Fainting Couch Vs Chaise Lounge: The Quick, Easy Way To Tell The Difference 

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The difference between a fainting couch vs chaise lounge is this: a fainting couch has a long back that’s raised at one end, and a chaise lounge is essentially a long chair with a straight back on one of the short ends. Which piece of furniture is right for you, if any? Let’s explore.

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What Is A Fainting Couch?

A fainting sofa is a variation of the daybed. Many people today use the term interchangeably with “chaise” and “settee.” However, there are some differences. The fainting couch has a distinctive, contoured back often adorned with elaborate carvings and a bold silhouette. Its length is typically shorter than a standard sofa.

What Is A Chaise Lounge?

A chaise is a long, upholstered seat designed for one person to recline. The term “chaise” comes from the French term “chaise longue,” which means “long chair.” (The English word “lounge” swapped in for the French word “longue.”) You could think of a chaise lounge as a chair and footstool/ottoman in one. A chaise always has a back and may have zero, one, or two armrests.

Some chaises are contoured, which provide better couch ergonomics to unwind and relax, while others are more upright and can seat one person reclining or two people sitting next to each other.

What Is The Difference Between A Fainting Couch Vs Chaise Lounge?

The difference between a chaise lounge vs a fainting couch is that a chaise lounge is essentially a long chair with a straight back on its short end (like a chair), while a fainting couch has a long, contoured back that runs along the long side of the sofa. Many people and companies use the terms interchangeably, however, so if you’re looking for one particular design, you may want to search using both terms.

A white chaise lounge and a beige fainting couch.

How To Decorate With A Fainting Couch

Fainting couches usually fit well in a bedroom or living room, and they don’t have to be limited to Victorian design settings. There are beautiful, modern fainting sofas, or you could reupholster a vintage fainting sofa with modern fabric to give it a unique twist. Fainting couches today come in all kinds of materials, from faux leather to solid wood, patterned upholstery, or a deliberately antique look.

Keep in mind that fainting couches are asymmetrical, so you can only recline on them in one direction. You’ll want to consider this when shopping for a fainting sofa that fits your space so you don’t end up with one that has the person reclining on it facing the “wrong way” (e.g., a corner of the room).

The Victorian-Era History Behind Fainting Couches

A Victorian woman wearing a large hat and holding purple flowers in front of her face.

Although fainting couches were popularized in the West during the Regency and Victorian eras, historians suggest that reclining furniture existed at least as far back as the 7th century BCE in ancient Greece and Rome. However, it really boomed as a fad in the 1800s, when the fainting sofa got its name.

Were they called fainting couches because Victorian women fainted a lot? Probably. Victorian women fainted regularly because of the tightness of their corsets, which limited their natural lung capacity. But it was considered uncouth to lie in a bed after it was made for the day, so dedicated fainting rooms with fainting couches emerged for women could faint gracefully.

So that’s where fainting sofas come from: ancient Greece and Rome, with a stop in the Victorian era.

A Victorian-era corset and a black-and-white picture of a woman.

Fainting Couches And Chaise Lounges Today

While fainting couches aren’t used for fainting today, many people appreciate their style and comfort. Modern fainting couches typically have fewer intricate details, and they have a single back with no armrests or two armrests. You can use them in a space that needs a comfortable sitting area but requires something less bulky than a larger sofa.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Chaise Lounge The Same As A Fainting Couch?

No, a chaise lounge is not the same as a fainting couch. A chaise lounge is basically a long chair (a chair and footstool/ottoman combined into one piece of furniture). A fainting couch has a long, asymmetrical back.

What Is Another Name For A Fainting Couch?

Some people call a fainting couch a daybed or settee.

Why Are They Called Fainting Couches?

They’re called fainting couches because Victorian women used to faint on them when their tight corsets made them run out of breath.

What Are Fainting Couches Used For?

While fainting couches used to be used for fainting, today, they’re used for seating. They fit well in empty corners and can add a unique flair to a room. They come in vintage, Victorian styles and contemporary, fresh styles.

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Lucy Henderson is a Seattle-based home décor expert and creator of Palladio Interiors. She loves writing about design trends, home-interior inspiration, and home-decorating tips. She's a fan of coziness and simplicity.