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What is an English Rolled Arm Sofa?

This is a blue Chesterfield sofa with rolled arms and the UK flag printed on it.

You’ve bought or leased your first home and as you stand in it for the first time after signing the papers, you realize… you do not have the furniture to fill it. After many years of living in dorm rooms or studio apartments, you have this – vast space.

Let’s face it. Your futon isn’t going to cut it. Forget the bean bag chairs and settle down in front of your fireplace to plan out your new home. Yes, you need to sit on the floor for now, but just imagine that room full of lovely furnishings. Why you could be sitting on an English Rolled Arm Sofa by next week.

What’s that you ask?

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Introducing the English Rolled Arm Sofa

A variation on the traditional sofa developed in the 1800s and popularized by furniture designer George Smith, most interior designers recommend this sofa. It’s their favorite due to its versatility, comfort, and sturdiness. Designers typically use this couch in their own homes.

These sofas feature a tight back with a slight slope. Its low curved arms mold the curve of the human arm. Its curved bottom frame shows as do its legs. On the oldest variation of these couches, designers use a “T” seat cushion. This creates a visual effect of the sofa seeming smaller than it is. It’s not the Tardis though. If you only have a 40″ space, you cannot get a 42″ English-rolled couch and just hope that no one notice banging into it when they enter the room.

Alongside that oldest variant, sit the modern designs. These feature loose cushions instead of a T cushion. They also have straighter sides and arms, so the arms do not cradle a human’s limb the way the original does.

Considerations on the English Rolled Sofa

This is a lounge area with a chesterfield sofa, a club chair and an arm chair with rolled arms.

Depending on their upholstery, color, and design features, this type of couch may seem English, casual classic, American country home, Mid-Century, or contemporary. For example, when upholstered in floral chintz, it screams American country home or English.

The same sofa in a deep, dark chocolatey leather stamps itself as Mid-Century, while in black linen, you have a contemporary piece. You can categorize these types, as some interior designers and writers have done.

Unless you purchase from a department store, you will get to choose items like your upholstery, color, legs, and choose throw pillows to go with it. Some furniture designers offer up to 1,000 fabric choices when you combine the fabric with color and whether you choose print or pattern.

This means when you shop for these sofas, you need to focus on the design. Sit on the couch in all areas to determine whether it provides appropriate comfort. You should not nix a sofa based upon its fabric color because you will probably get to change that to your liking. The showroom model might come in plaid, but the designer may also offer florals, solids, stripes, houndstooth, abstract prints, etc.

Always ask what upholstery options you have before deciding to nix a sofa choice you otherwise like, especially if you found an English rolled arm sofa you especially like otherwise.

The Standard

Fans of the original style offered by George Smith in the 1800s can celebrate. You can own the same design from the same company with its tight back, curved sides and arms, and cozy down cushions. The firm remains in business and still crafts the original English roll arm sofa hundreds of years later.

The Modern

The more modern version provides a looser look and feel. It uses a loose cushion back. You will also find it has much chunkier arms. It may have turned legs, caster legs, or straight legs.

The Pleated Modern

This version of the English Rolled Arm Sofa has the same features as the modern, but it adds straight sides and arms plus pleated arm sleeves.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’re here to help answer your questions about these sofas. This FAQ addresses the most common inquiries. 

How much do these sofas cost?

You can find a huge range in prices amongst designers of English Rolled Sofas. Prices typically start at $1,800 at Interior Define and range up to $14,000 at George Smith.

What defines a tight back?

A tight back sofa features a sleek silhouette with less than a slight angle. This provides you with greater floor space making it a great choice for a small apartment. While you can find these sofas made traditionally, today’s versions usually have spring backs filled with a medium or firm foam of between one to three inches of cushioning.

Do all English rolled arm sofas have T seat cushions?

If the English rolled arm sofa uses a traditional design, it has T cushions. This means you can’t flip the seat cushions over; you have to flip then reverse them to make your cushions last longer.

With what material are these sofa cushions filled?

Each furniture designer uses a different type of foam or cushion filling. You can purchase foam cushions, down cushions, or a combination that uses both materials. Hollow fill fibers, feathers, polyester, and batting round out the choices for cushion fill on these sofas. High-density foam produces the firmest cushions.

In what lengths do English rolled arm sofas come?

You can find couches typically in lengths ranging from 72 inches to 96 inches. You can find longer or have a bespoke sofa crafted. You could purchase a loveseat, a type of couch that seats only two people. Loveseats range between 48 inches and 72 inches in length.

Some designers make them longer and you can obtain these sofas in 87 inches to 100 inches in length with four cushions. You would not have a sectional in this design.

What options do you get when you shop for these sofas?

Most furniture designers offer a sofa in multiple lengths, but only one depth. You also typically get to choose leg options, nail heads, and the fabric, if you shop at a fine furniture store.

In what depths do these English rolled arm sofas come?

English rolled arm sofas typically come in depths varying from 40 inches to 43 inches. The depth of these sofas makes them popular since you can curl up on these couches and get cozy.

What are the fabric or upholstery options on these sofas?

Linen, leather, upholstery fabric, and velvet top the list of most common coverings for these sofas. You can also find them in a cotton-linen blend. These may include solid colors, prints, plaids, abstract designs, houndstooth, or other options.

You can sometimes get indoor sofas covered with outdoor upholstery such as Sunbrella. This helps it hold up in sunny rooms and avoid fading. You can also have Scotch Guard applied to many fabrics.

Can you get a sleeper sofa in the English rolled arm sofa style?

Yes, you can! This style of sofa is ideally suited for housing a sleeper unit. You can find many options including those from Wendover, York, and Boca Raton.

Who makes this style of sofa?

Many companies make these sofas, but only a few stick to the traditional “Standard” design. You can find these sofas from major brands, including Alana, Serta, Soma Hawthorne, Winston, Noemi, Morren, Eton, and, of course, its original purveyor, George Smith.