Battle of the Sofa Arrangements: Can You Guess Which Saves Space?

published Jun 27, 2016
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(Image credit: Lonny)

Design pop quiz! Which takes up less space in a living room: A. Two sofas facing each other OR B. A sofa and love seat arranged in the traditional L-shaped arrangement? And the answer is…

Not so fast. Before revealing the correct response, it might be helpful to explain the genesis of why the question even came up in the first place: A friend of mine was in the process of purchasing new seating for a townhouse she recently moved into, and believe it or not, the sofa she liked was actually less expensive than the love seat from the same collection—I chalk it up to the law of supply and demand…and a sale.

It simply made more financial sense for her to buy the two sofas, but her brain was stuck. She grew up never questioning the sofa-love seat combination and I urged her to see that there was indeed another way: get the two sofas and face them.

“But I don’t have space for two sofas!” declared my friend. Thus, I challenged myself to show her mathematically that she did (as well as pull inspirations for her, like the stunner shown above from Lonny, designed by Emilie Munroe of Studio Munroe). And, on top of that, I wanted to prove that not only did she have the space, it was a far better solution for her living room and she’d get more cushion area out of it, to boot!

So, you might have already come to the conclusion that the answer is A. Two sofas facing each other. But just like I did for my friend, I want to share how I came to my answer. I took the liberty of playing around with some virtual furniture arranging using Roomstyler.

(Image credit: Room Styler)

Notice the intersecting red lines above. These signify the width and length of each of the seating arrangements. The measurements were pulled from Photoshop’s built-in ruler, and though the dimensions are going to be skewed depending on what size screen you’re seeing them on, the principles will apply when we get to the next part.

Let’s look at a more bare-bones scheme and crunch some numbers, shall we?:

(Image credit: Arlyn Hernandez)

Using simple multiplication to calculate area (definitely still used a calculator here), it’s plain to see that the top measurements, which were rendered from the sofa-facing-sofa arrangement, equal to almost 12 square inches smaller than the bottom measurements for the traditional sofa-love seat combination.

With all things equal, let’s pretend that the scale here is one in which 1 inch equals 1 foot. What would you do in your home with an extra 12 square feet? That could be the difference between furniture fitting in a room at all! Or you can squeeze in a bar cart. Or maybe a reading nook? The sky’s the limit (well…up to 12-square feet in this instance.)

On top of being a space saver (and in the case of my friend, a money saver), there are a few more “pros” to the sofa-sofa set up:

1. If you have an open floor plan, two facing sofas create a room-within-a-room, like the two chesterfields seen above (from Bonytt.)

2. It’s ideal for symmetry lovers (the laid-back linen sofas in this example from Decor Pad, are given a more defined look with the mirror-image set up.)

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

3. Conversing with guests is far more natural as you’re sitting across from one another. We’re sure many conversations among friends have been had on these facing sofas in Jeanine and Bryan’s Brooklyn home.

(Image credit: Heather Keeling)

4. Scenario: You own a sofa. You are moving in with someone who also owns a sofa and are not sure how to make it work. This is a great solution (as seen in Sara and Shawn’s Oregon home.)

Design tip: Currently own a sofa and love seat, but want to try the facing-sofa look with what you already have? Try this tip from The Decorologist: “Place the sofa and love seat facing one another, add a large side table and table lamp to one end of the love seat so that the other end is in line with one end of the larger sofa. This evens out the arrangement—then add in an odd chair, a fun coffee table, and a sofa table with a pair of lamps behind the larger sofa. I did this in a client’s home and it worked great.”