When you think of furniture, does your mind naturally progress to theories on neuroscience or psychology? Maybe it should.
Experts in both fields say we’re influenced by our environment to the degree that certain types of furniture might bring out more positive emotions.
It turns out curvy furniture beats its straight-lined siblings on many levels in our psyches. Curves are just more inviting, according to at least one study.
Researchers at Oregon State University showed four rooms to 111 students and asked which they liked best. Two rooms had curvy furniture and two had square and rectangular pieces. The curvy furniture, most students said, made them feel happier, calmer and more sociable.
That’s nothing new to interior designer Vickie Hafer, who has seen the trend of curved furniture come full swivel this season.
“It’s cozier. It’s friendlier. It’s more conducive to conversation,” said Hafer, owner of Carolina Interior Works in Charlotte. “All of those adjectives apply to round tables and curved furniture.”
A natural fit
Part of the appeal comes from our need for a good fit. Curved furniture can be more comfortable when it follows the natural contours of the human body. Sometimes the curves are there to enhance the design. Experts in the Chinese art of feng shui say decorating with curvy furniture creates a sense of movement and lets energy flow through a room. The curves of the retro Copenhagen Leather Chair from Restoration Hardware, for example, are bold yet look natural to the eye, especially when finished in a soft finish such as hand-distressed leather. The chair, available in seven shades, swivels 360 degrees, so you can turn your attention to any area of the room without getting up. $1,255 at RH.com.
We’re more at ease when we can relax in a chair that doesn’t take itself so seriously. The Trudy Chair from Avenue 62, a collection by Younger Furniture, has a thick, rolled seat cushion and armrests as foils to the angular design. The result is a carefree update to a favorite midcentury design. The chair’s frame is made of North American hardwoods. Available in Charlotte at City Supply ( citysupplycharlotte.com) and Spenzac Interiors ( Spenzac.com) for around $1,000.
Rounded or oval tables are equalizers that invite socializing, in part because there’s no true head of the table. The Duboce Triangle Table from Dot & Bo is also a conversation piece, with its sculptured solid birch legs and thick glass tabletop. $459 at dotandbo.com.
Play nicely together
Mixing shapes can make a room more interesting. Just as designers frown upon all square furniture in a room, all round is just as big a faux pas. “It just gets boring if everything is all the same,” said Hafer. “You can have square chairs around a round cocktail table.” The Global Furniture USA 5 Piece Dining Set achieves the same idea, but with a twist. Curving black and white chairs surround its rectangular glossy black top and V-shaped chrome base. The table with four chairs is $613 at AllModern.com.
Your space or mine?
Swaim’s Left High Arm Sofa can be a solution when you want to split a room into separate seating areas. The sofa divides the space in a soft, subtle way while also adding style and visual interest. “If you use a curved sofa, it’s so easy,” said Hafer. “It works as a great room divider without having a wall.” $6,804-$12,810, depending on the upholstery fabric ( http://bit.ly/1n3WVqF).
Small and irregularly shaped rooms can challenge the best designers. Sometimes the solution is to choose furniture that also has spare and irregular proportions. The Lövbacken Side Table by IKEA can squeeze into a tight corner and make it look as if you doted on the space. Made of a veneered wood grain surface, it’s also stain resistant and easy to clean. Covered feet on the table’s legs keep it from scratching the floor. $59 at ikea.com.