Eco-friendly fabrics for sofas are on the rise, with more choices than ever. Photo: C.R. Laine Furniture
Sectional Sofas Make a Splash
Once relegated just to the family den, sectionals are making a comeback. Today’s sectionals are sleeker, sexier and take up less room.
Style Spotlight: Sofas
Sleeker profiles, sexy sectionals and natural fabrics—we check out what’s fresh and fashionable for today’s comfy couches.
- by Jane Kitchen
Whether you realize it or not, the sofa is the center of most decorating schemes. Not only is it where you relax and your guests gather—it’s also the keystone for your room’s décor. Here’s a look at the exciting trends and signature looks for seating that are in stores now.
Downsized Profiles, Upsized Style
Today’s sofas are smaller, sleeker, smarter versions of their ‘90s counterparts, and that’s good news for those of us looking for a fresh look that fits with today’s relaxed lifestyles. The most popular styles on the market straddle the line between modern and traditional, and prize comfort and livability above all else.
“Folks are looking for simplicity and efficiency in their lives,” explains Greg Harden, CEO of New York-based furniture manufacturer Harden. “There’s a new sensibility that’s being driven by the economy.”
The ostentatious, over-scaled, ornate sofas of recent years are all but gone, replaced by down-to-earth features like smaller arms, exposed legs and fluid lines. And with many Americans downsizing from large, suburban estates in the wake of the housing crisis, there is more of an emphasis on a conservative scale, says Harden.
“A new emotion for most Americans is a feeling of uncertainty about what their future holds,” says Holly Blalock, creative director for upholstery manufacturer C.R. Laine. “A decision to downsize, or a job relocation could take you from a rural home to a city apartment, and these life changes come with the need to have furniture that will not only adapt to a smaller footprint, but that will also fit through narrow doorways and stairways.”
New York City-based interior designer Robin Baron says while she sees many Americans downsizing the size of their homes—and therefore their rooms—people still want the same amount of seating, minus a big, overstuffed frame.
“People are spending more time at home,” Baron explains. “They want more options using less space.”
An increasingly popular choice is a sectional, which gives you the maximum seating in the smallest footprint, while creating a comfy, lounge-able space. Today’s sectionals are sleeker, sexier, and take up less room. What was once considered the “family sofa” is becoming the go-to sofa for couples and singles, says Baron.
“It’s not your grandmother’s sectional anymore,” she says. “Sectionals now come in all kinds of looks.”
Baron says sleeper sofas have also gotten a makeover, with demand for the ultra-efficient pieces growing as Americans downsize their homes and make do without dedicated guest rooms. And in a tough economy, family and friends are more likely to utilize a sofa bed than spend money for a hotel.
“They’re definitely more comfortable than they used to be,” says Baron. "People don’t want them to look like traditional sleeper sofas, and they don’t want them to feel like traditional sleeper sofas.”
“Comfort is king,” says Carrie Bleile, vice president of merchandising for Iowa-based manufacturer Flexsteel. “…People are buying furniture for the rooms they’re really living in.”
Greg Harden calls this “emotional efficiency”—the sofas that are most popular today don’t just look good, they feel good.
“They’re products that are very usable,” says Harden. “(People) don’t have to live up to them; they’re products that are right for their lifestyle.”
When it comes to style trends, Blalock says solid textural fabrics made from natural materials like cotton and linen are increasingly popular upholstery choices because they’re comfortable, durable and easy to maintain. Soft fabrics like chenille continue to be best-sellers, with fewer patterns and more texture.
“The days of flowers or big pattern isn’t where people are living,” says Bleile. “…It’s less threatening with no pattern.”
Bleile says a sofa with a solid body cloth gives you the flexibility to add accent pillows, changing and updating the look of your sofa as the years—and your taste—change. It creates an easy way to experiment with bright, vivid colors or patterns you might ordinarily shy from.
Eco-friendly fabrics are also on the rise, with more choices than ever—and that means choosing “green” fabrics are more affordable than ever.
“It’s beyond a trend,” says Baron. “The entire industry is moving toward green and eco-friendly fabrics. There’s a lot more choice, even in the construction of sofas themselves.”
Manufacturers are going beyond green fabrics to include natural soy-based foams, certified sustainable hardwood frames, and water-based wood finishes for their sofas.
Creating a Refuge
Whether you choose a sectional, sleeper, or traditional sofa, when you spend more time at home a sensible, comfortable, welcoming sofa is a must for creating your personal refuge. With eco-friendly materials, flexible fabric choices, and efficient design—today’s sofas boast fresh, clean looks made to fit with your lifestyle now, and for years to come.