Sectional Guide: Understanding Sectional Sofa Configurations

Posted In Knowledge - 04/02/2018

Popular for their versatility, sectional sofas are composed of two, three, four or more finished pieces that come together to create an expansive seating arrangement for three or more people. Many types of sectionals seat 4 to 6 adults, with some seating as many as nine.

There are a few reasons for the component nature of sectionals. Some are reconfigurable and customizable, allowing you different ways to arrange a sectional to build the perfect fit for your space. Others, though designed for one set configuration are still more generously sized than standard sofas.

Available in contemporary, transitional and traditional styles, sectionals continue to gain popularity and offer ideal solutions in space-challenged apartments and expansive homes alike. Seeing a diagram, or getting some of the confusing terminology and configuration options explained can help you find the best seating options for your living room.

Sectional Terminology

  • Right Arm Facing (RAF) – this is any piece of a sectional that when you are facing it has an arm on the right side of the piece, this could apply to a small chair (single cushion width), loveseat (two cushions), 3 seat sofa (three cushions) or chaise.
  • Left Arm Facing (LAF) – any piece of a sectional that when you face it has an arm on the left side of the piece.
  • Armless – an armless piece has no arms on either side and is designed to sit between two other pieces with arms, this could be a loveseat or chair. • 
  • Corner – a corner piece will have two backs coming together at a 90° angle that will form the corner of the sectional once put together. Depending on the individual sectional design, the corner piece may sit between two other pieces or abut just one other piece. A corner wedge refers to a rounded back piece. A corner chair has no arms. A corner sofa or corner loveseat may or may not have an arm on the end opposite the corner.
  • Chaise – a sectional piece that has deep attached cushions, designed to allow you to stretch out your legs. Chaise sectional pieces typically come with an arm on one side either LAF or RAF.

Sectional Configuration Shapes

Sectionals offer the ultimate versatility. Utilizing these different components they are available a nearly unlimited variety of configurations, some of the most common include chaise, L shaped, U shaped and symmetrical.


The most petite and streamlined sectionals are comprised of a couch with an extended chaise seat on one end. The bumper sectional above is created with two pieces, a LAF chaise, and a RAF loveseat. These sectionals add a touch more than a sofa when you don’t have room for a larger scale sectional. Other sectionals have a chaise element included.

U Shape

U-shaped sectionals have two corner pieces and form a U configuration. These horseshoe-shaped sectionals are a great seating option for conversing, but depending on your room configuration can be cumbersome for traffic flow.

L Shape

Probably the most common shape available, L shape sectionals have one side longer than the other. These are great multipurpose sectionals for relaxing, watching TV and entertaining.


Symmetrical sectionals have exactly the same space on either side of the corner. If they fit your space, they can offer a bit more seating room than C-shaped or L-shaped sectionals while offering the same multipurpose functionality.


Rather than a sharp right corner, a curved sectional has a curved corner between the straight sides. Alternately some curved sectionals continue the curve throughout all pieces. Curved sectionals can be a great option for a home theater.

Sectional Options

As with couches, chairs and loveseats, many of today’s sectionals come with options that can help them fit your lifestyle. Including:

  • Recliners – whether power reclining or manual, recliners cradle you in comfort. Check a reclining sectional carefully so that you know how many seats recline. Often recliners are reserved for the two seats on either end since chaise footrests would collide in the seats near the corner.
  • Sleeper– always handy for overnight guests, pull-out mattresses are an option with many sectionals.
  • Console –cup holders and storage consoles tucked into armrests offer convenience at your fingertips.
  • Modular – some sectionals are designed to be modular and allow you to use the pieces together, apart or in an endless array of reconfiguration possibilities.

Read more about sectionals in our related articles: Sofa vs Sectional and How to Decide Between a Couch and a Sectional.

Related Product