A fainting couch is a backless couch that typically has one end raised, against which a person can recline. This type of couch might have been made before the 19th century, but the term "fainting couch" wasn’t commonly used until the 19th century. Fainting couches were made for women, especially because so many women in the 1800s wore corsets. A tight corset kept a woman almost breathless, making it much more likely that she would faint. Some homes and hotels even had fainting rooms, where women could catch their breath on these couches.
This type of couch is similar to a chaise lounge. It often looks like a small, narrow day bed. Most of these couches have four carved, wooden legs. Various fabrics can cover modern fainting couches, though velvet or microfiber tend to be the preferred upholstery fabric.
A fainting couch sometimes has a foot section, which usually is not upholstered. The most popular style in the 21st century does not feature a foot section. Instead it merely looks like an extended chair and is about 5-6 feet (1.52-1.83 m) in length.
Some modern versions of a fainting couch have a partial back. Part of the fainting couch might have an upholstered, rising back with a suggestive feminine curve. This provides additional support for the upper body as a person reclines on the couch.
Some people enjoy using a fainting couch in their bedroom instead of their living room. Restless sleepers might enjoy having an extra spot to try sleeping. The headrest of the fainting couch can provide a way to sleep in a semi-seated position, which can be difficult to do in a bed. Although a reclining chair supplies the same type support, many people prefer the elegance of fainting couches to the bulky aspects of recliners.
Considerations when Purchasing
As with all furniture, fainting couches will vary considerably in price. Inexpensive models often have cheap fabric, and more expensive models might be covered with velvet or leather. The more expensive coverings might be more durable, so couches that have them could end up being better bargains. High-end fainting couches with elegant designs also are available.
Antique fainting couches also are popular among many people. These are not in short supply, because they were popular furniture items through most of the 19th century. Many antiques stores will have them, or they can be found online through various websites. Anyone who is looking to purchase an antique couch should look for sturdy legs, fabric that is in good condition and cushions that still exhibit some spring.