Updated at: 26-10-2022 - By: Helen Skeates

When it comes to outfitting a home, you have a lot of options such as choosing between a sofa or loveseat. You must first settle on a budget, then on a style, and last on the furnishings that will fill your area. You ask yourself when to use sofa or loveseat, or questions about room organization.

When it comes to arranging a living room, homeowners frequently have to choose between a regular couch and a loveseat. While both alternatives provide a comfortable place to relax, there are several major characteristics that distinguish these two pieces of furniture.

A couch and a loveseat differ in size, price, and function in the house. Furthermore, choosing a loveseat may offer up a world of possibilities for designing your living space, especially when paired with a sofa.

This article will teach you all you need to know about the differences between a loveseat and a sofa in order to find the best match for your house. Moreover, you will know when to use sofa or loveseat in your space.

What is a Sofa?

A sofa, also called a couch or a settee depending on where the speaker is from, is a piece of upholstered seat, meaning it is fitted with springs and cushions. It has a back and arms that may also be fully or partially upholstered. It is designed to accommodate two or more people; with the average length of about eighty-four inches.

Loveseat vs. Sofa | RC Willey Blog

The main purpose of a sofa is for sitting, and as such can be found not only in homes but also in offices, reception areas and lobbies, and in bars. However, because of its length, sofas can also be used for sleeping. Also, most sofas have built-in utility that allows it to convert into a bed. The earliest known types of sofas dating back to 17th century Europe, had backs and arms that can be let down so that the seat can double-up as a bed, which is a secondary purpose of the sofa even today. Sofas have evolved over time, some due to innovation and some due to cultural influence. This resulted to variants with their own specific names. Common variants that double as beds include the sofa bed, the daybed, and the futon. Of the more obscure, some say sophisticated and aesthetic variants are the chaise longue, often misspelled “lounge”, the chesterfield, the divan, and the fainting couch. Another variant is the loveseat, which is discussed further below.

What is a Loveseat?

A loveseat, or a courting chair or mini-sofa, is a piece of furniture that is designed for exactly two people. Loveseats also have backs and arms and upholstery just like the sofa. Being designed to accommodate only exactly two persons, the average length of a backseat is only around sixty inches.

The name implies that the two persons the loveseat is designed for are lovers, or in courtship. The loveseat was originally designed to give women a place to sit down and smooth out their – what was then fashionable – bulky dresses, and it was called for what it was, a small sofa. A bit later, people started realizing that these small sofas can be used for exactly two persons in courtship and these small sofas came to be advertised as loveseats. Since then, variants have also come out. One famed variant is the tete-a-tete, a two-seater built in an S-shape presumably so the couple can converse face to face with a mutual armrest between them. Another variant is the British Two Seater, which used to have more aesthetic but has evolved into a functional piece of furniture for small spaces and is basically just a sofa for two people. Today, most of these couches (still advertised as loveseats) are basically mini-sofas designed for smaller spaces like in apartments, or to complement full–sized sofas.

Difference between a Sofa and a Loveseat


A sofa is any upholstered seating furniture, with back and armrests, designed to seat two or more people. A loveseat is a small sofa specifically designed for two persons only, usually a couple.

Seating capacity and length

A sofa can seat multiple people, often three or more. It is usually around eighty-four inches in length. A loveseat can only accommodate up to two persons and is usually around an average length of sixty inches.

Main purpose

A sofa’s main purpose is to comfortably seat two or more people at once. A loveseat is primarily to let a courting couple have an intimate conversation.

Original purpose

A sofa was originally designed as a comfortable chair for more than one person. A loveseat was originally intended for the women back then to have an extra space to smooth out their bulky dresses.

Secondary use

Most sofas can double as beds due to the length as well as built-in utility. Loveseats serve as smaller sofas in smaller spaces like in apartments or to complement full-sized sofas.


Some variants of the sofa are the sofa bed, daybed, futon, chaise longue, divan and fainting couch. Known loveseat variants are the tete-a-tete and the British Two Seater.

