How can you add extra seats to a small living room? This may not sound like a head-scratching question. After all 'just buy some more chairs' might seem like the obvious answer. However, in a small living room too many chairs could crowd the space and make it feel cramped - or worse, look like a doctor's waiting room.
Thankfully, interior designers have a multitude of subtle and stylish ways they can add extra seats to small living rooms. These savvy tricks ensure there's space for guests to perch when they come over, without surplus seating when they're gone.
7 ways to add extra seats to a small living room
1. Introduce a coordinating footstool
A footstool that's the same height and color as your sofa will blend easily in as a piece of small living room furniture. This unobtrusive piece not only provides somewhere to kick back and relax once your shoes are off, but can serve as an extra seat when it's required.
'Adding textured footstools to a small living room offers extra seating for kids, as well as low level surfaces for them to play on with toys,’ says interior designer, Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors.
2. Choose two symmetrical sofas
Two sofas may sound like overkill in a small living room, yet current sofa trends prove that if you get the size, scale and style right and it's a match made in interior design heaven.
Instead of a large sofa and a chair or two, a pair of symmetrical sofas with the same bijou proportions placed opposite each other can work well in a small space. In fact, they can help when it comes to how to make a small living room feel bigger.
'In many of our projects the sofa is seen from several angles, ie the back or side as well as the front so we look for pieces that are beautiful 360 degrees,' says Cat Dal, founder, Cat Dal Interiors.
'You also need to take into account the height of the sofa, there should be various heights in the room, and low sofas can be great at not blocking a view through to another space or window.'
3. Utilise a bay window for low level seating
If you have a bay window, a built-in window seat with storage below is a worthwhile option. However, there are other ways to make use of this attractive but awkward space.
'A bespoke chair or two, tailored to fit the space looks good in a bay window,' says Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. 'The advantage of bespoke chairs instead of a window seat is that you can move them into a more sociable spot when required.'
Of course, you could also source a pair of low slung chairs to fit the space. It will look best if the back of the chairs is not higher than the window sill and there's room for a small table between them.
With a mid-century hint to the legs and shape of the back, this accent chair easily fits into a bay window.
4. Switch a coffee table for an ottoman
Instead of a coffee table with a hard timber, marble or glass surface, bring a level of flexibility to a small space with an upholstered ottoman instead. This trick for small living room layouts really adds multi-purpose flair to the space.
This multi-purpose piece will not only be useful for extra seating when there's a crowd, but can also be used for storage, as well as a flat surface to place a tray if you want another surface to reach for an evening G&T - or herbal fusion.
5. Choose a sectional sofa
Choosing a large piece of furniture for a small living room may sound counter intuitive. Yet when it comes to seating, one large sectional sofa with a chaise or footstool attached can take up less space than a three seater with separate chairs.
In the right spot, it will look more compact too. 'In a small living room, tuck your L-shaped sofa into a corner to open up the rest of the space,' says Irene Gunter, founder, Gunter & Co.
6. Add a fireplace fender
Small living room fireplaces can have more use than just heating the space, you know. Originally designed to stop firewood rolling away from the hearth, and laterly to keep kids and pets away from a roaring flame, a fireplace fender can have other handy uses too.
'If you have a fireplace, a fender is a fabulous way to squeeze extra seating into a small space,' says Irene Gunter of Gunter & Co. 'Alternatively, you could position a couple of stools or a pouf by the fire.'
7. Tuck stools under a console
In this project by Enass Mahmoud, founder of Studio Enass, the interior designer has elegantly utilised what could have been wasted space beneath a slender console for extra seating.
Upholstered in turquoise velvet with a brass base, the pair of stools add a sophisticated splash of colour to the space, and can be tucked neatly away when not in use. Combined with the coordinating ottoman, they offer a compact solution for those with an extra seating conundrum.
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Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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