December 23, 2012

Pull up a chair ... or an ottoman

Entertaining for the holiday throngs calls for a creative seating strategy.

By MELISSA RAYWORTH The Associated Press

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When designing living rooms for clients who entertain heavily around the holidays, Brian Patrick Flynn often pairs sofas with swivel chairs that allow for easy conversation in any direction, as well as coffee tables that can double as benches, and occasional tables that also work as stools.

The Associated Press

FOLDING AND STACKING: "Folding chairs are often eyesores," Flynn says, so he prefers chairs that can be stacked when not in use. "My favorite stacking chair is the Emeco Navy chair. It's super light, maybe 7 pounds or so, and it's classic in design. When not in use, stack them seven high in a closet and you'll never know they're there."

Burnham and Schuneman have each found a few types of stylish folding chairs, but they tend to come with higher price tags. She favors black bamboo folding chairs from Ballard Designs (about $100) for rooms with a more traditional style, and has used clear Lucite folding chairs ("kind of like the Philippe Starck ghost chairs") in more modern living rooms.

Schuneman likes the fabric-covered "terai" folding chairs from Anthropologie (about $200), and suggests they can serve as a "great inspiration point for a DIY project." Try recovering the cushion of an old upholstered folding chair "in some beautiful fabric that works in your room," he says.

Planning carefully, shopping well and using a little DIY creativity are the keys to solving any holiday seating dilemma. says Schuneman.

"I always tell people to buy pieces that can move throughout your home," he says, "so that chair in the guest room can come into the living room, and that bench in the bathroom could double as an extra surface for gifts or what not. If you purchase pieces in your home that work throughout, it really maximizes your potential."

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