Do you call it a sofa or couch? How about a divan or lounge?
Let’s call the whole thing off?
But first – a little musical interlude ^^
One of my biggest pet peeves in the interior design industry is the officious need of some to make sure what they call things is the only way – the right way – the knowing way – the “in” way. Bother that, I say!
A recent article on Martha Stewart sought to address the sofa or couch question. Basically – sofas are big and formal and couches are smaller and more casual. Really?
According to Oxford’s English Dictionary a COUCH is “a long upholstered piece of furniture for several people to sit on.” As in “I sat in an armchair and they sat on the couch”. Okay – that clearly makes sense.
Oxford’s definition of SOFA? “A long upholstered seat with a back and arms, for two or more people.” As in: “I didn’t want to do anything except sit on the sofa”.
Ah – that explains the clear difference. Not.
Is this a sofa or a couch in this small office/guest bedroom?
Does it really matter?
How about the world of window coverings? Like the question of sofa or couch – the how to describe window treatments is debated. The term window coverings is more of an industry term to cover the gamut of hard (shutters and blinds) and soft (fabric) items. The term “window treatments” is also used to cover the broad spectrum of coverings, but I think in general for the average person “window treatment” skews more towards the fabric end of things. (Correct me if I’m wrong…)
In the gold formal living room above I did both drapery panels and sheer roman shades. These are considered “soft treatments” for obvious reasons. Colloquially the panels are also referred to as “drapes” as in “close the drapes”. I’ve seen online arguments ensue about how this is terribly wrong because “drapes” refer to pipe and drape used in convention centers to separate spaces and god forbid these should be confused with my beautifully designed and hand-made custom window treatments! Horrors!
I’ve actually seen people argue both ways on this one. Per Merriam-Webster the definition of drape is: ‘1. : to cover or decorate with or as if with folds of cloth. 2. : to arrange in flowing lines or folds. a beautifully draped satin dress.”. In the fashion industry – draping is considered a fine art.
What else do we have like the sofa or couch conundrum? How about ottomans vs. hassocks vs. footstools?
(Sidebar Question: Is this a sofa or a couch above? What would Martha say?)
Is this a foot stool or ottoman? I do tend to think that footstool denotes something smaller than an ottoman and has feet – but they are truly interchangeable. If you google search each term – the same pics will come up.
And what of a hassock? Per Oxford it’s apparently a North American term: “an upholstered footstool or ottoman. 2. a firm clump of grass or matted vegetation in marshy or boggy ground.” Basically – something soft and cushy. Like a nice footman – wait… ottostool (sorry).
But – would you ever get into an argument with someone over the correct usage of each? Hopefully not – design and decorating is serious business but also needs to be fun!
I feel like there are other design items that get the sofa or couch debate – but nothing is coming to me except how to correctly pronounce the word vase (or is it vaze, vace or vahze?).
Then there’s the big kahuna of them wall: Designer vs. Decorator. A debate which can practically cause a blood bath in the wrong circles. But that’s for a more serious post.