The curvy sofa is 2023's big story – what designers say and why we're over straight-backed sofas

Softer on the eye, perfect for socializing and ideal for small spaces, the curved sofa is our top pick for 2023

Three pictures of living rooms with curved sofas in them
(Image credit: Crate & Barrel / Collection Noir / Wayfair)

There's been no escaping the curved sofa in late 2022. Spotted by our team from as far afield as High Point Market in North Carolina to Chelsea Harbour in London to a tiny island hotel in Croatia, it's a shape that interior designers clearly love. And we're sold. 

Sofa trends come and go, but they often focus on fabrics, the contrasting welting and leg materials. And while shapes vary, from straight two-seaters to family-sized sectionals, it's unusual for a new silhouette to stand out from the crowd quite like this. ‘Curved sofas (and furniture) are having a massive resurgence, having first become popular in the 1950s when Vladimir Kagen created his Serpentine sofa for an art collector client who required his guests to see his full collection from all vantage points,' says Samantha Wilson, interior designer and founder of Collection Noir. 'Since then, and thanks to this iconic piece and subsequent iterations, designers have been given a little more creativity when designing a space.'

But, aside from the pleasing visuals, what does this sofa shape offer that straight-backed can't and why is this 1950s staple being hailed as the best couch ever? We asked some of our favorite design experts.

'Their versatility is endless'

neutral living room with curvy sofa, marble coffee table, two matching wooden/rattan armchairs, large cream rug, drapes, hardwood floor, retro glass globe light

(Image credit: Collection Noir)

'There are many pros to a curved sofa, for instance, they can create a sense of space in a more compact setting. The perfectly chic design is so versatile that it can be adapted with bold and bright printed fabrics or even more subdued neutrals and boucles with ease,' says Samantha Wilson, interior designer and founder of Collection Noir.

'The simplicity of the design can be transformed time and time again by mixing up soft furnishings, occasional chairs and even the interior styling of a room, making it an everlasting, timeless piece. Providing more seating, they function as a stylish piece that invigorates a space more than a modular sofa would.

'If you have a spacious room, then the perfect setting for a curved sofa is to have it floating in the center of the room. This allows the beautiful curves to be exposed and will add an element of playfulness to the room. Even if space is at a premium, adding the right curved sofa can help soften the edges and create a sense of grandeur and openness. 

'Allowing for unique furniture layouts when faced with tricky designs, they are ideal for dealing with an odd-shaped room. The placement of a curved sofa can help with the once unusable area of a living space.

'For me, I love the way a curved sofa can center a room and immediately create a sense of understated luxury and calm, whilst paying homage to mid-century design. The subtle infusion of the curve instantly lifts a space and becomes a timeless yet versatile setting. Lastly, it's a great way to create a luxurious look and feel without maxing out the budget.'

'Their organic shapes aid relaxation' 

Curved sofa

(Image credit: Wayfair)

'As is often the case with new developments in NYC, there are challenges that need to be overcome – in our Waterline Square condo project, the round concrete exposed structural column in the living room that posed a furniture layout floor plan hurdle. We rendered bespoke, jewel tone, sculpturally shaped sofas that provide plentiful seating for entertaining while doubling as functional, fluid art,' says Francis Toumbakaris, founder and lead interior designer of Francis Interiors. 

'Curves have a unique way of softening a room and although curved furniture is nothing new, it is growing increasingly popular due to its manner of giving the eye a natural place to rest. 

'Arguably, furniture that feels good is considerably important and curved interiors are proven to give off a relaxing, calming, and welcoming feel due to a softness and rounded organic appearance.

'Curved furniture is ideal for spaces designed for relaxation. Select a chair or chaise with plush cushions and rounded edges to set up a cozy nook for reading or lounging.

'Curved sofas are just one of the many examples of using soft curves to instil a relaxing environment that therefore establishes a calming home that benefits mental and physical health. The increasing push for nature to become a part of our daily lives allows for the organic look of curved lines and soft edges to invite the impact of the creation of the natural, welcoming, familiar flow that is found in the environment despite the more rigid feel that can sometimes be found in other geometric spaces.'

'They are ideal for creating more intimate spaces'

neutral living room with green curvy couch large square artwork on walls, curvy armchairs, round coffee table, wood top, chandelier, drapes, patterned cushions

(Image credit: Celine Interior Design)

'Curved sofas and armchairs work so well to soften spaces and create a feeling of coziness and warmth – I love to use curved, fluid lines for seating especially in living areas where families come together to spend quality time in an informal setting. I have quite a few curved pieces in my own home,' says Noor Charchafchi, CEO and founder of Celine Interior Design

'Curves are also a useful tool in larger spaces as they help to create smaller, more intimate areas and offer a cocooning feel. We've played with rounded, softer forms in recent projects and even if the back of a sofa is straight, it's interesting to incorporate a curved seat that is then echoed by a curved coffee table, as shown in this project.' 

'They're a winning solution when scale is important'

Living room with white curved sofa

(Image credit: Athena Calderone for Crate & Barrel/Adrian Gaut/Colin King)

'Using a curved sofa is a great solution to assist in creating multiple seating groups in one large room. I used one for a library in a house where we needed access to all of the bookcases built-in around the room. A curved sofa sat in front of a full height bookcase wall and the shape helped us to easily have access to the bookcases,' says Jen Dallas, founder of Jen Dallas Interior Architecture and Design Studio.

'A curved shape makes it easy to move around them and the scale is such where one sofa doesn't take over the room.'.

'They take the focus off the TV'

living room with white panelling curved sofa and white fireplace

(Image credit: Jonathan Adler)

'Recently I wrote about the return of the conversation seating layout to living rooms and how this 18th Century furniture arrangement is becoming popular again for anyone who wants to take the focus in the living room away from the TV and put it firmly on socializing,' says Lucy Searle, Editor in Chief, Homes & Gardens.

'I think the new curved living room sofa ideas we're seeing are part of that trend. I suspect the recalculation we all made during the pandemic about how we use our homes – and the time we spent apart from friends and families – made us realize the importance of socializing in our own spaces, and this has sped up the re-emergence of this silhouette. Plus, it's undoubtedly more inviting a shape, visually. As for comfort, the best are somewhat squashy and forgiving, with deep seats, so that the back feels taller and more supportive. I would avoid the slimmer, firmer designs, which don't encourage curling up – rather, perching.'

Are there any downsides to curved sofas?

'You do have to be careful, as if you do not consider the overall design of a room correctly, then a curved sofa can create pockets or holes in a space. They can be a lot more expensive than a traditional sofa, and if you are someone who likes to rearrange your furniture and revive the space from time to time, then a curved sofa won't give you that same flexibility,' says Samantha Wilson, interior designer and founder of Collection Noir. 

Sophie Warren-Smith
Contributing Editor

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 20 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time, both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor for indie magazine, 91, she trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for modern weddings and events. For H&G, she writes features about interior design – and is known for having an eye for a beautiful room.