Kings of Chelsea

The Importance of “Occasional” Furniture in Interior Design

It’s a shame in many ways that the description has come somewhat to underplay the role that so-called “occasional” furniture fulfils in a room. By “occasional” the inference is that this category is not only physically utilized infrequently, but it is also only considered for its own contribution “on occasion”. The key pieces that any home will require to anchor a rooms functionality (sofa, bed, wardrobe, dining table) are of course vital in terms of use, but also dominant in scale and prominence within the space. However, as previously discussed in the blog post about carpets and floor coverings, the room does not need to be subservient to these items. 

On a financial and project level, the cost allocation to these “hero” items is likely to always be higher, but it is by no means always the case. Of course, a bed needs to be comfortable, a dining table will have seating number requirements, a wardrobe will have specific volumes to fulfil. On an aesthetic and cost basis though, it can be possible to turn these preconceptions on their head.

It would be hard for example, to re-contextualise the bed or the dining table without altering the entire use of the room. Added to that the sheer impracticality of moving these items, and the limiting qualities of them is clear.

Side tables, coffee tables, etageres, ottomans, poufs, chests…all of these can be moved, changed, altered, and are a great friend to the creative interior. 

Interestingly, the scale of “occasional furniture” also lends itself quite well to art objects or to mobile pieces that can be re-sited or curated quickly, easily and effectively. The standard items of furniture do not carry this flexibility – and therefore are of limited use when trying to change or alter a rooms message or “story”

As the bespoke sector grows and the interest in “artistic furniture” escalates, the focus is often moving towards interesting, curious, and sometimes spectacular examples of occasional furniture. It is frequently existing solely for its own sake and fulfils no practical purpose other than aesthetic. 

It is important to talk about the blurred lines between what constitutes furniture, or where art and furniture begins. Some of the most interesting interior concepts, designs and atmospheres created over the last decade have included schemes where these type of items are given key status.

There is a methodology by which the sofa, bed, wardrobe, become mere neutral backdrops to the profusion and plethora of surprising and visually pleasing forms that smaller and less functional items can take. There is a delight and light-heartedness in this approach that is deliberately distracting from the oppressiveness that the core upholstery and cabinetry pieces might exert.

The use of vintage, classic design, antiques and objets trouves can themselves become the focus, and these take centre stage. Many well-respected interior designers and stylists have come to use this approach incredibly effectively and imaginatively.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s worth rethinking what you feel should be the centre of your domestic environment, and for the bold, it’s a reversal that frequently pays off. 

See how Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors have raised the humble to something altogether more spectacular here –