Other names

Sofas are also called couches or settees, while loveseats are also called courting chairs or mini-sofas.

Snuggle Up on the Best Couches

Best Overall: Burrow Nomad Sofa

What we like

  • Modular design
  • Contemporary appearance
  • Lots of customization options
  • Affordable

What we don’t like

  • Weeks-long wait on made-to-order pieces

The Burrow Nomad Sofa isn’t like other couches—and that’s why you’ll love it! Burrow is known for its modern, modular furniture, and the Nomad Sofa is one of the brand’s most popular offerings thanks to its unparalleled versatility and wide range of customization options. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it has a sleek contemporary appearance.

This couch is 86 inches long and 35 inches deep, and it’s made up of three individual sections that connect via galvanized latches. You can choose between five colors, and the upholstery fabric is made from a tight olefin fiber weave that’s scratch- and stain-resistant.

However, the customization doesn’t end there! You have your choice of six wooden and metal leg finishes, as well as three armrest styles. Plus, the cushions are reversible—one side is tufted, the other is solid. Finally, you can add on a matching moveable chaise, ottoman, sleep kit, and/or lumbar pillows, allowing you to perfectly tailor the couch to your needs.

Size: 86 x 35 x 33 inches | Type: Sofa | Materials: Birch frame, olefin fiber upholstery | Extra Features: Built-in USB

What Testers Say

“As a military family member, I am always considering how versatile a piece of furniture will be in another home. I never know if we will have a large family room or just a small space, so I tend to avoid bulky or oddly shaped furniture. I assembled the Nomad using all three seats, but I could easily shorten it to a loveseat configuration if needed.”—Katie Begley, Product Tester

Best Budget: IKEA UPPLAND Sofa

What we like

  • Affordable
  • Machine-washable cover
  • Reversible cushions

What we don’t like

  • Limited delivery options

If you’re looking for an affordable sofa for your first home or apartment, the IKEA UPPLAND is a great choice. This slipcovered couch comes in six colors to suit your space and decor, and is slightly over 88 inches long and 33 inches deep, providing comfortable seating for three people. The frame is made from a combination of real and manufactured wood, and the cushions feature both pocket springs and foam for a soft, yet supportive feel.

This couch is also easy to care for, making it a great choice for those with kids or pets. The cover is removable and can be machine washed if it gets dirty or stained. IKEA also sells replacement covers if you ever want to change the color or appearance. Another great feature is that the back cushions are reversible, so you can turn them around to even out the wear and tear.

Size: 88.25 x 36.25 x 36.25 inches | Type: Sofa | Materials: Solid and manufactured wood frame, cotton upholstery | Extra features: None

Expert Buying Tips

“When considering furniture purchases, look to manufacturers that meet the relevant standards such as the ANSI/BIFMA furniture standards. These standards include safety, durability, emissions, sustainability, and ergonomics.”—Dave Panning, Technical Director for Safety and Performance at BIFMA.

Ashley Furniture Ballina 120314771 Linen Sofa and Loveseat Set | Sam Levitz Furniture | Stationary Living Room Groups

Best for Small Spaces: Zipcode Design Cazenovia 81.63″ Reversible Sofa & Chaise

What we like

  • Affordable
  • Compact design
  • Chaise seating
  • Reversible orientation

What we don’t like

  • Full assembly required
  • Manufactured wood frame

To make the most of your small space, add a versatile couch like the Zipcode Design Cazenovia Reversible Sofa, which is upholstered in linen-like fabric and has an interchangeable ottoman. This sleek and modern sofa is the perfect size for smaller living rooms, dorm rooms, and apartments.

The couch arrives in one large box (there are two pieces inside plus the removable cushions), and it takes between 15 to 20 minutes to slot the pieces into place. The foam-filled back and seat cushions are on the firmer side, so if you prefer a plush seating area, you might want to add some throw pillows to make it feel softer. Another bonus? This couch has an interchangeable ottoman that can be arranged on either side, creating a comfortable 45-inch chaise lounge that’s perfect for reading and relaxing.

