François Halard via Apartmento Magazine
Comfort has come a long way from wooden and stone benches in the Middle Ages when it was thought that the body was diametrically opposed to the soul and that the body pulled us toward the sinful, sensual and earthly ways rather than the godly, spiritual and divine ways. The Renaissance was not only a fervent period of cultural, artistic, political and economic rebirth. It was also a period when we began to embrace the body in addition to the soul and the concept of comforting our body led to the development of comfort in the home. We started to see pillows on those hard benches in the 1600’s and eventually the concept of integrating comfort into a functional piece of furniture ie. upholstered furniture during the Elizabethan period in England and the Louis XIV period in France. Needless to say, it didn’t take long until the upholstered chair, settees, chaise lounges, canapes, daybeds and not to mention love seats became proliferate in Europe as well in England.
Needless to say comfort evolved and we saw entire rooms dedicated to comfort. ie. living or drawing rooms with the sofa as the mainstay. Sofas complete with designs that integrated carved wood frames integrated with upholstery were common in these earlier eras until the chesterfield in England retired the carved frames and introduced a fully cushioned yet still tailored sofa.
The delicate carved wood frames with swirls, stars, animals and angel wings were replaced with straight lines and geometric carved frames until the wood frame completely disappeared into the simplicity of the fully upholstered sofa as we know it today.
Ok enough about the evolution of the sofa. You are probably wondering about couches and how they fit into this story. It is said that sofas evolved from chairs with backs and arms to sit on whereas couches evolved from daybeds and chaise lounges. They did not have traditional arms and backs and were intended to lay on. Sofas are typically larger than couches and accommodate more
people to sit in a social setting where people congregate such as a sitting room, living room and family room. Couches are smaller and usually more comfy for you to lay on alone or more intimately with another usually in a more private area of the house such as a lounge or bedroom. Simply speaking, I like to think of them as a sofa for social or a couch to slouch.
Tufted Sofa, England circa 1880 via Lee Stanton
1st Photo:François Halard via @ApartamentoMagazine Instagram
2nd Photo: WRJ Design via @RushJenkins Instagram
3rd Photo: Clements Design via Architectural Digest