LIVING ROOM SEATING

Even before you start to equip your living room to

Bear all these things in mind when you are cope with a number of different activities, you deciding which combination of sofa and chairs will should make it an ideal place in which to relax. best suit your budget, your room and your family.

Seating is, therefore, one of the first things to

If everyone has similar requirements, you might consider when planning this area. choose one or two large sofas. If, however, each member needs a different type of seating, one small

SEATING REQUIREMENTS sofa and several different chairs would be a better

It is wise not to set out on a spending spree before choice. There is no reason why all the furniture has you have decided on your basic requirements. to match exactly, as long as it has been chosen to

Points to bear in mind are the size of the adult look right and blend together. These pieces will, of members of the family and the way they like to sit course, cost quite a lot of money; there is a com- for maximum comfort: do you have to accommo- pany that now provides some help in the form of a date a sprawler, for example, or someone who complete DIY kit for making up simply designed, snuggles up with legs tucked underneath and arms feather-cushioned seating at about half the normal resting on the back of the sofa? If so, look for some- retail price. thing with a wide, deep seat and a low back. Anyone

Some young couples prefer a selection of huge who sits fairly upright needs head and neck sup- floor cushions or ‘bean bag’ chairs to a more formal arrange- backs. Tall people need a deep seat as well, so their ment. Although this is certainly an economical knees do not come up to meet their chins when they solution to what can be an expensive problem, it is sit down: short people have the opposite problem – not always comfortable for more elderly people. If if the chair is too deep, their legs will dangle short of you are considering floor cushions as your only the floor. Some people like to lean back to feel re- seating, make sure all the friends and relatives you laxed; others prefer a more upright posture. Low will entertain are young enough and spry enough to seating lends itself to modern furniture and tends to enjoy this very casual style with you. If this is not make small, low rooms look bigger; large traditional the case, add some back cushions to the floor ones pieces are particularly suitable for the shape, size and put them all on a raised plinth, which could

BELOW Flexible unit seating and design of older homes. moved around easily. space and budget allow

UNIT SEATING

Remember three people seldom fit comfortably on a three-seater sofa and a two-seater model will probably be used by only one person at a time. One way to overcome this problem is with unit seating, a fairly new and very useful development in the field of furniture. In its most basic form, it comes in straight and side units and enables you to build up a sofa of any size by putting together straight units and adding a corner piece at each end; you can make a right-angled arrangement just as easily with a combination of these pieces.

The great advantage of this system is its flexibility; you can rearrange its components whenever you want a change or when a particular social situation requires a different seating plan. Most units come complete with castors so they are easy to move around and some ranges cater for those who like a totally co-ordinated look by providing separate but matching tables, pouffes and armchairs.

Space Be sure to leave enough space around your seating, whichever type you choose, so it can be used comfortably. Allow 600mm between the back of a sofa or chair and a wall or table, and try to have the same amount of legroom in front; the minimum legroom is 450mm.

SOFA BEDS

Although sofa beds are in principle excellent for accommodating occasional overnight visitors, they must be chosen with great care since some do not make either a comfortable sofa or a satisfactory bed. Before you make any such purchase, test it both as a sofa and as a bed to be sure neither you nor your guests will suffer unnecessarily. Check also that the process of conversion is a simple one; you will not want to follow complicated instructions or perform a minor joinery operation at the end of the evening.

One of the least complicated sofa beds is a single divan unit with an attractive cover and a few throw cushions. This arrangement should not, however, provide the main seating in the living room, because a mattress gets worn unevenly when people perch constantly along the side of it; one solution is to turn the mattress round periodically.

The use of any type of sofa bed will be much easier if you choose a duvet instead of the traditional sheet and blankets arrangement which takes much longer to set up.

FURNITURE COVERING

Upholstered seating has two main types of cover: loose and tight. Loose covers are, naturally, those which can be taken off for cleaning. If the fabric is washable, you can clean them yourself by soaking them in the bath with suitable soap or detergent. Put them back in place before they are completely dry, since the damp fabric will be easier to stretch into place and will dry smooth and without wrinkles – and with a tight fit.

Although loose covering is generally the more expensive type, it does allow you to keep two sets of covers so you can change the look of your furniture completely without having to buy new pieces. Some furniture is not suitable for covering in this way: straight simple shapes are best; so if your suite has lots of curves and embellishments, you will have to have it tight-covered.

Tight covers are attached to the frame of the piece of furniture with tiny tacks, which are normally hidden by braid or piping. Less expensive than loose covers, this type is particularly good for ornate pieces or those which are not completely covered with fabric, such as small wood chairs with upholstery on the seat, back and arms only.

CHOICE OF FABRIC

Whichever type of covering you decide on, be sure to choose a suitable fabric. The most important factor here is durability, so check the material you have in mind is designated for upholstery use. It would be a terrible waste to pay a great deal of money to have your sofa covered, only to find the fabric wears thin in a year or two. Tough cotton or linen is practical – or linen union, a mixture of cotton and linen. Some silks, wools and synthetics make good upholstery, as do heavy materials such as brocade. Fabrics with a slightly loose weave aFe not usually a sensible choice since they tend to stretch out of shape, especially when they are used for tight covers which expose any fabric to heavier wear than loose ones.

COLOUR AND PATTERN

Large items of seating are a major investment and you will not want to think about changing them for a long time. Consider the design and colour of your fabric carefully: a plain, neutral colour or a simple, small pattern will blend in with different design schemes should you decide to change the look of the room before it is time to replace the furniture.

If there are children or animals in the household, select a fabric which will not show up spots and stains too easily. Darker colours and small patterns are ideal here, but avoid any regular design such as houndstooth check or tiny stripes which tend to highlight any dirty marks, however small they may be.

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