Conversational Seating for Every Room in the House
For a room to invite its occupants or visitors to put their feet up and let their hair down, it has to be comfortable, welcoming and have zones that spur conversation. Living rooms and family rooms are the obvious examples, but the whole of the house has this potential. There’s usually a nook or corner in every room that can be made conducive to talking.
Formal rooms like living rooms used “for entertaining only” and traditional dining rooms work for some people, but they’re often “dead space” you pass through on your way to some place more comfortable. The truth is most people’s lifestyles have begun to transcend the use of ceremonial rooms like the “front room” only used for company.
If you have a room like this, waiting for the next big event but otherwise unoccupied, consider changing its purpose. And it’s easy to do so. Substitute that pristine sofa that nobody feels at home in for a relaxed slipcovered one like our Cote d’Azur or Saint-Malo Sofas. They’re both covered in soft but sophisticated linen to set an easy-going tone but still look polished. And the neutral color choices for each style mean they play a supporting role to what’s happening in the room: sparkling conversation.
There’s nothing quite like an inviting sofa to get your friends and family to settle in and share their thoughts…or secrets! But if your budget or your style doesn’t allow for a slipcovered sofa, simple toss a few colorful or charming pillows on some seats around the room. Who could resist sharing the latest story about their favorite pet when our Bulldog Needlepoint Pillow is propped nearby?
Before the 1800’s, most of the furniture in a home was lightweight and moveable. Tables and chairs were pushed up against the walls until it was time for tea or card games. These days most of our furniture resides in the center of a space but it’s a wise idea to have a few pieces that can be repositioned for conversation. Ottomans, nesting tables and a graceful bergere chair are great choices in these instances.
Also, light mobile chairs like our Rhone Tufted Side Chair are key to conversational seating. When a chair is easy enough to move to another spot, people will do so. And don’t you love when your guests make themselves at home during a party by clustering the chairs together? We think it’s a sure sign things are going well!
So many homeowners say the heart of their home is the kitchen. At a party, “That’s where everyone congregates!” The kitchen is the hub and in today’s open floor plans the kitchen flows seamlessly into the entertaining and eating areas. So think about conversational seating in the kitchen too.
Is there a sunny spot in the kitchen where you love to have your first cup of coffee in the morning? Would it welcome a couple of overstuffed chairs like our Provence Matelassé instead of a table? Now it is furnished to encourage a relaxed one-on-one exchange of ideas.
And don’t forget the magic of the comfortable bar stool. Pull as many as you can up to the overhang of the island in your kitchen because that’s where everyone wants to be during a party.
Some would say the kitchen is the emotional center of the house, but really any room can be that for you depending on the habits of your family and friends. The entertainment room, for example, with a great sound system and large screen TV is often a focal point. In a media room or family room make space for a game table like our Dauphine or the elegant antique Mouchoir Game Table. Even if chess isn’t your thing these tables will get people to put down their phones and tablets and have a conversation.
Light-flooded rooms also have magnetic attraction for guests and visitors. For this reason we say don’t forget the porch. One of our favorite interior designers suggests decorating the porch in warm weather as if it is an interior room. The simple act of putting down a rug like our Veranda Mat will make the porch feel like a friendly retreat. The synthetic fibers of this mat are easy to keep clean but the design and style looks almost like an antique. Mix wicker furniture with a piece like our Mignon Tripod Table on a small porch and the house’s communication space just multiplied.
One last (but perhaps the best?) space for a convo is in front of the hearth. A fire in the fireplace always gets people talking. It must be something in our DNA from our ancestors gathering around the open fire. Or maybe we just have such fond memories of summer campfires. Whatever the reason, make sure the zone around the fireplace lends itself to talk. Furnish it with wingback chairs, toss a few throws over their plush backs and set a small table within arm’s reach to rest that glass of wine. We wish we could hear the stories that will unfold.