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How to tell if your living room needs more seating

Julie Sprankles is a freelance writer living in the storied city of Charleston, SC. When she isn't slinging sass for SheKnows, she enjoys watching campy SyFy creature features (Pirahnaconda, anyone?), trolling the internet for dance work...

Does your living room lack in seating? Find out the magic number for maximum livability

How many people can you comfortably host in your living room? Do you have enough seats? Take a break from counting sofa cushions in your head, because we found the seating clarity you've been seeking. With this advice, you can make your house a home, and still have what you need to be the perfect host.

During a recent living room overhaul for Better Homes and Gardens, interior designer Elaine Griffin revealed a surprisingly simple (yet effective) formula for finding out the ideal number of chairs:

The number of chairs in your living room ≥ the number of chairs in your dining room

So you need to have at least as many seats in your living room as you have in your dining room. Sounds easy enough, right? After all, it's pretty logical. Should you host a dinner party, everyone will likely end up in the living room afterward for coffee and conversation. Naturally you'll want each of them to have a place to plant their body without anyone having to sit lotus style on your yoga mat.

Think about your lifestyle

Although Griffin's advice is a good rule of thumb, the ideal number is going to be different for everyone, depending on many different factors. Like, for starters, your lifestyle. In essence, the "right" formula for you might look a whole lot different from the "right" formula for someone else.

If you throw only one dinner party a year but spend nearly every night cuddled up with your family watching TV, it might not make sense for you to have eight seats. Or perhaps your tastes veer more toward minimalism — another reason you might not want to fill your living room with as much furniture.

Another major consideration is space. Sure, it'd be fantastic to have room for eight to 10 seats in your living area. But really, how many of us have a living space that would allow for that much furniture and the requisite 30-36 inches of walking space between said pieces without looking comically cluttered?

Option 1: Sofas

Does your living room lack in seating? Find out the magic number for maximum livability
Image: Value City Furniture's Candice 3 Pc. Living Room with Accent Chair

If you need to maximize the amount of seating but don't have a ton of space or don't entertain a lot throughout the year, sofas are a smart way to fit in more seating without feeling like you are trying too hard. And despite the fact that they tend to get a bad rap in the interior design world, sectional sofas can be the perfect piece families with young kids (you know, at the sweet age when they still actually want to sit with you!).

At the very minimum, you should shoot for having at least four to five seats in your living room if space allows. In the typical home, this often looks like a sofa-and-two-club-chairs combo.

Then you can always build on that base arrangement with furniture appropriated from other areas — it won't hurt anyone's feelings if they sit in the same seat in your living room that they sat in whilst at the dining table.

Option 2: Multi-use furniture

Multifunctional furniture is another clever way to incorporate more seating. An ottoman that easily transitions from a coffee table to an impromptu place for guests to park it? Yes, please!

Does your living room lack in seating? Find out the magic number for maximum livability
Image: Value City Furniture's Adele Ottoman

Nesting ottomans also work beautifully, as they don't take up too much space but can create several additional seats. Simply slide one or two beneath a console table, and pull them out on an as-needed basis.

Does your living room lack in seating? Find out the magic number for maximum livability
Image: Value City Furniture's Tiffany 3 Pc. Storage Ottoman with Trays

And don't fret if your monthly book club ladies or some of the couples you host during game day parties have to squeeze in close or share a settee. If the furniture is comfy and the friendship is too, it doesn't matter if you have four seats or a million — your guests will have a good time.

This post was brought to you by Value City Furniture. For more inspiration, visit their blog at

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