Never Enough: Why most people don’t have enough furniture in their rooms

May 29, 2018 by

The more (furniture), the merrier

One of my claims to fame is how much furniture I can fit in a room.  Almost every client I have designed and decorated homes for has commented on how much furniture I can fit in a room.  In fact, in most of our meetings they will challenge me with, “Are you sure all of this will fit?”  To which I quip, “The tape measure doesn’t lie.”  I painstakingly scale all of the rooms that I decorate because there is nothing worse than showing up to install a room and have something not fit!  Most people don’t really know how to properly furnish a room for both convenience and comfort.  A room should feel full in order to evoke a sense of comfort and ease.  Tired?  Have a seat nearby to sit in.  

 

In this room, designer Mark Sikes has expertly created two entire sitting areas in one room. Notice the room doesn’t feel too cramped, but it is filled with ample seating.

Arranged to Entertain

Another favorite maxim of mine is:  If you can dance in your room, you don’t have enough furniture in it.  This is a mantra I design and live by.  When I am designing a room I must get at least six adults to fit comfortably; this is essential in entertaining.  When laying out a room, don’t think, I only need a seat for my spouse and 2 kids.  Instead, think about how you entertain and how many seats you need when hosting a gathering.  In my experience, people generally host at least 2-4 people at a time.  Sometimes it’s just a couple of people, but I find that people more commonly will have more over at a time.  You know the old adage, the more the merrier!  So, if you have comfortable seating for six you will be set for most get-togethers.  (Note:  When figuring seating, never count a sofa as three seats.  Grown adults do not want to sit three abreast on a sofa.  It’s too close.  Just count it as two seats.  Another note:   Loveseats do not accommodate two adults.  Please, do not ever buy a loveseat under any circumstances.  Two chairs are more comfortable for two adults. 

 

This illustrates the importance of laying out your furniture in advance: while there is plenty of seating in this room, it doesn’t feel too tight or cluttered.

So, why do most people not have enough furniture in their rooms?  I have discovered four main reasons. 

 

Reason No. 1:  It’s too expensive

Purchasing a lot of upholstery and casegoods (tables and chests) is a large investment.  People are comfortable spending a certain amount and they will not go beyond it.  So, you will see a sofa and two chairs with an ottoman in a room with maybe a coffee table and one end table.  The ottoman is a splurge for a lot of people.  (When I worked in a retail furniture store MANY years ago, you would not believe how people would not order the ottoman, and then on delivery day they call wanting it immediately.)  With this set up, you really only have comfortable seating for four.  This just isn’t enough when you have guests over.  Then you end up standing, or worse, bringing in a folding chair–never an elegant option. 

 

Sometimes when people are unsure of what to do with a room, they go the sparse furniture route. But what this does is really make a room useless. Who can use this space?

Reason No. 2:  The furniture you are buying is too big

A very common scenario for most people is that they go to the furniture store and buy what’s on the showroom floor.  After all, seeing is believing.  So, they can sit on the sofa and chairs to test drive the comfort.  The problem here is that most consumers have no understanding of scale.  The showroom is huge and the ceilings are tall and there are no walls.  So, that sofa and chair that looked so perfect in the impeccably decorated and merchandised showroom look like a parked car in your living room.  I like to select upholstery for my rooms that has small arms in order to accommodate a more generous seat.  Smaller arms on the upholstery allow you to get more seats in a room, generally speaking.  For tables, round lamp tables give you more options for space planning, because you don’t have sharp corners.   And keep cocktail tables to no larger than 48”.  Anything larger is just not useful and can visually overwhelm a sitting area.  Also, sectionals are great in only a few specific circumstances so stay away from them unless you know what you are doing.  But, that is a blog post all its own. 

 

The oversized sofa trend should have gone out of style when the tv show “Friends” went off the air in 2004 and Central Perk went away.

Reason No. 3:  Too much attention is placed on the television

If I had a dime for every time a client said every seat had to have a perfect view of the TV, I’d be a rich designer indeed!  Not every event in your home is to celebrate a sporting event or host a Bachelor Binge Party.  Don’t be afraid to put some seating in front of the TV for the times when you plan to entertain and not watch television.  The Super Bowl is only once a year.  Remember that when people are over to visit, even if the TV is on, it’s not the sole reason you are together.  In my experience, when you are visiting in someone’s home and the TV is on, you are still conversing and exchanging dialogue between host and guest.  It’s a great idea to have seating available for when conversation is the focus instead of television viewing. 

 

Even though the chairs closest to the fireplace do not have a clear view of the television, they help round out the conversation space and are great for entertaining.

Reason No. 4:  Think conversation!    

This leads me to the final reason people don’t have enough furniture in their rooms.  They don’t think about how intimate conversation is.  When you are talking with someone, you don’t want to be farther than six feet from them.  We designers use this as a general principle when setting up and designing rooms.  In order to have a conversation you don’t want to be yelling across a room, so snuggle in a small armchair next to a sofa for those time when a dear friend stops by and it’s just the two of you.  If it gets in the way during a party, simply move it.  But, it’s there and available for those times a friend stops by to share a confidence. 

 

Small bergere chairs like this are easy to pick up and move around, but are more comfortable than a solid wooden chair.

I hope this helps you figure out why your rooms don’t feel like the ones you see on Instagram or in magazines.  For a room to feel full and cozy, the more furniture, the better.  Take a look around your rooms and look for holes you need to fill with more seating or a chest with a lamp.  I’m certain you can add more to your room.