Settles and Settee: Same yet Different
Posted on August 01, 2022
Antique Settees and Settles date back hundreds of years and were a usual feature in the homes of the time. Both are a type of seating furniture, with a settle being a time evolved comfortable version of the good old bench.
Made out of wood, a typical settle featured additions over a normal wooden bench such as wings, backs, side arms, and hoods. These features were important additions for comfort as well as added warmth during winters. Settles were designed in different ways to suit different purposes. Some came with arms and a low back while there were also those with high backs and enclosing wings in place of arms. Some settles doubled as tables with their convertible high backs which could even be converted into a bed when pulled down.
High-backed settles of the late 17th and early 18th centuries often came with a lift-up seat that had a storage box underneath, with many featuring handy drawers. The sides and backs of a settle were typically panelled and decorated depending on their original style and tastes of the maker. The fancier versions were supplemented with leather upholstery tacked on with nails, or slanted backrests.
Just like the settle, a settee featured back and arms as well. Unlike the settle though, an antique settee would often be upholstered or padded on the seat, back, and arms. Some furniture enthusiasts have opined settees to be a double version of a chair. The classic high-style settees would often follow the same formal styling on legs and arms as the fashionable chairs of the day. Some settees lean more towards the direction of benches, such as the Windsor-style ones that were popular in the second half of the 17th and early 18th centuries. What sets a settee apart is its sense of lightness. While some were upholstered, a real settee was uncovered, with high legs, slender arms and open sides.
We often have examples of both these types in our collection at Antiquated Antiques.