Loveseat vs. Sofa: Outdoor Living Room Seating 101

Originally Published on November 17, 2022. Last Updated on May 13, 2024.

Shopping for furniture and making your house a home—both indoors and out—should be a fun, creative process. However, this is easier said than done. From layout possibilities and furniture styles to color schemes and budget parameters, home design can start to feel like an endless game of this-or-that. And when it comes to big-ticket purchases and high-traffic areas, it’s good to make the right decisions the first time around. 

While we can’t tell you if it’s time to replace those old lawn chairs or what trends will still be in a decade from now, we can help demystify one common design question: What are the differences between a loveseat and a sofa? 

Jump to Section:

Size Comparison | Cost Comparison | Functional Differences

Size Comparison Guide

Standard Loveseat Sizing

Overall Length: 52–64 inches

Seat Depth: 20–24 inches

Overall Height: 26–28 inches

Standard Sofa Sizing

Overall Length: 70–96 inches

Seat Depth: 20–24 inches

Overall Height: 26–28 inches

The main difference between the two is size—more specifically, the distance from arm to arm. Sofas accommodate three or four people, while loveseats generally fit one or two. With their added length, sofas are the favored style for laying down, catching a few winks, or hosting multiple friends. Loveseats are great for smaller spaces, curling up with a book, and creating cozy conversation nooks. 

It’s important to note that others may define the “standard” sizing of loveseats and sofas differently. To ensure your preferred seating style will work in your outdoor space, it’s always best practice to measure first. 

Pro tip: Before you buy, mark the dimensions out on your floor with painter’s tape.How To Measure Your Outdoor Space - POLYWOOD Blog

Cost Comparison

We’ve determined the biggest difference here is that loveseats are smaller than sofas in size, and in many cases, the price reflects that. If you’re comparing a loveseat and a sofa within the same collection, the loveseat will be slightly less expensive. 

However, the materials and labor needed to create both are similar, so the price contrast between the two is marginal. Specialized designs like curved sofas or deep seating loveseats tend to be more expensive than similar styles in standard sizing. 

Functional Differences 

Outdoor loveseats and sofas have a similar look and feel—a bench connected to a backrest with armrests on either side. In most cases, they are padded with removable cushions. From traditional designs to sleek modern silhouettes, both come in a range of aesthetics. But in terms of function, they serve different purposes.

Small but mighty, loveseats are loved for their versatility. They can act as the main seating on apartment balconies and other smaller spaces, but they also work well as an accent piece on a porch or nestled in a garden. For large families and floor plans, they are often paired with a coordinating full-sized sofa. 

Sofas, thanks to their grand size and stretch-out proportions, are the centerpiece of an outdoor living room. From family gatherings to cozy afternoon naps, their primary use is for lounging. Function tends to be prioritized over form, and comfort is key.

Outdoor Deep Seating Sofas Around Fire Pit


Why is it called a loveseat? 

In the 18th and 19th centuries, decades after they were invented, loveseats were used for courtship. Couples at the time weren’t allowed to spend time alone, so this two-person seat offered a space where they could sit and talk in public while being close to one another. If all went according to plan, they would even fall in love. 

What’s the difference between a couch and a sofa?

There’s no definitive difference between these two seating styles, but most industry professionals agree that the term couch tends to feel more casual, while sofa feels more refined. 

What’s a sectional sofa? 

Sectional sofas are two (or more) seating sections connected together. For example, a chaise sectional is a bench-style sofa with an attached chaise, while an L-shape sectional is two sofas connected by a corner seat. If you host a lot of guests, sectionals are a great way to maximize your outdoor family room.

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