Inspiration & Ideas

How to fit more seating in your living room

Birley Chesterfield Italian leather sofaFrom large families to parties, there is always one issue that causes family arguments and discomfort for your guests: lack of seating.

Get it right, and your living room is the epitome of style, comfort and ample seating. Get it wrong, and it will either look like a waiting room or a case of musical chairs at every sitting.

Modern furniture offers fantastic solutions but just as important is making sure that you have the right seating, in the right shape and form.

Size and Dimension

Firstly, take note of your room, its shape and size. Think about what would look great in that space. For example, a longer, leaner, narrower room would look fantastic with a longer, leaner sofa.

Contemporary furniture offers many solutions, such as the L-shaped sofa that looks fantastic across the corner of a living room.

Don’t forget ad hoc seating solutions for short term seating – armchair and footstool combinations provide two seats at a party, with someone perched on the footstool being the perfect solution.

Placement, Placement, Placement

To stop the ‘waiting room’ feeling you need to think outside of the box and not just assumed that the only rightful place for a sofa is against the wall.

If your living room has a view or a large bay window, for example, make the best of that. Place a sofa opposite the window with a garden view so that when people lounge of the Italian leather sofa, the vista is framed perfectly.

Armchairs provide much needed extra seating and because they are easier to re-position that a large sofa, they can be moved as and when needed. But keep the placement of the sofa in mind and make sure that they don’t block the view.

Mix Colours, Materials and Finishes

We are often taught that to get cohesion in a room so that the brown leather sofa connects with the armchairs and the footstool is to stick with one colour, one material choice and one colour.

However, you can mix and match – and you can certainly do this within the confines of any style.

For example, a ‘traditional’ appeal of a brown leather sofa such as a Chesterfield works well with the grandeur of a winged armchair. Or mix fabric armchairs with a leather sofa.

Or, get super-creative and bold with a sofa and armchair that incorporates both leather and fabric in their design, such as Harris tweed and Italian leather sofa or leather and wool seating.

Or Opt for One Colour

You can sink back into a comfy sofa with a same colour comfortable armchair. This works well in a smaller room where you need plenty of seating options. Break the monotony with a throw or two in different colours, and don’t forget the power of the scatter cushion for adding a zing of colour or an interesting pop of a pattern.

Top tip – creating cohesion with many separate pieces of contemporary furniture such as footstools, armchairs and sofas can be rough, even for experienced interior designers. That’s why designers always say to match in pairs – so, think sofa with two contrasting armchairs.

No longer will family members have to have first dibs on the comfy sofa now that there is plenty of choice of comfy seating.

5 easy recipes for alfresco dining with friends

Round St Mawes Garden Table in Reclaimed Teak

Now is the perfect time to get your garden ready for al fresco dining with friends. You have two main options when it comes to outdoor furniture - an outdoor sofa or a garden set with a table and chairs. 

If you have less space, you may just want to stick to a table with outdoor chairs, especially if you love entertaining. A round table is perfect as it means you can easily chat to everyone around the table. A drinks cooler in the centre is an added bonus so you don't need to get up to go and get more drinks whilst you are eating. Pair with rattan dining chairs, which look stylish and will withstand the unpredictable British weather. 

If you have a larger outdoor space, add a garden sofa which is perfect for keeping your dinner party going on longer outside, or so your guests can sit outside with a glass of wine whilst you finish off dinner. 

Once you have the perfect garden set up with your outside furniture, you can get to planning summer dinner parties. Here are a few of our favourite recipes for dining alfresco with friends.

Classic Sangria

A classic glass of Spanish sangria is the perfect summer drink. A lighter option than red wine, the drink is the perfect accompaniment to a BBQ or a light summery meal. 

Mix together a bottle of red wine, one cup of orange juice, half a cup of white sugar and one and a half cups of rum (or lemonade, if you want to make slightly less alcoholic). Slice up a lemon, a lime and an orange to garnish.

sangria drink and white wine on dining table

Homemade Pizza

Pizza is a fantastic summer meal and can be paired with whatever you like - salad, wedges or cous cous, the choices are endless. Homemade pizza tastes far better than anything shop bought, and it is surprisingly easy to make. 

To make the dough, mix together 250g of strong white bread flour, 250g of plain white flour, a sachet of dried yeast, 10g of salt and 325ml of warm water. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and knead until smooth. Cover up and leave to rise, before turning it into a pizza base and topping it with whatever takes your fancy.

Go for something classic with mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of pesto or something Mediterranean inspired with grilled chicken, roast peppers, red onions and diced chills if you like something a little hotter.

garden pizza on reclaimed wood dining table

Lasagna

Lasagne is a classic dish which is perfect for whoever you are feeding and again can be paired with a selection of salads for an fairly quick meal which will mean you can maximise your time sat with friends. 

