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25. September 2013

The age-old question: What is the difference between a couch and a sofa?

Most people think a couch and a sofa are the same thing. Some people think that the term “couch” is slang for “sofa”; when in fact, this is not true. While the two may be similar in general function, form and style separate these two as distinct entities. A couch and a sofa ultimately remain two very different things. A good way to spot an experienced interior designer is if they refer to a sofa as a sofa or incorrectly, as a couch. It can be confusing; so, to lay your questions to rest, here is a detailed account of the differences between a couch and a sofa.


Derived from the French word “couche,” a couch originated as an armless piece of furniture that was very popular during the Victorian period. The root of the word “coucher” in French means “to lie down” or “to put to bed.” This type of furniture was often addressed as “the fainting couch,” by those of the time. These fainting couches were used in order to provide a place for the ladies wearing tight-fitted corsets with restricted breathing abilities, when they needed a soft place to fall and gather themselves, or to “sit a spell.” For practicality’s sake, these couches generally featured one arm or no arm at all and boasted a tapered back, to allow soft support for these fainting beauties.

During the Greek and Roman ages, a couch was a common piece of furniture found in the classical age. A wooden structure that was approximately thirty-six inches high with a single low arm and no back, they were often beautifully carved with motifs from Mythology and nature. These couches were most often used during large parties or social gatherings. Today, a couch is something commonly seen in dens or fraternities. (Still a large part of Greek life.) Partly due to the popularity of the word and our close origin to the French language as American English-speakers, the word “couch” has become a common part of our everyday vernacular, often confused for its distant relative the sofa.

The term sofa is derived from the Turkish word “sofa” and the Arabic term “suffah,” a word used to describe a long bench, which can be covered with blankets and cushions. The word “suffah” in Arabic is derived from the verb “saffa,” which means “to line up, arrange in a line, arrange in an order.” Sofas are typically known to feature two arms and a uniform back; hence, the “lined up” element in the meaning of the Arabic root word.
By the early 18th century, small tables were becoming a fashionable necessity for activities such as reading and letter writing. Accompanying these tables, sofas in dozens of styles had been invented to accommodate these sorts of activities. Craftsmen on both sides of the English Channel feverishly aimed to churn out and develop the perfect pieces to meet the needs of their buyers.

The modern style of the sofa became astonishingly popular amongst the French royals and aristocracy, enough for French craftsmen to spend a large amount of their time specifically devoted to this art.
Now, more than 300 years after Europeans discovered it, the sofa remains an iconic piece of furniture integral to any home décor.


If you observe the proportions of a couch versus a sofa, there are noticeable differences that will offer clues to what you are looking at. A couch is generally larger by design and could be described as a bit more like a bed, as its measurements were originally designed for women in various states of repose.

Sofas are constructed with an upright back, four legs, and firm armrests. Usually, sofas are intended to accommodate parties of four, which is why they are optimal for a center focal point in a living room, where people gather. The ornate design of many of these pieces also adds to the presence of a sofa in a social room such as a living room or receiving room.

Learn the difference between a sofa and couch and which is the proper word!

Couch vs. Sofa


The construction of a piece lends itself well to the particular style and needs of a homeowner. Sofa Designers offers a sumptuous array of sofa beauties to accommodate your interior decorating expedition.

Some things to consider when deciding which function would most likely suit your needs:
– What activities are you most likely to enjoy with your type of furniture?
– Is an aesthetically pleasing visual presence important to you?
– How long would you like to own your furniture?
– How many guests do you usually accommodate?
– Do you plan on hosting parties or events?

Sofas are designed with the intentions of comfort and style. That’s not to say that sofas are stuffy creatures. Quite the opposite! A sofa is designed for comfort while being dignified with the beauty and class of an item that wishes to be passed down from generation to generation. While a couch is more of a utility vehicle, intended primarily for its function, rather than its form, sofas are wonderful additions to a living room as they are designed to represent sophistication, style, and taste.

The types of activities will usually indicate the style of seating for your chosen place of relaxation and comfort. Sofa Designers can assist you in determining what style (modern, contemporary, or traditional) and what size would best suit your decorating needs. Our experienced in-house interior designers implement a wealth of decorating knowledge to assist you in furnishing your home to your utmost delight!

See for yourself!

Allow Sofa Designers to embellish your living room with the beautiful addition of a stunning sofa. Visit our showroom in San Diego on Miramar Road and impress us with your knowledge of what makes a sofa, a sofa!