When the Italian brand Sacco invented the bean bag chair in the late 1960s, it wanted to make it something that people could place anywhere in their home. It was to be a respectable object to go up against sofas and armchairs popular at the time - a grown-up piece of furniture that would add to any room. Bean bag room ideas were becoming mainstream.
You could immediately see what these early pioneers were going for. This new seating style was both stylish and affordable - something that practically any homeowner could put in their home. No longer would people have to spend thousands of dollars on three-piece suites. The era of the bean bag was here it seemed.
But that’s not the direction things took in the following decades. Instead of bean bags becoming associated with Italian style and sophistication, they became known for their discount price tags and inclusion in modern office spaces.
Modern Bean Bag Chairs are More Versatile
That’s a shame because modern bean bag chairs are much more versatile than that. Their utility is identical to regular couches with wooden frames, but their design appeal is arguably second-to-none. Bean bags are moving out of secondary communal spaces (such as kids’ playrooms and garden rooms) and into the living room itself.
Knowing how to decorate a living room with bean bags, though, is fraught with challenges. The rules are very different from regular seating. Bean bags are not only more varied than traditional sofas but they’re more fun too, meaning that you can arrange them in a multitude of ways, breaking traditional formulas.
The bean bag actually allows you to rethink what constitutes a living room. Traditionally, these rooms had to be square to accommodate regular sofas. The physical size of traditional seating meant that you needed the room's length and width to be substantial.
But bean bags changed this dynamic. Thanks to their unique size and shape, you could put them in all sorts of lounges, including those that were long and thin. And because bean bags come in so many shapes and sizes, they were suitable for irregularly-shaped living rooms, too, both as a complement to traditional seating and a replacement for it.
So how should you go about decorating a living room with bean bags? Check out our ideas below.
Experiment With Bean Bag Room Ideas
A classic bean bag is a doughnut-shaped object, but today, you can get them in a tremendous variety of shapes and sizes, many of them professionally designed. Round bean bags are great when you need to fill an empty corner. But there’s no need to relegate them to secondary roles. Bean bags with the right shape can be the main event.
Here are some of your options:
Square bean bags:
The classic round bean bag has a history that goes back many decades. But more recently, manufacturers discovered that they could create fabric structures that would allow bean bags to retain a boxier shape over the long term. Vendors initially marketed them as gaming chairs but then started adding more refinements that made them less about “having fun” and more about creating a beautiful seating experience for adults. Many models now feature luxurious style elements and premium materials that make them suitable for formal interiors.
Gaming bean bags:
Gaming chairs were a specific collection of bean bags that vendors created during the heyday of TV-connected home gaming consoles in the 1990s. The idea was to provide seating options that would allow kids to get up close to the television, controllers in hand. The concept developed a little further with the Nintendo Wii's introduction and the idea that families would need flexible seating they could place anywhere, depending on where the games took them. The colours were bright, and most chairs featured a supportive back, giving them a little more shape.
Recliner bean bags:
Recliner bean bag chairs are popular among people who want to add an extra seat to living rooms, besides traditional sofas. And for this reason, designers pay a lot of attention to them. Today, you can get recliner bean bags in virtually all colours and styles, allowing you to experiment in a multitude of settings. There’s practically no limit on the designs from which you can choose, whether your interior is classical, contemporary, boho, or something entirely different.
Large bean bag chairs:
Large bean bag chairs are a relatively recent innovation. Designers realised that they could use advanced materials to increase the size of the bean bags, providing even more real estate for owners. These chairs appealed to consumers who wanted objects they could share with friends or that would completely subsume them. Going bigger provided a genuine alternative to traditional sofas in living rooms.
