Why We Feel We Need Gigantic Furniture

Bigger isn’t always better.

There it lurks by the window, veiling its girth under a swath of drapery in feigned modesty. You inch towards it, lured by its seduction, its “comfiness.” The giganta-loveseat, a chromosone short of evolving into a Great White Sofa awaits. Sit your tush in that thing and it will swallow you, chew you up and spit you out in what is guaranteed to be the most graceless moment of your life.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported on the Big Chair trend, which started in Texas and has since spread to living rooms across the nation.

“Furniture has been bulking up for several years now, partly to match the scale of all the cavernous “great rooms” that became must-haves in new homes (and perhaps also to match expanding waistlines),” Steven Kurutz of the Times wrote.

“But big furniture seems to have reached a critical mass of comical massiveness. One tipoff that the scale of a couch might be a bit out of whack? When you start comparing it to a large farm animal.”

The Times is right on record with this one. Even in homes that are cavern free – featuring moderately good rooms instead of “great” ones, single level ones with or without a doorman – bulked up furniture is cropping up at an ironic rate. Ironic, why?  Because even in this day and age of downsizing and settling for tiny, homo sapiens just can’t seem to shake themselves of this notion that a home is meant to be anything but a castle.

Although even that doesn’t hold water, or the mass of this Versailles Domed Burlap-Backed chair from Restoration Hardware.

The purpose of owning a chair like the Versailles is to have a throne in your living room. Though, again, almost. Take a look at this snapshot of Henry VIII’s throne in Dover.

Might as well be sitting in an aviator accent chair (also from Restoration), an ideal position for sugar bombing donuts into coffee while watching the entire season of Band of Brothers on DVD.

Regardless of the size of your abode, be it a little house by choice or mega green giant just because you can, the scale of furniture these days is considerably out of whack in comparison to what humans were sitting on during Tudor times, true. What was good enough for an ulcerous Henry VIII in his fat Elvis, uxoricidal days is, in modern era, as quaint and cute as his daughter Elizabeth’s dollhouse furniture. But buying furniture to scale is not too antiquated of a notion.

“At Raymour & Flanigan…a chair from the Briarwood collection…is equal in width to Le Corbusier’s LC2 love seat, designed in the late ’20s,” Kurutz notes. Opt for the “chair and a half” and you’ve got yourself a pre-war couch.

Post baby boom derrieres are bigger, but the median size of homes is on the decline (from 2,308 square feet in 2006 down to 2,244 square feet in 2011). For now, the upholstery market is a bull one. In a final mixing of metaphors, two questions nevertheless remain: are we in the midst of an upholstery bubble?

Images: Mouse Breath: Restoration HardwareLara Eakins

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.