Seating Area Design Tips

Beth Asaff
Seating area

The way a seating area is arranged helps define and dictate the way that a room is used. Whether you're trying to arrange the seating in your family room, or you want to create a small seating area on the front porch, there are several different tips you can use that will help create the perfect area for your space.

Six Tips for Designing Seating Areas

Not every type of seating arrangement is going to be usable in the room you're working on. Some arrangements are best suited to long, narrow rooms, while others work the best in small spaces. Many tips, however, are fairly universal no matter what room you're working on; try applying some of these tips to help make your seating areas come together.

Create Walkways

One of the fastest and easiest ways to help define a seating area is to create walkways around it. This means not only establishing a path to and from the seating area, but also a separation from the rest of the room. This is easiest to do in large or long narrow rooms; divide the room up by use and ensure there is enough room to walk between the seating area and the next section on at least two sides. If you have enough space to create two seating areas - one on either side of the room, make sure you can walk freely between them to help define the spaces.

Inspire Conversation

Within the seating area itself, the key is to inspire and create conversation. Couches should face across from one another, rather than being arranged perpendicularly to one another. Chairs should angle in toward one another slightly, even if facing a couch across the coffee table. Position the seats so there is enough space to walk freely around them - don't pile them on top of one another - but keep them close enough that people seated at opposite ends can still speak to one another without needing to raise their voices.

Include Moveable Seating

Moveable ottoman seating

If your seating area is large enough to accommodate it, consider including some additional, moveable seating for when guests arrive. This includes using ottomans, benches and backless couches in the room's design, such as placing ottomans at in front of a couch where they can be moved to the side when extra seats are needed, or using a backless couch as a way to "block off" the seating area from the rest of the room, rather than using a table.

These casual pieces should have a "home" in the room when not used as seating so that they're quickly available when you entertain.

Define Each Area

The seating itself often isn't enough to define an area, particularly if you have separate seating areas in one room.

In this case, further define each area through the accents and textiles. Consider using separate rugs beneath each seating area to help delineate each space. To make the suggestion that the areas are separate from one another, consider changing the color schemes slightly, such as using coordinating throw pillows in different colors.

Balance Seats With Tables

Many people using a conversation area like to bring things with them like drinks, snacks, glasses, magazines and other small items. Give them a place to put these things and balance the design of the area with enough table space for the seats. This means making sure that everyone seated on the stationary, permanent furniture (ignoring any moveable, additional seating for the moment) has enough room nearby to set things down on a table.

Include a coffee table if using a couch, and place at least one end table for every one to two chairs to ensure plenty of table coverage.

Have Furniture Do Double Duty

Leather

If your space is small, have some of the furnishings in the seating area work double duty. Instead of using a traditional coffee table, consider using a large leather ottoman or bench that can be pulled out for additional seating, for example. Keep trays and coasters on hand to make it useable as a table when not being used as a seat.

If you need to delineate two different seating areas, consider using a backless couch between them that is wide enough for people to sit on either side, facing either conversation.

Additional Tips

For smaller spaces like bedrooms, kitchens and porches, as well as seating areas in smaller living rooms, sometimes a different set of tips are needed. Try using these if you don't have the space to take on a bigger design:

  • Kitchen with booth seating
    Scale down and work within the confines of the space; think cozy, rather than spreading out to fill every inch of available area.
  • Consider building seating into the walls and windows or along the railing of a deck or porch. Include the built in seating along with the furniture to give you more seating options.
  • Use smaller pieces such as loveseats, benches and smaller arm chairs. Remember to leave room around each piece, rather than putting in the biggest item that will fit.
  • Consider putting two items back to back in the center of a room to create two separate seating areas, such as two love seats back to back with arm chairs opposite each one.

Design Seating for Your Space

Conversation areas are a wonderful addition to any room. They inspire intimacy and confidence and will immediately make people feel at home. Create some seating areas in your home that will inspire others to get comfortable.

Seating Area Design Tips