Hate to Break It to Ya: Couches and Sofas Are Not the Same Thing

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Picture this: It's Monday. After a looooong day at work, you order some pizza, pour yourself a glass of rosé, and fully intend to talk sh*t about every man that crosses your screen. That's right, it's Bachelorette night. And you desperately need to get cozy on your couch.

Or, wait—is it a sofa?

Bestie, I have to tell you something—there *is* a difference. And you've definitely been mixing up the terminology your entire dang existence. It's okay! I'm going to break it down for you so the next time you upgrade your furniture game, you can impress the sales rep.

Buckle up! Because it's time to learn all about the couch vs. sofa debacle.

What is a couch?

Per the New Oxford American Dictionary, the term “couch” comes from the French verb “coucher,” which means “to lie down.” Historically, a couch refers to a piece of furniture that has one or no arms. Since then, the term has become more colloquial and generally just means a piece of furniture that is prime for relaxing and (heh) lying down.

But here's the important thing to ask yourself when guessing if the slab of cushions in front of you is a couch or a sofa: Can you successfully nap on it? If yes, boom! It's a couch.

Couch pros

  • They have the function of a bed. Whether or not there's a pull-out option, a couch is still comfy enough for guests to sleep on when they crash at your place. No need to invest in an air mattress!

  • They come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. Couches are often super customizable. You've got your sectionals and you've got your loveseats, plus one million and one slipcover options.

  • They can fit the whole family. Thanks to all of the modular extension and sectional options, couches can be ginormous. We love something that fits the kids and the fur babies for movie night all in one.

Couch cons

  • You gotta clean it often. Since couches are primarily used for napping, lounging, and sharing bags of Doritos, you're going to have crumbs and spills. Especially if you love snuggling with your pets.

  • They wear down over time. As much as we love falling asleep on the couch, it's not a mattress. If you're using your couch for hours every day, the cushions might sink in if you don't fluff and take care of them properly.

  • They're the focal point of any room. Since couches are typically large, they become the center of attention—which can be good but also tricky if you have trouble committing to an aesthetic (same), especially on such a big purchase.

What is a sofa?

A sofa (get ready for it!) is an upholstered bench that comes from the Arabic word “suffa,” meaning wooden bench covered in cushions and blankets. Unlike a couch, it always has two arms.

You know how couches are best appreciated when plopped in front of a TV in a den? Sofas are more of a fancy "sitting room" staple. But since not everyone has the ~luxury~ of both a sitting room AND a den (if you do, can I come hang?), it's important to note that sofas can be just as comfy and plush as a couch.

Sofa pros

  • They are the hot spot for formal events. Since they can fit two to four people, sofas are perfect for intimate convos and sharing that cheese board you expertly put together.

  • You'll free up extra space. They're usually on the smaller side, so you have room to add more furniture and fun pieces to your abode. That zebra accent wingback chair you've always wanted? Put that on your credit card, baby.

  • They're very trendy. Because they often come upholstered, sofas are super design-driven and IG-worthy. You can really spice up your space with just that one item!

Sofa cons

  • There isn't much room for personal space. Since it usually fits no more than four people, a sofa might feel a bit squished.

  • You probs won't use it every day. Above all sofas are more about aesthetics than being comfortable, so you may still hold Netflix marathons in bed.

  • They are a bit more expensive. For that sleek, trendy look, you might have to pay a pretty penny. Manufacturers often base the price on how durable the sofa is, so if you want a high-quality sofa that'll last forever it might cost ya.

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