It's the age old question. What is the proper term for that large upholstered piece of furniture in your living room or family room? Well, both are correct. A sofa or couch refers to a piece of furniture for seating two or more people. It has a bench-like shape, comes with or without arms, and is partially or entirely upholstered. "Couch" is more commonly used in North America, Australia and New Zealand, while "sofa" is mostly used in the U.K. and Ireland.

But, what are the different forms of sofa? There are loveseats, sectional sofas, divans, fainting couches, canapés and chaises. Now when you're out shopping for the perfect piece of furniture, you'll know what to call them. Here are examples of each of these.

Loveseat. A small couch specifically designed to only seat two, thus the "love" part of the word.

Sectional sofa. A larger upholstered piece created by combining multiple "sections" that join at an angle (most commonly at a 90 degree angle. This configuration is perfect for outfitting large entertainment rooms.

A Divan has a long history, originating in the Middle East (most specifically Persia and the Ottoman Empire). It is best defined as a seat formed by placing a mattress-like cushion along a wall and a number of pillows to lean against. A divan may or may not be raised up off the floor. The example below is absolutely beautiful - I see many a Saturday afternoon curled up with a good book and a cup of tea.

A Fainting Couch (first picture below) and the Chaise Longue (we incorrectly call them "chaise lounge" by the way) are very closely related. The difference is in the placement of arms and back structures. A chaise longue is really just a long chair. It may or may not have arms. In contemporary times, chaises are sometimes attached to sofas, making a sectional sofa with a chaise. The fainting couch was most popular in Victorian times when women because of their corsets would have to carefully lounge so as to not faint (or in case they felt they were going to faint because of a too-tight corset). 

The last two versions of a couch are Settees and Canapés. Think of a settee as a bench with arms and a back. A canapé is a sofa with an exposed wood frame, most often with intricate carved details.

Well, I hope that clarifies everything! So, next time you're looking for a new piece of furniture or you're at a friend's house, you can really impress them with your new found furniture terminology.

And, of course, if you need any help navigating the furniture of world and picking out the perfect piece, feel free to call JASON BALL interiors.

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