When you move into a new home, one of the most exciting aspects is picking out your design style and finding complementary furniture pieces. There are several types of couches and sofas to choose from, and this can make it a challenging task. When you try to make decisions between lawson-style sofas, sectionals, or a cute love seat, you can wear yourself out after a trip to the store.
We suggest glancing through furniture catalogs or going to as many stores as possible to see which styles you’re drawn to the most. This is exactly why many people spend hours browsing inside Ikea. Also, actually sitting on different types of couches is one way to guarantee that you’ll be comfortable once you buy it.
Picking out the correct type of couch can be a huge project, especially if it’s your first time couch shopping. Couch by Kurt Siegfried / CC BY-NC 2.0
22 Types of Couches
To help you get a better idea of what is available, we’ve put a list of 22 types of couches together for you to browse. This will give you a start to help you find the perfect couch to complement your decor.
Comfortable and casual are the hallmarks of this type of sofa. The arms have a slightly rolled design to the side and they’re lower than the back of your sofa. This design will also fit nicely into virtually any room design, but it’s not meant to be a focal point or stand-out feature. If you’re after a reasonably-priced and traditional sofa that is very comfortable, you should consider this style. Today, it’s a staple sofa style, but it’s not as popular as it was years ago.
Also called the English three-seater or the birch arm, this type of sofa is characterized by slightly-rolled, low set-back arms, a softly-rolled back, , padded, soft, loose cushions with a unique tailored skirt that hides the couch’s legs. You can get more contemporary pieces that have exposed legs.
This is a subtle and traditional casual style of sofa that won’t overpower your room or the rest of your furniture pieces. Just like the English roll arm sofa, this one originated in Great Britain; and just like the English roll arm sofa, this is a great choice for people who want to use a slipcover to help preserve the couch’s look. You Can usually fit three people at one time comfortably.
Even though it’s now the most popular casual furniture piece, it’s a very comfortable and versatile choice that blends with any decor. Having a neutral fabric will let bold artwork or other pieces dominate the space. Rayor or velvet fabric can easily complement a more traditional style. Nail-head trim can add a formal feel. Also, a well-constructed type of sofa has high-quality springs to keep you comfortable.
2. Bunk Bed Sleeper
If your kid likes to have sleepovers, this is a great type of couch to have to ensure that everyone stays comfortable. The bunk bed sleeper isn’t a hugely popular style, and it’s very similar to a concept sofa. Kids love them because kids love anything that transforms and heights. It’s a nice option for vacation homes or cabins where you need additional seating or sleeping space.
The trademark design on this type of sofa is the equal-height, continuous arms and back. The arms often curve inward to create a longer line from arm to arm. Some designs will have more ornate elements to them. However, more often than not, especially with contemporary designs, you’ll swap out the ornate designs for more comfortable features like a cushion that runs the length of the seated portion of the sofa. Also, these sofas are well-known for having exposed wooden trim along the back of the arms and the top. You can also find contemporary cabriole types of sofas with a classic design that removes the wooden trim.
The main design feature of this type of couch is the higher back in the center that forms a continuous descending line into the couch’s arms. You can also find designs with dual arches along the back. This couch type gets widely recognized by having exposed wooden legs and frequently exposed wood on the back of the arms and tops. This is a traditionally classic design, but you can purchase contemporary types of couches in this style that are more comfortable to sit on than the more antique style.
This was a late 1700s product, and it shows with the distinctive arched back that peaks on the sides and center. Thomas Chippendale furniture design studios created this type of couch in Great Britain. Chippendale was the first furniture line to get a name after the founder instead of a ruling monarch. During this time period, the aristocracy favored this couch in their homes because it has excellent craftsmanship that the company built a reputation on. It was originally crafted after a modified Rococo style, and it offers a lightness, elegance, and a strong focus on natural ornamentation and curves.
This elegant type of couch that got the name from resembling a camel’s humps, also has a reputation for having tighter upholstery that is easier to clean, scrolled arms for support, a shaped bench seat, and exposed legs. If you get an authentic English camelback sofa, you’ll have Queen-Anne-style ball-and-claw feet. It doesn’t have any separate back cushions on it, and the more traditional design that you get makes it a great choice to put in a formal living room between windows.
