A light coloured modular sofa in a well light room.

What is a Modular Sofa?

One of the toughest things about shopping online for furniture is understanding the definitions. Do you know the difference between a “Sofa” and a “Couch”? (Sofas traditionally include armrests and are more formal, while couches are designed to lie down and stretch out on) Luckily, whatever they call it, you can at least see what you’re getting from a picture.

The same is not true for popular terms, like “Modular” and “Sectional” sofas. You probably know that both feature some adjustability, but it’s not something you can easily figure out from looking at a website thumbnail. So what is a “Modular” sofa and how is it different from a “Sectional” sofa? How adjustable is each and which one is better for your needs?

In this article you will find clear definitions that will arm you with information and help you understand the benefits before you decide which sofa or couch to buy:

Benefits of a Modular Sofa

Adjustability

Modular and sectional sofas both offer adjustability, but if you want the versatility to customize your seating into multiple layouts, go with modular. What a modular sofa does that a sectional does not is provide interconnected sections that can be subdivided or combined into any shape you want, from a cozy two-seater, to an L-shaped couch for lounging, to a medium-sized sofa and matching chairs. All from the same modular sofa.

Modular furniture in a modern living room.

‘Sectional sofa’ usually refers to a large single-piece sofa that comes with an added section, like an ottoman or a recliner. Sectional sofas are traditionally meant for larger living rooms.

Move-Proof

A sectional sofa may look great in your current living room, but what happens when you move? Regardless of whether you’re up or down-sizing, you’ll be redecorating a different shaped living room. Even if the total area is similar, the spacing will not be. Windows and entrance may be in a different place, or your furniture may have to be placed around a fireplace or built-in bookshelf.

That means the sofa that fits perfectly in today’s living room may not work in your next one. What if your right-angle sofa is being moved to a living room that only fits a left-angle sofa? What if the main wall of your new living room is too short for your sofa? What if you simply want to try a new layout?

The multifunctional design of a modular sofa or couch guarantees it will fit seamlessly into your next space, no matter the angle, no matter the length of the walls, and no matter your preference.

Sectional sofas look beautiful in certain spaces but aren’t as adaptable if the shape of the room changes. On the other hand, modular sofas are versatile enough to adapt to any room.

A lady sitting on a modular sofa.

The Schlep Factor

Speaking of moving, everyone has a horror story about squeezing a massive sectional sofa through a doorway and into an elevator (assuming there was an elevator!), then repeat the exercise when you arrive at the new place. Sectional sofas are big and heavy. There’s a reasonable chance that either it or you will end up damaged.

Modular sofas can be disconnected into individual sections and moved one by one. This avoids damage to the fabric, the door, and your back.

Damage

Over time, there is a good chance that the fabric on your sofa or couch will be stained or ripped. While cleaning products work well and most rips can be repaired, some damage may remain visible.

On a modular sofa, you can replace an individual section rather than buy an entire new sofa. You can also swap sections, placing the damaged section discreetly in the corner or at the end, where it can be covered by throw pillows.

Sectional sofas sometimes allow you to flip cushions but depending on where the damage is it may be harder to disguise.

Multi-functional

The living room is your home’s social hub where you could entertain two or 20 people. A sectional sofa offers the versatility of placing the extra section where you want, however, most of the sofa is a solid, unchangeable rectangle.

A family sitting on some modular furniture.

A modular sofa can be extended into a wide “U” for a large group to sit together, or broken up into multiple sitting areas for smaller numbers of people to gather separately.

What to choose?

Now that we’ve looked at the question: what is a modular sofa, we are more equipped to decide on what to choose. Sectional sofas have been around longer, therefore there are more brands to choose from. Because they’re constructed as a single piece of furniture not meant to be reconfigured or adjusted, there are more uniquely aesthetic shapes available. On the other hand, modular sofas (and modular furniture in general) have caught up quickly and impressively. Quality material and comfort have become standard for the higher-end modular sofas. Plus, of course, they’re unmatched when it comes to adjustability. If you’re still wondering what a modular sofa is, consider it to be the solution for style, versatility, and convenience.