Furniture Glossary: Sofas
This sofa typically features a sleek and simple body style, sitting at a firm 90-degree angle, and lacks side support and armrests. An armless sofa is most often found in modern and contemporary designs and by those seeking simple furniture with a minimalist effect. Design by Belmont Freeman
Bridgewater sofas feature low arms and a high back with loose, plush cushions. Often skirted, they provide casual elegance and comfort, ideal for any relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Design by Helen Richardson
This 18th-century, Neoclassical-style sofa is notable for its graceful design that curves from one arm to the other in a constant line. More traditional designs are often trimmed with elegant wood detail and rest on short, visible legs. With more sleek and modern versions of the sofa style available, it can successfully work in both contemporary and Old World interiors.
Originating in the late 18th century, this Chippendale-style sofa combines a classic look with timeless details and comfort. The sofa is named for its serpentine back that gracefully flows into high rolled arms. In early versions, lush, elaborate upholstery, tight seating and colonial claw and ball feet were the defining features, as well as the distinctive back and arms. This early style was often found in traditional, Victorian settings. Now, the sofa has become a common furnishing in American homes. Upholstered in various fabrics and textures, it can be seen in interiors ranging from cottage to modern. Image courtesy of Shaw Living
The Chesterfield sofa originated in the late 19th century and is commonly associated with English country homes and high-class designs. Chesterfield sofas are recognized by their tightly stuffed interior, leather upholstery, tufted backs and high, rolled arms. The arms are situated at the same height as the sofa's back for a sleek, uniform look. More traditional and formal designs feature a tufted seat with short, visible legs.
In common language, Davenport serves as a synonym for "sofa", but it is also the name for a series of sofas created by furniture manufacturer A.H. Davenport Company. In many areas of North America the term refers to a modern futon-style couch that can easily convert into a bed. Typically large in size with straight and simple lines, a Davenport can either serve as a comfortable sofa by day or a flat, padded bed by night. Design by Steven Miller
English or Club Sofa
A traditional English sofa, also called a Club sofa, is a well-established piece of furniture that can fit into any living room design. Elegant in appearance, the English sofa features a tight and slightly curved back, tight seat cushions and arms that roll starting from the front of the sofa. Most often they will be seen on short legs with casters rather than a skirted bottom. Design by Jennifer Duneier
Knole sofas originated in the 17th century and were produced for the Knole House in Kent. Rather than provide a comfortable seating option, they were used as a decorative piece to serve as a royal throne. They can be distinctively recognized by their straight, high arms that meet at the same height as the back. On the rear corner of each side, the sofa features carved finials that are usually adorned with tassels. Most often, the sofa has formal upholstery and an elegantly skirted bottom. Rarely seen today, they can be found in Old World- or European-inspired designs. Design by Genoveve Serge
One of the most popular styles, the Lawson sofa features a low, boxy back with arms that rest significantly lower. The arms typically reach halfway between the seat and the top of the back and can either be square-shaped or rolled. Many traditional styles feature a heavily cushioned seat and a dust skirt for a casual and comfortable look. Image courtesy of Bentley Publishing Group
This piece is aptly named due to the fact it is designed to accommodate two people. It is also referred to as a double chair or settee. Design by Jennifer Duneier
A couch made up of modular units capable of use separately or in multiple variations. In terms of its lines, you can find practically any silhouette and style you like. The sectional is the great amalgamator, borrowing details from other couch shapes. Design by Erinn Valencich
These are catchall terms used to describe a piece of furniture designed to seat two people or more. It typically boasts armrests on either side and is covered in fabric or leather. You most frequently find couches in a typical living room, family room or den. Image courtesy of Revco International