Many homeowners are opting for sectional furniture as a seating solution for great rooms, family rooms or media rooms. They can provide a comfortable alternative to a traditional sofa and loveseat combination. Interestingly, sectional furniture, when configured properly can maximize a small area such as a loft or dual-purpose office/television room.


When ordering a sectional it’s important to understand the terminology, which is based upon the view standing in front of the piece. A right facing arm (RFA) is on the right side of the piece as you look at it from the front. A left facing arm (LFA) is located on the left of the piece as you face it. Sofa sectionals will come equipped with either right- or left- facing arms. The side with no arm is where a completing piece will be situated.

Completing pieces might sit two or three people, provide a connection corner or complete the sectional with a chaise option. A corner piece is often used to complete the ell-shape of two sofas or loveseats. Corner sofas are also often available to minimize the number of pieces in the configuration. Fewer pieces cost less, in general.

When researching sectional furniture, it’s a good idea to try out a few manufacturers to test comfort, size and other factors. Sit on a number of sectional options. You’ll notice that some are more firm, others softer. Take note of the depth of the seat, as well as the overall depth of the sectional elements. Many furniture makers offer options as to seat depth, which can make a big difference in comfort. Smaller people can get lost in a sectional that has too deep of a seat; tall people can feel shortchanged if the seat is not deep enough.

Measure twice!
Measure the elements of the sectional and take a moment to sketch it out to scale for the room in which you plan to place it. Because of their left- and right- handedness, once they are located in a room, there are not many options for reconfiguring, so you’ll want to be sure of your layout and dimensions. Allow enough room to enter and move about the room when the sectional is in place. Make note of doors opening into the space, including closet doors, which may interfere with a sectional that’s not sized right.

If you’re selecting a sectional for a television room, you may wish to opt for a chaise style end piece rather than an ell-shaped sofa or loveseat “completer.” You’ll find that no one wants to sit perpendicular to the television set. Strained necks and awkward seating can diminish the utility of the perpendicular piece. Another option for areas where the television is in the corner of the room are curved sectionals, which seat everyone equidistantly from the central screen. One downside to a curved or corner piece sectional is that they take up a large amount of room to complete the turn.

Up Against the Wall
In designing your sectional, you’ll also want to determine whether the sectional will be a freestanding unit or be located against a wall. If the sectional is to be freestanding, you’ll want to orient lighting, convenience outlets and tables so that those seated can read, place snacks within reach and have places for remotes, decorative pieces and photos. A console table running along the back of the longer side can provide very useful space for items and can also provide a visual break in a large great room.

If the sectional is to be placed against a wall, a sofa or loveseat combined with a chaise end piece can provide an efficient seating area in smaller spaces. However, if your space only allows for a single center seat sectional, consider who might be sitting in the middle without the benefit of an arm on either side. The effect can be a little squirm-inducing, and if the space is tight, a better option may be a loveseat with a separate chaise.

Try to locate a store that has the long sections on the floor in the length you’re considering, and take careful measurements. Many people make the mistake of just eyeballing it, and ending with a sectional that completely takes over a room. This can make even the largest great rooms seem cramped and small.