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Pros and Cons of Reclining Sofas and Some Alternatives

There are now many variants of a reclining sofa to choose from with its own set of features to love and uncomfortable drawbacks to consider before making the purchase.

Neutral-toned sofa with colorfully printed throw pillows.

The French certainly knew about comfort and style as they’re the ones who introduced the reclining sofa to the world. The earliest version served not just as a chair but also as a bed and a chaise lounge. Napoleon III reportedly owned the first prototype.

The design eventually evolved into the kind of recliners we have today where you can easily lean back and prop your feet up. There are now many variants of a reclining sofa to choose from with its own set of features to love and uncomfortable drawbacks to consider before making the purchase.

Brown sofa with a power recline mechanismBuy it on Hayneedle

Reclining sofas are very popular because they offer families a lot of space, provide different ways to sit, and make it possible to take a very comfortable nap in the living room. If you want your whole family to enjoy one piece of furniture but be able to use it in different ways, then a reclining sofa may be right for you.


  • These sofas are very comfortable and when you need additional back support, they will keep you from experiencing back pain.
  • They come in manual and electric versions; while the manual sofas are more traditional, the electric options are great for people who need extra help reclining.


  • The price is going to be much higher than a traditional sofa.
  • While the electric version is great if you are weak or have problems operating the manual version by yourself, it does need to be plugged in to work and this will raise your power bill.
  • The sofa has to be pulled out from the wall to make sure that there is enough room for it to be able to fully recline.
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1. Reclining Chair

Brown sofa with a power recline mechanismSource: Hayneedle

A great option if you really want to be able to recline while you are sitting but don’t have enough room in your home for a reclining sofa, reclining chairs offer a number of the same advantages while taking up less room.


  • There are a wide variety of colors, fabrics, and styles to choose from, which means that your chair can complement the appearance of your room without detracting from it.
  • Reclining chairs offer amazing back and lumbar support, which is ideal if you have back problems.
  • These chairs usually come with a variety of additional options that you can choose from but it’s important to watch the final price because heaters and massagers will greatly increase the final cost of the chair.


  • If you are considering a reclining chair instead of a reclining sofa due to space restrictions, then you will still need to carefully measure your home. While they are not as wide as a sofa, they still take up a lot of space when fully reclined.
  • These chairs tend to be very pricey and you may be better off buying a full sofa if price is the only consideration.

2. Traditional Sofa

Source: Houzz

This is the sofa that you probably grew up with. It won’t have fancy features that allow it to recline and it will generally be in one piece, forcing you to have it on the wall or in the corner of your room. They come in a number of styles and materials from formal sofas to more comfortable, modern versions.

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  • They are less expensive than other seating options, making them perfect for families on a budget.
  • Traditional sofas look great in any room, not just the living room. They can fit perfectly in home offices and even in larger bedrooms.
  • Because they are lighter than other sofas, they are much easier to lift and move, both when rearranging your room and when moving to a new location.


  • In general, these sofas won’t be able to accommodate as many people and the people on the ends will have problems hearing each other.
  • You are limited in the configuration in the room because of the shape and size.

3. Loveseat


Standard beige love seat with two throw pillows.Source: Hayneedle

Smaller than a traditional sofa but larger than a chair, loveseats are a great way to add seating to your room without taking up a ton of space. They come in a number of different styles, from more formal settees to backless divans, but are all appreciated for their smaller space.


  • As homes get smaller, it’s important to consider the size of your furniture as well so that you don’t overwhelm your space with heavy pieces. Loveseats provide seating without adding a lot of visual weight to the room.
  • They are very easy to move because they are so much smaller than traditional sofas, making them ideal to move from one room to another or to a completely new home.
  • Loveseats are great in reading nooks or when you want seating in a bedroom but don’t have enough space for a traditional sofa.
  • Due to their smaller size, they are generally less expensive than traditional sofas.
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  • Unless you have other available seating in your home, you may not have enough space for family members or guests to sit.
  • In extremely large rooms, a loveseat can look out of place and too small.
  • They are not comfortable if you like to take naps or lie down while watching TV.

4. Convertible Sofa

Source: Hayneedle

As more and more people move to smaller homes, dedicated guest rooms are becoming a thing of the past. If you want to make sure that any visitors to your home will have a place to sleep, then a convertible sofa may be a perfect choice for your family.


  • Sofa by day, bed by night: this is a double-duty piece of furniture that will work well both ways that it is used. It’s less obtrusive than having to set up an air mattress in the middle of the living room for guests to use.
  • While selection used to be limited, they are now available in a number of styles and colors, which allows homeowners to match their convertible sofas to the aesthetics of their rooms and homes.


  • These sofas are incredibly heavy due to the hidden beds inside and are extremely difficult to move, especially by yourself.
  • Because they are a hybrid piece of furniture, they are usually not as comfortable as either a traditional sofa or a bed.
  • It can be difficult to clean them properly after being used as a bed but letting them dry and vacuuming them is important to keep them from smelling musty.

5. Sectional Sofa

Source: Hayneedle

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Sectional sofas are generally larger than traditional sofas, which offers much more seating but also comes with its own set of challenges. You can arrange these sofas in a number of different ways, making them a lot easier to fit into certain rooms and around other existing furniture.


  • Because the pieces are facing each other due to the U or L shape, everyone will be able to easily interact during conversation. This is great if you like to entertain and want to make sure that everyone can talk to each other more easily.
  • You can push it into the corners of your room or pull it out from the walls for a unique look.
  • This is the best way to maximize the seating in your home and prevents homeowners from having to buy multiple chairs and sofas to get the same amount of seating.


  • Because the pieces are heavy, sectional sofas can be very difficult to move.
  • If you don’t have enough space in your room for the large section of sofa, then you will probably not be able to fit the whole piece of furniture easily into the space.
  • It’s harder to move these pieces around from room to room.
  • A sectional sofa that fits easily in one living room may not work well in another home.

6. Reclining Sectionals

Source: Hayneedle

If you are totally sold on being able to recline while sitting and reading or enjoying TV, then you will want to consider buying a reclining sectional. This piece of furniture generally combines the best of both worlds, allowing some people to recline while others sit upright.

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  • Just the same as regular sectional sofas, ones that recline are a more intimate way to sit with family and friends. The L or curved shape that is so typical with this piece of furniture makes it easy for everyone to talk to each other.
  • They are generally very comfortable pieces of furniture, covered in soft materials such as microfiber or leather and often overstuffed.
  • Not all of the sections will recline and this allows everyone to decide how he or she wants to sit.
  • There is often hidden space in between the seats for storage and cupholders.


  • This is the heaviest and most bulky seating option available. You not only have to contend with the large size the way you do with a regular sectional but will have to deal with the additional weight from the reclining portions of the sectional.
  • Due to the shape and size, it is incredibly difficult to move this piece of furniture and it will have to be turned on its side to be able to go through doors without damaging the frame. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to remove doors from the hinges to allow for more space when moving this sofa.
  • A reclining sectional sofa will not be able to be pushed up against the wall if you want to be able to recline, although some versions come with reclining seats that push down to recline more than back. While this is great if you are worried about space, it does not offer the comfort that is so common with a fully reclining chair or sofa.
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