Sofa vs. Couch

What’s the difference between a sofa and a couch you ask? One might think that there isn’t much difference since they both have the same function and they both come in many colors, shapes and sizes. Historically, the word couch comes from the French word “couche”, which means it is an armless piece of furniture. It was a piece very popular during the Victorian period and was known as a “fainting couch”. The couches were used in order to provide a place for women wearing tight corsets, which restricted their breathing, and who needed to “sit a spell”. Today, I refer to this type of seating as a chaise.

The word sofa comes from the Arabic term “suffah” which means something along the lines of “a bench” or some place meant for reclining or sitting, but not laying. Sofas are known to have two arms and a uniform back.

Debates over the true difference between a sofa and couch could probably go on an on, but from what I have learned as a designer is that professional interior designers/decorators should always refer to anything resembling a sofa/couch as a sofa. This was something that was drilled into my head from all my design studio teachers over and over again. Students would literally get whipped if they ever said the word couch…ok, not really, but my instructors did make you feel like a hillbilly designer if you used the word couch. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel like a hillbilly, so I have and will always refer to this seating invention as a sofa.

Images: 1,2,3

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