The Origin of Sofas

Sofas have often been described as the backbone of a living room. This is represented by the fact that, whenever a couple decides to decorate their house, one of the first things that they focus on is getting the right sofas for the living room. The reason for this is simply the fact that a sofa not only decides the theme of the surrounding area but also the comfort level of the people who are going to use the area.

Virtually every house and home in the country has a sofa or two. Despite this, the majority of people will find themselves at a loss when asked about their knowledge of the history of the concept of a sofa. People cannot come up with any concrete information pertaining to the concept of the sofa because there is no story behind it. Consider the following:

Multiple terms used for a sofa: A sofa is not only a sofa because, outside of the United Kingdom, people use a variety of terms for any piece of furniture that would be called a sofa in this country. The most popular of these terms is the couch. Although the traditional definition of a couch is a sofa that has a half back that has a major slant, a lot of people throughout the world use it for all types of sofas. Notably, in the United Kingdom, if you were looking for traditional sofas, then you would find them termed as couches.

Other terms used for a sofa include the Chesterfield, which has a story behind it as well, the settee and the canapé.

A general definition of a sofa: Even though there is no certain way of finding out the origins of a sofa, there is a solid definition for them. A sofa is a piece of furniture that is specifically created to seat more than a single person. A typical sofa would provide support for both the back and arms.

Different claims of origin: With respect to the term ‘Chesterfield sofa’, certain historians claim that the name came about because the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, Phillip Stanhope had the first one made for his personal use. The sofa commissioned by the Earl of Chesterfield had the very typical low seating base and quilted leather upholstery. The Earl of Chesterfield’s reign was between the years of 1694 and 1773.

An opposing claim is made by the Oxford English Dictionary which says that the term Chesterfield is only as old as the early 1900s. As per the dictionary, the term Chesterfield was first used to describe a couch in 1900 and does not date back to the first Chesterfield sofa commissioned by the Earl of Chesterfield.

Finally, an unofficial claim is that the ‘Chesterfield’ term was used by the Americans and Canadians to describe any kind of sofa, settee or couch at the turn of the last century.

As is more than evident from the above mentioned details, you can see for yourself that there is conflicting information with respect to the origins of sofas, even though the Earl of Chesterfield’s sofas explanation seems the most feasible.

Article supplied by Sofas & Stuff (