There are many different types of sofas. But many designations are unclear. Who knows what a recamiere is and how it differs from an ottoman or a chaiselongue? Nowadays, the boundaries are blurred and the names for the furniture are used inaccurately.
Sofa and couch are used synonymously, as well as couch, armchair couch, reclining sofa or sofa couch.
Basically, all these terms refer to a piece of furniture that combines a possibility of sitting and lying.
Like all things, furniture has a history. Sofas were not simply invented. They have been around for centuries, but in different forms. New materials allowed new variants of one and the same idea.
In earlier times, the sofas were luxury furniture, which poor people could neither pay nor put. In our time, they are affordable for virtually everyone and well integrated both spatially and stylistically.
So it makes sense if we briefly look at their history. Their differences will become clear and new aspects will arise when it comes to furnishing your home. Here you can find information about each piece of furniture.
Modern furniture with old French roots
Surely you have noticed that the pieces of furniture we are talking about here have French names. This is due to the fact that their original forms were created in 18th century France. At that time, King Louis XV and his successor King Louis XVI reigned, which is why this style of furniture is called either Louis-quinze or Louis-seize.
These styles overlap with the Rococo and relate roughly to the period from 1725 to 1785. During this period, interior design as a whole became lighter, more curved and playful. At the same time, the desire for more convenience, intimacy and comfort increased.
For furniture in particular, this meant a trend towards rounded, curved and asymmetrical shapes. Pieces of furniture became more elegant and delicate, with backrests, for example, becoming lower or disappearing altogether.
Ottomans, chaise longues and recamiers date back to this period and we would like to introduce them to you briefly.
What is an ottoman?
The term ottoman comes from the French word ottoman for “Ottoman” and originally meant a resting or day bed not for sleeping at night, but for napping during the day. Presumably, the term at the time alluded to the stereotype of a lascivious Ottoman lifestyle, with people lolling perpetually on comfortably cushioned pillows and couches.
Colloquially, an ottoman is a reclining sofa on which you can relax and stretch out. Often you will also find an ottoman referred to as a couch. It is a comfortably upholstered, small sofa.
Low, semicircular backrest does not extend the entire length and there is only one armrest. The characteristic design of an ottoman is asymmetrical. If there is a backrest, then it is low, runs only up to a quarter or half of the long side and ends rounded obliquely down.
Either ottomans are aligned on the left, in which case they have an armrest on the left and a backrest that rounds off to the right. Or ottomans are oriented right, with a right armrest and a backrest that shortens to the left.
Ottoman is a sofa that is wonderful as a day bed for a short break for sleep or rest. There are ottomans made of leather, but also with covers of common materials, such as imitation leather, cotton or microfiber. They are extravagant pieces of furniture, real eye-catchers in your apartment. But they are not flexible to use because of their asymmetrical orientation. Since an ottoman is designed more for lying than for sitting, it can be used as a small sofa on which you can comfortably stretch out to read or watch TV.
For example, you can find an ottoman from Ikea in various designs, differently upholstered, in different sizes and in all price ranges. If you have little space in your apartment, an ottoman from the Swedish furniture store may be just the right piece of furniture.
What is a recamiere?
Recamiere is a piece of furniture of Louis Seize style. It developed from the chaise longue at the end of the 18th century. The recamiere is a one-piece reclining sofa without a backrest, but with two high curved armrests.
This combined seating and reclining furniture became famous through a painting from 1800 by the royal court painter Jacques-Louis David. He portrayed the salonnière Julie Récamier, famous in Paris at the time, resting on this modified chaise longue. The piece of furniture was subsequently named after her.
Recamiere is also called a rest or day bed. In fact, it is neither a bed nor a sofa, but a piece of furniture on which you can stretch out and rest. It is less suitable for sitting.
Recamiere with sleep function is perfect for people with little space. If you don’t have space for a guest bed, a sofa corner or a TV armchair, then you might want to consider a recamiere. You can lie in it or sit with your legs stretched out. A glass of wine can be especially enjoyed this way.
How about a leather recamiere? You can get them in different covers. A recamiere made of velvet is the romantic and playful variant. A recamiere as a sofa is luxury even in a smaller space.
What is a chaiselongue?
The name chaise longue comes from the French words chaiselongue for “long chair”. The chaise longue originated from a seating furniture, from an armchair extended by an upholstered stool. The bipartite chaiselongue, like the ottoman, is a Louis Quinze style development. Over time, the bipartite became a single piece of furniture, the so-called modern chaiselongue of the Louis quinze style. Both styles can be attributed to the French Rococo.
Unlike the ottoman, however, it has no backrest and no real armrest, but a raised head end. Contrary to what the name chaise longue suggests, it is intended for lying rather than sitting. A chaise longue is a sofa that serves as a resting or day bed. On the chaiselongue you can rest and take a leisurely lunch break and snooze a bit.
Today, a chaise longue is a modern piece of furniture. It comes with leather, velvet or fabric upholstery. You can choose from a variety of elegant, minimalist or playful variants, which style suits you best. A chaiselongue takes up much less space than a large sofa. So you can furnish even a small apartment with a cozy chaiselongue.
The differences between ottoman, recamiere and chaise longue are small but fine
Expression of pure luxury were. They needed space and were generously distributed in the room. Residents and guests were to be comfortable and able to relax. But they were also an expression of the departure from courtly etiquette. Resting on them, half lying, half sitting, everything was less constricting and conversations more liberated, especially in the salons of the time. This was where the forward and lateral thinkers met.
Basically, all this furniture to sofas are extended armchairs, on which you can sit, but also make yourself long. This makes these reclining sofas interesting for those who have little space but are looking for something special. You can find them in modern designs, from elegant to romantic, from minimalist to playful, from durable to easy to clean. Standing freely in the room, these pieces of furniture look particularly extravagant. They are real eye-catchers.
Here is an overview of the differences once again:
- What is an ottoman: an armrest and a sloping rounded backrest only up to a quarter or half of the long side, asymmetrically laid out, oriented either left or right, upholstered
- What is a recamiere: two upturned armrests and no backrest, upholstered
- What is a chaise longue: a curved armrest as a headboard and no backrest, upholstered