Loveseats and Settees

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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VINTAGE LOVESEATS

Yes, there are those pieces of furniture we “like.” And then there are those pieces of furniture that we helplessly crush on…before inevitably deciding they’re all wrong for us. But pieces that we truly love? Well, let’s just say that’s love’s an emotion we reserve for those true design icons—like the vintage loveseat.

From unexpected beginnings (turns out that the vintage loveseat wasn’t originally designed to be a love bird’s perch!), to modern versions that entice us to ditch the sofa for something a bit more scooch-worthy, the vintage loveseat has continuously surprised us with its versatility and dedication to style. To learn more about the history of the vintage loveseat, along with our favorite used loveseat styles, read on!

THE HISTORY OF THE LOVESEAT

The first known loveseats or settees (as they were originally known), surfaced in the 17th Century England. Following an outline that was set forth by both the side chair and a settle (a bench with high, winged panels), the first settee displayed a box-like silhouette, and was recognized as being akin to a set of “double Windsor chairs without the division.” In reality, these early settees were perhaps better likened to an abbreviated church pew, with high backs and deep carvings taking center stage.

Among the most enticing features of these vintage settees, was that a woman could sit on one and comfortably fan out her layered skirts (ah, the freedom!). Encouraged by the liberation the settee offered, the French began creating their own versions. Because the French aimed to create a piece that encouraged socialization, they therefore made comfort their primary focus. The result was the first upholstered settees.

In the centuries that followed, social norms became laxer, and the settee likewise began to take on the persona of something a bit…cuddlier. We think you get the picture—the loveseat had arrived.

TYPES OF VINTAGE LOVESEATS

Over the centuries, loveseats have undergone many style incarnations. And while we’ll always have a soft spot for curling up on a contemporary slipcovered loveseat, some our favorite vintage loveseats and settees are decidedly old school. To get the lowdown, read on.

Queen Anne Loveseat

Thanks to its double or triple chair silhouette, the Queen Anne settee was the first vintage settee to coin the term “loveseat.” While its chair-like back splat, curvy cabriole legs, and a low-profile upholstered seat means that this won’t be the kind of vintage loveseat you sleep off one too many chardonnays on, a Queen Anne loveseat is a definite classic that’s worth squeezing into your space if your style runs in the more traditional direction.

Federal Settee

Graceful, sleigh-rolled arms, elaborately carved feet, and bolster pillows are just a few of the signature elements of the federal-era settee. Balletic and proper, a Federal settee nods to neoclassical grandeur, while maintaining the clean-lined simplicity that Federalism is known for. Among our favorite attributes of the Federal settee is its elegant silhouette which mimics a chaise and feels almost Grecian (Go on and cue those grapes).

Louis XVI Loveseat

If you’re searching for a small loveseat for a bedroom, look no further than a Louis XVI settee. Originally made to adorn the formal salons that graced Parisian townhomes, these romantic, vintage settees are essentially sofas in the miniature. Most feature curvy forms along with a fully upholstered back, seat, and sides. As a rule, they also showcase an exposed wood frame (usually in a washed finish). Want to even further up the amour? Look for a Louis settee with cane details.

OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO STYLE VINTAGE LOVESEATS

If you think vintage and used loveseats are best reserved for those with tiny floorplans, think again. Although they’re compact, used loveseats will add just as much to a large room as they will to a petite one. Have an airy living space to fill? Try arranging two used loveseats across from one another, with a tall pedestal table or coffee table in between. Because most used settees have high backs and shallow seats, this vignette will feel divinely intimate, like your own a private train coach.

A used loveseat can also be a champion if you have a nook or cranny that demands special attention. While wall art and shelving will always be loyal standbys in an awkward nook situation, try a used loveseat to add a dose of style and the unexpected. Perfect for entries or hallways where a console might feel too busy, a used loveseat will add leagues of style and offer a place to check your bags, books, and mail. Because most used loveseats showcase elegant framework and meticulous tailoring, they can withstand a bit of clutter without dissolving into an eyesore.

One more way to style a used loveseat? Try one in a bedroom, anchoring the foot of a bed. In this scenario, your vintage loveseat will take center stage, so ensure you opt for one with some stage presence. We personally love one with high paneled sides to help it effectively cap the end of the bed. Also among our best tips to pull off this notoriously tricky look? Opt for a used loveseat that mimics the shape of your headboard and don’t shy away from layering both your bed and vintage settee with pillows. By using pillows in the same color family you’ll create instant cohesion.

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