Apt 2B, cb2, West Elm, Rove Concepts, and Floyd are all good sources for stylish sectional sofas.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a casual family room sectional, the classic, chunkier sectional sofas will work just fine.

Fabric color and style are also important. A white sofa will require more maintenance, while a leather chesterfield style is more durable.

Price and Lead Time

Four years ago, you could get a sectional sofa in a week, and for under $2000 no problem. Now, both lead times and costs have gone up, which add another big consideration to sectional shopping.

Lots of manufacturers are now offering “quick ship” sofas that will arrive at your house in anywhere from a couple of weeks to three months (yep, that’s still considered quick in today’s environment). The downside, though, is that these sofas are usually only offered in a couple of colors or configurations.

Custom sofas can take anywhere from five weeks to five years. Just kidding, it’s closer to one year, but I’ve heard stories of people waiting even longer than a year for a sofa. SO! Be sure to check in on manufacturer lead times before ordering, and read the reviews, too, to see if lead times are accurate.

Quick ship items also tend to be less expensive that custom because they’re stocked.

Best Sectional Sofas

Now that I’ve shared a few important things to think about when shopping for your new sofa, here are some of the best sectionals I’ve seen in the last few months, including two I’ve purchased myself. These encompass both high and lower price points, and both quick-ship and custom options.

Best sectional sofa for comfort (quick ship): Crate & Barrel Lounge II Sectional, $3628+

As someone who tends to choose style over comfort when shopping for decor (but not when shopping for pants, let that be known), this sofa got me. My husband had a very particular ‘feel’ in mind for the sectional sofa for our new family room, and the Crate & Barrel Lounge sofa had it.

We went to the store, he sat on the sofa, and he wasn’t leaving until we ordered it. So we did. And holy. It is cozy. It’s deep, and you sink into it, and you never want to get out. If you’re looking for a comfortable sofa to watch movies on, and nap on, and one that’ll hold your whole family, this is a winner.

The other reasons we chose the Lounge II sectional sofa, besides the comfort factor were because it has clean lines, despite its large size, and because there was a quick(ish) ship option for a fabric we liked. The quick-ship option still took 12 weeks, but alas, when a custom sofa now takes a year to come in, 3 months felt like a pretty good alternative.

We bought the chaise version (pictured), but you can customize the configuration if you prefer an L-shape, a U-shape, or a reversible chaise.

Best sectional sofa for comfort (custom): Basset Allure Sectional, $3,399+

We started our sofa search convinced we were going to buy this sectional sofa. My sister owns it, and my whole family loves it. It’s very similar to the C&B Lounge in both style and comfort. It also comes in two stocked fabrics, but we didn’t like them as much as the Crate & Barrel options.

However, the Basset sofa comes in a lot more custom fabric options than the Crate & Barrel, including Sunbrella fabrics, which is great if you have small kids. Ordering this sofa in one of Basset’s custom fabrics actually didn’t take that much longer than ordering the in-stock Crate & Barrel sofa, but the price for the custom Basset is a few thousand dollars more than the in-stock Lounge sofa. If you want a comfortable sectional (it comes in chaise, L-shape and U-shape options), and have a specific color in mind that isn’t a neutral, this is a great pick.

Most stylish sectional sofa (quick ship), Rove Concepts Noah Sectional, $2699+

Rove Concepts has a range of sleek sectional sofas that are stocked in gorgeous fabrics like the blue-gray velvet, above. This sofa is large, but low profile, which gives it a more contemporary look. The extra-wide chaise also means you won’t have to fight your kids or spouse for the ‘good seat’, because it’s large enough for two.

Most stylish sectional sofa (custom): Interior Define James Sectional, $4145+

If I had any sort of patience, I probably would have bought the James Sectional from Interior Define. The reason is because it’s just gorgeous. i generally don’t love a sectional in a formal living space, but I would make an exception for this sofa, just because it’s so tailored, and it comes with the option to add a contrast piping, which is just fabulous. There are dozens of fabric options for this couch, so you can make it work for all sorts of spaces. I would have gone with the moss green velvet and a navy piping. Sigh.

Best sectional sofa for small spaces: West Elm Harmony Modular sectional, $3997+

Where was this West Elm sofa when I lived in a 500 square foot apartment? It starts at just 80″ wide, which still probably would have been too big for my teeny apartment, but I love that manufacturers are now making two-seater sofas with a chaise.

Best living room sectional: Maiden Home The Sullivan sectional, $4300+

I love how tailored this sofa looks. It’s sleek and classic, and it comes in lots of different configurations, sizes, and fabrics, so you should be able to find something that looks like it was designed just for you space (which, I supposed, it was!).

Best sleeper sectional: Apt 2B Tuxedo 2-Piece sleeper sectional, $4098+

We ordered out first sofa from Apt 2B this year (yes, it’s been a big year of sofa-buying for us here), which is a sleeper sofa. It’s the Soto sofa, and I haven’t received it yet, but I did lots of research before I chose it so I’m confident it’ll be a winner. It’ll be here in a few weeks and I’ll update the post to confirm!

I had my eye on the brand’s Tuxedo sleeper sectional, above, for our family room, but it wasn’t deep enough for my husband. I liked the simplicity of the design, and the fact that it could be ordered in a few dozen colors, and lead times were still under eight weeks.

Best budget-friendly sleeper sectional sofa: Bob’s Cottage Chic sofa, $1999+

We settled on the Bobs Cottage Chic sofa for the finished basement in our Vermont cabin. I chose it for a few reasons: One, it’s huge. You can fit like 10 people on this sofa. Two, for how huge it is, it’s very affordable. Three, it was a quick-ship option, and we were able to get it in about two weeks(!). And finally, it’s one of the better looking sleeper sectional sofas under $2500. The options get a little thin when you try to budget on a sofa this large.

Overall, I really like this sofa. The upholstery is a nice greige color, and the cushions are firm but cozy. The mattress it comes with is on the thin side, though, so we got a 2-inch foam mattress pad to use with it, which I recommend.

Are sectionals outdated?

If you’re wondering if a sectional will date your room, the answer is no. The sectional sofa is a look that’s here to stay. Certain sectionals, like the original La-Z-boy style with reclining features, faux suede upholstery, and cupholders between seats are certainly dated and should never, ever be purchased by anyone ever again (am I coming off too strong about my opinion here?).

Instead, you’ll find plenty of beautiful, modern sectionals that’ll not only add comfort to your home, but enhance its style, too.