Simplifying today’s modern choices
By Sunshine Menefee
1. Chesterfield sofa
This elegant sofa is rumored to have been the personal commission of Fourth Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773). He requested a sofa that would allow a gentleman to sit up straight without wrinkling his suit. A noble and long-lasting style was born.
Most noted for its deep tufting, this masculine sofa has strong lines with the arms and back at the same height. Rich leather and exposed wood legs are other markers. This antique style sofa fits well in formal settings.
2. Cabriole sofa
The sinuous curves of this sofa make it very elegant. This design style emerged when craftsman were also artisans. Gentle, rolling double curves on the back and legs of this classic piece give a feminine flair.
The wood frame and legs are always exposed, usually carved, with no skirt. Luxurious fabrics in solid colors, along with no back cushion, keep the look sophisticated. This sofa is suited for formal rooms with a French theme.
3. English Roll Arm sofa
This sofa is warm and inviting. It’s lower profile gives a more modern look while the rolled arm keeps it slightly dressy.
The solid back has no cushions while the seat cushions are generously stuffed. Turned legs often sit on castors while the back legs are typically slightly lower and unadorned. This versatile sofa adds a relaxed warmth to many design styles.
4. Mid-Century Modern
One of the most easily recognized styles, mid-century modern emerged post-war during the rise of the middle class. This style helped define the taste of a generation. It’s hold has only slightly weakened 60 years later.
The crisp, simple lines and small stature are accented with solid fabrics and exposed wood frames, although variations are common. Some sofas are fully upholstered while having slight wings that come up to serve as arms. Whatever form it takes, simplicity is key. This sofa has attached back cushions and angular lines. These give a chic and definite style to a room.
Accredited to financier, Thomas Lawson, this sofa is a mix of straight modern lines and comfortable pillows. The arms are typically lower than the back and are squared off. All of it is overstuffed. Pillow backs are added for a mix of style and comfort.
Today’s versions typically have 3 back cushions and the arms may be slightly rolled. It fits well into transitional home decor.
Dating back to the 17th century, this pint-sized sofa is built for two. Smaller in scale than other sofas, this formal piece is marked by it exposed wood on arms and legs. The back is attached and more traditional settees are tufted.
Today’s settees may be fully upholstered and are suited for a more formal setting.
The sleek, simple lines of the Tuxedo sofa give it a clean look. It first sprang out of Tuxedo Park in New York during the 20’s when designers were just starting to experiment with modern style. The back is attached and sometimes accompanied by a few spare throw pillows. The arms and back are the same height.
Because of it’s decidedly contemporary feel, you won’t see this sofa everywhere. You will sometimes see tufting, however, to dress it up and add a bit of glamor.
Defined by it’s definitive hump on the back, this traditional sofa has many interpretations. Dating back to the 18th century, it is still reproduced today. It usually has soft curves on the arms and legs to give a very graceful appearance. The legs are exposed and made of carved wood. The bottom front of the sofa also undulates although modern versions may be much simpler. The back is attached.
This tends to be a higher-end sofa and most cushions are filled with down. Modern versions are less ornate and feature clean lines.
9. Bridgewater sofa
Similar to the English sofa, the Bridgewater has the rolled arms that flair out slightly from the body. It also features loose back cushions and is most often skirted. It has a more relaxed attitude.
Surprisingly, this sofa has antique roots. Starting in the Victorian Era when two sofas were made to slide together, it really became popular in the 1950’s when modular furniture took off. A sectional is simply two or more individual pieces that come together to form one larger piece. All sorts of arrangements are available today in a vast array of fabrics and styles.