Size: 81.63 x 59.63 x 35.38 inches | Type: Sectional | Materials: Metal and manufactured wood frame, polyester upholstery | Extra Features: Ottoman

Best Leather: West Elm Hamilton Leather Sofa

What we like

  • Genuine leather upholstery
  • Available in three lengths

What we don’t like

  • Weeks-long wait on made-to-order pieces

Do you love the look of a sleek leather sofa? Then you’re sure to swoon over the Hamilton Leather Sofa, which comes in a delectable cognac-colored finish that’s perfect for a boho or mid-century style home. This couch is available in 70, 81, or 91 inches lengths, and while the “Burnt Sienna” color is the standard choice, you can also have the piece custom made in other top-grain or vegan leather finishes.

This high-end leather couch is crafted from both kiln-dried wood and engineered wood and it features down-wrapped back cushions that are simply delightful to sink into after a long day. The silhouette of the sofa is inspired by 1950s design, and it features piping all around the edges for a more defined appearance.

Size: 70 x 35.8 x 31.5 inches | Type: Sofa | Materials: kiln dried hardwood frame, leather or vegan leather upholstery | Extra Features: None

Best Sectional: Pottery Barn Pearce Upholstered 3-Piece L-Shaped Sectional with Wedge

What we like

  • Lots of customization options
  • Classic appearance
  • Hardwood frame

What we don’t like

  • Relatively expensive
  • Weeks-long wait on made-to-order pieces

Sectionals are a popular style of sofa, as they can seat more people and have unique configurations that help to fill up a living space. If you’re in the market for a new sectional, the Pearce Sectional is a stunning L-shaped option with a traditional appearance and a nearly endless number of upholstery choices.

This sectional is made up of three pieces—the left arm, right arm, and corner wedge—and it’s 121 inches long and wide, so make sure your space is big enough to accommodate it before you buy. The Pearce Sofa has classic rolled arms and square, tapered legs, and it features welted seams for a more elegant look. Plus, it’s available in dozens of upholstery fabrics, including everything from traditional woven materials to sofa suede, trendy velvet, and even performance fabrics like Sunbrella.

Size: 121 x 121 x 38 inches | Type: Sectional | Materials: Hardwood frame, custom upholstery | Extra features: None

Best Sleeper Sofa: Pottery Barn Cameron Roll Arm Slipcovered Sleeper Sofa

What We Like

  • Converts to queen-sized bed
  • Memory foam mattress
  • Lots of fabric choices

What We Don’t Like

  • Weeks-long wait on made-to-order pieces
  • Some fabrics are not machine washable

If you regularly host overnight guests—whether planned or spontaneous—you could definitely benefit from a sleeper sofa like the Cameron Roll Arm Slipcovered Sleeper Sofa. This 88-inch sofa pulls out into a queen-sized bed with a memory foam mattress, allowing you to make your guests as comfortable as possible. The mattress is 5 inches thick, containing 1.5 inches of gel foam to wick away heat.

This slipcovered sofa comes in dozens of fabric options with many that are machine washable. The corner-blocked frame provides added stability, and the bed mechanism is made for heavy use. It has removable legs and adjustable levelers that can provide stability on uneven floors. The cushions are also plush and comfortable, so it’s a relaxing place to unwind as a sofa as well as a bed.

Size:  88 x 36 x 38 inches | Type: Sleeper | Materials: Polyester upholstery | Extra Features: pull out queen-sized bed with memory foam mattress

Best Modern: Joybird Bryant Sofa

What we like

  • Lots of upholstery options
  • Deep seats

What we don’t like

  • Weeks-long wait on made-to-order pieces

Joybird is known for its high-end modern furniture, and the Bryant Sofa is a dreamy couch that just about anyone will love—don’t you just want to sink into those plush, welcoming cushions? The couch is 96 inches wide and 40 inches deep with generous 26-inch seats, and it has a low profile and “lived in” appearance that make it oh-so welcoming.

