Can a Sofa Be Forever in Style? We’re Betting the English Roll Arm Sofa Can

published Mar 23, 2017
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English roll-arm sofas gained popularity in the 19th century, and their sinuous profile, deep, accommodating seats, and signature low arms—perfect for resting one’s head—are elements that have kept them ingrained in popular design culture even today. Now available in a wide range of sizes, colors, and fabrics—and even sleeper options—this comfy, classic style is equally at home in formal, vintage-inspired houses and modern, eclectic apartments.

What exactly is an English roll-arm sofa? A few descriptions:

“Rumpled, yet aristocratic, this British country-house staple has soft, deep cushions and low arms that make it ideal for TV watching.” — Domino: The Book of Decorating

“The English rolled-arm sofa, or ‘club sofa,’ is a 19th-century classic with versatile, casual style. The arms, in comparison to other sofa silhouettes, are compact and recessed. All-over upholstery, from the tight back to the plush seat cushions, make it a perfect, go-to piece for kicking back.” — One Kings Lane

“The English roll arm sofa was made famous by English furniture-maker George Smith, who calls it the ‘Standard Arm Signature Sofa”. The English roll arm sofa is also known as the Bridgewater sofa.” — BodMin Magazine

“An English arm, also known as a Charles of London arm—with a serpentine styling—is pleated along the outside edge, where the arm meets the side of the sofa.” — Decorating Idea Book

“Rolled arm: a sofa style with arms that curve outward, usually cushioned. This is a classic and traditional sofa style.” — Home Decor Cheat Sheets

Check out the elegant sofas in action in these rooms (and keep scrolling for some shopping sources to score your own!):

The classic Rose Fabric Sofa by Interior Define in a lush, steely velvet is the perfect anchor piece for a home that boldly mixes styles from all periods and cultures, as featured on Emily Henderson.

(Image credit: Living Etc)

Jenna Lyon, president of J.Crew knows a thing or two about casual style with a twist. Her yellow roll arm is the thing of dreams, adding a playing note to the more serious elements of her home. Image from Living Etc, via Apartment Therapy.

Jaimee and David call their Restoration Hardware English roll arm upholstered sofa and chair their “biggest indulgence.” They both look comfortable enough to be worth every penny.

There are pops of pink throughout this entire house from T Magazine, and, “In the family room, comfortable English sofas frame a slightly wacky white patent leather ottoman by the Italian designer Gaetano Pesce.” The pink is a nice update on a classic sofa style.

Real Life (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This elegant sofa pairs so well with the gallery wall of antique pictures and the entire home’s vintage flair.

This creamy, comfy couch featured on The Everygirl works so well with all the pale textiles, ornaments, and works of art, and its depths easily accommodates a pile of pillows.

Another one from Emily Henderson’s blog, the resident of this home chose the Carlisle Upholstered Sofa from Pottery Barn, writing, “I wanted the room to feel calm, inviting, cosy, earthy, with a touch of my English roots in there.”

A sectional version of the classic roll-arm in this home spotted on MyDomaine updates a 19th-Century style for our current era of binge-watching.

Let’s Go Shopping!

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite roll-arm English sofas: