grey contemporary 2.5 seater sofa for small spaces with slimline arms

I’ve just spent months researching and finally purchasing – hurrah! – a new sofa.  Which makes this 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.  OK, it fitted into the room (just!).  But this huge 3-seater couch also also totally dominated the space.

Why “small sofas” often aren’t really that small…

Several years later, and on the hunt for the next sofa, I was determined not to make the same mistake twice.  What I know now is that what are often described as “small sofas” aren’t really that small.

Often they’re just a 2-seater version of the larger models.  But they’re still the same depth.  Which is typically between 90 – 100 cm.

Often this won’t matter, 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.

For small rooms the depth of the sofa is just as important as the width

Not only was our ex-sofa a whopping 210 cm wide, it was also a substantial 100 cm deep.  Which means it came much, much too far out into the room.

In small rooms depth matters just as much as width.  That’s why the standard 2-seater size of a lot of sofas just don’t work in many small, modern living spaces.  Because they’re just too deep.   What you’re actually looking for is a shallower depth of sofa from front to back.

How to choose the ideal compact sofa for your small living space?

I recently read a tip from an interior designer who recommends you go for the longest sofa possible for your small space, but really take note of the depth.  Hear, hear – that’s exactly what we’ve been saying above.

Other valuable style tips to bear in mind when choosing the best compact sofa for your small living space are:

  • opt for streamlined shapes and simple clean lines
  • make sure the sofa arms are narrow and slimline rather than wide and chunky
  • look for styles with slim legs that lift them off the ground to give the illusion of more space

These things really do make a difference – I learned the hard way!  With that in mind, this Top 10 sofas for small spaces has compact sofas that are less than 90 cm deep, and vary in width from around 140 – 190 cm wide. These dimensions give you the ideal “petite”, perfectly proportioned, genuinely small contemporary sofas for small spaces.

10 best compact contemporary sofas for small spaces

Slimline contemporary Arlo Sofa for small spaces from John lewis & PartnersThe 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 solution for maximum comfort for when space is at a real premium.

John Lewis & Partners compact Arlo Sofa for small spaces With slimline, flared arms and subtle buttoned detail, the Arlo is perfect for small living rooms and space-starved apartments or if you’re looking for a very small sofa for a bedroom, hallway or kitchen.  If you have slightly more room, there’s also a slightly wider Arlo Medium 2-Seater sofa (175 cm wide) and an equally compact armchair in the Arlo range.

John Lewis Groucho small leather sofa - comfortable and cosy!Also from John Lewis is the beautifully soft and extremely comfortable leather Groucho Small Sofa in Riders Nut colourway.  I really fell for this compact leather sofa when I saw it.  And sat in it – it’s very comfy.  This rich toffee colour is also gorgeous, and very versatile (it looks particularly good against a deep, inky blue wall…).

Compact, stylish Mimi sofa for small living spaces in blue with mid-century style features 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.

Swoon Tivoli green velvet sofa for small spaces with narrow arms and streamlined cushionsAlso from Swoon Editions is the neat, compact and tailored Tivoli 2-seater sofa.  This compact sofa has an absolutely timeless design and will work equally well in traditional living rooms as in contemporary apartments.  And just how chic does it look above in this Fern Green velvet?

But you can absolutely make it your own, as it’s part of the new Swoon ‘Made to Order’ range.  Which means there’s a wide range of fabrics and leathers to choose from, as well as leg colour.  This 2-seater version measures 178 cm wide and 87 cm deep, but the Tivoli range also includes an armchair, 3-seater sofa and compact corner sofa.

MADE Tubby compact red fabric sofa for small living roomsThe Tubby Sofa, above, is one of MADE’s most popular in-house designs.  Its contemporary yet retro lines are smooth, sleek and fuss-free, making it ideal for small spaces.  The Tubby 2-seater sofa measures a truly petite 125 cm wide x 76cm deep, and the 3-seater version is still a very compact 170 cm wide by 76 cm deep.  Here it is below in sumptuous saffron yellow velvet.

Tubby narrow sofa for small spaces in saffron yellow velvet

You can choose from a gorgeous range of fabrics and colours, and legs in either light or dark wood.  Plus there’s an equally cute compact armchair as part of the Tubby range.

MADE cosy blue velvet Helena sofa for small spacesThe softly curvaceous UK-made Helena 2-seater sofa, above, has a sprung, fixed back, sleek seat cushions and pleated arm details.  At just 144 cm wide and 89 cm deep, the Helena is a lovely compact sofa but if you’re looking for something a tad larger the 3-seater version comes in at an equally neat 172 cm wide.  And there’s absolutely no need to sacrifice comfort for style.  As well as the Teal Velvet above, there’s also on-trend Turmeric Velvet and a Grey Textured Weave to choose from too.

Heal's Morten Scandi-style contemporary compact sofa for small spaces I do like a mix of materials, and the Morten 2-Seater Sofa from Heal’s shows off a very handsome, white-washed oak frame teamed with plump yet sleek upholstering details in a wool-mix fabric.  The Morten 2-Seater Sofa measures 165 cm wide and 87 cm deep and also comes as a 3-seater sofa and armchair too.  Could this be the perfect cosy yet super-stylish small sofa?

Habitat Grey Fabric Chester Sofa for small spaces 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 – the Chester Loveseat.  Clean, simple, lines make this small sofa a timeless classic.

MADE plump and comfortable Becca sofas for small spaces in blush pink and yolk yellowThis box sofa has been softened with padded curves – we love! The Becca 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 Dusk Pink and Yolk Yellow there’s also a lovely Mineral Blue and Marl Grey to choose from.

Rucola mid-century style dark grey 2.5 seater sofa for small living spaces with narrow armsAnd finally, this is the sofa we eventually went for, in a dark 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.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the round-up, and in conclusion I think it’s fair to to say I’ve learned a lot about buying compact sofas for small spaces.  The most valuable lesson?  It really pays to look at the bigger picture.

Images: brands and shops as credited above

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