This sofa is available in dozens of fabrics, including a wide range of neutral and vibrant shades. The frame has kiln-dried, solid wood spring rails and is wrapped in foam, and the cushions are filled with contouring foam that will make you feel like you’re lounging on a cloud. The brand also offers a matching ottoman if you like to kick up your heels while you binge-watch your favorite shows.

Size: 96 x 40 x 31 inches | Type: Sofa | Materials: kiln dried hardwood frame, custom upholstery | Extra Features: None

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a couch that’s stylish, comfortable, and versatile, go with the Burrow Nomad Sofa. It has a unique modular design and allows you to customize its fabric, legs, armrest shape, and more. For those on a budget, the IKEA UPPLAND Sofa (view at IKEA) has a classic design that’s easy to maintain thanks to its washable slipcover.

What to Look for in a Couch


Before you start shopping, it’s important to measure the space where you want your couch to go. There’s nothing more frustrating than falling in love with a piece of furniture, only to discover it won’t fit in the room. So make sure you measure the area where you want to place the couch and figure out a range of dimensions that would fit comfortably. Don’t forget to consider the depth of the couch, too, as many have deep seats that take up more space.

Also, be sure to measure the doorways and any stairs leading to the room. You’ll want to make sure there’s clearance to fit every piece of the couch into the room.


There are a few common types of couches and sofas that you’ll encounter when shopping. We’ll go into more details about each kind below, but here are the basics you should know.

First, there are standard sofas, which are one straight line and typically between 72- and 84-inches long. These can generally seat three or four people, and they come in a wide range of styles, materials, and price points. Similarly, you’ll find loveseats, which are essentially small couches, measuring 48- to 72-inches long. Loveseats can comfortably seat two people—hence their name—and are a great solution for smaller spaces. Some people like to have a matching sofa and loveseat for a cohesive look in their living room.

Today, sectionals are an incredibly popular style of couch. These modular couches are made up of more than one piece, and they’re commonly L- or U-shaped. Sectionals provide more seating, making them a good solution for large families or big rooms.

There are also sleeper sofas, which transform into a temporary bed, as well as reclining sofas. Your style options may be more limited if you choose one of these specialty couches, but there are still an impressive range of options available at numerous price points.


One of the most challenging parts of buying a couch can be finding a style you like. There are hundreds of styles available today, but here’s a rundown of the most popular styles you may want to consider.

  • Mid-century: features clean lines, simple legs, and a low profile
  • Chesterfield: features rolled arms, tufted back, and often made of leather
  • Lawson: features a boxy shape and detached cushions, and prioritizes comfort
  • Bridgewater (also called English roll arm): has low arms that lean outward and is very cushy
  • Tuxedo: features a boxy shape and its arms are the same height as its back
  • Contemporary: modern, unique, and often unconventional
  • Camelback: features a curved back with a “hump” in the middle, as well as high arms
  • Scandinavian: popularized by IKEA, has clean lines and is minimalistic
  • Settee: a specialty loveseat with a high back and shallow depth
  • Chaise: an asymmetrical design with just one arm

These are some of the most common couch and sofa styles, but there are many variations of each. As you shop, you’ll want to take note of which features you like and which styles will look best with your existing decor.


What your couch is made from will not only dictate its appearance, but its durability, ease of cleaning, and more. The first thing you’ll want to consider is the frame material, as a sturdy frame will ensure your sofa lasts for years. Avoid materials like particleboard and plastic, which can warp or break easily. Pine is a low-cost option for frames, but it won’t last as long as a hardwood such as oak, ash, or beech. To test the frame of a sofa, lift one corner up 6 inches off the ground—the other leg should lift up, as well. If it doesn’t, the frame is likely too flexible and prone to warping or breaking.

