Keeping a low profile

Last Updated : 26 January 2012, 12:55 IST
Last Updated : 26 January 2012, 12:55 IST

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A fresh development in furniture design these days is that of low-seating and low-level cots. Ruth Dsouza Prabhu offers tips on how you can include such furniture in the design scheme of your home.

There have been several styles that have come and gone when it comes to furniture – contemporary, Victorian, artistic woodwork, metal, glass, modular and more. One of the new looks to join these ranks is that of low furniture.

Now when we say low, it is not a reference to low-budget furniture, but rather to elements being a short distance from the ground. Sofas for example are now just 15” off the ground as against the traditional height of 18”. Bed platforms rise only to around 8” off the ground.

“Today’s metropolitan homes are seeing more of the concept of low-profile furniture. This furniture lends a spacious look to small and compact homes of today. Usually low-profile furniture is considered a good option for compact houses, especially in the drawing room, living room and bedroom,” says Thomas Johan, Sr G M Retail Operations & Institutional Sales, @home

Lowdown on the new design
“Low furniture suits homes with some kind of oriental influence in the decor, say, Indian or Japanese. These cultures traditionally use the floor for seating, whether for leisure, dining or socialising, and have used low-profile seating since time immemorial. However, a lot of modern furniture design includes low furniture. While low furniture can be used in most homes, it needs to be mixed and matched carefully with regular furniture.

For example, mixing seating of two heights in a group of seating can be tricky and may make the users uncomfortable,” says Juhi Santani, Interior Designer, Retale Design Solutions.

“Typically, low furniture is a reference to sofas being 13” to 14” off the ground and beds being around 8” from the ground. However, considering the typical Indian lifestyle and home, one needs to play around with these figures a bit,” says Shweta Gupta, Partner, Soulscape, a furniture boutique in Indiranagar.

She explains, “In India, we are not too used to concepts like vacuuming. The base of low furniture can be completely ruined with the kind of sweeping and mopping that we do. Instead, settling for something that is not regular low, but somewhere in between is a good idea. Depending on the size of the room and the overall aesthetics, a sofa that is 14”- 15” off the ground would work better. When you are mixing and matching – a 17” sofa will not go with a low table and therefore, you will have to customise your table to be around 2” to 3” lower than your sofa, which still makes it low furniture, just an inch or two more than what is normally considered low.”

When making your purchases…
Juhi explains that low furniture works best in a relaxed environment, say the family room or the bedrooms. Low furniture encourages the user to put one’s feet up or sprawl in comfort. Any material used for regular furniture, such as wood, ply, cane, wicker, steel, etc can be used for low furniture. When choosing furniture, here is what you can keep in mind.

Low furniture should be mixed and matched carefully with regular height furniture, as combining them can be tricky. The easier thing to do would be to go with only low furniture for a part of the house. For example, low seating would warrant low side/ coffee tables, while a low TV console works well with low seating (if the TV is placed on the console) etc.

Low furniture encourages one to use the walls more creatively, by exposing more wall expanse than in regular furniture. One should look at using wall art of a larger size (which looks beautiful!), use shelving judiciously and in general be more aware of the wall treatment above the furniture.

With all its advantages, sometimes seating /furniture of low height can be uncomfortable to use for the elderly. It requires one to bend a tad more, and getting out of a low height seating can be a challenge for someone with joint pains.  

To these points, Thomas Johan adds that you can shop for glass-based furniture a low-rise centre table. It’s an easier to clean and maintain compared to wooden ones that get stained easily. Also you should go in for strong wooden bed platforms that have no head boards as they can spoil the charm of a low profile bed.

He continues, “Choose a simple colour for your furniture that will easily match that of the wall colour and other soft furnishings. The design and size of your choice of low furniture should be compact and of standard size.

“This will allow for easy re-setting of furniture when you need it. Always go in for easy maintenance options. For example, the fabric of the sofa should be soft leather which is easier to maintain than cloth based ones.”

Published 26 January 2012, 12:55 IST

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