Interestingly, "sofas" is a word that refers to slave soldiers in a distant past African empire, but now the word evokes images of tv, potato chips, happy family gatherings, or some place you don't want to be sent to by your spouse when you have an argument.
You may already know lots of things about sofas. Common knowledge stuff like: they are typically upholstered seating for more than one person. Or that they typically have a back and two sides and are made quite long. You may even know that they were originally developed from the French day bed. In fact, the term appears in the late part of the 17th century as a couch for reclining. Pretty cool, huh? You also probably know that most sofas have sort of a rounded look and can usually accommodate three or more people. Having said all that, did you know that sofas actually refer to something else quite interesting? I'll tell you about that briefly just for fun and then move on to my main point, which is a brief discussion of the types of modern sofas available today.
So here's the bit of trivia that you just can't survive without - sofas is also a word that refers to slave soldiers who would serve in the Mali empire. Originally, this word comes from what the sofas would do, which is take care of horses. In fact, the actual translation of sofa into the English language became "keeper of the horse". Interestingly enough, sofas also served in other empires throughout Africa.
Well, enough of the trivia. The most typical types of sofas today are also called couches. These are also known as love seats, settees, lounges, davenports, or even futons. There are others as well, but all of these common variations amount to about the same thing, but may have different configurations and origins.
Years ago I owned a second hand furniture store. I remember how strange it seemed to me when I went to purchase, what I called a couch, from a guy who was probably in his 80's. He kept referring to the two sofas he had as divans. I kept thinking, "whatever dude." Anyway, regardless of what he called them, I knew they were sofas and paid accordingly. Maybe he thought divans would be worth more than if he called them sofas. His choice of words certainly sounds fancier, but didn't offer the reality of what they were.
Today's sofas stay pretty true to the traditional notion of a couch. They are long, are meant to be sat on, rather than laid on, have side arms and a back, and come in almost every possible variety of upholstery. Leather is, of course, a very popular covering material because of its durability and natural appeal. Another popular choice today is micro fiber. These are very soft and comfortable, don't stick to your skin, and come in many colors. Another favorite upholstery is traditional tapestry fabric. This is my personal favorite because of the rich variety of patterns and colors available.
Sofas hold an important place in just about every home and apartment in America, and most parts of the world today. It is considered an essential, and most interior designs are built around them. Regardless of the upholstery, or what the history or variations are, sofas are a mainstay and aren't going anywhere soon. They have certainly come a long way from the wooden variety used by ancient Chinese emperors. So call them what you want, sofas are here to stay.