Couch vs. Sofa: What’s the Difference?
What's the real difference between a sofa and a couch? How will you tell which one is which when you see both in a furniture shop? Which one is perfect for your living room or man cave? Let's find out the answers through this quick guide.
Are you planning to visit your local furniture store to buy a couch? Or a sofa? Wait. Aren't they the same?
In modern times, "sofa" and "couch" are two terms interchangeably used by most people, referring to a beautiful upholstered piece of furniture we use to lounge on in the living room. These words may pertain to the same thing, but there are a few classic and definitive differences between them.
History and Origin of Sofa and Couch
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sofa as "a long and comfortable seat with a back and arms, for two or more people to sit on", while it describes a couch as "a long and comfortable seat for two or more people to sit on." What is the difference? By this dictionary definition alone, we can see that a sofa's prominent features are its armrests and backrest, while a couch has these features less prominently or none at all. In other words, a couch is more bed-like, while a sofa is like a bench.
Aside from these two words, there are other popular terms used to describe the cosy furniture piece, like a "settee" referring to a sofa used for sitting and a "divan" describing a bed-like couch.
What is a Sofa?
A sofa is a long upholstered seat with two arms and cushions. This can be a collective or umbrella term for a range of multifunctional sofa types like small two seater sofas, sofa beds, and larger corner sofas. Until today, many people refer to this as a more formal idea of the term couch.
The word "sofa" was derived from the Arabic word "suffah," describing a floor raised seat covered with cushions and rich carpets. Dating back to 2000 BC, these sofas were traditional signs of luxury living. In the present, sofas and couches are seen in many households as furniture staples with a variety of sizes and different styles. Some have extra legs and features for additional comfort.
What is a Couch?
The word "couch" came from the French word "couche" or "coucher", which means "to lie down". It is used to describe an overstuffed piece present in a more casual creative approach. Sofas usually have two armrests, but couches have one or none, looking more like beds than chairs.
You may enjoy a couch for reclining or lying down because of its general lack of armrests. Many couches also have reduced backrests or no backrests at all. They can be utilised to section off a space or be pushed through a wall.
Couch vs. Sofa: What Are the Differences?
In terms of their history, both terms come from varied origins that can refer to an upholstered bench where we can sit or lie down. The biggest difference between the two is the sofa's presence of arms. Other notable distinctions include the functions, sizes, and seating capacities.
By definition, a couch is a piece of furniture that allows the user to lie down and relax. This is one of the reasons a couch is armless. Imagine the look of some daybeds or a chaise longue. When looking for versatile furniture for seating, lounging, and lying down, a couch is the perfect choice.
A sofa, on the other hand, is an elegant piece that is ideal for entertaining and sharing conversations. It brings a striking style to any space it becomes a part of. Since a sofa comes in various designs, you can never run out of choices that will go well with your creative direction.
Great for bigger gatherings, sofas generally have a larger seating capacity than couches. They can go from two-seater loveseats to four seaters, with couches sitting a maximum of three people.
Formal sofas are usually seen in rooms where conversations happen. You can spot a sofa in the family or living room, or an open-floor area where you mostly entertain your guests. Many homeowners partner their spacious sofa with an elegant coffee table or a TV console to create a more welcoming feel.
A couch can be seen in personal spaces or smaller spaces that are typically shared within the household. Of course, we can use this more laid back piece of furniture for the living space to create a warm and cosy ambiance.
What is the Correct Term?
The words "couch" and "sofa" are readily interchangeable when describing the upholstered seat that we love. However, sofas and couches have traditional differences. Ultimately, a sofa is a more formal approach to a couch, while a couch is a fancier word for a sofa. It's worth noting that many designers call the furniture piece a sofa, which has become the industry standard. However, both terms can be used to describe the upholstered furniture interchangeably without any trouble.
Whether you describe it as a couch or a sofa, the most important thing is to choose a piece that will provide you with comfort while supporting your needs. Do you want a new sofa where you can comfortably plop while watching your favourite TV show? How about something more spacious for long conversations? The best sofa (or couch) must fit your seating requirements and the measurements of your area. Of course, the furniture piece should be elegant enough to enhance the beauty of your space.
Whatever word you use, at the end of the day, these two terms will describe a piece that you'll enjoy sitting upon.
Shopping for Your Next Sofa?
Megafurniture has a lot of options that you can look at from the comfort of your own home. You can also check out our complete guide to buying sofas in Singapore to help you make a good buying decision.