The sauce can be made beforehand and left in the fridge for up to three days if you are catering for a lot of people. Start by heating the oil and cooking your beef in two batches until browned all over. Then chop four slices of prosciutto (for every packet of lean mince beef) and pour over the tomato sauce, stock, nutmeg and seasoning. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.

On the day, heat the oven to 180c and assemble your lasagne. Lightly oil and overproof serving dish and then spoon in a layer of the ragu sauce, cover with lasagne sheets and drizzle with white sauce. Repeat this three times before covering with the remaining white sauce and then scatter slices of mozzarella over the top. Bake for around 45 minutes until the dish of bubbling and lightly browned.

lasagna on outdoor garden table

Grilled Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are a fantastic, flavoursome accompaniment to every summer dish and will add plenty of colour to your outdoor table. 

You can grill whatever vegetables your fancy, like red onions, aubergine, courgettes, peppers or beetroot. Make sure to cover with olive oil and season with fresh herbs and garlic to maximise the flavour. 

Vegetables pair wonderfully with tabbouleh which is fairly easy to make. Cook 250g of cracked wheat according to the instructions then rinse and drain. Set it aside to cool a little. Finely chop 1 bunch of fresh mint, 1 bunch of parsley and half a cucumber, a good squeeze of lemon and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Have a taste and tweak the seasoning if you wish, then cover and set the mixture aside.

grilled vegetables - outdoor dining - modish living

Deviled Eggs

Or how about deviled eggs as an easy appetizer? Hard boil your eggs, then cut in half and carefully scoop out the yolks. Mix the yolks with mayonnaise, chives and paprika, season with salt and pepper and pipe into the egg halves. 

You could also fill with cream cheese mixed with capers and seasoned with salt and pepper or beat avocado until smooth and add lemon juice and tabasco and season with salt and pepper.

devilled eggs recipe for outdoor dining

What you need to know for a great living room layout

Windsor Blue Louis De Poortere Rug in living room with white sofa

Looking in from the outside, a larger living room feels like a gift – so much space to play with! But, when you have a larger space, it can feel cavernous and unconnected.

You have tried connecting areas with stylish modern rugs, you have bought super-sized modern living room furniture, complete with a large sofa and matching armchairs as well as one of the lovely wooden TV cabinets on the market, but to no avail. Everything still looks ‘lost’, the style more ‘that’s where it was put’ than carefully considered placement.

Understanding the space

Floor plan drawing for living room layout

If the larger living room feels disconnected, it may be because the space itself – the flow, the focal point etc – have not been understood.

  • Draw the space – grab a piece of paper, and create a floor plan of the living room, marking in doors and windows and any other features. You can draw it to scale to make planning the space easier.
  • Mark the flow through the room – this means looking at where the doors are and the most logical flow of how people will use the room. Do you need to create a path for ‘traffic’ to walk through the space? As well as sofas and chairs, other items of furniture can be used to create pathways – consider carefully the placement of wood tables or a modern side table.
  • Focal points – a room can look cavernous because there is no one focal point. In a larger living room, you can opt for more than one but make sure they don’t compete for attention. The window can be one focal point, the fireplace another. But furniture can be too. A stylish Italian leather sofa, elegant and serene is great for attracting attention, as is a stately-looking high back armchair. Or a large concrete coffee table can be the talking point a larger room needs to grab attention.

Ant Fox painting in living room with sofa and floor lamp

    Think of your living room are a treasure trove of discovery for guests. As they sit and enjoy the elegant leather sofa and admire the coolness of the concrete coffee table, have other sensational additions that pop in to view. Wall art is an understated addition to any space, for example.

    Placing the living room furniture

    In a large room, placement of living room sets of furniture and tables is just as important as in a smaller space. Whilst you may not be trying to shoe horn items into the living room, too much space around objects can make them feel listless.

    Start with the biggest item of furniture as this usually become the focal point for the room. This may be an enormous flat-screen TV or you may decide that the classic shape of a leather Chesterfield sofa deserves pride of place.

    Check out these inside interior designer tips too;

    • Furniture placed parallel to walls creates a calmer, ordered space
    • Want a dynamic space? Place traditional armchairs, sofas and wooden side tables and coffee table at an angle.
    • Pathways should be at least 36 inches wide or around a metre in width
    • Group furniture to create ‘hubs’, leaving around 18 inches or half a metre for access
    • With all coffee tables, including the functional solid wood coffee table, allow 18 inches or half a metre between it and the seating in a living room.
    • Single pieces of furniture – like a tub leather armchair – should be ‘anchored’ in position with at least two other items such as side table and floor lamp, or a rug and side table etc.

    Larger living rooms can be difficult to dress, with a sense of cohesion between items difficult to create. But, with careful placement and not being frightened of ‘gaps’ or clustering items together, your living room layout will be fantastic, an ideal space for you.