Loose-cushion: Cushions are separate from the sofa back, allowing for a softer, more comfortable back. The covers can easily be removed and dry-cleaned. Alternatively, the back may be “semi-attached,” meaning that loose cushions are sewn into place.
(see Tuxedo , Sectional )

Tight: The back of the sofa is upholstered, with no loose cushions. This gives a cleaner, more tailored appearance and a firmer feel. Throw pillows can be added for comfort or for people who need more support.
(see Chesterfield , Camelback )

Pillow: Multiple pillows are arranged across the back of the sofa in place of larger cushions. Pillow backs require more fluffing and arranging, but offer easily adjustable comfort.

Channel: A tight back is sewn into tailored segments or vertical channels to provide definition and sometimes more cushioning.

Curved: The back curves around to form one piece with the arms. A drawback to this feminine, sheltering style is that it doesn’t provide a low armrest.
(see Cabriole )

Camelback: The back has a humped or serpentine shape.
(see Camelback

Rolled or scroll: A rolled arm is one that curves outward. It is perhaps the most common arm, particularly on traditional sofas, and is generally the most comfortable for lounging or napping. The front of the arm may be flat or have a set-in panel with pleats or gathers.
(see Camelback and Chesterfield )

Square, box, or track:
A squared arm is more modern and tailored in appearance. It is not as comfortable for lounging, but a throw pillow or bolster can soften its lines. (see Tuxedo and )

Tight: This firmer, more tailored seat has no loose cushions. It is often used in settees and more formal, wood-framed sofas.
(see Chesterfield )

Single cushion or bench seat: A single cushion has a crisp appearance that can still be downy and comfortable. Be sure that if someone sits at one end, however, the other side doesn’t pop up.
(see Cabriole and Knole )

Cushioned: The seat has two or three loose cushions, which may be firmer than back cushions. Covers can be removed for dry-cleaning.T-cushion seats are designed to wrap in front of set-back arms.
(see English and Bridgewater )

Skirted sofas are generally softer and more traditional in appearance. Skirts can be detailed with kick pleats, inverted pleats, button pleats, or box pleats, across the front or at the corners only. Waterfall skirts that drop straight from the seat cushion have a cleaner, more tailored appearance.

Exposed legs can be square and modern, turned and on castors, or cabriole (curved) for a more traditional look.


Jill Kirchner Simpson

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