A settee is a beautiful accent piece that can be added in a living room or dining room that adds functionality. The term settee is often interchangeable with loveseat but the technical definition of a settee is that it can fit up to three people and has a high back. Loveseats only fit two people and have a low back or no back. While a settee is often thought of as traditional and formal, settee’s can be found in all types of styles. Also, you can use settees in non-traditional ways such as in a bedroom or entryway for an unexpected accent piece. Once you figure out where and what purpose your settee will serve it will be easy to make a final decision on what is best for your home.
Rooms and Use
Typically, a settee is going to act as accent piece in a formal living room. Settees can also be used in a family room, dining room, bedroom, or entryway. In a dining room, a settee can be used with a small dining table for a nontraditional but still elegant look. Or a settee can be used in place of a typical bed bench in a larger bedroom. Instead of a wooden bench or hall tree for your front entrance, a settee can give a warmer, more inviting look. Where you decide to place your settee is going to dictate the type you ultimately will purchase. For example, you probably will not want a velvet settee that is hard to clean in an entryway where wet coats will be tossed on it. Similarly, unless you are super-human and don’t spill, an ivory silk settee probably isn’t the best choice in a dining room. Just think about who is going to be using the settee the most and what level of durability will be required.
(Pictured: Lexington Montaigne Armless Settee)
Because your settee will be used mainly as an accent piece, you want to choose the focal pieces of furniture first and then find a settee that matches that style. Or you can choose a settee that is a little more eclectic than the other furnishings and use it to highlight smaller details – for example if you have a patterned sofa or comforter, you can purchase a settee to play up one of the secondary colors. Of course, purchasing a settee in a neutral color or pattern is a great long-term investment as you can place it in several rooms and easily change the style with throw pillows or a slipcover.
The average length of a settee ranges from 58-71”, heights range from 33-40”, and depths range from 36-40”. Typically, settees are built to just accommodate two people but larger sizes (which are technically a settee) can fit up to three. If you are purchasing a settee for a living room where you already have a sofa, sectional, or chairs and it is not from the same manufacturer or collection, this is when it is most important to measure. You are going to want all of the seating options to be of similar scale, so you should map an outline of the settee and measure the height so you can ensure that you like how all of the pieces flow together.
Many manufacturers carry hundreds of different fabric choices so you can customize your settee to the exact color or pattern to fit your style. Again, the simpler the design, the longer the settee will remain in style. Beyond just choosing a color or pattern, the fabric content is going to be extremely important when making a final purchase. Choose the type of fabric for its durability; ease of stain removal, or for its tactile nature. For instance chenille may be soft and durable and great for day to day living. Leather is consistently in style and ages beautifully – another benefit of leather furniture is the Mayo Clinic has suggested it is good for people with allergies. Kid and pet friendly options are microfibers, polyesters, performance leathers and leather alternatives such as polyurethane. The fabric content is going to dictate how the sectional must be cleaned and will give you a better idea of upkeep.
There are several options for back and seat cushions. Attached (or tight) cushions are sewn into the body of the settee and will require occasional fluffing to keep their shape. Loose cushions can be taken off and flipped. Semi-attached will have the same appearance as a loose cushion but are sewn to the body. The most common materials for cushions are coils, down and feathers, and high-density foam. Down and feathers are going to be the softest, most plush option but are also more high maintenance and require daily fluffing to keep their shape. You can also find cushions with a blend of down, feathers and polyester fibers, where pads are wrapped over foam for a more luxurious feel. High-density foam is the most commonly used filling and the higher the density, the firmer it will be. This is usually wrapped in cotton or Dacron (synthetic fiber) for a softer sit. Coils or springs are very resilient but also soft and comfortable. Springs are surrounded by high-density foam and wrapped with down filled pads for the best of all worlds.
Seating support is made of web support, sinuous springs, or eight-way hand tied springs. With eight-way hand tied, this method is constructed by hand typing each coil spring to the other spring and to the frame. Twine is used to connect each spring and the crosses resemble a figure eight. Sinuous springs are “S” shaped wires running front to back of the seat and are spaced every couple of inches. Additional support is added by laterally crossing wires. Web support can be used along or in conjunction with coils. Cushions are held in place by hammock-like webbing that are two to three inches wide and are tacked to the frame. Eight-way hand tied springs are considered to be the best quality and worth the investment if your budget allows for it.
(Pictured: Chelsea Home Furniture Cornelious Settee)
There are several shapes you can choose for the arms of your settee. Most of these are just for aesthetic purposes but pillow arms are going to be the plushest and best for those want to use the arm for napping. English/track arms have a square appearance but are slightly flared out. Rolled arms are going to be an exaggerated rounded shape.
The majority of settees will have an exposed wooden base but more traditional styles can have a skirted base. Exposed wood legs can range from delicate Queen Anne or intricately carved to chunky bun feet or tapered and contemporary. Skirts may be fabric or made of trim such as bullion. The style you are trying to achieve is going to dictate whether you choose exposed or skirted as the base of your settee.
(Pictured: Sam Moore Nadia Settee)
Notes on Frames
The overall quality of a settee greatly depends on the construction and materials used in creating the frame. Corner-blocked, double doweled, kiln dried hardwood frames are going to be of the best quality and can potentially last 10 years. These wood preserving and construction techniques help prevent and cracking, splitting, or warping of the wood that can occur from years of use or overly rambunctious kids or pets. If you have questions on the exact construction of a sectional, contact the retailer you want to purchase from and they can provide the specifications from the different manufacturers.