05 Nov 2012
The race to find extra seating during intimate family lunches and birthday parties is characterised by constant interruptions and an unreasonable amount of uncomfortable ‘snuggling’ with relatives.
In your effort to have everybody seated you might settle on whatever comes out of your neighbour’s garage – cold, hard chairs that pinch the skin and unstitch every attempt you’ve made to decorate your place.
The frustration continues, even after your sit-down has concluded, because the chairs need to be returned and any additional seating needs to be stowed away. Where and how you put these away can be a challenge in itself.
The way to maintaining a stylish setting while providing much needed seating lies in the use of multipurpose furniture.
Here’s a rundown of what’s available on the market and tips on how to seamlessly integrate extra seating into your existing décor...
The role of ottomans
An ottoman can take on a number of roles. It can play the role of a footstool one day, a side table the next, a storage box during the week and a place to sit when needed.
Ottomans can never look out of place because of their ability to stand alone as decorative pieces. They make beautiful accent pieces for dead areas in a room and can hold trays of delectable drinks and appetisers for any occasion.
A cluster of three or four ottomans in varying sizes can add an elegant, creative structure that only a classy room can pull off. However, if you’re after a balanced look, pair your existing furniture with an ottoman of the same height.
A round ottoman in a living room defined by rectangular or square furniture draws in the eye and provides just the right amount of ‘colour’ to an otherwise ordinary room.
Rectangular ottomans complement their surroundings and three or four of them can be used together to create an extra long coffee table for an extra long sofa. This configuration can later be broken up and the ottomans used in a new seating arrangement.
The ottoman is a high utility piece that’s best covered in leather to slow down its aging process. When not in use, however, it can be tucked away under a console or at the end of your bed for décor and hidden storage purposes.
The modern take on stools is all about the details – drum shaped stools, semi circle stools, stools with nail head trim and stools with curves and a sassy attitude.
The materials used in the finished designs range from metal, wood, plastic, upholstery, wicker or a combination of materials.
The traditional stool, with its modern looks, is often reserved for the kitchen counter; however, backless versions of the chair are finding their way around the home.
These make beautiful makeshift display areas for framed memories, ceramics, books and lamps. On the odd occasion these can serve as bedside tables that hold a glass of water, reading glasses and a reading lamp.
For extra seating that makes decorative sense, you want to pair identical stools side by side. The symmetry will balance out the different furniture pieces and provide the ‘shading’ needed to ground such a setting.
Stools that are not in use can be stationed at the kitchen counter, under a narrow table, in the entryway or as a side table in the living room.
A simple bench
A bench breaks up the repetitive use and clutter of too many chairs in a room. Its simplicity makes it ideal for just about any décor scheme and it works well both indoors and outdoors.
Rustic benches are a perfect fit for country style homes and kitchens but if you’re looking for that contemporary feel, you could match an old bench with an abstract painting in the hallway.
The answer to added comfort lies in a padded bench or fashionable cushions that give it a whole new look.
You could also line your bench with indoor pot plants as an out of the way accessory or focal point, or you can easily store it below a window, behind a sofa or in the bedroom.
Bean bags can be scattered around the TV room or lounge for a casual movie night or in a bedroom housing a gamer armed with a wireless keyboard and mouse.
This fun, alternative seating can be used by the whole family but its level of comfort and durability will be determined by the quality of materials and fabric used in its making.
Ryan Buda from Fatsak says a quality bag is made from quality materials. He says if the fabric covering the bag is R40 per metre, then you’re going to get a cheap bag - if it costs R200 per metre than you’re going to get a better bag.
“The same can be said for the inner bag – the cheap bag is filled with cheap polystyrene at R5 per kilo, the nice bag costs R25 per kilo. The bottom line is that good beanbags are not cheap.”
The bags, however, don’t necessarily have to be restricted to loud, colourful chairs that bring out the ‘silly’ in you.
Comfortable, stylish variations are making their way onto the market in the form of bean bag arm chairs, ottomans and sofas that can also be used outdoors.
Buda says bean bags can be used in any living space, bedroom, lounge and even outdoors.
However, he says leather does not make a cool beanbag – leather is not porous so the air from the bag cannot escape, which means it can never really be comfortable.
Soft, plush fabrics such as corduroy make the best fabrics and are easier to wash.
For households with children and pets, Buda says, you should opt for a pet specific bag. He says if the cover comes off and is washable, the children/pet issue is easy.
He advises owners to wash the cover once every few months and to keep moving the foam inside to keep it fresh. – Katlego Sekano
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