gray couch in cozy living room with a fireplace

Couch Ideas For Every Type Of Living Room

Morgan McBride5-minute read
August 31, 2021

Picking the perfect couch is an important (and sometimes costly) task. Sofas tend to be one of your more expensive furniture purchases, but rightly so. Whether you’re reading books, watching TV, entertaining, or even taking a nap, the couch is where you’ll do it all.

Plus, they’re usually a big statement piece in the most open room of your home.

Here are some great couch ideas for every home.

How To Choose The Right Couch For Your Living Room

In most homes, the couch is the focal point for the living room. When choosing a couch, it’s not just important to consider design aspects, such as shape and material, but also the size of the living room, the function of the living room and whether you needs your couch to serve multiple purposes, like a guest bed or storage place.

When selecting the material of your couch, consider durability and washability. Couches with removable slipcovers, for example, are easy to keep clean if you have frequent spills or shedding pets. Sofas covered with outdoor-grade fabric such as Sunbrella fabric can allow liquid spills to bead up and quickly be wiped away without causing a stain. These washability factors can really extend the life of a couch and are often worth the cost of the upgrade.

When thinking about the best kind of sofa for your room, consider the style of the room itself. Is it a formal entertaining space? A casual TV-watching room? Do you have a modern decor style? A farmhouse vibe? Select a couch that flows with what’s already there.

Finally, consider the size of your room. A big couch can make a small living room feel even smaller, and a big living room can make even a big sectional feel insufficient. When in doubt, use painter’s tape to mark different layouts on the floor – with actual measurements of furniture – before committing to purchasing a new couch.

Couch Ideas For Small Living Rooms

small living room with two seater white couch

There are special considerations that come with selecting a couch for a small living room or studio apartment space. You want to be sure that the sofa does not overwhelm the room or block any necessary walkways.

Typically, in a small space, you’ll place a sofa with the back to the wall. This helps free up as much floor space as possible and allows the couch to flow in an open concept toward the rest of the room. You can place two chairs across a coffee table from the sofa to add seating without blocking the flow of the space.

Consider the space-saving benefits of selecting a sofa that doubles as a pull-out bed. Sofa bed designs have really improved in recent years. They are now available in many different styles, including midcentury modern and Scandinavian styles.

Sofa styles that tend to work well in small rooms include:

  • Settees
  • Loveseats
  • Armless couches
  • Small sleeper sofas
  • Chair-and-a-half-style chairs or pull-out chairs

Couch Ideas For Large Living Rooms

large living with white couch

While small living rooms usually necessitate placing a couch against a wall to save space, larger living rooms allow for more variety of arrangements. Moving a sofa out from the wall can be a great way to control the flow of traffic through the room. If a great room is especially large, you can float a sofa and use it as a natural divider between multiple seating or seating and dining spaces.

Larger living rooms can accommodate a wider array of sofa styles, including:

  • Sectionals
  • Sofas with built-in chaise
  • Chesterfields and plush sofas
  • Double sets of matching sofas

Couch Ideas For Casual Living Rooms

casual themed living room with gray sectional with an ottoman

Casual living rooms feel welcoming, inviting and not at all stuffy. Achieve that look with deep, plush couches, simple wooden elements like legs or coffee tables, and lots of cozy pillows and throw blankets. Durability, comfort and function are all top concerns when selecting a couch for a casual living room.

If your living room doubles as a playroom – or is just overrun with toys – pick a sofa that can help you keep it clean. Sofas that contain hidden storage compartments can be great for concealing books, toys and other knickknacks when not in use.

Sofa styles that work well in casual living rooms include:

  • Storage sofas
  • Pallet sofas
  • Sofas with removable slipcovers
  • Sofas made of stain-resistant fabrics

Couch Ideas For Formal Living Rooms

formal living room with light pink velvet couch

Formal living rooms can be a great opportunity to play with furniture layouts since the rooms are typically used for socializing as opposed to watching TV. Stick to couch arrangements that encourage conversation between guests, such as two sofas facing each other, or a sofa oriented toward sets of armchairs.

Formal living rooms lend themselves towards sofas that are less comfortable, since you won’t be laying down to watch TV but instead perching to entertain. This opens up the opportunity for tufted chesterfield sofas, couches with low backs, and high, firm seats. Look for taller wooden legs, rolled arms, and extra decorative details that make seating look a bit more formal.

Couch styles that work well in formal living rooms include:

  • Velvet sofas
  • Leather couches
  • Tuxedo sofas
  • Cabriole sofas
  • Settees
  • Chesterfield sofas
  • Chaise lounges

Couch Ideas For Open-Concept Layouts

open concept living room with orange suede couch

Couches can be used to break up open-concept layouts into distinct living spaces. A sofa may be used as a room divider in order to separate living room areas from dining rooms, entryways and office nooks that may occupy the same open floor of the house. Simply float a sofa facing a living space with the back towards the second area in order to create a natural boundary. This usually works best when you pair the main living space with its own rug to help further define that space.

Couch styles that work well for open concept layouts include:

  • High-backed sofas
  • Chaise lounges
  • Large sectionals
  • Sofa styles with crisp lines such as midcentury modern sofas

DIY Couch Ideas: Easy, Stylish Ways To Upgrade Your Seating

There are some easy DIY upgrades you can try to change the look of your couch without spending money on a brand new one. These projects may not be feasible for all styles of sofas, but they might inspire you to do a project of your own.

1. Add Button Tufting

Adding button tufts to an existing sofa cushion can add an instant touch of sophistication and make a formerly frumpy sofa look more modern. This is also a great way to make a more casual chair or sofa look more formal. The supplies can be purchased at most crafting stores, and easy-to-follow video tutorials are available online.

2. Swap Slipcovers

Having a new cover custom-made for your couch can be a great way to change its look, or to cover up any visible wear and tear. Custom covers can be pricey, but are a great option if you’re otherwise happy with the shape and comfort level of your existing couch. You can also purchase premade slipcovers, especially if you have a popular model of couch.

3. Change The Legs

Many couches have removable legs, and swapping out the existing ones can be a great way to instantly change the look of both the couch and the overall aesthetic of the living room. Consider changing ornate, curved feet for straight modern ones or wooden feet for gold or clear acrylic options to make a big change to the look of your couch without much effort.

The Bottom Line: The Right Couch Can Transform A Room

Choosing the right couch is about more than just comfort and style. The right couch can help maximize your living space and make it more functional. By picking a sofa that’s the right size and style for your space, you’re sure to be happier with the look and feel of your living room.

Homeowners looking for their next house project should review our list of DIY home decor ideas.

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Morgan McBride

Morgan McBride is a DIY-lover and home decor enthusiast living in Charleston, South Carolina. She has been blogging at alongside her husband since 2012, where they empower their readers to craft their current home into their dream home through the power of DIY.