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Sofa vs. Couch: What Is the Difference? Definition and Examples

Working on your home decor but need to double-check the difference between a sofa and a couch? We’ve all been there. Let’s review it now.

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If you have been struggling to fully understand the difference between a sofa and a couch, you’re not the first. The sofa vs. couch dilemma is something that many people question, especially when redecorating a space. 

You’re in good company; it’s actually pretty easy to assume that the two would be the same. 

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Sofa vs. Couch: The Origins of the Words 

Sofa and couch are often used interchangeably, and you can’t blame people for doing so. No one is out on the streets professing the differences between the two, and it’s not exactly a popular small-talk topic at fabulous dinner parties. If we get down to the origins of the terms, it helps to differentiate the two and can help you understand the modern distinctions between these two options. 

Couch comes from the French word “couche” and was used to describe a piece of furniture that does not have any arms and was used for lying down. A couch tends to be smaller than a sofa, typically meant to seat two people, whereas a sofa is much larger and can generally fit a minimum of four people.

A sofa is a long, upholstered seat, usually with arms and a back. Like couches, there are a wide variety of sofas, such as a pull-out version with a bed or the increasingly popular sectional.

At the end of the day, though, there is a reason why these terms are used interchangeably. “Sofa” is generally a more formal term, while “couch” is less formal — so if you want to refer to your couch as a sofa and vice versa, no one is stopping you.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into some types of couches and sofas and what will work best in your space. 

Couches: Where They Fit & Different Types 

We’ve established that couches are the less formal of the two, but less formal does not necessarily mean bad or poor quality. Think of high-end athleisure apparel — plenty of relaxed items can be luxurious and comfortable. 

Couches shine brightest in a space that is more casual and laid back. Since couches tend to be on the smaller side, they are common interior design features in family rooms, which tend not to be quite as large as living rooms. 

No matter which type you pick, considering their size, couches are smart options for any of you living in apartments or cities where you move frequently. You don’t want to lug around a massive sofa if you need to move or are just looking to rearrange the furniture in your living room. 

Here are a couple of popular couch types:


A loveseat looks almost like the child of a chair and a couch. It’s larger than a chair and a half but smaller than a traditional couch. While two people can fit (if they don’t mind cuddling), a loveseat works well as a resting place for one as well. 

Fainting Couch

Fainting couches offer a lot of drama in a small package. Made big in Victorian times, fainting couches are instantly recognizable by a curved side and sloping back. A fainting couch fits two people sitting down or one person napping — or fainting in a Victorian corset. Add in a cylindrical pillow for old-world glamor. 

Sofas: Where They Fit & Different Types 

Cozy blue sofa in living room
This blue sofa would be perfect for cozy nights in with your friends.

If you have a spacious living room, sofas will be perfect for you. Sofas take up plenty of floor space and add some depth to any large living room. If you also have a living room that is fairly big with minimal decor or has a minimalist vibe to it, a large sofa can easily add some personality and bring life to the room. 

Here are some common sofa types you may consider for your living room: 

Tuxedo Sofa

What says “I’m classy” more than a furniture item with the word tuxedo in it? Plenty of things, actually, but this elegant couch definitely can’t hurt.

For those who like clean lines and symmetry, a tuxedo sofa has equally lengthed backs and fronts and can comfortably seat up to three people. They are often seen in velvet in rich jewel tones. 

Deep-Seated Sofa

Deep-seated sofas have very shallow seats and tall backs, making them perfect for those looking for the optimal amount of comfort out of your sofa. The look of these would also do well in a more cozy environment (think: melting into a sofa you can lounge in for days).

Pillow Back Sofa

A pillow back sofa says it all in the name (although they are also called “scatter back couches”).

Instead of a traditional sofa with a plush back and sides, these rely on large pillows for that comfort factor. This class of sofa has pillows that rest against the back support and on the sides. 

Sectional Sofa

Sectionals are another type of sofa that comes in multiple sizes and pieces. Usually arranged in an L shape, these are good choices for anyone with an abundance of space or looking to tuck the couch into a back corner of a room. 

Camelback Sofa

Does your living room have an antique-y and vintage atmosphere? This sofa would look perfect in your space.

Their origins go all the way back to the 18th century. Camelback sofas have a wooden frame with curved arms and a back that arches out and creates a sort of hump shape, hence the name. 

How to Put Together the Perfect Space

Each sofa or couch has a specific type of aesthetic category that it fits into, so consider what type of atmosphere you wish to achieve in your living room.

It’s a breeze to read an article on sofas vs. couches and all the different types, but it’s far more challenging to visualize what works in your actual home. And certainly, no one wants to buy a giant sofa only to find it won’t fit through the front door. Plan in advance with tools like Spoak’s interior design suite to create a floor plan and color scheme before getting started. It’s easy to use and far easier than packing up your giant sectional sofa to return it to the furniture store.

Sofas vs. Couches: What to Remember

While the terms are very often used interchangeably, couches tend to be smaller pieces of furniture with a more casual feel. Sofas come in a wide array of categories that will fit an endless variety of living rooms. If you have the space, sofas make for a great addition to your living room, and couches are ideal for those with limited space in your house.

Again, there aren’t many significant distinctions between a couch and a sofa. The vocabulary police aren’t going to show up on your doorstep if you use one to describe both, but don’t hesitate to come back here and refresh your memory.

Photo Credit: (Left) Cindy Hyue


Sofa vs. Couch: What's the Difference? | The Spruce

How to decorate when you move a lot | The Orange County Register

The Actual Difference Between a Couch and Sofa | Southern Living

​​love seat | furniture | Britannica

Want to envision what a sofa or couch would look like in your space? Use Spoak’s design tools to bring your vision to life.

Date Posted
October 1, 2022



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