Sofa and armchair buying guide

If you have questions about sofa styles, upholstery fabrics, recliners, headrests and more, as well as how to match sofa looks to interior design styles, you've come to the right place. Welcome to the Furniture Village sofa and armchair buying guide.

What's the right sofa or armchair style for you?

Sofas and armchairs fall into three style categories - modern, traditional and a casual contemporary look that combines the best elements of modern and traditional.

While there are certain sofa styles that work best in specific living room styles, listen to your inner interior designer and choose pieces that you instinctively love.

Modern sofa style

The modern sofa look is simple yet beautiful, and features straight or curved lines. Modern sofas and chairs are central to striking, minimalist decor but also fit well in relaxed and casual interiors.

10 style characteristics of modern sofas

1. Sleek straight lines or gentle curves

2. Clean and unfussy

3. Minimal embelishments like subtle stitching

4. Angular metal or tapered wood legs

5. A sleek, low-back silhouette

6. Adjustable headrests

7. Power recliners

8. Built in USB ports

9. Chaise ends

10. Integrated storage

Examples of modern sofas and armchairs

Italian sofas

If you like your sofas and armchairs effortlessly sleek and stylish, consider an Italian leather sofa - the essence of sophisticated modern style as well as time-honoured craftsmanship.

Retro sofas

Retro sofa style showcases the tapered legs, buttoned backs and curved profiles of 1950s and 1960s mid-century modern sofas, alongside the geometric patterns, bold colours and high backs of 1970s sofas.

Scandinavian sofas

Perfect if you love clean minimalism, neutral colours, smooth lines and gentle curves, Scandi-style sofas and chairs often have light wood tapered legs, subtle back buttoning and chaise ends.

Our favourite modern sofa brands

Ercol - iconic British sofas with a retro feel.


Nicoletti Home - sleek and sophisticated Italian leather sofas.


Traditional sofa style

The traditional sofa or armchair suits all homes. In the classic home, traditional sofa style blends seamlessly with period features, while in the modern home this look is a pleasing counterpoint to modern decor.

10 style characteristics of traditional sofas

1. Wider, deeper seats

2. Higher supportive backs

3. Comfort features like recliners

4. Turned or moulded feet

5. Castors

6. Curved or scroll arms

7. Winged sides

8. Lavish buttoning

9. Patterned or textured upholstery

10. Subtle, sophisticated colours

Examples of traditional sofas and armchairs

Chesterfield sofas

Chesterfield sofas have rolled arms that are the same height as the sofa back, signature deep button tufting and often a nail-head trim. This style looks beautiful in a traditional interior and adds a signature vintage touch in a modern interior.

Wingback armchairs

Wingback armchairs have wings mounted to the sides of the chair, which usually extend down to the armrests. Wingback chairs were originally designed to protect the sitter from chilly draughts.

Button back sofas

Buttoning is the technique of stitching through and pulling together the upholstery fabric and layers of padding, and securing it with a button. This traditional style detail can also be seen on many contemporary sofas.

Our favourite traditional sofa brands

Parker Knoll - timeless designs with the emphasis on comfort.


Casual contemporary sofa style

Casual contemporary style is design aesthetic that's on trend, relaxed and comfortable. Neither purely traditional or entirely modern, it takes elements of both looks and is the perfect choice for modern living.

10 style characteristics of casual contemporary sofas

1. Generous proportions

2. Clean lines

3. Power or manual recliners

4. Chaise ends

5. Deep cushioning

6. Supportive backs and arms

7. Easy-care family-friendly fabrics

8. Retro and vintage design details

9. Modular options

10. Built in storage

Examples of casual contemporary sofas and armchairs

Modular sofas

Modular sofas are the ultimate flexible seating solution. Simply choose the sections that work best for you, your home and your budget, and create any seating arrangement you like.

Heritage sofas

Channeling a distinctively British approach to luxury, heritage sofas have gorgeous upholstery in natural fibres like wool and linen, vintage details with a modern twist like studding or buttoning, and sumptuous feather-filled cushioning.

Chaise end sofas

Chaise end sofas feature an extended length on one side and are the perfect way to put your feet up. Most styles are available both as right-hand facing and left-hand facing. Some chaise ends hide a useful storage space.

Our favourite casual contemporary sofa brands

G Plan - the very essence of sofa comfort in a wide range of designs.


Alexander & James - contemporary interpretations of classic sofa styles.