Furniture Glossary: Seating
Seating is a catchall term for furniture pieces that can be used like a chair but also have a dual purpose.
By: Kerstin Czarra and Carol Schoenfeld
The simplest of furniture, these armless, backless multi-person seats probably date back to the beginning of civilization. While couches and chairs take the lion's share of attention in the furniture world, benches are versatile, which makes them an excellent answer to many decorating needs at home. Image courtesy of Erinn Valencich
A French word that literally translates to long chair, the chaise is a typically a backed upholstered chair that has an elongated seating area with exposed legs. The original chaise lounge is actually an English mispronunciation of the proper word chaise longue, one whose error dates all the way back to the 1850s. Today both versions are accepted, though the former is by far the more popular. The basic form of this seat is an upholstered couch in the shape of a chair with four legs. The result resembles a sort of daybed that has a headrest at one end and can have a backrest or be backless.
An ottoman consists of a padded, upholstered seat or bench that lacks a back or arms. This piece of furniture can be used as a stool or footstool and can also serve as a stand-in coffee table. Often sold coordinating with armchairs or gliders, ottomans are sometimes referred to as footstools, tuffets, hassocks or pouffes. Some ottomans are hollow and can be used as storage. Image courtesy of Erinn Valencich
A settee is shorter than a sofa but longer than a loveseat. This long seat or bench can comfortably accommodate two or more people. The back and arms of the sofa are typically made of carved wood or upholstered fabric. The settee was originally popular in the 17th century, but is now found in many mid-century designs. Image courtesy of Highland House
A stool is a chair without arms or a back. Most typically found in bars, commercially and at home, stools are supported by three to four legs and are tall enough to allow for a horizontal bar, which the occupant can enjoy as a foot rest. Image courtesy of Rethink Design Studio