How the Pieces of Furniture in Our Living Rooms Got Their Names

We take our furniture for granted most of the time, but have you ever sat down in the living room and wondered “Why do we call it a loveseat?” Keep reading to learn a bit about how our pieces of furniture got their names.

The Bureau

This is a common piece of household furniture. Wholesale furniture suppliers carry them in every style, color, and size, and almost no one on earth can spell bureau correctly the first time. Also, why is bureau a kind of furniture, but also a word that we use to describe an organization? The word bureau comes from the old French word burel which originally described the brown cloth that covered the typical writing desk. Writing desks of this type were commonly used in homes and offices, and since offices were filled with bureaus, the offices themselves began to be called by that name. By the 1700s, the writing desk was being equipped with more and more drawers and bookshelves. The bureau was no longer just a place to write; it also place to store things.

The Ottoman

This comfortable footrest gets its name from the Ottomans, who ruled from 1298 to 1908. They exported a kind of padded seat to Europe. The original ottomans were for sitting on, but eventually, they became rounder and served as an addition to the couch.

The Grandfather Clock

These tall clocks get their name from a song written in 1876 by American Henry Clay Work. Work was visiting England when he saw a large clock in the lobby of his hotel. The clock did not work, and hotel owners told him the hotel had previously belonged to two brothers. One of the brothers died, and, according to legend, the clock became less accurate. When the second brother died, it stopped completely and could not be repaired. Work wrote a song about it called “My Grandfather’s Clock.” The song was so popular that the name grandfather clock became synonymous with the piece of furniture.

The Couch

Whether you’re buying designer condo furniture, resort furniture, or the most inexpensive items at the wholesale furniture outlet, you’ve got to have a couch. Sometimes, the couch and the loveseat can seem like the same piece of furniture, but they have very different origins. The word for couch comes from the old French word coucher and means “to lie down.” The first couches were made for sleeping as well as for sitting. Couch is the preferred name for this piece of furniture in the United States, but if you go to England and to other parts of America, the word sofa is used more often. Sofa comes from the Arabic word soffa and originally referred to a raised bit of floor padded with pillows.

The Loveseat

Based on the name, you would assume that the loveseat was invented so that two lovers could sit close to each other. Actually, the precursor of the loveseat was the “settee,” a wide bench created so that women wearing fashionable gowns made with massive amounts of fabric, crinoline, and hoops could sit down comfortably. Dresses of the day could sometimes be as much as four feet wide! As the 1700s progressed, dresses got smaller and attitudes about intimacy became less conservative. These small couches became the perfect thing for a little courting, allowing a couple to talk together quietly and even touch. In the 20th Century, loveseats transformed from antiques to functional pieces of furniture that provided a couch-like seating area for small homes and apartments. The loveseat can also be paired with a matching, larger couch to enlarge the entire living room seating area.

Adirondack Chairs

The first Adirondack chair was built in 1903 by a man named Thomas Lee, who was looking for comfortable outdoor furniture. He couldn’t find any, so he built one himself. The chair is named for the mountains in the New York region where Lee had his cabin.

The pieces of furniture in your living room got their names in some interesting ways. Think about that the next time you plop down on your loveseat.

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