How To Choose A Reclining Loveseat And Sofa

Loveseats and sofas are the centerpieces of modern living rooms, and their comfort is an essential part of creating an inviting space. Reclining loveseats and sofas are a great way to make your living room more welcoming for guests and cozier for family movie nights.

Reclining furniture is designed to be soft and comfortable, but not all loveseats and sofas are created equal. Here's what to look for when shopping for reclining loveseats and sofas.

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Are Reclining Loveseats Different from Sofas?

Typically, both sides of a reclining loveseat will recline, and each half can usually be controlled independently. There will usually be both a reclining backrest and a footrest.

However, most reclining sofas will only have one or two sections that recline on each side of the sofa because of easier access to the controls or pull-tab mechanism. The middle cushion will not recline.

Sofa sectionals in particular usually only have one section that reclines, and often only the footrest moves. The lack of a reclining backrest may not be ideal, so check product listings carefully to make sure parts move as desired.

Brown Polyester Reclining Loveseat
Faux Brown Leather Reclining Loveseat
Grey Microfiber Reclining Arm Loveseat
Reclining Pillow Top Arm Sofa
Faux Leather Reclining Sofa
White Slim Reclining Square Arm Sofa

What Size Loveseat or Sofa Should I Get?

Reclining loveseats are typically under 60" wide but can be slightly larger if they have a console in the middle. They can be an excellent choice for couples or small families and can even be added to master bedrooms.

Reclining sofas and sectionals are often 72" or larger. Although they don't usually have a console in the middle, they are designed to seat at least three people comfortably. Sectionals may also have an attached ottoman that extends 24"-30".

To make sure your reclining loveseat or sofa fits into your designated space, measure the width and height of the location you plan to place the sofa. Recliners need additional room in front of and behind them to be able to recline. Allow at least 24" in front and back, plus at least 4" on either side so the controls can be reached comfortably.

What Style of Reclining Sofa Should I Choose?

Most recliners are focused on comfort instead of style. If the recliners are the focal piece of your den, you may have to tweak the rest of your décor to fit the soft lines and curves inherent to reclining furniture. However, it is essential to remember that your reclining sofa or loveseat does not need to match the rest of your décor exactly. Choose a style that reflects the design elements, colors, or shapes found in your living area to create a cohesive, coordinated look.

  • Traditional

Traditional sofas and loveseats often have claw feet, tufted backrests, or wood accents. Because of the mechanical parts needed to make a reclining sofa or loveseat, traditional styles are uncommon. However, some options use nailhead trim on leather, wingback-style backrests, or rolled armrests that are influenced by classic styles.

Styling Tip: Pair a leather reclining sofa or loveseat with other leather furniture and dark stained wood tables. An area rug on a hardwood floor can help lighten up the room.

Traditional Reclining Round Arms Sofa
Traditional Pillow Top Reclining Sofa
Traditional Brown Pillow Top Reclining Sofa
Three Seats Traditional Reclining Sofa
Light Grey Traditional Reclining Sofa
White Traditional Reclining Sofa
  • Modern

Modern furniture styles use fewer curves and are slightly more angular or geometric. They typically use less detailing and will have narrower armrests. Some reclining sectionals are designed in a modern style, but most reclining loveseats and sofas are too padded to be considered modern.

Styling Tip: A dark brown or black reclining sofa or sectional can work well in a modern room, as long as the surrounding furniture is not too angular. Look for round tables and some natural accents like plants to bring the room together.

Navy Blue Modern Reclining Sofa
Large Navy Blue Medium Reclining Sofa
Dark Grey Modern Reclining Sofa
Black Modern Reclining Sofa
Navy Blue Modern Reclining Loveseat
Medium Brown Modern Reclining Sofa
  • Contemporary

Although contemporary is similar to modern, it is differentiated by more curves and functional design. This makes it a simple style to coordinate with reclining sofas and loveseats.

Styling Tip: For a bright contemporary room, choose a light neutral sofa or loveseat and use throw pillows to coordinate with other colors. An area rug or eye-catching coffee table can also tie the room together.

Contemporary Light Grey Reclining Sofa
Large Contemporary White Reclining Sofa
White Leather Contemporary Reclining Sofa
Grey Contemporary Reclining Sofa
Light Green Contemporary Reclining Sofa
Grey Long L-shaped Reclining Sofa

Which Fabrics are Best For Reclining Furniture?

Choose your fabric carefully, as it can be challenging to find slipcovers that fit well on reclining loveseats and sofas. Although tie-on slipcovers are an option, they leave gaps that allow stains and pet damage to get through.

  • For Families with Children

Although leather and PVC faux leather doesn't breathe well, they are very durable and stain-resistant, making them an excellent choice for families in cooler climates. Other synthetic materials like polyester are also great options as long as they are treated for stain-resistance.

  • For Dog and Cat Owners

Polyester, microfiber, and microsuede are the best fabrics for pet owners because they are more durable than most natural fabrics. Microfiber and microsuede offer better stain resistance than polyester. These materials are also resistant to abrasion from claws and teeth.

  • For Couples and Individuals

If staining isn't much of a concern, fabrics like linen and silk can make a beautiful addition to your formal living room. However, keep in mind that you may want a more durable option such as olefin or rayon for entertaining guests.

What Extra Features to Look For in Reclining Loveseats and Sofas?

  • Many reclining loveseats have a console in the middle, which stores remote controls and other necessities. Some armrests flip up for storage or feature pockets on the outside of the arms for storing TV guides, magazines, and entertainment essentials.

  • Built-in USB ports allow easy charging and use of small electronics. These are not a universal feature and will typically only be available on power recliners.

  • Armrests sometimes contain cupholders, which are usually plastic for easy cleaning.

Are Power Reclining Loveseats and Sofas Better?

Traditional reclining chairs used a lever or tab to move the backrest down and the footrest up. However, most modern reclining loveseats and sofas use small electric motors to move the seat up and down more gradually. This allows the user to stop at a certain point, instead of having to recline fully to customize the level of comfort.

Power recliners must be plugged into a wall outlet to work. Typically, the motor lowers the backrest first, then extends the footrest. Some may also have separate buttons for the footrest and back.

Tab-pull recliners do not require an outlet but may have less flexibility in how the recliner is operated. If you prefer to use a reclining loveseat or sofa in the middle of a room, a tab-pull recliner avoids having a cord running through the room, which can appear unsightly or dangerous.

Power recliners are typically more expensive than manual tab-pull recliners because there are more moving parts. However, the best option for you will depend on how much you value the added convenience and flexibility of a power recliner.

Quick Tips

  • Reclining sofa middle seats do not usually recline. For sectionals, one or two sections may not recline. Reclining loveseats generally have a separate button for each half.

  • Loveseats may be over 60" wide if they have a center console. Sofas and sectionals are usually over 72" wide. Keep in mind that all reclining furniture needs extra room on all sides to be used fully.

  • Reclining furniture is designed for comfort and can be tricky to coordinate with some décor. Other accessories like throw pillows and tables can be used to tie a room together if the recliner doesn't match perfectly.

  • Couples who aren't worried about stains or damage can use whatever fabric they want, but families and pet owners should stick to synthetics or leather for durability and stain resistance.

  • Look for extra features like consoles, USB chargers, and cup holders for added convenience.

  • Power reclining loveseats and sofas are a great option, as long as you keep the furniture near an outlet. Tab-pull recliners offer fewer positions but don't require an outlet.