top of page


Types of sofas in the Georgian era

Ever read about our heroes and heroines sitting on a settle rather than a settee? Ever wonder at the difference between a settee and a sofa? Well, here's a quick look at the differences!

All three--sofa, settle, and settee--derive from ye' old wooden bench.

Settle came first, 12th century, popular until the late 19th century. Essentially, it gave arms and a back to the bench, but the settle is so much more! There are variations with under-seat storage, fold down desks, fold down table (for your tea!), drawers, fold out canopies, enclosable wings for warmth, backs that convert to tables or beds, and more. These were the ultimate status symbol until the settee all but replaced it in the 18th century. It was cumbersomely heavy, and without adding upholstery, not all too comfortable.

Settee came next, late 17th century, and was considered a "double chair." The bench was upholstered, the sides open with slender arms, and the legs high and exposed. It was designed not only for more comfort but for lightness, unlike the heavy oak of the settle. As we move into the 18th century, the arms and backs became increasingly upholstered, as well.

The sofa came last, 18th century, with a lower back, and complete upholstery around every part, including the enclosed backrest and arms, and sometimes the legs, as well. By the 19th century, the styles merged so that one could not readily tell the difference between a settee, a settle, or a sofa.

What would you call the mysterious 3-way hybrid shown in the image?

bottom of page