Huge sofas are out and velvet loveseats are in. No wonder, when more and more Britons are crammed into shoebox homes
When is a sofa not a sofa? When Valentine’s Day is around the corner, of course, and it becomes a loveseat. According to the online furniture retailer Swoon, seizing on this marketing opportunity, its loveseats have become enormously popular, with sales rocketing by 4,500%.
A loveseat is a small sofa, more bougie than a two-seater, on which you can stretch out languidly like a cat or, if you’re feeling romantic, two people can snuggle up together (until someone’s leg goes to sleep). “It’s the new two-seater, using space more economically,” says Sam Baldry, Swoon’s head of design. “The Tulum, for example, has really low arms, so you can lie all the way across it. You can curl up on it in a way that you never could on an armchair, or two of you can sit on it fairly comfortably, which means that you are using two-thirds of the space of a two-seater.”
So the popularity of the loveseat isn’t, in fact, down to love, it’s down to space. As New York magazine’s Ask Polly wrote: “Squeezing two full-size adult humans into a double bed for the balance of their days on Earth is sheer madness.” The same could be said for sofas. Perhaps this is why so many of our parents and grandparents had such hulking great couches. Huge, unwieldy behemoths that adults could stretch out on and children could hide behind, should Freddy Krueger and the Daleks come hunting.
For boomers, space wasn’t at a premium. Younger adults, however, do not have a choice. Britain’s housing crisis is pushing more and more of us into “shoebox homes”. The UK already has some of the smallest homes in Europe, at an average of 76 sq m, and an increasing trend for micro homes is resulting in thousands more being built each year. Architects are even campaigning for restrictions to be lifted in order to allow for even smaller homes. We’re becoming like rabbits in cages, albeit with very attractive seating.
The increasing Kondo-fication of interiors, inspired by the Japanese celebrity decluttering guru Marie Kondo, is also undoubtedly a factor. Clutter isn’t just uncool; we don’t have the space for it. Baldry notes that furniture on legs is the most popular. “If something is floating, it makes the space around feel more ample,” he says. What next, mirrored walls? Just build us some more houses. I’d still lust after a loveseat, but give me some space and I could have one all to myself.