Pouf! More seating
- The San Francisco Chronicle, 11/22/2009

Autumn holds plenty of reasons to gather friends in your living room, from the athletic (football) to the artistic (holiday decorating). The more the merrier - that is until your sofa starts looking like a sardine can.

If squirming, spooning guests are a staple of your get-togethers, we say: It's time to put spare seating before seven-layer dip.

Poufs - in essence, low, flat-bottom stools - could be the quick fix you need. Karkula Home, a furnishing store based in New York, sells the Shell pouf by Italian designer Paola Lenti. The Shell, which made its debut in 2002, is made of hand-woven wool, with a soft polyurethane foam interior, and sells for $2,625. For the outdoors, it can be ordered in water-and-mold-resistant synthetic rope for $2,570. The pouf measures 33 1/2 inches in diameter and 10 inches in height, and comes in bright hues like lime green, orange and pink, as well as subtler taupe and gray (karkula.com).

(The company assures us that the color won't fade with exposure to sun, chlorine or salt water - but just in case, waterproof PVC-coated polyester covers are available for winter protection at $210 each.)

If this is more than you'll spend on a pouf, try the Alseda stool for $29.99 (you'll have to visit the Ikea store in person to pick one up). At 235/8 inches in diameter and 71/8 inches in height, the Alseda is slightly smaller than Paola Lenti's Shell and made of a surprising, but eco-friendly, material: banana fibers. A clear acrylic coating protects it from the elements, but the company recommends taking it no farther than a patio with walls and roof.

It may be just the thing to coax your crowd from sofa to floor.

$2,625 Paola Lenti Shell Pouf  

$29.99 Ikea Alseda pouf