Couch Research

Couch-ionary: What's With All of the Sofa Industry's Weird Terms?

What the heck is a Chesterfield anyway? A lot of nutty terms for couches out there – sofas, settees, loveseats, Chesterfields – will try to demystify.

What is the '2/3 rule' for a couch?

The 2/3 rule for couches is a helpful guideline when selecting the right sofa size for your living space. This rule suggests that a sofa's length should ideally occupy about two-thirds of the wall it's placed against. By adhering to this rule, you can avoid the pitfalls of an oversized or undersized sofa. The 2/3 rule isn't a strict formula, but rather a practical approach to ensure your sofa complements the room's layout. Combine it with your personal preferences and the overall style of your interior to strike the perfect balance between comfort and aesthetics.

What is a couch leg rest called?

An ottoman is a low, upholstered stool that typically comes with legs. This versatile piece of furniture serves multiple purposes, functioning as a footrest, coffee table, or extra seating. In addition to its primary use as a leg rest, an ottoman can also offer hidden storage. Many ottomans are designed with a hollow center that can be used to organize and store various items, such as blankets, games, books, and more. This dual functionality makes ottomans a practical and space-saving addition to a living room.

What is the difference between a 'sofa' and a 'couch'?

The distinction between a sofa and a couch primarily lies in their historical origins and, to some extent, their design characteristics. Generally, both terms are used interchangeably in modern language, but there are a few subtle differences to consider:

  • Historical origins: The term "sofa" originates from Arabic and has been used for centuries to describe a bench with cushions, often used for reclining. "Couch," on the other hand, has been attributed to a man named Jay Wellingdon Couch, who is lauded as the creator of the couch in 1895. We at think maybe just the term, "Couch," however, since before
  • Design characteristics: Historically, a "sofa" has been associated with more formal and upholstered seating, often with arms and a backrest. Sofas may have a slightly curved or more refined design, suitable for elegant living spaces.A "couch," in contrast, could refer to a simpler, less formal piece of furniture. Couches may have a more casual appearance and can sometimes lack arms or have lower armrests.
  • Regional preferences: In some regions, like Europe, the term "sofa" is commonly used, while in North America, "couch" is more prevalent but both regions use both terms interchangeably. The choice of terminology can be influenced by cultural and linguistic factors.

What do Americans call a 'couch'?

In the United States, a couch is also commonly referred to as a "sofa." The preference for "sofa" is more prevalent in proper American English but the term "couch" is more commonly used in conversation.

The term "sofa" likely originated from the Arabic word "suffah," which described a bench with cushions. This term was later adopted in England and made its way to the USA, where it became the more commonly used word. While both terms are understood in the US, "sofa" is the preferred term in the furniture industry.

Why do they call it a 'couch'?

Despite the best efforts of Jay Wellingdon Couch to be universally accepted as the "Couchfather" himself, it's also been argued that the term "couch" comes from the French word "coucher," which means "to lie down" or "to put to bed." The word "couch" is defined slightly differently from "sofa" and "settee."

Originally, a "couch" referred to a piece of furniture designed for reclining or lounging, often without a backrest or with a low backrest. Over time, the usage of "couch" broadened to include various styles of seating furniture, and it eventually became synonymous with "sofa" or "settee" in many contexts.

What is the origin of the word 'lounge'?

The word "lounge" has its origin in the French term "s'allonger," which means "to lounge about" or "lie at full length." The concept of "lounge" encompasses comfort and relaxation. Whether it's referring to a room, a comfortable sofa, or the act of reclining in a relaxed manner, the common thread is the idea of making oneself comfortable in one spot for a while.

What is the difference between a 'sleeper sofa' and a 'sofa bed'?

While there is no technical difference in the furniture industry between these terms, the primary conversational difference between a sleeper sofa and a sofa bed usually lies in the difference in mattress design. What most people refer to as a "sleeper sofa" contains a concealed mattress within its frame, to be pulled out when needed.

Conversely, what folks usually refer to as a "sofa bed" is akin to a futon that can be laid flat to create a bed-like surface- they typically do not come with a regular mattress like sleepers do. No matter the language or semantics, understanding the differences in the products available to you can help you choose the option that best suits your comfort, budget, and space-saving needs.

Is a 'loveseat' a couch?

A loveseat is a type of couch. The primary difference between a sofa and a loveseat is the size. In essence, a loveseat is a smaller type of couch, often referred to as a two-seater sofa. Despite the minor differences in proportions, both a loveseat and a sofa serve the same general purpose of providing seating for multiple individuals. Why is it called a "loveseat"? Probably because it helps to love the person you're stuck on a two seater couch with but who the heck knows!

What is the Canadian word for 'couch'?

In Canada, the term "Chesterfield" is used to refer to a sofa or couch, especially among older Canadians. This term is a uniquely Canadian way of describing a couch. While "couch" and "sofa" are also widely understood and used in Canada, "Chesterfield" is a more traditional and distinctive term.

Is a 'loveseat' the same as a 'sofa bed'?

A loveseat is not the same as a sofa bed. The difference is highlighted in their functionality and size. A "loveseat" is designed to seat two people, making it a compact seating option ideal for smaller spaces. While a sofa bed is a versatile piece of furniture that can provide both seating and a sleeping area. That being said, there are some loveseats that convert into sleeper sofas and sofa beds.... kind of like how a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn't a sq-- you get the idea.

Hopefully, the above context answers some questions to help lift some of the sofa smog and help making your selection a bit simpler!

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Alex Back is the founder and CEO of Previously, he was the co-founder and COO of the popular furniture brand, Apt2B, which was acquired by a large US retail furniture chain in 2018. He worked to integrate Apt2B, one of the very first online furniture retailers on the Shopify platform, into the operations of the 100 year old larger business entity and was deeply immersed in the business operations of both online and brick and mortar retail for 4 years before leaving in 2023 to start Working in various parts of the furniture industry since 2004, he has 20 years experience in retail sales, e-commerce, marketing, operations, logistics and wholesale manufacturing and distribution. He has worked extensively with partners such as Costco, Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon and his work has been highlighted in many publications such as Forbes, CNN and HGTV, among others. Alex is delighted to bring his experience and authority on couches and the furniture industry to this platform, along with many of his industry colleagues who are helping him keep the audience informed and engaged on a daily basis.
Alex Back CEO & Founder