Everything You Need to Know About Davenports

roman and williams guild davenport sofa
All About Davenport SofasRoman and Williams Guild

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Some say “couch” to refer to that piece of furniture you’re glued to as you rebinge The Crown. Others may say “sofa” or even (hello Canadians!) “chesterfield.” A select few, however—depending on what part of the country you live in—say “davenport.”

But what exactly is a davenport and how did it become a synonym for one of the most ubiquitous pieces of furniture in the home? The answer depends on where you live in the world. In certain regions of the United States (particularly the upper Midwest and certain pockets of the Great Lakes region), it's commonly associated with a large couch or an upholstered sofa big enough to lie down on. If you live in Great Britain, however, a davenport refers to a Victorian writing desk. Confused? Understandable. Which is why we’ve cleared up the meaning of a davenport couch style or writing desk.

What's a davenport couch?

Essentially, a davenport is a large sofa that you can sleep on or can be converted into a bed. Like Kleenex, the term davenport began its life as the name of an actual furniture brand named, well, davenport. Founded in 1880, the A.H. Davenport & Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts was a premiere producer of Gilded Age furniture. The company was known for furnishing lavish spaces for the elite, from the Vanderbilts’ Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island to the McKim, Mead, and White's White House restoration in 1902.

Around the same time period, “davenport” became a synonym for any spacious, high-end, fully upholstered sofas you could sleep on. Gradually, the word davenport was largely replaced by the term “sleeper sofa” or “futon” but the old name continues to persist in parts of the U.S.

What's a davenport desk?

If you live across the pond and hear the word “davenport” you’ll likely think of a desk. The Davenport desk dates back even further than the davenport sofa—to the 18th-century. It was introduced to the world by famed furniture maker Gillows of Lancaster, who continues to be well-known among antique lovers today. Similar to a student's desk, Davenports have a slightly slanted top that can be lifted up and is attached to the rest of the frame by hinges. However, the biggest difference is that the main compartment underneath is much bigger— perfect for storing writing essentials like paper. Meanwhile, smaller drawers and compartments on the side stash ink, stationery, and other necessities. During the Victorian era, the desk was a useful, decorative statement piece, but sadly, it's popularity dwindled and now, they're no longer being manufactured and you'll likely only find one at antique stores.

Can you still buy davenports?

While most retailers will opt for the word “couch” or “sofa” over davenport, some retailers continue to lean into a davenport’s elevated associations. Roman and Williams Guild sells a high-quality Davenport sofa available in an array of fabrics and wood finishes. 1stDibs also offers a wide selection of vintage and custom davenports.

You can also find davenport desks, but generally at antique stores or sites like 1stDibs. If you’re not keen on the real thing, you can also grab a Davenport-inspired option from none other than Walmart, for a budget-friendly option.

Ready to dive into davenports? Peep our picks below.

Brandiann 105.5"W Corduroy Upholstered 4-Seat Sofa

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.wayfair.com%2F--%2Fpdp%2Fwade-logan%25c2%25ae--brandiann-105.5w-corduroy-upholstered-4seat-sofa-x221148647-l305-w110037536.html&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.elledecor.com%2Fshopping%2Ffurniture%2Fa60295060%2Fdavenport-couch-sofa-style%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Brandiann 105.5"W Corduroy Upholstered 4-Seat Sofa</p><p>wayfair.com</p><p>$719.99</p>

Martense Sofa (90")

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.westelm.com%2Fproducts%2Fmartense-sofa-h12138&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.elledecor.com%2Fshopping%2Ffurniture%2Fa60295060%2Fdavenport-couch-sofa-style%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Martense Sofa (90")</p><p>westelm.com</p><p>$2399.00</p>

Davenport 95" Fabric Sofa Sleeper

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.kardiel.com%2Fdavenport-95-fabric-sofa-sleeper-gris-boucle%2F&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.elledecor.com%2Fshopping%2Ffurniture%2Fa60295060%2Fdavenport-couch-sofa-style%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Davenport 95" Fabric Sofa Sleeper</p><p>kardiel.com</p><p>$1099.00</p>

Greaves & Thomas Davenport Sofa

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.1stdibs.com%2Ffurniture%2Fseating%2Fsofas%2Fgreaves-thomas-davenport-three-seater-sofa-mid-century-vintage-retro-mcm%2Fid-f_38849052%2F&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.elledecor.com%2Fshopping%2Ffurniture%2Fa60295060%2Fdavenport-couch-sofa-style%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Greaves & Thomas Davenport Sofa</p><p>1stdibs.com</p><p>$1535.28</p><span class="copyright">1stDibs</span>

Davenport Sofa

<p><a href="https://go.redirectingat.com?id=74968X1596630&url=https%3A%2F%2Frwguild.com%2Fproducts%2Fdavenport-1&sref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.elledecor.com%2Fshopping%2Ffurniture%2Fa60295060%2Fdavenport-couch-sofa-style%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Davenport Sofa</p><p>$10750.00</p><span class="copyright">Roman and Williams Guild</span>

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