Couch alternatives: 12 stylish and budget-friendly seat ideas that aren't living room sofas

These couch alternatives are great options if you want to swap out a sofa or need additional seating options in your lounge

A 3-in-1 green velvet futon that functions as sofa, accent chairs and futon bed decor in living room with area rug underneath
(Image credit: Wayfair)

There are many reasons why you might be on the hunt for couch alternatives. Contrary to popular belief a sofa doesn't have to be an essential in your living room, nor must they exclusively be the only seating option available in your sitting room. 

For some the best sofa, (however gorgeous it is) might be too big. And for others, adding another settee is just too simplistic. So we've been on the lookout for some stylish seats for your scheme.

Whatever your style or budget, we've searched some of the best retail outlets to find furniture to fit (physically and aesthetically) in your front room. Many sofa alternatives look and function in a similar way to a sofa, and perform different roles when butts are not bound to these chairs.

1. Buy a bean bag chair as a couch alternative

Urban Outfitters Aspyn faux fur shag bean bag chair in living room with framed wall art and indoor houseplant

(Image credit: Urban Outfitters)

Put aside your college misconceptions about bean bag chairs and make this sofa alternative look chic. While we love this faux fur shag version from Urban Outfitters (opens in new tab). There are tons of couch alternatives that come in at less if you're on the hunt for a bargain. Some even come with removable covers which not only makes washing easier, but means you can switch out different designs to decorate your living room with. For example, if you're after ideas for a mid-century modern living room – a bean-filled bag with a tan leather case will work a treat.

Give this couch alternative a proper place in your living room by styling it in a cozy corner with framed wall art and a houseplant – et voila: instant reading nook idea.

2. Take a seat on a bench

Oliver Bonas tufted bench with brass colored floor lamp and indoor houseplants

(Image credit: Oliver Bonas)

If a settee feels super formal, a bench is where it's at for a relaxed way to rest tired feet. This tassel tufted natural & cream bench from Oliver Bonas (opens in new tab) is the perfect boho living room idea if you're a free-spirited gal or guy. Complete with wooden legs, an on-trend geometric design, and tactile tassel details, this seventies-inspired sofa alternative will 

If boho is a no-no, simply switch up the material to suit. Boucle is a cozy textile that works in minimalist modern living room ideas and jewel-toned velvets look dreamy in dark and dramatic living room designs.

3. Turn a daybed into a seat

Carved Lovella day bed by Anthropologie with warm rust-colored twin mattress and framed abstract wall art in living room

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Who needs a bed and a sofa when you can have both at the same time? A daybed is a perfect idea for a small living room that doubles up as a guest bed or as the main sleep solution in a studio apartment. 

While the initial cost of the Carved Lovella Daybed from Anthropologie (opens in new tab) is a bit of an investment, you can chop and change the twin mattress inserts for a different look each season.

4. Hang with an egg chair 

A rattan hanging egg chair with palm print cushions with houseplants and grey herringbone LVT flooring

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Hanging chairs are a couch alternative that can add height, texture, and dimension to your living room. If your egg chair doesn't have a cushioned insert, add pillows and throws to make this seat feel more comfortable. You could even make your backyard cushions work a bit harder indoors when it's grey outside.

Make these suspended swings a real feature in your lounge by making sure your living room ceiling ideas really shine. Alternatively, if you've got low ceilings you don't want to draw attention to, style alongside the best indoor plants for a cozy jungle-inspired scheme.

5. Use your coffee table ottoman

Anthropologie Bouclé coffee table ottoman in front of dusty pink painted wall with framed wall art

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Ottomans are certainly worth their weight in gold in the lounge. Bang for buck, they're one of the best piece of living room furniture to own no matter what size your lounge space.

This boucle-bound couch alternative is the perfect piece of multi-functional furniture from Anthropologie (opens in new tab). When you're not using it as a seat, it makes an ideal coffee table ottoman for displaying any cute coffee table decor ideas you have.

6. Laze on a chaise

A grey velvet chaise longue with storage compartment in a living room with blue wall paint decor and traditional cream-colored fireplace in background

(Image credit: Wayfair)

Add a luxurious feel to your front room with a chaise longue chair. This piece of furniture will add an expensive vibe to your lounge and will allow a lucky soul to recline 180 degrees or fully stretch out.

Go for a sultry velvet pile for an Art Deco-inspired aesthetic, choose a quilted Chesterfield style to add instant a Regencycore vibe, or add the element of surprise by selecting a chaise with secret storage compartments like the Gordana armless foam chaise lounge with storage from Wayfair (opens in new tab). Especially useful if you want a coffee table with storage, but don't want a piece of furniture in the center of the room.

