1 In Designer Tips/ E-Design/ Shopping

Space Tricks: Reasons to Love a Curved Sofa

Looking for the best sofa for a small living room? Looking to maximize space within a tricky floor plan?

Well let me offer you…. a kidney bean!

Say what?

That’s right, the kidney bean is not just for chili.

It’s also a great solution to hard-to-layout living rooms.

Today is National Kidney-Shape Sofa Day so let’s celebrate by highlighting the reasons to love this shapely little gem of a sofa.

OK, you got me. It’s not on the calendar…yet.

Even though the curved sofa (aka bean sofa or kidney sofa) has not reached national recognition status, it should. October already has National Moldy Cheese Day and National No Beard Day, so… hows about it?

Because folks, there’s only one sofa that can fit perfectly in bay windows. Only one sofa that can kick ass in space planning. And only one sofa that can make a round coffee table look really, really good.

I’m talking about the curved sofa.

There are many reasons to love this curvy, graceful, and often super-funky-cool sofa so let’s dive in.

First up, why bring attention to a sofa named after a somewhat toxic bean which, by the way, is, in latin, the Phaseolus vulgaris?

I figured it was time to post about this because it might help some of you with tricky living room floor plans, particularly if you have an older home with quirky architectural features like bay windows or radiators. I had a homeowner come to me for e-design services last year and standard shape sofas just weren’t working well with her floor plan. The solution, surprisingly, came from the bean. Apparently beans aren’t just healthy for you; they can bring excitement to your seating group as well.

Also, I was at the High Point Furniture Market a couple of weeks ago and saw quite a few great curved sofas that got me really inspired.

C Shaped Sofa

Lawrence of La Brea showroom

Curved Sofa

Barry Dixon / Arteriors showroom

Curved Sofa


Curved Sofa

Kelly Wearstler

Curved Settee


Case in Point: How a Curved Sofa Can Work For You

Let me give you a case study of how this shaped sofa worked out perfectly for the design of a living room of a past client.

A homeowner of a one-hundred-year-old Victorian reached out to me because she and her husband could not figure out how to best layout their living room. In just one room, there was a bay window, a corner fireplace, two large cased openings, a door, and an air register in a really conspicuous place on the floor. All of these elements made it really challenging to find a furniture layout that felt right and didn’t leave space wasted.

Here are a couple of pictures that were taken of their space with their existing pieces.

It was Christmastime when they took these pictures so obviously the bay window was the perfect location for the Christmas tree. But otherwise, they were at a loss on what to put there. If they put the two chairs they had there, then they ended up being really far from the sofa. And the sofa also was located over the air grille on the floor, which was not ideal, but they didn’t know where else to put it.

So I put together a few layout options for them.

One Living Room; Five Layouts

The first layout was a configuration using their existing sofa and ottoman. I like to show people the best way to use their high-investment pieces in case they don’t have the budget to buy a new sofa just so they have a quick solution. The only way to really use that sofa was to float it on an angle in front of the fireplace and pair it with a settee. (Notice the floor air register along the left wall.)
It wasn’t a bad option, but I knew there had to be better.

Because their existing sofa was pretty long at 90″, I figured the next step would be to explore a solution using a smaller sofa. Here’s what I came up with.
Again, a good solution, particularly with a round rug to help include that bay window bump out. This also places the coffee table right under the light fixture which scores a point.

But I didn’t love the inaccessible area that was created at the bay window.

I knew that when the house was built, the Victorian parlor sofa was what was common then and it would have fit well in this bay area. That style of sofa doesn’t work with today’s lifestyle, but I knew there had to be similarly shaped forms out there that are comfortable and more modern looking. That’s when I began researching bean-shaped sofas.

Enter AHA Moment #1.

I realized that for this space that a pair of kidney-shaped sofas really took this floor plan to the next level. One fit perfectly at the bay window, and the other could float in front of the fireplace, much like the first option. But with a rectangle-shaped sofa, there were so many limitations to what else could fit. With the curves in this 80″ x 40″ sofa, you could easily fit two accent chairs and plenty of table surfaces. I really liked where we were going with this.

Using the exact same pieces, you could also rearrange the furniture like so:

The curves of the sofa allow it to be positioned near the air register without blocking all the air flow like a rectangular sofa.

For the final plan, I again just made a few placement tweaks but used the exact same pieces in order to direct one sofa more towards the fireplace.

And then, AHA Moment #2. I realized just how great these pieces are because you can float and rearrange them in so many ways. With a rectangular shaped sofa your overall seating group gets restricted into a block in a grid, if you will. But a curved sofa opens up so many possibilities because of their organic form.
I presented these plans to the client and attached a document with a handful of examples of curved, kidney-shaped sofas to illustrate what they look like. That was last year, and I remember searching for probably an hour and I was still disappointed in the results. A lot of what I found online was pretty traditional (like this) and I knew that image might turn them off. Despite my search for modern, accessible options, I’m still not sure in the end I was able to convince them of this unique shape.

Well, that was a year ago. Now they seem to be popping up everywhere.


Six Beautiful Beans on the Web Today

West Elm’s Boomerang

Anthropologie’s Heatherly SofaWay Fair’s Art Deco Sofa

Arteriors Home’s Turner Sofa
TOV Furniture’s Modern BailaArteriors Home’s Stevens Sofa

Reasons to Love a Curved Sofa

  1. They are sculptural. Float one in the middle of a room and it’s like a piece of art.
  2. They easily pair with a round coffee table. The front of the sofa curves inward which means that a round coffee table can fill that space. Even though we’re only talking inches, it’s amazing how that can make a huge difference in laying out a whole room.
  3. They can fit in a tight spot without looking squeezed.
  4. The shape follows anthropometrics making it extremely comfortable and inviting to sit in.
  5. The curves allow it hug corners, columns, registers…you name it…without losing precious seating.
  6. The soft curves help define comfortable lines of traffic within a room so you aren’t visually bumping into hard corners.
  7. The organic form allows it to drift from a typical seating arrangement grid, opening up lots of new layout opportunities.

With that, have a very Happy Sofa-Shaped-Like-a-Bean-or-Human-Organ-or-Nut Day everyone!

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  • tamara
    October 10, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Curved sofas are so practical and sculptural! Hope you find the perfect one! xx

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