In our quest to deliver inspiration, we’ve compiled 10 sofa design styles, each hiding a distinct history in its visual features. Whether you are starting out as a designer or are simply intrigued by the variety of sofas available, this post will offer you a chance to learn more. These styles have defied the test of time and can still be found in homes today.
1. Chesterfield Sofa
Dating to the 18th century, the Chesterfield sofa has an interesting story behind it. The fourth Earl of Chesterfield, England, is said to have been the first to commission one, specifically requesting a furniture element that would allow a man to sit upright comfortably so his suit would not wrinkle.
The Chesterfield became a symbol of noble sophistication, and it hasn’t lost its intricate charm. This style is defined by its use of leather, rolled arms, a back the same height as the arms, tufting for a quilted effect and no back cushions.
2. Cabriole Sofa
Some say nothing symbolizes 18th-century furniture more than the cabriole leg. With the upper portion curving outward and the lower portion curving inward in a gentle S shape, this type of leg is associated with the Louis XV period of furniture design.
The Cabriole sofa style is characterized by an exposed wooden frame (often carved), and slightly lower arms than the back. Other features include continuous lines and no back cushions; in the example above, though, the designer opted to add some, and we really like the result.
3. Camelback Sofa
The camelback sofa style is attributed to London cabinetmaker and furniture designer Thomas Chippendale, whose name strongly influenced the English decor scene in the late 18th century. A true camelback sofa has an arched back that rises to a higher point in the middle, and again slightly at the ends.
Other features include rolled or square arms, upholstery, exposed legs and usually no back cushions. We love how the designers integrated a camelback-inspired sofa in the photo above, giving it an informal, inviting appearance.
4. Lawson Sofa
The fourth type of sofa on our list is attributed to Thomas W. Lawson, an American businessman and author who commissioned the model for extra comfort. The first Lawson sofa in history came with a back layered in pillows and overstuffed.
Today, you can recognize a Lawson by three back cushions and arms lower than the back (slightly rolled or square). But expect to see many different models on the market. You can find textile and leather finishes and various embedded materials, including metal and wood.
5. Tuxedo Sofa
Borrowing its name from the town of Tuxedo Park in New York, the tuxedo sofa is considered one of the hints signaling modernism in the 1920s. The style is defined by arms the same height as the back (usually taller than other sofa designs mentioned in this post), inspiring glamor and elegance.
The first versions of the sofa came with a single row of tufts and exposed legs. Pillows are optional but add comfort, especially to a couch with high arms.
6. English Rolled Arm Sofa
Probably the coziest sofa type you will come across, the English rolled arm (or club) sofa dates to the turn of the century and has a British countryside vibe. Some of the features include a tight back; soft, generously sized cushions; recessed arms; and low turned legs on casters. It can do wonders in contemporary decor, adding that touch of warmth that modern homes need.
7. Knole Sofa
Sofas did not exist before the 17th century; benches were used on a large scale instead. The Knole sofa dates to the early 1600s, when an upholstered settee was ordered for Knole, a historic English house. The classic style can be recognized by its straight, high back and angled adjustable arms (in the old days, they were used as protection from drafts).
Finials wrapped in cords traditionally connected the back and arms. Even though the popularity of the style has decreased, you can still find Knole sofas in modern houses, adding a charming classic touch.
8. Bridgewater Sofa
Elegant, casual and comfortable, a Bridgewater sofa is ideal for conversing or watching a movie with friends. In today’s design schemes, it adds a welcoming touch with its softly rolled back, low set-back arms and heavily padded cushions. This style is also known as a birch-arm or English three-seater. Its powerful British heritage is highlighted by a skirt that conceals the feet.
9. Mid-Century Modern Sofa
The term mid-century modern describes a significant design movement from roughly the mid-1930s to 1965. The sofas attributed to this style usually have a streamlined form with low, often square legs. However, expect many variations.
It is fair to say that when it comes to mid-century modern (MCM) sofas, few rules apply. You may recognize them for their retro appearance, use of organic shapes and powerful geometry. One thing is certain: if properly integrated in a modern interior, their look will surprise and inspire.
10. Sectional Sofa
Function is the main attribute promoted by modernism, and the sectional sofa’s modular components highlight it well. This practical design combines end and corner units, ottomans, recliners and/or chaises.
Sectional sofas are a good option for contemporary rooms with high ceilings or lot of windows. They are also great for filling up large spaces, especially in formal areas; they aren’t the best choice for small interiors or powerful personalities.
We hope this has helped you identify the different styles of sofas. Which one is your favorite? Feel free to share your thoughts with us!