You’ll also want to consider the filling of a sofa’s cushions. Perhaps the most comfortable, long-lasting option is high-resilient foam, but this can be quite expensive. Polyurethane foam is a popular option thanks to its low cost and ease of care, but you’ll want to make sure it’s a higher density; otherwise, it may deteriorate over time. Polyester fiber is another inexpensive option, but it flattens quickly, so only choose this option if you’re looking for a short-term furniture solution. There’s also high-end goose down fill, which is incredibly comfortable, but extremely expensive and requires a lot of maintenance.

Finally, you’ll need to consider the upholstery material, and be sure to weigh both appearance and functionality. If your couch will be getting a lot of use, you’ll need a tough, durable fabric to ensure it lasts for years to come. Here are some of the most popular fabric options and their benefits:

  • Leather: durable and easy to clean, but expensive and can fade over time
  • Faux leather: durable and easy to clean, but not as long-lasting as real leather
  • Cotton: soft and somewhat durable, but stains and wrinkles easily
  • Linen: beautiful and upscale, but hard to care for and soils easily
  • Microfiber/polyester: soft, durable, easy to clean, and inexpensive
  • Chenille: soft and luxe, but hard to clean
  • Velvet: soft and stylish, but also trendy


Another key consideration when purchasing a sofa is whether it’s comfortable! It’s hard to gauge whether a couch will be comfortable if you’re buying online, so if you’re able to see the piece in person, you should always do so.

Velma Sofa And Loveseat Set | DOCK86Buy Nolany Tufted Living Room Sofa Couch Set 2 Piece Traditional Upholstered Sofa & Loveseat Set, Rolled Arm Sofa with Deep Seat for Living Room Sofa Sets (Dark Grey, 2 Seats+3 Seats)Velma Sofa And Loveseat Set | DOCK86Velma Sofa And Loveseat Set | DOCK86

When testing a couch for comfort, you should sit and lie down on it. Evaluate whether it’s supportive enough for your needs and easy to get up. You’ll also want to see if your feet can touch the floor when you’re sitting upright—if not, you may want to look for a sofa that has a shorter depth.

Special Features

You can find couches with several special features. For example, some models have either manual or automatic recliners built into the sofa. You can also find couches with built-in drink holders, USB ports, hidden consoles, and more.


As mentioned above, you’ll want to consider how much maintenance you’re willing to put into keeping your sofa looking nice. Certain materials are easy to care for, while others require professional cleaning. This is an especially important consideration if you have pets, kids, or both.

If you want a low-maintenance sofa, look into leather, faux leather, or polyester options. Most of these models resist spills and stains and can simply be wiped down to clean. There are also treated cotton fabrics that resist stains. If you have pets, you’ll want to ensure whatever fabric you choose won’t get caught on their nails and is easy to vacuum.


What is the difference between a couch and a sofa?

Historically, a couch referred to a low piece of furniture without arms that was used for lying on, and a sofa was more bench-like with arms and a back and cushions. Today, the general consensus is that couches refer to more casual pieces designed for comfort and sofas are more formal, stylish pieces of furniture. However, for the most part, the two words are used interchangeably and it often comes down to personal word preference.

How do you clean a leather couch?

For regular cleaning, you can vacuum loose dirt and crumbs and wipe the leather down with a damp cloth and mild hand soap (test in a small area first). Then buff it with a dry cloth—no need to rinse the soap, it acts as a conditioner to the leather. Use talcum powder or cornstarch to get out grease stains and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before brushing away with a soft-bristle brush. For more specific spot cleaning techniques, check out our guide to cleaning leather furniture.

How do you clean an upholstered couch?

Check the label of your upholstered couch: “W” means you can use a water-based cleaner, “S” designates a solvent-based cleaner is safe, “WS” means you can use either, and an “X” means it should be professionally cleaned. To clean with soap and water, combine a half teaspoon of clear dish soap with warm water and gently spread over the fabric without soaking, and then wipe it clean with a damp cloth. For more specific spot treatments of upholstery, check out our guide to washing upholstery fabric.


Sofas and loveseats are only two of the various pieces of furniture available in a house’s sitting area. Yet, even with many similarities, there are still distinctions and both are being used differently. Let this article be a guide on when to use sofa or loveseat.