From the tiniest of apartments to the grandest of mansions, there is one furniture item that can be found in all of them – a sofa! And there is a good reason for that.
We usually spend so much of our time at home in the living room, which makes the couch one of the most important features of the house. The sofa is the setting for mid-day naps and lazy weekends, movie nights and those long-awaited catch-ups with old friends. But how many of us actually know the history behind this ubiquitous household item?
When we choose a sofa for our home, we tend to focus on the color and size, or maybe a little discussion over its shape, but that’s about it. This article is an exploration of these quintessential pieces of furniture…so next time you go out shopping for them, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for!
This gorgeous sofa was popularized by Louis XV in the first half of the 1700s. The beautiful craftsmanship of the exposed wooden frame, and the legs that curve outwards and down are its main distinguishing features.
Cabriole sofas with their bowed legs are also considered a characteristic of Thomas Chippendale’s furniture, a popular cabinet and chair maker from London whose output was influential right up to the end of the 18th century.
The beautiful shape of this sofa is ideal for creating an ornate and refined look. Upholster in softer fabrics and velvet to create a cozy and comfortable feel. It will look stunning by a window so you can enjoy the garden views in style.
Yes you guessed it right! This humped sofa gets its name from the animal that it resembles. The main characteristic is the arched middle and higher points at both ends. Once again, it was Thomas Chippendale’s furniture company that was responsible for making the camelback a popular choice in furniture for aristocratic families in 18th century England. There is also a newer version of this sofa, called the humpback, which may have only one or two humps.
The elegant style of a camelback sofa is fit for a formal room or an addition to the living room setting. It adds a traditional look to the room. Its high arms provide support to sink into the couch and rest.
A seat for one, this sofa is a chair and footstool combined for the perfect downtime. It derives its name from the French for long chair. These days you can find a chaise longue in many textures and designs; it may or may not have arms, but with a high back and long space to lay down, it’s designed for personal comfort. Also, it is easy to find a chaise longue mixed with another sofa style, like the mid-century inspired chaise in the image below.
A chaise longue could be the perfect perch for reading, or function as the luxury recliner in your bedroom corner.
Don’t be confused! Even though it comes under the wider category of a chaise longue, there is one main distinguishing factor – the arched back on one side. It is also called a fainting couch, which describes its design so well. This style of sofa was popular in French aristocratic homes in the 19th century. It was designed for women to rest in the middle of the day when the sun was at the meridian, from which its name is derived.
Meridienne sofas are usually ornate with a lot of beautiful woodwork around its frame. It adds a feeling of luxury and opulence to the space. You can use it casually like a chaise to add a whole lot of style to your home.
It is easy to identify a chesterfield style sofa. The back and arms are tufted, and are of the same height. The arms are also rolled outward to create a luxurious look and provide comfort while seated. It is believed that the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Lord Phillip Stanhope, requested the local craftsmen to design a sofa that would allow men to sit upright yet comfortable, and without wrinkling their clothes. Maybe this piece of trivia is the reason why the chesterfield sofa is considered the perfect item for a man cave.
Even though the early chesterfields were upholstered in leather, now they are also available in fabrics like velvet. They are perfect for a formal room to impress your guests or a luxurious library to read in style.
This is probably the most commonly used sofa today. Originally created for American businessman Thomas Lawson, after whom the sofa was named, it was designed at the turn of the 20th century. Lawson sofas boast a simple and comfortable design, ditching the ornate styles more popular at that time, and paving a way for the contemporary look of sofas you may see today.
The main characteristics of a Lawson sofa are its boxed shape, tailored look and the arms much lower than its back. This design makes it the perfect sofa for napping. There are several variations to be found today, but the original Lawson had three back and seat cushions. This sofa is also versatile in terms of fabric options and other accents to make it as formal or casual as you want.
A daybed is like a cross section between a chaise and a sofa. The main purpose is to use it for seating during the day and as a bed at night. It is a great choice for smaller apartments where you might not have enough space to accommodate an extra guest bed. The main characteristic of a daybed is that it does not have a back and hence needs to be placed against the wall for back support.
Daybeds come in various shapes and sizes and with some that have underneath storage, which is useful in smaller apartments.
English Roll Arm
The defining characteristics of this type of sofa are the tight back cushions, lose seating cushions and the rolled arms, hence the name. The arms are also lower than the back. It is a timeless piece of furniture that pairs well with almost all modern furniture and adds a glamorous look to the space.
Its design makes it super comfortable, while its neatly tailored look makes it a great choice for a formal setting.
A tufted back and seat cushions, clean lines and hairpin-style slanted legs are the main characteristics of the mid-century sofa. It’s the ideal furniture choice for a minimal home due to its defined shape and composed look. A slight tilt in the back makes it a comfortable choice for leisure time.
The design of mid-century sofas add a retro look to the house, and its minimal style keeps the room light. It is a popular choice of furniture among many home owners that appreciate mid-century modern architecture.
Aren’t they adorable! These two person sofas are fabulous for so many reasons. Their small size means they can fit into almost any space and are so much more comfortable than two single chairs. They can be placed in the bedroom to create a cozy nook, in the hallway for some additional seating around the house or even in a smaller living space where a full-sized sofa might be too big to handle.
The main characteristics of a loveseat, apart from the size, are a straight back and sometimes more than four legs for extra support. The reason they are called loveseats is due to the intimacy they provide for the two people sitting on them.
The tuxedo sofa is characterized by a clean geometric shape, more like a box, and with arms the same height as the back. Its edges are sleek, but provide perfect support for comfortable seating. The name is derived from the tuxedo suits, as this sofa is considered the furniture equivalent of the classic suit.
The neatly trimmed shape keeps it formal. Slight alterations in the choice of fabric, metal trimmings or a tufted back make it a versatile sofa, that you can custom order for your home. Its clean design and chic looks generate a sense of classic modernism and luxury.
Creating a perfect home also involves knowing more about the things you own. Isn’t it better when you know the type of sofa you already have and the type you want to acquire next? It definitely adds a personal touch to your collection. I hope this information will also help you choose the right furniture and save you on time, instead of looking at seemingly endless choices!
So which type of sofa do you own?