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Sofa Arm Styles: What's the Difference?

by Nick, Digital Specialist | March 18, 2021

The arm of a sofa can go a long way towards determining its comfort, size, and style. But what are the differences between each one?


There are a lot of different factors that can make up the style of a sofa, and they all work in concert to contribute to an overall look and feel of a piece. But one of the biggest pieces to the puzzle is the arm of the sofa. Let’s take a look at some of the different styles and some of the pros and cons of each are.

(Note: these are the most basic styles and this is not an exhaustive list. You might find some kind of combination of two or more of these, or a play off of one style that gives it a different look and feel.)

Track Arm
As the name implies, the track arm is straight from bottom to top, without any kind of outward curve. This tends to give a sofa a clean, streamlined look, and works well with many different styles- especially more transitional and contemporary ones. Perhaps the most appealing feature of the track arm is that it takes up less space than some others- a sofa or sectional with this kind of arm would be a great choice if you’re working with a smaller space, in order to maximize the amount of seating space that’s available. One thing it’s not great for: lying down. If you like to take naps on your sofa, this arm might not be the most comfortable for your neck!


Rolled Arm
A sofa with this kind of arm would be considered more traditional, since it’s got more of a round shape to it. This is considered a little more casual, making your space feel comfortable and relaxed. The fabric that’s on this arm can dress it up a little, making it look a step more formal. If you want to draw attention to the shape, see if you can add a little flair like some metal nailhead trim. This type of arm is perfect for laying your head on if you lie down, but it does take up a little more space- if you have a smaller room, this arm could be considered “wasted” space since it takes up some room that could otherwise be used for seating.


Panel Arm
This is the same shape as the rolled arm above, but with a “panel” inserted into the front face of the arm. This serves to bring some attention to the shape of the arm, highlighting the curves of the piece, and adds a dimension which makes the sofa even more formal. The same benefits- and detractors- from the rolled arm apply here.


English (Charles-of-London) Arm
This sofa is somewhat similar in shape to the track arm, but usually features a softer curve as it goes down the front of the sofa. The other trademark of this arm is the pleating of the fabric at the corner of the arm, where it turns downward. This is considered the most formal arm, so this is a great choice if that’s the style you’re aiming for. Pair it with a turned leg to make it look very traditional, or use a tapered leg and a striped fabric to give it a cottage or beachfront look.