For decades, there has been a great debate regarding the difference between a couch and a sofa. The sofa vs couch argument has heard many different voices. But have those voices reached the general public?
For the most part, they haven’t. People still argue about the difference between a sofa and a couch. But once you know the history and what each word really means, it’s not that hard to categorize them.
Sofa Vs Couch Overview
Before we begin, we should make one thing clear. In today’s world, the word sofa and couch are interchangeable. We can use them both in the same context and people will know what we’re talking about.
However, there are historical and aesthetic differences between the two that most people subconsciously recognize. A sofa is seen as more refined, formal, and delicate. While a couch is seen as more comfortable and relaxed.
You wouldn’t find someone lounging on the sofa, but a couch was made for lounging. But that’s not where the differences end. There are other differences that only history can reveal. After all, the words came from somewhere.
History Of Sofas
The word “sofa” dates back to 2000BC Egypt. It was derived from the Arabic word “suffah” which means “bench” but was something quite different at the time. Only the wealthy had them, after all. The sofas back then were more like chaise lounges.
These suffahs were quite popular amongst rich Egyptians for thousands of years. Then, during the Dark Ages, they all but ceased to exist given their hefty price tag. It was until the 1500s that people started using them again.
When Europeans started building them, they were more comfortable and more similar to the sofas we see today. But it wasn’t until the Victorian age that they were completely transformed into what we know and love as sofas.
History Of Couches
Have you ever wondered why churches usually have hard, uncomfortable benches? For the longest time, Christians believed that the body and the soul were extremely opposing forces. Bodies sought out pleasure.
This means, the soul could not be present, in a sense, when the body was the one in control. If your body was comfortable, your soul could not be what it should be. So, church pews were purposely uncomfortable.
The word “couch” originated from the Old French word “couche” which can mean “to lie down.” So obviously, a couch was originally meant for lying down. Most likely, for naps, considering that beds were used at night.
Since Old French was used from the 8th to the 16th century, we can assume that couches were first used during this time. At this time, however, they were unlikely upholstered. The first modern couch wasn’t invented until the 1700s.
Sofa Vs Couch Pros And Cons
Today, the word couch is used more often in the United States whereas the word sofa is used more often in the United Kingdom. The two are heard everywhere, but this is what is widespread in each region.
But as far as aesthetics in America are concerned, which is better? A sofa or a couch? Which word is more appropriate to use when searching the internet or asking a realtor about them? Here are the pros and cons of each word.
Sofa Pros Vs. Cons
These exquisite pieces of furniture can make any room feel tasteful. But at what cost? Here are the pros and cons of sofas.
- More refined aesthetic
- Easier to search
- Used by professionals
- Used in most countries
- Not as comfortable
- Not as kid-friendly
Couch Pros Vs. Cons
A couch can make a room feel like home and welcome any guest. But are they “nice” enough and is the word widely used? Here are the pros and cons of a couch.
- Understood by most Americans
- Can be used for sleeping
- Usually cheaper
- Doesn’t translate well
- Not as refined, in general
- Hard to shop for
Best Sofas Of 2021
While the word sofa and couch are interchangeable, we’ve done the hard work for you. When people use certain keywords, they are looking for certain things. These are some of the most popular sofas for those who use the word “sofa” to find furniture.
Sofas with flared arms are usually called sofas instead of couches. They have a Victorian feel, and Victorian “couches” are generally called sofas. Another indicator is raised bottoms without skirts, which gives an airy, and delicate feel.
This sofa by One Alium Way is a great example of a textbook sofa. It even has a vintage frame to make it look elaborate without looking dated. It’s a sofa like this that you’d see in classic parlors, sitting by the fireplace.
Another telltale sign that you have a sofa instead of a couch is buttoned cushions with straight lines. Couches with buttoned cushions are usually puffier and rounder. Again, this is just an aesthetic, not a technical difference.
This couch comes in bold colors, something you don’t’ see in sofas like it often. It is both retro and modern, making it mid-century modern which is one of the most popular designs styles of 2021.
It’s important to note that a sofa and settee are two separate pieces of furniture. However, some would use the word sofa to describe a settee but never use the word couch to describe one. This is a good indicator of the difference between the two.
This settee is almost like a sofa hybrid. It’s one of the few sofas that couldn’t be considered a couch. You don’t see them like this often so this is a rare find that will suit some people’s taste perfectly.
Although rivets are widely popular in both couches and sofas, they are slightly more popular in sofas as sofas are more often square. This is an excellent choice for sofas and it comes in some of the richest colors.
The green is bold and beautiful, but the other colors are also gorgeous. They also have burgundy, blues, and neturas. But if you’re interested, hurry because they sell out fast, especially with colors in high demand.
Tan leather sofas are extremely trendy right now. Tan is a natural leather color, but you can get it in faux leather as well and it will look real. This option also comes in black but the tan option looks more genuine.
However, if you like black, don’t let the alluring tan stop you from getting black. The black is a classic and will suit any room. After all, you can’t go wrong with black in clothing or furniture, it’s a safe choice.
Best Couches Of 2021
Couches are relaxed, often cheaper than sofas, and are perfect for any family who loves laying around watching TV together. These are some of the most popular couches for those who use the word “couch” to find furniture.
You won’t see very many “sofas” that recline. But reclining couches are quite common. They look like three recliners that have been sewn together. Sometimes they rock individually and sometimes they rock together.
This one rocks together and was designed by Winston Porter, who makes amazing furniture. Each section can put their feet up separately, so you don’t have to have the same seating position as the rest of the family.
Another thing you’ll see more often in couches than in sofas is a skirt. You can buy skirts that fit most couches, but buying one with a skirt is ideal because it looks higher end. Because couches are usually cheaper than sofas, it’s a great investment.
However, getting a skirt is perfect for if you can’t afford a new couch yet but want something different. You can get covers or just a skirt, both at an affordable price. No one will know the difference and think you got a new couch.
You can find leather couches and leather sofas at most furniture stores. But a leather couch is usually rounder and comfier than a leather sofa, which looks nice but is typically stiffer. If it sinks down, it’s probably a couch.
If you’re over the age of 25, you probably remember Lunette and Molly from the Big, Comfy Couch. Well, no one would mistake that couch for a sofa. It’s far too comfortable and cozy to be anything but a couch.
Ironically enough, sofa beds are called couches more often than they are called sofas. This is because sofas aren’t made for sleeping on but couches are. If you have guests a lot, a couch is preferable to a sofa.
This couch looks just like any other couch but it’s actually a couch bed. Yes, it extends into a sleeper, giving guests or teens a full bed to sleep on rather than a couch. This is a huge plus and it’s not much more expensive.
If it’s retro and eccentric, it’s a couch. This small couch has more personality than all of the other couches put together. If you want something funky, then search for couches that are quirky and unique like this one.
Should I Get A Sofa Or A Couch?
Now that you’ve heard about the history of each and seen examples, the rest is up to you. While you can use either word when asking about furniture, choosing certain ones can reflect what you want.
In a way, it’s subliminal. If you say sofa, salesman, friends, and even Google will assume you want something nicer, fancier, and will pay more. When you say couch, they will assume you want some comfy and family-friendly.
With that knowledge, you’re free to go and find that perfect piece of furniture for your room!