Saturday, September 1, 2018

What's the Difference between a Couch and a Sofa?

Most of us aren’t too confused if someone says couch or sofa. We know they mean a rather large piece of furniture meant for sitting. So, is there really a difference between the two? Is one more formal than the other? Do they look or feel different?

At first glance, these two pieces of furniture may seem identical, but there are some differences. And although many designers use the term “sofa” exclusively, there are some subtle differences. Knowing the differences may not change what you call this piece of furniture, but will be a useful addition to your fun-fact arsenal.

Learn more about the subtle differences.


A Couch Perfect for Napping

Some consider “couch” a more casual term than sofa, and this could be because of the word’s origin. The word comes from “coucher,” the French word for “to lie down.” This piece of furniture gained popularity in the Victorian era. They generally had one armrest, or none, and a tapered back, so were more casual in both form and function.

Although our modern couches are rarely without arms, a couch is more likely to be something you curl up on, take a nap on, and let the dog sit on. Couches also tend to be smaller than sofas, seating 2-3 people comfortably. This Nantucket casual style seating option by Rowe with plush pillows and a skirt-covered base is perfect for a casual family room or den.

In most cases, couches are found in informal and casual settings such as a cozy family room or man cave. And while functionally, these two pieces serve the same purpose, people tend to prefer the term couch when they are referring to a casual, un-stuffy room.

sofa with glass and metal side table

A Sofa by Any Other Name

Sofa, which comes from the Arabic term “suffah,” always seems a little more formal. It was originally a wooden bench covered in cushions and blankets. Not the best place for napping or curling up. Most design professionals admit to rarely hearing people using the word “couch,” and “sofa” does seem to be the industry standard.

Sofas tend to be bigger, seating four or more people, making them a perfect choice for people who enjoy entertaining. This 3-piece, L-shaped sectional sofa from Huntington House provides plenty of seating. Unlike its Arabic namesake, this sofa is actually perfect for curling up on or stretching out and napping. Sofas, in general, are perceived as being more formal and giving out an elegant and classy vibe.

When should you use couch or sofa? Sometimes it just depends. The general consensus is that couch is the older term, probably in use since the Middle Ages. It became more popular during the middle ages when "fainting couches" became common. Either word is appropriate for a big, comfortable piece of furniture perfect for lounging, relaxing, snuggling, and yes, napping.

Read Baer's Furniture reviews on Indeed to learn more. Check out Baer's Furniture Reviews on Houzz for more design inspiration.

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