Chesterfield or Camelback? Sectional or modular? Sorting through sofa jargon can be daunting. While most of us will be familiar with the various classic sofa styles, we might not know exactly what they're called and what distinguishes them.

That's where our sofa styles guide comes in. Read on, and we’ll guide you through some of the more common sofa styles, and help you choose one that’s right for your interior.

Camelback Sofas

Camelback sofas, as you might expect, feature a hump in the middle of the back. There are many variants to choose from – some have one hump, some have two, and in rare cases, some have three or more.

The invention of the camelback sofa is widely credited to Thomas Chippendale, whose distinctly curved brand of furniture (mainly cabinets) proved enormously influential in the latter portion of the 18th century. Consequently, you might see them referred to as ‘Chippendale’ sofas. They remain among the most iconic styles of sofa today.

Pros and Cons of a Camelback Sofa

Camelback sofas tend to feature a rigid back that's ideal for sitting upright, but the seat itself can sometimes feel too shallow, especially if you're tall (or like to spread out across the seat). As such, Camelbacks tend to work best in formal rooms, rather than as an everyday sofa for lounging about.

Bridgewater Sofas

The Bridgewater sofa has slightly rounded arms that veer away from the seat of the chair, and the skirt is tailored to hide the legs – though you might find modern variants with exposed legs, instead.

Pros and Cons of a Bridgewater Sofa

Bridgewater sofas tend to be very simple in appearance. That means they’re adaptable enough to slide into just about any living area, but they won't necessarily stand out as a centrepiece. However what you may lose in style, you gain in comfort - which Bridgewater sofas offer stacks of.

Tuxedo Sofas

Tuxedo sofas are named after an area in Hudson Valley, just outside New York City. It's where all of the state's elite used to gather at the turn of the century – which is, incidentally, why a tuxedo jacket bears the same name. As such, this is a sofa for those of us looking to replicate the excess of the Jazz Age (and for fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald).

Pros and Cons of a Tuxedo Sofa

Tuxedo sofas have a distinct, boxy aesthetic. The arms are always the same height as the rear, and usually thin and hard. They aren't, in other words, suitable for actually resting your arms on.

They are however, ideal for small spaces, where you don’t need to reach over to access a side table.

Chesterfield Sofas

Chesterfield Sofas, like Tuxedos, tend to feature arms that are the same height as the back.  This time though, it’s the back that’s been brought down to the height of the arms, so you’ll easily be able to spread out across it.

Pros and Cons of a Chesterfield Sofa

Chesterfields typically come with rolled arms and cushioning that curves around the entire rear perimeter of the sofa. This gives it an enticing ‘plump’ look that matches nicely with velvet or glossy leather. The classic Chesterfield comes with deep buttoning that's instantly recognisable and matches a range of interiors.

The open structure means that you won't feel cramped in, as you might in a Tuxedo. That said, the lack of support at the back means that they're not always as comfortable as other sofa types for long periods lounging about. The squat build and low back means that Chesterfields aren’t ideal for reclining in front of the television, but they’re perfect for rooms designed for conversation and entertaining.

Interestingly, the Chesterfield is said to have been first commissioned by the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, who wanted a sofa that wouldn’t wrinkle his suits. Whatever truth there is to that story, we can certainly put ‘suit friendly’ down as an advantage!

Sectional Sofas

Sectional sofas feature several modules which can be arranged (and rearranged as needed) to form a cohesive (and often very large) piece of furniture.

Pros and Cons of a Sectional Sofa

This modular design makes sectional sofas incredibly versatile, and allows them to be rearranged easily to suit just about any living space. A sectional sofa can take the place of several smaller seats, thereby freeing up space in your living area.

On the downside, a large sectional sofa can completely dominate the space around it. The corner seat can also be a bit impractical.

Lawson Sofas

The invention of the Lawson sofa is widely attributed to an American businessman named Thomas W. Lawson, who was active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The story goes that Lawson was dissatisfied with the sofa choices available at the time, which seemed to prioritise looks over practicality and comfort. As such, the Lawson sofa is somewhat contemporary in appearance, despite being a classic sofa style.

Pros and Cons of a Lawson Sofa

The Lawson personifies luxury, coming with three generously-proportioned cushions at the rear, and loose additional cushions scattered around the front. The height and depth are sufficient to accommodate just about anyone, and the rear cushions are designed to sit apart from, rather than blend into the sofa.

While the original design called for three cushions at the rear, today two cushions are just as common. Look for one with exposed legs to make more of a statement.

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