What do you call the big piece of furniture in the family room that seats more than one person? Do you say it is a couch, or is it a sofa? I have heard this essential piece of furniture called both terms. My question is; which term (sofa or couch) is correct? I would imagine the majority of people use these words interchangeably for the same piece of furniture. So does that mean a sofa and a couch are the same thing?
Is it Regional?
Are these terms influenced by where you live? For instance, depending on where you grew up in the United States, you may say pop or soda when referring to a carbonated beverage. The word couch is considered a generic term in most English speaking countries. However, in some parts of the United Kingdom the generic term for this piece of living room furniture is sofa or settee. The culture you live in could have an effect on this important debate between sofa vs. couch.
What’s in a Name?
The etymology of these two words may shed some light on the difference between a sofa and a couch. According to Online Etymology Dictionary, traditionally the term “couch” refers to a piece of furniture with only one raised end or armrest, and has only a half back. The term “sofa” on the other hand, refers to furniture with raised ends on both sides and a full back. Considering the origin of these words, a couch is more closely related to a daybed or chaises and is meant for laying down on. A sofa is then meant for sitting upright on because of having a full back. Does this mean most of us have a sofa in our living rooms?
What does the Interior Designer Say?
When I was in design school, I can recall my professors telling the class make sure you say sofa not couch. Why? I believe it is because the word “couch” can sound like something unattractive. Sofa is a piece of furniture that is well-designed and a couch is what you find in a college frat house or on the street curb. So I personally use the term sofa for furniture that seats more than one person.
To be honest, I think both terms are acceptable. What term you use is the result of combination of things, including what your parents said, where live in the world and if you are an interior designer.
Now let’s take a vote. Place your vote by leave a comment with the term you use most often. You can also include other terms not discussed in this post (i.e. davenport or settee). I am excited to see what the majority vote is.
- How a Modern Designer Sofa Can Create a Homely Space ? (chictip.com)
- 8 Great Living Rooms & Why They Work (decor8blog.com)
- Fabulous Living Room Interiors for All Tastes (betterhomeblog.com)