Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Designer Tip: Sofa Styles

Are you in the market for a new sofa?  Whether you call it a sofa or a couch, it's a necessity for any home.  And while shopping, you might feel overwhelmed with all of the available styles.  Here's a sofa tutorial featuring the most common frame styles to help you with your showroom or cyber-shopping journey.


Above:  A 3-over-3 is a 3-seated sofa with a cushion back.  The sofa on the right has an exposed leg and a T-cushion which means that the arm is recessed behind the seat cushion.  These sofas also have roll arms.

Above:  A tight-back sofa does not have cushions on the back.  Sometimes they have a seam in the center and sometimes they have buttons or tufting.  The sofa on the left has turned wood legs and the sofa on the right has tapered wood legs.

Above:  A slip-covered sofa has fabric that is completely removeable from the entire frame and cushions.  The skirt usually drapes or slight touches the floor, creating a more casual look.  Slip-covered sofas are desirable because the fabric can be removed and cleaned.  Also, you are able to change the look of the sofa with a replacement cover.
Above:  A sofa with a track-arm has arms that are squared; typically with welting/piping that runs along each side of the arm, giving the allusion of tracks. 

Above:  A sofa with English arms has small, low arms that are curved from front to back, and recessed.  The fabric is also pinched and tucked along the front of the arm.

Above:  A camel-back sofa has a tight-back with curve, typically higher in the center.  A reverse tight-back has higher sides and a lower center.  This sofa is also a 2-seater, which has wider seat cushions than a 3-seater.

Cleaning Codes:  All fabrics have a cleaning code which informs you, the consumer, how to clean the fabric.  You can typically find the cleaning code right on the fabric swatch that you use in the showroom.  You will need to know the cleaning code to ensure that you have the correct cleaning agents on hand in your home to spot clean.
W: Use a water-based cleaning agent such as a mild detergent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo product only.
S: Use a mild, water-free, dry cleaning agent.
WS: Use a water-based cleaning agent or a dry cleaning solvent or foam type cleaner.
X: Do not use a foam or liquid cleaner of any type. Do not clean with either water or solvent-based cleaner. Use vacuuming or light brushing only. 
Above:  Side view of an english arm sofa with turned front legs and a tight back.
Image via:
Sofa images via: Rowe Furniture


  1. Ever since I started making slipcovers I've been looking at the lines of every sofa I see. I'm thinking "how would that look slipcovered?" I think I'm obsessed with sofa styles! But... that's a good thing.
    :) Kelly

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