A more modern style for this type of sofa has one, two, or three humps. They also have upholstery that features graphic, bold prints that help update the look of them more antique couch.
This is a more formal style of couch, but it’s also a relatively comfortable one to pick out for your space. Silvercouch by Bob Doran / CC BY 2.0
5. Chaise Lounge
Chaise lounges are types of couches that are still popular, and you’ll find them in huge primary bedroom suites. Some of these lounges have an arm, but you can find styles with no arms. Also, this style is very popular for use as patio furniture, especially by the pool. However, for this article’s sake on different types of couches, we’re going to focus on the one that you’d find inside.
A lot of people believe that the first chaise lounges originated in Egypt, and they featured a combination of a daybed and chair. It dates back to around 3,000 B.C. and the Egyptians made their lounges using palm stalks that they secured with pieces of cord or rawhide. Later, more affluent Egyptians had lounges made out of wood to make them a little more durable.
In ancient Greece, this type of couch gained massive popularity, and people used it to recline instead of sitting to read, drink, or at a table. The furniture had layers of draped fabric and cushions that acted like headrests. The ancient Romans also embraced this type of couch, and they called them lectus. They used them to recline during banquets or meals, and the chairs had a wooden frame with cushions for more support.
The chaise lounge term comes from the French words chaise longe. This translates into logn chair. A chaise lounge is a couch that is shaped like a longer chair that can structurally support itself. The French design became popular in the 1500s. By the time the French Rococo period rolled around, this type of couch became a social status symbol that incorporated rare materials in the design. Today, modern chaise lounge designs are a more decorative element in your home than a necessary furniture piece. YOu’ll find them in the bedroom or in any room where you want to relax.
This type of couch boasts a tufted or quilted style. This makes it a much more fancy addition to your home compared to other couch designs. Some will only sport the tufted design on the arms and back, but others can have it on the seating bench area too. It’s still a very popular style when you look at modern sofa trends.
As for where and when this sofa originated, it was widely believed to be during the 18th century as a commission by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Lord Philip Stanhope. The Earl was trying to get a piece of furniture that allowed him to sit upright while being comfortable and not wrinkling their clothing.
7. Contemporary Mid-Century Modern Sofa
We’re including a small section for more modern types of couches because you’ll find it under contemporary mid century modern furniture. Technically speaking, a lot of what people usually call modern furniture actually falls under this design category. You also don’t want to confuse mid-century modern furniture with contemporary because they’re different. However, this category always gets categorized based on a specific design style like a contemporary camelback or a contemporary chesterfield.
Although you wouldn’t want to ask any guests to sleep on your daybed, they make a nice place to put your feet up for a short nap. The daybed looks very similar to a traditional chaise lounge except that there are backs or ends on each side. The problem with this type of couch is that it doesn’t accommodate taller people very well unless you want to tuck your legs. However, it’s nice to have for your balcony or smaller areas.
A divan is a type of couch without a back. So, they do require that you put them tight to a bare wall and arrange your pillows to get a cushioned back. This isn’t the most practical item on the list because you have restrictions on where you can put them, but they do offer versatility with respect to how you put your pillows. You might like the look of a backless couch or a cushioned bench tight to the wall. You can also find options that aren’t 100% divan because they have a small back support, but you still put it by the wall and stack pillows.
10. English Rolled Arm
This type of couch is known for having a higher back with low arms in relation to the back. The upholstery is tight all over the couch, but it has a decent layer of padding, including on the arms. It’s very similar to the bridgewater, but it’s different due to the tautness of the upholstery and the arm position. Also, some of these types of couches have arms that are so low that the couch actually looks armless.
It has a plush, large, loose seat cushion with very rounded, tight rolled arms on it. This helps to create a very timeless look and feel that is perfect for putting in a formal parlor or living room, but it will also coordinate very well with any more modern room design. You can easily customize the legs to fit in with your particular furniture style to help get a seamless look and feel for the whole room. For example, you can get turned legs for a more traditional look or straight legs for a modern one. If you want to blend contemporary and traditional styles, you can add a stripe or geometric pattern for the upholstery.
