The Sofa vs. Couch Debate

You heard the saying or the song, “Potato, Po-tah-to. Tomato, To-mah-to,” right? I have a similar but different take on that idea today, and it has to do with furniture.

The burning question in home furnishings is: Is it a “couch” or a “sofa”? The interior design industry says "sofa," but practically everyone else in the world says "couch." There really isn't any difference, it's the same piece!

I love the NPR article by Linton Weeks called "The Deep-Seated Meaning Of The American Sofa." It features a great quote by Benjamin Parzybok, author of the novel Couch:

"The couch is the thrash-able object at the center of a well-used living room, upon whose back toddlers straddle, whose cushions teenager become permanent fixtures, and which, at the end of the day, after the children are in bed, a couple might relax with a short glass of bourbon."

"A sofa, on the other hand, sits under a trimly hung painting and lives in a house in which traffic passes it by. It would be white, of course, or another color begging for stain. And most people living at the house of a sofa would be forbidden to sit upon it at one time or another."

So what do you think? Are couches more casual, a place to lie down, and sofas more sophisticated, a piece that feels more proper? Or are they just two names for the same seating?

Of course, then there is the settee, the loveseat, and the sectional:

No matter what word or style you prefer, I’ve collected idea starters for you on my pinboard.




beth lindseyComment