Choosing between sectional couches
July 19, 2012 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Please help me decide between two couches: a chaise sectional, and a two-piece sectional!

My SO and I are trying to choose between two sectional couches (image here). Neither of us have owned either type of couch before. What are the advantages/disadvantages to each? The image in the link above shows the dimensions of the two couches and the room in which one of them will ultimately reside.

Our basic arguments for and against each are: the chaise takes up less space (and may take that space up less awkwardly) but seats fewer people and the two-piece may sit awkwardly in the middle of the room (one of the two backs of that couch would not be against a wall).

Do you have experience with either of these two styles of couches? What aspects are we not considering? Which one should we get? (For the purpose of this question assume we will get one of these two and other arrangements (a normal couch with two separate chairs) is not an option).

posted by AceRock to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
My friends got a chaise sectional and it's a lot more versatile than a two-piece. Does it have the third piece that fits into the gap between the couch and the chaise to make it into a quasi-sleeper sofa?
posted by griphus at 7:27 AM on July 19, 2012

We have a chaise sectional, and it's great (it's positioned in a corner, fwiw). It does three really well and can handle four. It's definitely less bulky than a two-piece.

Something you may not have considered, depending on how tall your sofa is- If you want to watch TV from it, everyone on a chaise has an unobstructed view.
posted by mkultra at 7:36 AM on July 19, 2012

How many people will be using it on a regular basis? We have a two-piece sectional and it's great for our family of four... we can all pile on it, my boyfriend can pop out the recliner and stretch, the kids can burrow into the corner, etc. The chaise, to me, seems more like a traditional sofa that one person can HAPPEN to stretch out on if they so desire. OTOH, if it's just the two of you, go with the more aesthetically-pleasing choice... the two piece is admittedly a LOT of sofa!
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:38 AM on July 19, 2012

We have the chaise sectional and I hate it. My wife likes it, but I really intensely dislike it. Basically the issue I have with it is that you have to climb into the seat with the chaise attached because the chaise portion blocks access to the front of the couch at that location, and therefore access to easy seating. A small ottoman accomplishes the same foot-propped seating without sticking out into the room, blocking access to the seat, and making it hard to get in and out from behind the coffee table. In addition, you have to recline in that seat, which is actually kind of awkward if you're sitting around in a conversation group (as opposed to just hanging out by yourself watching TV).

On the other hand, we can take away the chaise part and replace it with a regular couch cushion. Then we have a huge square piece of non-functional furniture that we have to find someplace to store, since the chaise cushion is longer than the chaise attachment (since it serves as both the couch cushion and the chaise attachment cushion). We also have to store that huge cushion, which is roughly as long as the entire couch. Currently the chaise piece and the cushion take up an entire corner of our dining room, just to store them. So there's that.

God I hate our fucking couch.
posted by OmieWise at 7:45 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I guess I'd reconsider both unless you have a huge house and a big group of kids who jump all over stuff and have a good time. If it were me I would get a regular old couch and then a chair or two for the extra seating. Keep in mind that unless they are watching some sort of performance, or eating, people do not tend to sit on a couch on such a way that all seats are filled. Our couch can seat three (four if you really squeeze), but it's only very rarely that more than two people sit on it. So, when you're talking about casual seating, you're really mostly talking about two seats on the chaise, and three (maaybee four) on the sectional.
posted by OmieWise at 7:58 AM on July 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Really depends on where you're going to put it and what you're using it for. My chaise sectional works out just fine, but I've got the thing stuck in a corner, I live alone, and I mostly use it for watching TV. Wouldn't work as well in a different room, if I regularly needed to seat more than one or two people, or if it were a more social space.

But I've been told by houseguests that the chaise section is awesomely comfortable, so there's that.
posted by valkyryn at 8:01 AM on July 19, 2012

We have exactly the sectional on the right in your photo. I really, really like it. It has three places you can cozy up--against each arm, and in the corner, the sweet spot of the sectional. Two people can lie down on it at the same time by putting their heads in the corner and their feet on the arms. If you have a friend over, you can each take a corner and still be facing each other to talk, as opposed to the awkwardness, in my opinion, of both kind of facing the same way on a regular sofa (or on that chaise). Also, I think it's more balanced and aesthetically pleasing than a chaise sectional. I see that chaise sticking out and just want to lop it off, like that weird little braid some guys have at the bottom of a normal haircut.
posted by HotToddy at 8:08 AM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a chaise sectional and we love it. I am on it right now, tucked into my little corner! It's "my" corner too, and I'll fight for it. The cat prefers the end of the chaise, because he has a better place from which to torture/escape the dog. The kid takes the other end, and the husband prefers his chair anyway and is not one to ever sprawl on the sofa.

I like it because I often work (cough metafilter small) from the couch, and can lean in the corner with my laptop on my lap, or on the arm of the sofa (because we have flat arms, not curved which I'll strongly recommend instead, for being able to set a tray, cup of coffee or my craft basket on) and it's like I'm working (cough) from bed but I'm not. I also like to lay on my stomach with my head toward the end of the chaise, and my feet toward the back. Not having arms at that end makes it easier to type in that position.

