2017 Spring Home & Garden
Video Magazine

Designing to socialize indoors
By Derek Hurley

Send a link to a friend  Share

[May 05, 2017]  When the spring gives way to summer, many people prepare to socialize outside. Grills are cleaned up, lawn furniture comes out of storage, and yards are cleaned up to look presentable for guests.

But not everyone focuses their attention outside when the summer arrives. For some, it is just as important to make sure the inside of the house is ready for houseguests.

When thinking of socialization in the home, two areas come to mind: the living room and the dining room. Here are some ideas to help organize these spaces for comfort and to encourage socialization.

Living Room Furniture Arrangement
“Home Decorating Basics: How to Place Living Room Furniture”

Socialization in the living room is easier to encourage with a small space. In order to allow for both easy conversation and the ability to come and go, consider filling the living room with smaller furniture. Ann Myrick, an interior decorator since 1997, says that the most important thing to consider when decorating a living room is conversation.

When thinking of how to arrange couches, consider the size of the furniture. Larger couches, while capable of holding more guests, are difficult to arrange with other furniture or guests in mind, as a larger seat takes up more space and likely needs to rest against a wall.

Smaller couches, such as loveseats or sectionals that can be disassembled, leave more space for coming and going, yet still provide ample seating. To encourage more literal, face-to-face conversation, consider placing chairs across from these couches.

Trends in living room furniture suggest smaller, more portable chairs then can be rearranged as necessary. Smaller chairs are also easy to store and remove, which can be useful if the number of houseguests is expected to change.

In addition to couches and chairs, think about what the living room needs during a visit with houseguests. A coffee table is useful for any gathering involving food or drinks, and provide more room for chairs. A table should be placed between the chairs and couches, allowing for a space for dishes while encouraging people to sit on all sides of the table and face each other during conversation. Anything on the table should be placed in such a way as to not block anyone’s vision.

Myrick suggests that each chair should have room for a potential cup of coffee. Couches can be bookended with end-tables or small dressers to the same effect, allowing for storage and food placement.

An alternative would be to place one or two footrests in front of the seating. Footrests or ottomans provide additional comfort and can function as a table of sorts if need be. These pieces of furniture often come with some form of storage, such as pockets on the sides, or a hollow space on the inside.

Finally, consider the living room lighting. For those who may not have a light on the ceiling, you may need to find a number of small lamps. Lamps need to be placed relatively high to provide enough light for the room. Darker shades can help create different moods in the room as well.

Dining room tables and seating
“Small dining room furniture”
“Dining Room Design and Decor - Tips and Ideas”

Arranging the dining room should follow a similar goal to arranging the living room. The difference between the two comes down to the lack of a couch for the dining room. Aside from that, the layout for furniture should look familiar.

[to top of second column

Typical furniture arrangements can make a small dining room feel cramped. The main piece of furniture in the room is likely going to be the dining room table. Plan to arrange a small dining room to look larger by choosing an appropriately sized table and placing it as close to the center as you can. Round or square-shaped tables work best, and allow for equal placement of chairs.

Just as we saw with the living room, think carefully about anything that needs to rest on the dining room table. There should not be anything so large as to block someone from seeing or talking to someone else on the opposite side of the table. Make sure the table is placed under ceiling lighting in the room.

Smaller dining room tables can be purchased that also contain shelving or storage options. This can be a good way to store cups or dishes available for guests. This is especially helpful for those who have the space to place a dining room table outside of the kitchen.

Robin Baron, an experienced interior designer, suggests a round table to encourage socialization. “One thing I love about dining rooms is having a round table. It creates a really great conversation area. Nobody has to worry about being so far down the table from each other, and this particular table has a really special thing about it,” says Baron.

Baron also points out that another benefit to round tables is the ability to easily maneuver chairs. There is not a head of the table, so to speak, so chairs can be mixed and matched, depending on the needs of the guests.

If spacing is a larger issue, the living room and the dining room furniture can be placed in the same area. For those working with one larger area instead of multiple smaller rooms, try placing a couch in the middle of the room, with the dining room table behind it. This way, chairs can easily be moved from one side to the other as necessary, depending on whether or not your guests are joining you for dinner.

Alternatively, a current trend in furniture decoration is the conversation pit. The conversation pit was popular from the 1950s to the 1970s, and in the late 1990s conversation pits were offered in home plans. As a result, many homes on the market today feature conversation pits. A conversation pit is an architectural feature built into a depressed section of flooring. Border seats typically face each other, bringing the occupants closer together and allowing them to see the entire group, encouraging conversation.

Socialization in the living room or the dining room can be just as exciting in the warm weather without going outside. All you need is an eye for decoration and a proper seating arrangement.


Read all the articles in our new
2017 Spring Home& Garden Video Magazine

Welcome to the 2017 Spring Hone and Garden VIDEO Magazine - "It's Spring and Summer is coming!" 4
Designing to socialize indoors 5
Creating a great outdoor entertaining space 9
Bringing the outdoors inside with light and airy colors 14
Choosing a grill to suit your tastes 19
Cooking tips for the perfect BBQ 22
The ultimate home design saver - The Mudroom 27
The benefits of growing your own vegetables 31

< Recent features

Back to top