7. Pick up a pouf

Homesense retro living room with geometric living room wallpaper and velvet orange pouf decor

(Image credit: Homesense)

Adding a pouf to a living room is a playful idea that'll pay dividends by playing different roles in your lounge from one day to the next. As well as a sofa alternative, it can also act as a footstool, coffee table, and place to store your magazines. 

When buying this bouffant seat, choose a style that'll make a statement. This orange velvet ball from Homesense (opens in new tab) plays to the retro strengths of the scheme and compliments the warm hues of brown, mustard and red throughout.

8. Bring a outdoor cushion inside (or pile 'em high)

An assortment of outdoor cushions by John Lewis & Partners

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Unless you live in an area with a 100% guarantee of sunshine (lucky you), most retailers recommend that you take your outdoor cushions inside (or at least away from the elements) when it's pouring with rain.

But rather than storing them away until the sun comes out again – use them as a low-level sofa alternative. While grandma will probably want something 'proper' with a fully-supportive backrest and arms, this pillowy purchase will gain the approval of young kids and teens.

Scatter them around the room for impromptu seats in a living room play area and when you're done, stack them high in the corner of the room.

9. Add an oriental touch with a futon

A green velvet 3-in-1 convertible sofa that functions as a sofa, sleeper sofa and two accent chairs in living room with wall paneling and Eastern-inspired traditional area rug

(Image credit: Wayfair)

This piece of might look like one of the best velvet sofas you've seen before, but this multi-functional futon far more than that. This 3-in-1 Ajka Twin 74.8'' Wide Velvet Convertible Sofa from Wayfair (opens in new tab), can be styled like a conventional sofa, pulls away as two separate accent chairs, and is slumber party-friendly as a sleeper sofa too.

Style tip: Though a contemporary piece of furniture, we love how things have been kept classic with the wall paneling. You too can copy this style with our DIY board and batten tutorial.

10. Cozy up on a loveseat

Cream colored two-seater sofabed with scatter cushions in living room with rattan pouffe, rattan ceiling light lampshade and wooden coffee side table with brass colored lampshade

(Image credit: Sofology)

Yes, it's technically a type of small sofa, hence we've kept it until last. But it goes to show that bigger isn't always better when it comes to couches, especially if you want to make a small living room look bigger.

If you're adamant that the aforementioned couch alternatives won't work for you, then have your cake and eat it with this half-way house approach.

11. Bring your outdoor furniture inside

A set of two rattan chairs in living room by garden

(Image credit: China Cooper)

Even the most expensive outdoor lounge chairs aren't invincible when it comes to the elements. So if its raining outside, why not bring them in as a sofa alternative. In the summer months, sitting on a leather sofa can be super uncomfortable (read: clammy) so these airy couch alternatives allow your skin to breathe.

If your living room is next to the garden, create an outdoor living room feel by opening the doors to ventilate the space and allow a cool but gentle breeze to circulate in your space. Make the space feeling uber relaxing with a lightweight living room window treatment idea like voile curtains to maximize on the airy aesthetic you're trying to achieve.

12. Make use of lofty ceilings with a hammock

A New York apartment with modern furniture and hammock

(Image credit: Getty Images / Cavan Images)

Make holiday memories a permanent feature in your home with a hammock swing suspended from a ceiling. Blurring urban with exotic, this would look great as an apartment living room idea surrounded by the best indoor plants for that balmy Bali vibe. 

Alternatively, for a more permanent feature, you could use a porch swing, but be sure to securely install it, otherwise you risk damaging your ceilings.

What can you use instead of sofas?

'Chairs are much easier to move around than are large sofas when you need a flexible seating arrangement,' says Anna Jacoby, founder of Anna Jacoby interiors (opens in new tab).

'Let’s say you often have gatherings at your house and need to be able to move or expand the seating area easily, or clear the floorspace.'

'Chairs should coordinate in terms of color and style, but they don’t necessarily have to match. If you’re not sure what to do, though, go for matching chairs. Or perhaps two different chairs, but in the same fabric. If you choose two different chairs, make sure they are the same height and width, give or take an inch or two. You don’t want two of the chairs to dwarf the other two.'

Christina joined the Real Homes team as a digital writer in June 2021. Prior to this she worked on Good Home magazine and events. She lived closed to Epping Forest and is spoiled for choice with lush green spaces, but loves her own English garden that adjoins her ground-floor maisonette, complete with a floral melange of roses, lavender, jasmine and an apple tree.


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