How to Decorate with a Curved Couch

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Looking to buy a curved-back couch? First, let’s get something straight. “Conversation” or “crescent” couches, as dealers call them, won’t work in every room.

“Using a curved sofa is a tricky proposition. Against a flat wall, the edges kick out in a way that presents all sorts of challenges” and precludes conventional end tables, says Mark Cutler, chief designer for the community-curated décor site nousDECOR and principal of Mark Cutler Design, based in Los Angeles.

That’s if you can get it through the door to begin with. Some crescent sofas come apart for this purpose, but with their odd shape and size, it’s important to take careful measurements to make sure it fits through external and internal doorways.

There’s a misconception that crescent couches take up less room because they are rounded inward at the ends, but most are at least 20 inches longer than the standard 7-foot sofa, says Nancy Conway, a designer for La-Z-Boy.

Since crescent couches don’t have standard dimensions, Conway recommends having a designer take the measurements.

Determining placement goes hand-in-hand with sizing, and a designer can help with that as well though there are only so many options. “Using curved sofas or curved sectionals requires more creativity in a given space,” says Michael Amini, CEO and head designer at the home furnishing company Amini Innovation Corp., Pico Rivera, California.

For harmony’s sake, “They need to be placed where they relate to the décor and atmosphere around them and must use other elements or accent pieces to tie the curve of the sofa to its surroundings,” he adds.

Crescent couches “lend themselves to a distinctive type of furniture arrangement that’s cozier,” says Sue Pelley, national spokesperson for Decorating Den Interiors, a franchising company covering the U.S. and parts of Canada.

Space permitting, the arrangement that best facilitates intimacy is two identical couches facing each other to form “kind of a conversation pit,” Cutler says. 

Creating a circle of seating with one couch and two angled chairs “is another option that says to me, ‘Come and sit down; let’s have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and talk,’” Conway says.

Another way to incorporate a crescent sofa is to place it directly across from a focal point, such as a fireplace, picture window or television (the latest TVs happen to be curved as well). In a family room, a curved sofa or sectional allows everyone to see the screen.

Though crescent couches often go in a corner or even against a flat wall, “they are normally suspended in the middle of the space or placed away from the walls,” Amini says, “so the back of the sofa is mostly exposed and the first consideration is to make sure the fabrics and creative styling used on the back of the sofa are as elegant and beautiful as the front.”

Crescent couches already pose lighting challenges because of their poor fit with end tables; floating them in the middle of the room compounds the problem because you can’t run an electrical cord across the floor.

Once you determine a curved sofa will fit and you have a place for it, follow basic design principles and repeat the curved line around the room – perhaps with round or oval tables, area rugs, light fixtures or upholstery patterns – and incorporate some straight lines and angles for contrast.

A crescent couch is a daring purchase, but rest assured the design has staying power. “It seems a little less of a trend and more like people embracing a classic design that had been shelved for some time,” Cutler says. “The curve is almost without exception a more traditional style of sofa, and this is about people trying to find new and fresh ways to interpret it.”

Tags: sofa, curved, decor