This type of couch first showed up in British country manors in the early 20th century, and this neatly-tailored choice is one of the most comfortable couch options on the market. Many people have described this type of couch as the furniture equivalent of a meatloaf. It’s a great pick if you intend to use slipcovers to protect it. This way, you can easily remove it and wash it when it gets dirty while keeping your couch pristine.
Not only is a futon a great mattress alternative, but it also makes a nice type of couch. Usually, the back of this soft release of folds downward to create a flat, large cushioned space to sleep. The convertible sleeper couch is very similar to this typeof couch, but the couch has two pieces that rearrange to form a large flat sleeping surface. The mattress is the sofa’s cushions. You’ll see the convertible style sleeper on sectional sofas, so it’s relatively popular.
The futon’s history originates in Japan in the 17th century. The word futon comes from the Japanese word for bedding. The Japanese used to stuff wool and cotton and spread the bedding on the flooring made out of rice straw. Because the flooring is very lightweight, the mattress had to be lightweight too. So, they were made out of a long piece of cotton. The mattress could be rolled up to transport or store when you’re not using it. At first, only nobility and the wealthy could afford this type of couch. However, the Industrial Revolution and cotton manufacturing during the 1700s made this a much more attainable item.
American GIs who came home from World War II talked about the comfort they had when they slept on Japanese floor mattresses. To try and accommodate a growing interest in more exotic types of couches, American companies created a piece of furniture that combined a mattress and bed frame to suit Western preferences and tastes. For anyone who wants an authentic Japanese-style futon without having a frame, you can stack a few mattresses to sleep higher above the floor.
A futon is popular in college dorms or in smaller apartments where space is a premium but you want sitting space. Futon by RlyAwesome / CC BY-SA 2.0
12. Sectional Sofa
A sectional type of couch is a multi-piece setup. It usually comes in three to five pieces that you can arrange in a host of different configurations. The more pieces you get, the more configurations you can set up. Ideally, and sectional couch you pick out will include things to connect each piece to hold them tightly together.
Due to the large and growing interest in this type of couch, there are dozens of styles available, materials to choose from, and overall designs to consider. Some are huge and can dominate a whole room while others are a lot smaller. The U-shaped and L-shape are two very popular configurations.
You most likely know that this type of couch evolved and became popular into the present form from the 1950s interest. However, sectionals were originally available during the Victorian era. The early sectionals in this era were very very primitive, and they were two or more couches that they pushed together to form a bigger couch.
13. Lawson-Style Sofa
This type of couch was designed for comfort in mind. The signature design element is a back that features pillows that separate from the frame. The reason for this design style is to create a more cushioned, softer area to sit with big cushions that aren’t taught to the sofa’s frame. Today, this continues to be a very popular type of couch. You can buy this couch with a huge range of materials, colors, and sizes. Along with being super comfortable, you can move the big pillows around to get comfortable.
This is a more new design to the market. The first type of couch came about in the 20th century when it was created for Thomas W. Lawson, who was a financier. He wanted a couch that was modern with a big focus on comfort. It’s also a derivative design of the tuxedo sofa.
14. Loveseat Sofas
The loveseat is an umbrella term for a type of couch that will seat two people. Many people consider it a type of chair due to the smaller size. They’re often included as part of a living room set. Like couches, this option comes in a range of designs and styles, including cabriole and camelback. You can use the loveseat to create a smaller sitting area and bench at the foot of your bed. Since these loveseats are shorter, they fall into four categories based on their size. It includes:
- Compact: Up to 51 inches long
- Small: 52 inches long
- Medium: 58 inches long
- Full: up to 64 inches long
- Loveseat Couches: up to 71 inches long.
15. Low-Seated Sofas
Another unique type of couch is the low-seated one. This category goes over multiple staples, and you can use it in different rooms in your home like the family room, living room, bedroom, or any area where you want to lounge. The typical height of most types of couches at the seat is 18-inches, but this one can’t exceed 17-inches at the seat.
