Settles and Settees: What’s the Difference?

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Posted on September 25, 2019

Settles and Settees: What’s the Difference?In the world of antiques, there are quite a few names that are often interchangeably used, such as buffets and sideboards, chests and dressers etc.

Similarly, settles and settees are also quite common descriptions that are transposed – albeit incorrectly! Because, actually, they refer to two different types of furniture altogether.

Antique Settles are an extremely old style of furniture. They were first created in Europe during the late Middle Ages, as a comfortable version of plain wooden benches, often featuring tall, straight backs and arms or side-panels. Some settles came with a hooded back and blankets and soft pillows were often used to make them more comfortable.

Having a settle in the home back then was also was a symbol of stability and wealth, certainly until the introduction of settees post the 1600s. Settees were more like extended armchairs that could fit two or more people. The early examples resembled co-joined chairs with separate backs and a shared seat supported by multiple legs.

A major difference between the settle and a settee was that the latter came with comfortable padded upholstery. This, along with a gentle curve to the back, took the comfort level a notch higher than the settle.

Yet even with the increasing popularity of settees, the settle did not fade away completely. In more recent years, it has become more of a rustic or folk piece of furniture piece. At Antiques of Woodstock, we’ve got a few fine examples of both. Browse through the website to have a look at these stunning antiques – and see if you can spot the difference between a settle and a settee.