Lounge here, at leisure
The primary requisite of living room or lounge furniture is comfort. A look at the options that are available.
THE TIRED husband (and these days very often the wife), enters home after a hard day's work, flings down his executive briefcase (or handbag) and looks around for a comfortable place to put his (or her) feet up. The kids come rushing home after school and need a comfortable place in front of the television.
Oops, there goes the doorbell! Guests! Wonderful! "Do come in, and make yourself comfortable," says the housewife, ushering them into the living room. No wonder it's called the living room! And it wouldn't be one without furniture that's comfortable, can take wear and tear and looks stylish.
After all, the living room is often the doorway to the rest of the house and your window to the outside world. It is the `lung' of the house and the space that breathes life into a home. It is here that the entire family can sit and do things together. It is also the space central to entertaining friends.
The choice of living room furniture is extremely subjective. It could range from an overstuffed sofa, to a divan, a chaise lounge, an eclectic mixture of planters, a rocking chair or just about any chair, or perhaps cushions scattered on the floor.
The living room is a primary space, which reflects attitudes towards furniture. Our colonial background has bound us subconsciously to the sofa, and who can deny a well-designed sofa's embryo-like comfort? The argument against the sofa is simple. It is invariably bulky, consumes too much space and makes small living rooms look even smaller. The same, and often better comfort, can be had from a well-designed lounge seat.
Sofas are difficult to keep clean, and require a certain type of lifestyle, where maintenance and care are a priority. In houses with small children and pets, light furniture with less use of cloth or leather is advocated.
Logic demands that the primary requisite of living room or lounge furniture is comfort. Therefore, the angle of seating should be suitable, and appropriate for long periods of sitting. Armrests should be comfortable, and if used, cushions should have removable covers to facilitate cleaning. Artfully designed lounge furniture has thin foam seats, which can be removed and dry-cleaned.
Sofa sets are expensive these days, so as an option and this works well for smaller spaces you can combine a sofa with two light chairs that have an exposed framework, or vice versa to break the heaviness of the arrangement. The trick is in combining the upholstery with the metal or wood-exposed frame, successfully. The set need not even be a complete match, but should blend harmoniously by way of age, design or material. Bookshelves are another option in most living spaces. Though they traditionally belonged to the study, today, bookshelves often reflect the eclectic reading habits and intellectual pursuits of the owner of a house. Depending on the space, bookshelves can be floor to ceiling, or shoulder height. They can extend from one wall to the other, or even act as a divider between the living-dining areas. They may be on the floor or fixed to a wall. They can be built in a combination of materials as well.
In an open plan system, bookshelves can cut off the view and are ideal for creating islands of privacy in a large room. Unobtrusive and lightweight bookshelves, that have enough height to keep coffee table books as well, are ideal for small spaces.
Another traditional element in the living area had, so far, been the coffee table and side table. Though they are preferred primarily for their utility value, they are now often designed to serve as conversation pieces. A coffee table must ideally have enough space for putting down a tray, a glass, some books and a few items that one might wish to add as accessories. The side table is for resting glasses, a bowl of snacks during a party and an ashtray. The ideal side table or coffee table uses space effectively by giving you a space below the tabletop as well, which serves as a shelf for storage. Magazines, telephone directories and other essentials, but not particularly attractive possessions, can be stored here conveniently.
There are other single furniture options that are also seen from time-to-time in the living area. The chaise lounge, the divan or settee and the pouffe's little stools that are mobile and easy-to-place, wherever seating is required. These, however, are not as essential and still remain space fillers in large homes.
(The writers can be contacted at Design Store, C.P. Ramaswamy Road, Alwarpet, Chennai Ph: 044-4997157 / 4997260.)
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