We looked at both kinds of sofa, because we have a large open living/dining room and the one side works as a bit of a room divider. I thought we wouldn't have minded a sofa back, but now that we're using the chaise, we do like how someone can (and people do) perch on the chaise part facing the dining room at parties. I also realize that we have a lot of stuff, and that we don't need a bigger house, just more streamlined and smaller furniture. It keeps our room feeling "open." If yours is only ever going to be in a corner, that might not matter so much. We have lots of other seating for our parties, which are either dinner-based or open houses, where people find lots of places to perch for smaller conversational groups. If you watch movies or TV with friends, you might want the extra sofa seating, I guess. We don't do that. Being able to remove the back cushions means its excellent for sleeping on. But one thing I do not like is that the chaise cushion cannot be rotated and flipped the way the others can, and so the wear may grow uneven over time.

The only other thing that I do not like about our sofa is that the little bolt/sawtooth sliding thingy underneath that's supposed to hold the two pieces together doesn't work very well, and if we have a fidgety kid on the sofa, I might need to get up to push them back together sometimes. The thing I do really really like about it being two easily-disconnected pieces is that I can pull it out to vacuum, mop and wash the baseboards without the slightest bit of difficulty. I actually do that more often now, because it's not a pain.

And the kid likes how if the coffee table is out of the way, she can do a little running jump and somersault over the chaise part.
posted by peagood at 8:24 AM on July 19, 2012

I just bought a chaise sectional two weeks ago (almost bought the one you're considering), and I loooooove it. Of course, we've put ours so that the chaise is against the wall, with the rest of the couch sticking out (creates kind of a hallway between the door and the rest of the apartment), so with a couple throw pillows it's practically the full sectional anyway.

IMO, you can't fit that many more people on the full sectional than you can on the chaise, without it being super awkward. The chaise gives you enough room that you and SO can lounge comfortably, without jutting out the whole way into your room. If you're super worried about extra seating, get an armchair or a sturdy ottoman for more visitors, but ultimately you've gotta decide what's going to be best for your family and your living space. Visitors come and go, but you're going to be looking at this thing and living with it for the next several years.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:29 AM on July 19, 2012

We have this chaise sectional and I adore it. But it is quasi-gigantic, which has a lot to do with why I like it so much. Two people can, with room to spare, lie down very comfortably. I looked at a few two seater chaise sectionals (the size you're considering) when I was shopping around and they all felt much too small- I couldn't imagine how they could sit more than two people comfortably. So despite how much I love my particular sectional, if I wanted to sit more than two I would probably have opted for the non-chaise sectional (where I can easily see three people sitting comfortably). That being said, each person's idea of "sitting comfortably" is obviously different.
posted by eunoia at 9:13 AM on July 19, 2012

I had the same dilemma recently. I really really really wanted the corner sofa but it just wouldn't fit into our room, so we got the chaise sectional. It's fine. I hate that the chaise cushion wants to slip off all the time, but that might just be a function of our particular sofa (the Karlstad by IKEA.) I am going to figure out some hack for that anyway.

I still wish we had been able to get the corner sofa instead, because I feel like the seating choices with a chaise are limited. So I vote for the corner sofa.
posted by pyjammy at 9:19 AM on July 19, 2012

I am in the middle of a very similar decision and our room layouts appear to be the same.

I am kind of leaning toward the chaise because in our room (and it looks like yours) the end of the corner couch would really edge up near that front door passage and might be awkward.

Also our wall with the front door (where the chaise would go) has a low-ish window that the back of a couch piece would partially block, whereas a chaise along that wall wouldn't. If a window is in that wall in your house -- it might be worth thinking about. We need all the light we can get!

I am looking at this Crate and Barrel lounge chaise sectional, fwiw.

Good luck. Sofa purchases are oddly taxing.
posted by pantarei70 at 9:27 AM on July 19, 2012

We have a two piece sectional. We had it with one side against a wall, and a desk agains the back of the open end. That was fine for awhile, then I rearranged the furniture and now it's tucked away in a corner.

I like it fine, seats 4 or 5 friendly people.

The chaise is okay if one of you likes to sit up, with legs out. I prefer to lay down, on my side.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:28 AM on July 19, 2012

It really depends on what's most important to you. Aesthetics? Maximum seating capacity? Optimal layout for group conversation? Most comfortable TV viewing?

I spent two years looking for a good sectional. The one I absolutely loved was way out of my price range, and too big for my space. But I found a really good second choice which has really made us happy, because it works well for all of the reasons that were important to us: super comfy, seats a ton of people, great for playing games, makes watching TV a joy (especially after the nightmare that was our last couch), and was on sale.

As far as the chaise piece - ideally I wouldn't have gone for it at all. I think the wear on that one-piece cushion will be problematic over time. And I'll echo what OmieWise said about it being difficult to get into and out of that particular seat. But we ended up going with the chaise on one side because having another loveseat on that side would have made it really awkward to get into the seating area (it would've been just too big), so we compromised on the chaise.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that only you can make the decision. You know what's important to you. Anything we have to say really won't mean much since we're not in your position.
posted by MsVader at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2012

I have a chaise sectional, and i think that if i had a bigger room, that i'd have preferred the two-piece sectional. (It looks like you have enough room.) I like being able to stretch out on the chaise, but it really only seats 3 people confortably, because the a fourth person has to sit on the extended chaise part, without a back rest.

If you have 4 or more people in your household, or if you plan on having people over a lot, i'd go for the 2-piece.
posted by Kololo at 1:59 PM on July 19, 2012

I would just point out that the 2-piece extends considerably more towards the front door. Opening the door to the back of the sofa* may make the room look small and cramped, and is pretty much exactly the kind of un-gracious room flow I personally expend a lot of effort trying to avoid.

It's not exactly the back of the sofa, I know, but it is way too close for me.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:29 PM on July 19, 2012

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