Having just spent months researching and finally purchasing – hurrah! – a new sofa, this is the perfect time to do a round-up of contemporary compact sofas for small spaces.
The living room of our terraced Victorian house is fairly small and roughly square, and we made a classic mistake when buying our first sofa. It fitted into the room whilst still allowing us to open the door (just) – but it totally dominated the space.
Several years later, and on the hunt for the next sofa, I was determined not to make the same mistake twice. I learned that what are often described as “small sofas” are usually a 2-seater version of the larger models but are still the same depth – typically between 90 – 100 cm.
Often this won’t be an issue, which makes life a whole lot easier. You can find a sofa you like, and opt for the 2-seater version. But that wouldn’t work for our small room – and here’s why.
Not only was our ex-sofa a whopping 210 cm wide, it was also 100 cm deep and therefore came much too far out into the room. In small rooms depth matters just as much as width. That’s why the 2-seater size of a lot of sofas just don’t work.
What we were looking for was a contemporary sofa that’s moderately proportioned all round. One that can comfortably seat two people for an evening of TV viewing without feeling like you’re sitting next to each other on the bus, but also that isn’t too deep front to back.
So for this Top 10 Sofas for Small Spaces I set out to find small sofas that were less than 90 cm deep, and varied in width from around 140 – 190 cm wide. These dimensions give you the ideal “petite”, perfectly proportioned, genuinely small contemporary sofas for small spaces.
Compact Contemporary Sofas for Small Spaces
The clean, unfussy lines of the Arlo Small 2 seater sofa by John Lewis are perfect for small spaces. Measuring a petite 154 cm wide by 88 cm deep, it’s ideal for when space is at a real premium. A modern take on a classic design, the Arlo sofa’s stylish, flared arms are slim and the buttoned detail subtle. There’s also a slightly wider Arlo Medium 2-seater sofa and an armchair in the Arlo range.My second offering is also from John Lewis, as I really fell for this compact sofa when I saw it (and sat in it). I’ve been racking my brains ever since to see if there’s some place we could fit one in. Sadly, bar building an extension, there’s not. This is the beautifully soft and extremely comfortable leather Groucho Small Sofa in Walnut which is 152 cm wide and 84 cm deep. There’s also a Groucho Medium Sofa that’s 182 cm wide, and they both come in a darker brown leather too. With its unmistakable mid-century Danish design influence, the stylish Mimi 3 Seater Sofa from Swoon Editions is upholstered in wool-rich fabric in a variety of colours. It has solid oak legs and measures 181cm wide and only 79cm deep. Also from Swoon Editions is the neat, compact and tailored Tivoli 2-seater sofa. We love the subtle mid-century modern styling details and also that it’s part of their new Made to Order range, meaning you have a selection of fabrics and leathers to choose from as well as leg colour. I selected this yummy grey leather to show you although it was a toss up between that and a very lovely deep midnight blue wool fabric – there are gorgeous velvets too. This 2-seater version measures 178 cm wide and 87 cm deep, but the Tivoli is also available as an armchair, 3-seater sofa and corner sofa. The Jonah Sofa, above, was designed for MADE by James Harrison, winner of the Elle Decoration Young Designer of the Year 2007. Its contemporary yet retro lines are smooth, sleek and fuss-free, making it ideal for small spaces, and the Jonah 2-seater Sofa measures 160 cm wide by 81 cm deep. Shown here in rich cobalt blue velvet fabric, the Jonah comes in a range of other fabrics and colours (including bright Ketchup Red and soft, sunny Saffron Yellow) as well as a 3-seater size and armchair. The plump and softly curvaceous Ariana 2-seater sofa, above, is a style that’s traditionally on the larger end of the spectrum. This, however, is a cleverly scaled down version for smaller spaces. At 162 cm wide and 91 cm deep it’s a tiny touch over our criteria, but only just. Classic design features have been teamed with contemporary fabrics and colours, and the seat cushions are soft and generously deep. I do like a mix of materials, and the Bermondsey Small Sofa from Sofas and Stuff shows off a very handsome, solid oak frame teamed with some very sharp mid-century upholstering details in a wool-rich fabric. The Bermondsey Small Sofa measures 170 cm wide and 86 cm deep, is available in other colours (some of which are part of their ready-to-deliver 7 Day Sofa collection) and also comes as a 3-seater sofa and armchair too. Designed by Matthew Hilton for Habitat, the very popular Chester Sofa is available in a range of leather and fabric options, and with either oak or dark stained feet. The 2-seater version shown above in black and white Italian woven fabric measures 170 cm wide by 85 cm deep. They also do a very compact version at 120 cm wide – called, not surprisingly, the Chester Compact Sofa. Clean, simple, lines make this small sofa a timeless classic. This box sofa has been softened with padded curves – we love! The Tribeca 2 Seater Sofa measures 163 cm wide by 85 cm deep, is crafted with solid oak legs, an integrated seat back, tucked seat cushion and comes with two matching cushions. Shown above in Mineral Blue and Yolk Yellow there’s also a lovely Dust Pink and Marl Grey to choose from. And finally, this is the sofa we eventually went for, in a dark, warm grey and white marl type fabric. It’s called the Rucola Sofa, from Aria, an independent design shop in north London.
We chose the 2.5-seater version which measures 186 cm wide and 84 cm deep, and is a much better fit for our room, as are its clean, simple lines and slim profiles. There’s also a range of other sizes to choose from, plus an armchair and footstool.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the round-up, and in conclusion I think I’d have to say that when it comes to compact sofas for small spaces, probably the most valuable lesson I learned was that it really pays to look at the bigger picture. Images: brands and shops as credited above
Find more sofas in our Contemporary Sofas Sourcebook
Find more sofas in our Contemporary Sofas Sourcebook