Special Nonexistent Furniture

How to choose a modular sofa

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to home decor, and the same goes for the furniture that fills our homes. Sofas are arguably one of the most readily used pieces in any household—and as we start to embrace a more personalised approach to interior style, modular sofas are coming into their own. So, if it's time for a stylish sofa upgrade or your current lounge is functionally falling short, consider making the most of your living area with a sectional sofa that suits your space and serves your lifestyle needs.​


What is a modular sofa?

A modular sofa is a sofa made up of two or more sections called modules that join together to create a complete sofa. Both "sectional" and "modular" refer to the same type of flexible sofa style, which differs from a traditional lounge in that modular sofas are made of multiple pieces rather than being one fixed piece of furniture.  

Benefits of a modular sofa

Sectionals, or modular sofas, tend to be a bit larger than traditional two or three-seater sofas, making them the perfect choice for larger families or households that host a lot. Modular sofas offer plenty of room for people to sit upright or even a few people to lie flat, making them a great social sofa. And because modular sofas can be shaped to suit your lifestyle or needs, they can section off an open plan room, separating the living space from the kitchen or dining space, creating additional zones without the need for walls or room divider screens.


Modular sofa terminology

The broad range of modular sofa modules that are available allows you to configure a sofa that best meets your needs. To ensure you pick the best option for you, here's the lowdown on modular sofa lingo.


You'll often see modular sofas described as left-hand facing or right-hand facing. This highlights whichever side of the sofa has an armrest or backrest when looking at the piece front on. For instance, a two-seater sofa with an armrest on the left-hand side only is a left-hand facing piece.


A chaise is a lengthened seat that allows you to put your feet up and stretch your legs out. Not all chaise sofas are created equal; some are modular in that the lengthening chaise can be removed and used separately as an ottoman, whereas a reversible chaise sofa refers to a chaise extension that can only be switched between the left and right-hand sides. You might also come across chaise sofas that can't be altered at all, as the chaise is simply a fixed extension of a traditional one-piece sofa.



A corner piece allows you to change the direction of your sofa and create a specific shape as it is designed to sit flush between the sides and backs of your other modules. Featuring two backrests, corners are often designed to be used as a standalone chair, or in place of a terminal.

A terminal is a modular sofa piece that forms a corner with two backrests but no armrests.

End Terminal 

This module is a terminal piece without armrests that doesn't form a corner but includes one backrest that connects to corner modules to create a chaise-style set-up.


An armless modular piece has a backrest but does not have any armrests, and is used as a connector piece between other modules.

One Arm

A one-arm is a modular sofa piece with only one armrest that joins against other pieces.


What type of modular sofa is best for me?

With many different modular sofas available, each including a range of pieces, choosing one just right for you will depend on the configuration you want to create and should take into account your room size and functional needs.

Consider corners and entrances

If you want your modular sofa to follow the lines of a corner of your room, you'll need to go for a style that includes a corner piece that faces the same direction. The same goes for a chaise piece—make sure the chaise can sit along the same side as your long wall, or you risk being stuck with a chaise that juts out into the middle of your room. You'll also want to take note of the entrances to your room and pick a modular sofa that can be put together without blocking the door or making it awkward to move around the space. Don't forget to double-check whether the sofa is left-facing or right-facing.

Go for maximum flexibility

If you're after a modular sofa that you can rearrange, move from room to room, or even take with you to a new home, go for a fully flexible style that includes armless and one arm-pieces, as well as corners and terminals that can be split to suit different occasions. For example, you might use one piece as a chair but add it back to the sofa when friends come over, making a corner chair a must-have.

Weigh up your space

While modular sofas can be space-efficient in many ways, especially in big family rooms, modular sofas are generally on the larger side, with wide arms and high backs. When planning your purchase, make sure you have enough floor space and breathing room to move around the couch comfortably, accounting for the extra space needed for side tables or coffee tables. If you're filling a smaller room and are worried about a modular sofa dominating the space, you can always buy a two-seater sofa and matching foot stool to create your own flexible set-up.


How do you connect and separate a modular sofa?

Modular sofas are designed to be connected and separated easily. Many include hidden clips that connect each piece and ensure they don't move around, whereas some sectionals with only one or two modules can simply be pushed together. Each product is different, and it's best to check the specifications to know for sure.

For more tips on choosing the perfect sofa, check out our guide on what to look for when buying a sofa.
Natalie Mell 11 March, 2022

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