Couch of Ages: From bare benches to sweet sofas




The humble couch has become an inseparable part of hearth and home that we 21st century humans could not bear to live without. But believe it or not, there was a time when—horror of horrors!—the luscious loveseats we know and love did not exist.

It was an age of aching tailbones and numb glutes—a land before comfort.

Now, we all know the ancient Greeks and Romans were some amazingly smart and talented people who laid a lot of the groundwork for modern society—democracy, science, engineering, art, entertainment—the list goes on. And yet, most of their furniture, beautiful as it was, consisted entirely of wood, stone, or metal—ouch! The rich and powerful had something close with their pillow propped posteriors, but that was still a far cry from a true couch.

Medieval times weren’t much better. In common rooms, families and friends gathered ‘round a roaring fire—on hard wooden seats. Your place in the pecking order determined where you sat, but everyone ached the same. Church doctrine had a major influence on this lack of luxury. Painful pews were thought to keep people focused on God and not on worldly things.

It took many years for attitudes—and furniture—to soften.

The Renaissance saw a lot of tired traditions put to the question, including the Church’s revulsion towards relaxation. By the end of the Elizabethan era, upholstery became a mainstay of furniture design. This opened the floodgates for all sorts of new developments: plush cushions, fancier furniture, and—most importantly, proto-couches.

The dark times of tender tushies were finally over, and a new age—one of style and ease—was born.   


Sometimes you’ve just got to relax and have a bit of fun. Stay tuned for more from the Couch of Ages blog series and please, feel free to email us if there’s something you’d like to see covered in this space. Have a great day and try to find a bit of time to relax.  

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