Let me encourage you to consider the Chinese garden seat. This little ceramic drum is as useful as a Swiss Army knife and as helpful as the perfect butler.
One design guideline I try to follow in any room is to have some kind of table by every chair or sofa. This has more to do with comfort, convenience and hospitality than anything else. If you’re sitting in a room, you will invariably need a place to set something down, and if there’s no table, that thing will end up either in your lap or on the floor.
But a table by every chair can make a room look awfully crowded if you’re not careful — more like a furniture store than a home. That’s why a garden seat is often just the right thing. It functions as a table but is “other” enough to lend variety; it will also prevent the feeling of too many tables and will fit where an actual table would just be too big or intrusive.
Note: Some people call them garden seats, and some call them garden stools. Which one is it? The answer is: Both are right. It just depends on what you’re used to.
These little beauties are always the right height when positioned next to a chair or sofa. They just seem to be exactly where your hand and arm naturally go when you want to put down your coffee cup …
There are many rooms where two chairs need to be placed side by side and quite close to each other. The space between can be quite the decorating conundrum. I don’t want to leave the spot empty, because it would make the chairs seem lonely and unconnected to the rest of the room. But where am I going to find a table that can fit that little space?
Garden seat to the rescue! It’s as if they were designed specifically to fill that gap; they’re just the right size.
This patio needed a cocktail table. There are many common-looking ones available, but what a clever idea to top a trio of garden seats with a glass round. The glass provides a consistent surface for eating and drinking, without obscuring the color and art of the garden seats.
One of the things that makes garden seats so right for decorating is the wide array of colors. Most tables and ottomans and benches will be some neutral shade: brown, beige, black or white. But a garden seat can add a strategic color statement that couldn’t be added any other way.
I love this pair of lime-green garden seats with the navy-blue cushions on the sofa. I admit my partiality to lime green and navy — the entry hall of our first house had a Schumacher lime-green and navy wallpaper, which may sound garish but was absolutely fantastic. (And I must add that they’re the colors of the Seattle Seahawks. Go Hawks!)
Although the barrel or drum shape is the most traditional, there is a large range of choices. Here the barrel shape harmonizes nicely with the cabriole legs of this French writing desk, while providing additional seating when people visit.
Lest we forget, the garden seat was actually designed to be a seat! In many rooms — especially living and family rooms — there are large chairs and sofas that are like permanent fixtures. But I always like to include what I call a pull-up chair in these rooms …something lightweight and portable. And a garden seat is a great candidate to fulfill this need. It can be placed against a wall or under a console or sofa table, and can easily be pressed into service when the need arises.
Whether on a rooftop patio …
Isn’t it lovely that such a useful and beautiful object is readily available and doesn’t have