Ah, the elusive living room layout. Amid the zillions of opinions flying around about the absolute best way to lay out the main space of your home, may we suggest something a little unorthodox? What if all your seating was smack-dab in the middle of the room? Like a theater in the round, one furniture arrangement in the center can seat all of your guests and it wouldn’t be weird. The idea here is to use modular sofa pieces so that you get a graphic look (like the setup below in the dreamy Portuguese hotel, Santa Clara 1728), and everyone can gather in a sort of civilized dog pile.
Not only does it transform your seating arrangement from expected to exciting, it also encourages you and your guests/roommates/family to actually pay attention to one another, a novel idea. No TV drawing your line of vision or forced conversation because of the designated chair-to-sofa arrangement; instead, people will come together around a kind of nucleus. We can only speculate that is how the original designers of this concept intended modular seating to be used in the ’60s and ’70s: In the era of free love, communal living was boss and furniture that inspired group "lounging" was at its height, hence XXL round beds and those sunken "conversation pits" 😏.
Companies like Ligne Roset (whose Asmara modular sectional from 1966 by Bernard Govin is pictured above), B & B Italia, and Arflex manufactured these low, blocky sofas during those decades. Today they are iconic collectibles, carrying a hefty price tag (a fave Mario Bellini set costs $26,700). Some even sit in museums as works of design art.
But here's the fun thing about design: You can obsess over something that is so expensive it’ll draw tears or you can source a similar thing from a contemporary brand and make it work in the same way for your home. Which is exactly what we’re here for. The trick is to find a sectional that also has an armless piece or maybe a tall matching ottoman. You can mix the pieces front to back and place a backless spacer in between to create a circular configuration like our inspiration. But you do you! The beauty of a modular sectional is its versatility. If central seating suddenly isn't your thing, just shift the pieces back into a straight line like a traditional sofa, or break them into a sofa and single seat. See some of the best sectionals out there that you can arrange as a central living room layout: