Yes, this aubergine velvet sofa (Urban Outfitters) is gorgeous. No, it is not a “fainting couch.”
(Oh c’mon, how could any all-overcome fairlady hope to faint with any kind of beguiling grace onto a piece of furniture with arms on both ends? Just try it!)
No, it’s a perfectly charming little sofa with some lovely detailing to it, but I’ll stick to my guns on this one. Wiki seems to agree in its couch / history article, too:
Until the 20th century a couch referred to a long upholstered seat with one end inclined, high enough to provide a back and head-rest…Well into the 19th century a couch was particularly a seat for a lady; a fainting couch (a modern term) has a back and a single scrolling upholstered end. A récamier was a late nineteenth-century trade term for a similar single-ended couch, such as the one made famous in David’s portrait of Mme Récamier…
This piece, however — rescued from a rural roadside and rehabilitated from unspeakable mouse depredations and mildew, stripped to its late 19th-century bones and re-upholstered, then gently massaged with Danish oil — this, my dears, is a fainting couch.
If you ever have a chance to grab one for anything less than a king’s ransom in price, just do it. And never mind what shape it’s in — these are hugely in demand, and a reproduction just doesn’t have quite the same character.
Maybe you’ve toyed with the idea of dabblng in furniture restoration? OccasionalHell.com backs me up on this — a fainting couch is a do-able DIY project. Start looking in auctions and dumpsters and Auntie Mae’s attic…