16. Mid-Century Modern
From the 1930s to the 1970s, this type of couch was the most popular choice. However, they’re making a comeback, and it’s almost guaranteed to pass the test of time since they’ve been around so long already. This style is all about clean lines and minimalistic styling. There are several varieties available, and it comes designed to be comfortable while looking good. As a result, it’s not the most comfortable furniture piece, but it can look great in certain designs.
The movement where this type of couch gained popularity was characterized by simplicity, practicality, and elegance. As German designers came to the United States after World War II, they brought this style with them. The postwar economy also created a high-class sect of Americans who left the inner cities to create a very unique suburban lifestyle.
They built homes and needed furniture to coordinate. Technology advances also allowed companies to create new materials like Lucite, Plexiglass, and plastics. This type of sofa had clean, sleek lines with non-traditional and traditional materials in the same piece. It was common to see the basic style of this couch in wool, vinyl, or velvet.
Contrasting whites and blacks and colors ranging from bold to neutral formed the very simple geometric patterns that are still popular on this couch. Also, the newer materials made it easy to care for it.
17. Pallet Couches
Pallet furniture is very popular, and a lot of people like to DIY. However, you can actually purchase these types of couches. A pallet sofa usually gets built right against a wall where the back is on the wall with cushions lining it. However, you can also build or buy a pallet couch that has a back with a very slight recline to it so it’s more comfortable to relax on.
18. Recliner Sofa
This is a fairly new type of couch on the market, but it has a huge following due to being great for reading or watching television. It’s not the best type to have in a formal living room, but it’s great for family rooms and media rooms. In fact, if you build a platform for the TV room and put two of this type of sofa in, you can create a home theater experience.
A recliner sofa comes in a huge range of sizes and styles that can fit any home, and they usually have a large amount of padding to make them very comfortable. Recliners by Ryan Finnie / CC BY-SA 2.0
19. Settee Sofa
A settee is actually a wide chair, and the closest thing you have is a loveseat. Historically speaking, settees were much more narrow than loveseats. They’re also a lot less comfortable because they get designed to look like a wide dining room chair with arms. You can barely fit two smaller people side-by-side in this type of couch, but they offer a very nice old world charm. They make excellent foyer pieces.
20. Sleeper Sofas
There are several sleeper style types of couches available ranging from futons to pull-outs to day beds or bunk-bed sofa combinations. The two most common types are:
Pull Out Sofa Bed
This is one of the most popular sleeper soft types available, and they have come a long way in terms of design and style in the past two decades. They usually offer a very nice sleeping solution for your guests. You can tell the difference from a pull out sofa bed and a futon because the back of the couch stays upright while the sleeping surface will fold under the sofa’s belly where you store it and pull it out when you need it.
This type of couch differs from a pull out style because it doesn’t come with a mattress. The bed mattress is the couch pillows that you lay out to make a comfortable sleeping space. Depending on the mattress quality on your pull out bed, this can be more or less comfortable.
21. Sofa Lounger
This is a type of couch with a chaise-lounge design. It’s been very popular for years, and it’s a sofa that comes with an extension that allows you to put your feet up. You can choose from three styles, including:
- Full Lounger – The full lounger design is a sleeper sofa that allows you to sit up while you’re in bed mode.
- Multi-Sofa Lounger – As the name suggests, this is a type of couch that offers multiple lounging areas or extensions.
- Single Sofa Lounger – This is an extremely common type of couch that many people refer to as a sectional. However, it’s a couch with a single chaise lounge extension attached.
22. Tuxedo Sofa
The final type of couch on the list has a sofa back that cuts straight across with high arms. Since it doesn’t have a reclining angle, it’s not the most comfortable thing to sit on. However, the straight lines give it a classic look. You can also find these designs on chairs and loveseats. It originated in Tuxedo Park in the 1920s, so it’s a newer design. It’s nice for any modern settings or minimalist rooms.
We outlined 22 types of couches for you to consider when you upgrade your furniture or move into a new home. You can easily mix and match styles or go with one particular one that meshes well with your decor. The goal is to get a comfortable style with a couch that will last for years, and our guide gives you a great starting point.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.