Tuesday 19 March 2019

Love seats are having a moment, and it's not down to romances

No, it's all about lack of space

A love seat can maximise previously unused space in a window or alcove. The Primrose, from DFS, €1,599, is a classic design that won’t date
A love seat can maximise previously unused space in a window or alcove. The Primrose, from DFS, €1,599, is a classic design that won’t date

Kirstie McDermott

Multiple studies have trumpeted the fact that the millennial generation is having less sex than its predecessors. A 2018 BBC study discovered that 45pc of adults said stress was a huge factor and in 2015, a study by Dr Jean Twenge unpicked the fact that millennials have less sex, with fewer sexual partners, than their parents did at the same age.

And what, precisely, does that have to do with interiors? In a weird flex (but okay), furniture brands DFS and Swoon have reported a huge rise in the sales of love seats, a category of furniture that's a smaller-than-average sofa and which was once regarded as a charming, if twee, relic from ye olden days of ancient yore. You know, the sort of thing your granny and grandad would have sat on in the Jurassic period for the exchange of chaste kisses.

In February, Swoon - an online, cuts-out-the-middleman e-tailer - reported that sales of love seats were up 4,500pc. Likewise, DFS, the sofa chain, has seen a big boost. "We've seen a 48pc increase in love seat sales, or 'cuddlers' as they're known at DFS, in the past two years," says Lauren Harris, senior designer at the brand.

So is it a case that if we're not doing the bauld thing, we're actually badly in need of a bit of comfort? Lauren thinks it's a bit simpler, actually. "I think the cuddler's popularity lies in the fact that it's simply the most versatile piece of seated furniture we sell and works for every home regardless of size."

Ah - size. Now we come to the rub. In Ireland, we're now building smaller houses with an average floor space of 81sqm compared with 115sqm in Denmark and 124sqm in Belgium. That means that if you're actually able to buy a new house these days, it's likely to be more compact than one a previous generation would have been able to afford.

As a result, the notion of the three-piece suite has gone out the window for a lot of people. That's a lot of furniture to jam into a small room, and to have to contort yourself to climb over in order to sit down. Something like one three-seater, plus a love seat, can be a really practical solution.

Harris agrees. "For homes where space is at a premium, it offers a seat for two without taking up much more room than an armchair. It can also fill awkward spaces like bay windows, alcoves or cosy corners." That also makes a love seat a viable option for a bedroom, landing or hallway too - their compact size means that if they fit, you can sit.

The selection process is the same as it would be for any couch, so do your homework. "Focus on style, comfort, size and quality," advises Harris, who warns, "measuring correctly is critical if you're short on space - it's important to be aware that although they're smaller in width than a sofa, they tend to be the same depth."

This isn't all about practicality, so you don't have to throw the romance out altogether. Harris reveals her own reasons for owning a love seat: "It's just great for snuggling up to a loved one on, so make it feel inviting and cosy with cushions and a throw."

Kirstie McDermott is editorial director at 'House and Home' magazine

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