The Best Editor-Tested, Coastal-Style Sofas at West Elm

published Aug 9, 2023
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If you’re familiar with our Personal Shopper series, you’ll know that over the past year, our editors have visited various West Elm showrooms in NYC to observe their furniture in person. During the most recent visit, I specifically viewed and sat on all their sofas, testing them for style, durability, and comfort. As I walked through the store, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern: West Elm had quite a few sofas and sectionals that fall under the coastal style category. Well, four to be exact, but when you consider that I viewed 11 total, that’s over one-third of them! Because we aim to include a variety of sofa styles for every type of apartment dweller in our Personal Shopper posts, I couldn’t include all four of these beachy couches. But I can share them with you here (as well as two others from last summer’s trip), so if you’re a fan of that relaxed, oversized seaside aesthetic, you’re bound to love these living room seating picks. After having seen them first-hand, I can say they’re the epitome of laid-back luxury.

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West Elm

Coastal style is all about relaxation, and nothing signals that better than an oversized silhouette. The Melbourne sectional is the prime example of this with its deep and wide cushions and jumbo-sized ottoman chaise, which is not attached to the rest of the couch. This means you can position the ottoman as you see fit and rearrange your living room layout if needed. I viewed the Melbourne in this sand-colored fabric. It's a tweed-like material whose textured finish perfectly embodies the natural look and feel of coastal-inspired interior design. Although I found its cushions to be on the firm side, the sheer space offered by this sectional means it's still great for lounging.

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West Elm

In my humble opinion, the Marin sofa is one of West Elm's most comfortable couches. Its two wide back cushions and long bench seat are slightly plush but not overstuffed. They sank in as I sat, and those side pillows don't hurt, either. Like the Melbourne, this couch also sports an ivory textured fabric in-store, though it's available in many other upholstery options online. A platform base keeps the sofa casual, but thin, angular arms provide a bit of structure. And although it might look trendy and luxurious, the Marin model is Contract Grade, so it'll hold up well amid daily use.

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West Elm

If the Hampton sectional looks large online, you should know it's absolutely gargantuan IRL. As a result, this isn't a great choice for small-space dwellers, but if you have the square footage to spare and would like a couch that could double as an overnight guest bed, the Hampton is a solid option. The sectional's relatively flat silhouette and low-lying profile only add to its sprawling appearance, and soft, pillowy down cushions exhibit a broken-in feel. In short, the Hampton is anything but uptight, but if you get it in the classic white linen upholstery, you'll want to take care not to spill any drinks. We also can't forget to mention that the sectional is modular, so you can reconfigure it whenever you like.

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West Elm

Coastal doesn't have to mean raw fabrics and wood or wicker accents. It can also mean sleek, minimalist pieces that look like they belong in a cliffside estate with 360° floor-to-ceiling windows. The Dalton sectional would look right at home in the latter space, or really any modern-style home. "The sectional does the most to make us feel like we’re sitting on something very expensive," Kendall wrote. "Its low-profile, minimalist design and tall, bench-style seat cushions make an immediate visual impression." And though it might look as contemporary as a sofa can get, the Dalton's plush, reclining back pillows and buoyant seats make it wonderful for snuggling. And did we mention you can fully customize its configuration?

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West Elm

Now, the Bleecker isn't the most practical sofa ever. It has very high arms, which help give an overall cozy, enclosed feeling, but they don't really let you stretch out a ton. On top of that, the sofa's seats are super deep, inspiring a conversation pit vibe as you recline back. When I saw this couch, however, I got a Nora Ephron movie vibe, so I have somewhat of a soft spot for the slip-covered find. Even though it looks like a prime hibernation spot, the Bleecker model actually has somewhat firm, spongey back and seat cushions, so it won't totally feel like you're being swallowed up. The removable slipcover is also an added bonus, as it can be removed for easy cleaning.

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West Elm
was $3998.00

The Harmony sectional is coastal in a '60s Malibu sort of way as opposed to the traditional New England interiors that this style category tends to draw inspiration from. When our former Best List writer saw it, she noted that it's "cloud-like to lie on, and the many pillows that adorn the sectional have varied amounts of fill, producing back support where it’s needed and head, arm, and neck support on the sides." You can also purchase the sectional in either a left- or right-arm configuration and truly customize it to fit your space. "It’s practically made to nap on, but its retro, stylish appearance is enough all on its own," Kendall added. Much of that style can be attributed to the sectional's chunky wooden base, which nicely juxtaposes the large, fluffy cushions.