Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Sofa: Part One

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Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Sofa: Part One

The pinnacle of every inviting living room or sitting room is comfortable, stylish (and even nap-worthy) seating. These spaces are centered around relaxation, unwinding, and relaxing with your family and friends. When you think of comfortable seating, terms like “couch”, “sofa”, and “loveseat” come to mind. But what exactly do these terms mean? What’s the difference between these seating options, and how do you know which is right for your space? Here we will look at the key qualifying factors of these three seating options.   

Couches vs. Sofas

Oftentimes, people use the terms “couch” and “sofa” interchangeably. But is there really a difference? Understanding what each term refers to becomes a bit clearer when looking at their origins. 

The term “couch” comes from the French word “coucher” which means “to lie down”. The term “sofa” comes from the Arabic word “suffah”, which refers to a wooden bench covered in blankets and pillows. As suggested from their origins, couches are generally a more casual, laid-back piece, while sofas are more formal. To put it simply, they’re not designed with napping in mind. Historically, couches often did not have arms while sofas did. However, nowadays it is rare to find a couch without arms. 

Two seat sofa in gray upholstery; sofa buying guide MGSD
Image courtesy of Four Seasons

Today’s modern furnishings combine both comfort and stylish design, so the terms ‘couch’ and ‘sofa’ have begun to blur. Most interior designers prefer the term ‘sofa,’ but there is no hard and fast rule that distinguishes one from the other. Over the years, there have been subtle differences in the design of a couch versus a sofa, but the use of one term over the other boils down to the furnishing’s intended use. A couch is a casual furnishing used for mid-day naps, watching movies, and eating snacks while a sofa is a more formal furnishing used for hosting guests and other formal occasions. 

What is a Loveseat?

Another option for cozy seating is the loveseat. Originally created to accommodate ladies’ large, puffy dresses, this spacious seat for one turned into a cozy seat for two and was often used for courting couples to have intimate conversations, hence the name loveseat. 

Love seat with single cushion; sofa buying guide MGSD
Image courtesy of Four Seasons

The loveseat differs from a couch or sofa by its size. This mini-sofa is used to seat exactly two people and often has only one or two cushions. On the other hand, a sofa or couch can fit 3 people or more. Typically, the loveseat measures around 60 inches, while a sofa or couch can expand far beyond that. 

When exactly would you use a loveseat? This compact seating option lends itself to a wide array of uses and spaces. The loveseat makes a great option for adding additional seating to a living room when adding an additional sofa would make the space feel cramped. Oftentimes, sofas and loveseats are designed in pairs, making them flow seamlessly in a space. A loveseat is also a perfect option for small spaces or apartments. These spaces may be too tight for a full sofa, which makes a slightly smaller loveseat the perfect middle ground. 

Sit in Style with Help from MGSD

When shopping for comfortable seating options, the terms sofa, couch, and loveseat are used extensively. By understanding the differences (or lack thereof) you can confidently navigate through these sometimes confusing labels. 

To summarize, a couch and a sofa differ in origin but are often used interchangeably. However, the term ‘sofa’ is generally used to refer to more formal furnishings and is the preferred term by most interior designers. ‘Couch’ is used to refer to more casual furnishings, somewhere you’d put your feet up or relax with your dog after a long day. A loveseat, on the other hand, is a smaller sibling of this furnishing family. This seating option is basically a mini-sofa used to seat one or two people. They make perfect options for small spaces or additional seating.    

Comfortable, stylish seating can easily make or break a living room or sitting room. Whether a single loveseat completes your cozy apartment or a matching sofa and loveseat pair fills your spacious living room, an interior decorator can help you find the perfect furnishings for your unique space. The team at MGSD can help you create the living room or sitting room of your dreams. 

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Living room with black sectional sofa