Many people are unaware of the fact that the sectional sofa—now a staple in most living rooms around the nation—was an original design, born and bred in these United States! Paintings of Civil War-era homes reveal a number of modular sofa designs that were meant to come apart and move around the room. This allowed for different seating arrangements depending on the occasion, as well as wrap-around corner seating and ease of getting larger seating options in and out of the room.
The design didn’t become popular, however, until the mid 1940s, when a then-unknown Harvey Probber began experimenting with modular seating arrangements. After more and more clients approached him for these “sofa sections” in custom configurations, he decided to formalized a few seating designs and, in 1947, opened a manufacturing facility in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Other notable midcentury-era designers of that time—such as Milo Baughmann, Adrian Pearsall and George Nelson—modified Probber’s early designs; playing with different arm and back heights, extending the seat and losing the back to become an attached bench, or adding a perfectly proportional side table in the middle of the arrangement. By 1960, the sectional sofa became a staple in many modern homes.
Today, the sectional sofa has taken on a few new configurations. There’s the corner sectional, when the back cushions extend around the entire L-shape (here’s our popular GRAY); the chaise sectional, when a long chaise lounge extends out from the side of the sofa (such as the versatile AINSLEY, shown above in Pebble Weave-Zinc; or a simple 2 or 3-seat sofa with a matching ottoman that can be set against the sofa as a foot rest, or come apart to act as a freestanding backless seat (see our popular SLOAN sofa with ottoman, below). The best part of this authentically American sofa style is that it embodies what we love most about this country: freedom! Whether it takes on an L-shape or U-shape, chaise or no chaise, or has a detachable ottoman, everyone is free to choose the sectional sofa that’s the best fit for their lifestyle.