Recently, I was asked by a friend to write about designing for narrow spaces. She specifically asked about couches. If you live in SOMa, you know that our living rooms can be narrow, even if the home’s layout has been altered to accommodate modern, open living. You also know that most of us love to use those rooms for everything from watching a movie with the kids to hosting the neighborhood wine club! That means we need to balance comfort with ample seating, storage, and places to rest the popcorn or wine glass.
So let’s discuss the couch first. Show some leg! That’s right, a couch with long, thin legs make narrow spaces larger. Why? Because they allow you to see the floor beneath which fools the eyes, making the room seem larger. Avoid oversized furniture with large arm rests and bulky cushions. I know, I know, they are cozy and comfortable but just doesn’t work in our small SOMa houses. Not to mention, the style looks out of place too.
I gravitate towards the juxtaposition of modern furniture in old spaces, as I believe many people do. The thin, rectangular lines of a midcentury couch in an antique home with beautiful period details looks elegant. With this in mind, just because it’s a narrow space doesn’t mean you can’t have a sectional. Crate & Barrel’s Petrie, Room & Board’s Jasper, Holden, and Harrison and CB2’s Ditto II are all great options in various price points.
If you can’t fit a sectional, consider a small loveseat – most of the styles mentioned above have those options. But you don’t have to buy new furniture. A store like Maplewood Mercantile in Maplewood NJ, which specializes in mid-century modern home furnishings, may have some smaller love seat or sofa options for you. Don’t like the fabric? Head over to Ultimate Upholstery in South Orange NJ to find the right color and texture for your room. Speaking of which, the type of fabric you chose matters. Consider cotton velvet, which cleans beautifully. We are a huge fan of leather – you can easily clean it w/ leather cleaner or a spray of Pledge. Yes! Pledge! But beware of pet claws on each of these; synthetic fabrics such as Microfiber of Ultrasuede are best for pets.
If you do go smaller, introduce multi-purpose furniture such as garden stools and large square ottomans with storage – both can also be used as tables. Also, easily moved furniture like plastic Louis XIV Ghost Chairs are a very inexpensive option that provide additional seating anywhere you need it. And because they are invisible, the aren’t visual space blockers and in narrow spaces, that’s key. I also like settees and chaise lounges. Both pieces are small, but can accommodate seating for at least two people.
And finally, if you are short, like my husband and me, consider a shallow seat so your knees actually bend at the edge of the couch! I personally think this is more comfortable and leaves more space in your living room for actual living.
And what about the rest of your space? That’s a story for another day…