Have a Small Living Area? Tips for Seating Design

Even though your space may be limited, you do not have to limit yourself to just a couch for seating. When shopping for furniture, be sure that the seating is at least one of the following: multi-purpose, compact, and/or storable.
Multi-purpose seating: An ottoman is compact and slides out of the way fairly easily, and it can serve several purposes if you find one with a removable lid. This allows you to store blankets, remotes, and magazines out of the way. When company comes over, they can use it as a seat, and when they leave it works as a footstool for comfortable lounging. Benches with storage under the seat add a little style to your entrance. Even if your place does not have an actual entranceway, a bench with small shelves and hooks above it can provide a little extra seating that is practical and makes visitors feel welcome. Futons are more compact than most couches and come in a wide variety of styles. They fold into a bed and are great to have around for those visitors who stick around a little longer than you may have expected.
Compact seating: When shopping for seating, try to find furniture with sharper angles. Though they may not be as comfortable as wider chairs that recline a little bit, they tend to be smaller and are better than the floor! A wooden chair with a narrow base and a straight back will take up less space than another chair with wide legs and armrests. Bar stools are also extremely compact and can be stored flush against a wall or under countertops with a lip. Some stores sell decorative, oversized pillows that work as comfortable seating for the floor. These are similar to bean bag chairs but take up less space, and you can shove them into tighter spaces. If you have a little extra space, recliners are extremely comfortable and can even accommodate overnight guests. When trying to figure out where you are going to put the recliner, keep in mind that it will take up much more space when reclined. Do not put it flush against the wall or other furniture if you want to recline in it. If you place the chair so that it reclines into walkways or other open areas, it will only take up the extra space when someone is in it.
Storable seating: This is seating that you can store in a closet and quickly pop-up for impromptu visits. Large round chairs that fold out of the way are surprisingly comfortable and come in a variety of colors and materials. Folding chairs (the kind that come with card tables) are great in a pinch. If your couch is raised above the floor, you may be able to slide a folding chair or two out of the way underneath it, while still making sure that you have easy access to it.
Watch for sales at the beginning of the school year; a lot of dorm furniture fulfills these three criteria but are only in stores for a limited time.
A small space does not mean your company has to sit on the floor. Keep these tips in mind when shopping for furniture and you will be pleasantly surprised at how many people you can comfortably sit at your next gathering.