Get The Size Right
Once you’ve chosen the style you want, the next step is to get the size right for your living room. You need a bean bag that will fit the space comfortably, without making it feel cramped. Where you place your bean bag is, of course, a personal style decision. But the best-designed living rooms typically place seating on a rug in the centre, leaving ample walkways around the edge. This way, the bean bag becomes the centrepiece of the room instead of random clutter. Start the measuring process by setting out much room the bean bag can take up, without getting in the way of walkways or other pieces of furniture. If possible, try to create different zones for walking and seating and then calculate your space budget. Don't worry if you don't have much room - remember, bean bags come in sorts of shapes and sizes.
Choose Complementary Colours
There was once a time when you could only buy brightly-coloured bean bags. But the landscape is different today. Bean bags have shaken off their hippie roots and now come in more mainstream colours. In a sense, they’ve matured and “grown-up.” Style innovations mean that they no longer conflict with sophisticated interiors. In many ways, they make them look better. Bean bags room ideas make living room interiors more varied, allowing you to follow a theme while avoiding monolithic appearances. The range of colours and effects on modern bean bags is quite spectacular too. Today, you can buy practically any shade you light, giving you a level of flexibility that was never available in the past.
Put Them In Places You Need Them The Most
Many property owners view bean bags as optional additions to their living rooms - a way to fill an empty corner or make space feel more “complete.” That sort of approach, however, leaves some people feeling disappointed. Yes, you’ve purchased a bean bag. But you're not putting it to use. That’s why we recommend placing bean bags in the areas you need them the most. Perhaps, for instance, you have a bookcase in the corner of your living room, and you want somewhere for reading. Putting a bean bag next to it helps to fill the space and provides utility at the same time. The same goes for your TV seating. If you purchase bean bags, either put them next to your sofas or replace them entirely with something. Try to avoid relegating bean bags for niche applications.
Choose The Number Of Bean Bags You Want
Traditionally the living room bean bag was an optional extra: something you used to provide a bit of visual variety. But today, there are so many beautiful designs that they can quickly become the main event. Walking into a living room where bean bags are the only seating is a fundamentally different experience. It helps to create a sense of roominess you don’t get with traditional seating. Everything feels much more laid back. It is excellent for entertaining guests too, because it forces them to relax. How many bean bags you place in your rooms is, of course, an entirely personal decision. But the more you add, the more it changes the atmosphere of the room. Going all the way and using bean bags exclusively for your seating is both convenient and powerful from a design perspective. Bean bags have an uncanny ability to instantly affect how you feel and can be a welcome sight at the end of a busy day.
Arrange Bean Bags Around Your Centrepieces
The centrepieces in your living room are usually either the coffee table, TV, or fireplace (if you have one). We recommend arranging your bean bags so that they face one of these objects. The coffee table is fast becoming the most important centrepiece in the modern home, replacing the TV. As more people embrace the coffee culture, the living room is turning into a place to enjoy a conversation with a hot drink in hand. Try placing bean bags around three of the four sides of the coffee table. Make it so that people face each other and can easily pick up their drinks when they want them. Also, look for low-profile bean bags and matching height coffee tables. Remember, there are many tables out there that feature shorter legs to enable them to complement bean bags better.
Consider The Texture And Fabric
We briefly touched on the importance of choosing the right colour of bean bag chairs for your living room. But texture matters a great deal too. In the past, manufacturers mainly used traditional polyester fabrics to encase the beans. But now they’re branching out, and you have all kinds of options: perfect for people with niche living areas. Faux-fur, leather, silk and cashmere are all readily available, as are vinyl options for outdoor living rooms, and linen, which is a natural fibre that feels pleasant on the skin. The texture you choose will depend on the style of your living room. Heavy tog weave will suit some spaces, while minimalists or synthetic fibres will be best for others. American-style interiors, for instance, go well with denim-style bean bags. Leather is excellent for creating moody settings and complementing leather seats and ottomans. Silk is useful when you’re trying to create a luxe appearance. And cotton is what you use if you want your bean bag to fulfil a neutral role and keep a low profile. Some people get beanbags made of microsuede fibre. It has an attractive, natural, velvety glossy appearance. Just be sure to keep it clean. Removing stains can be a massive challenge. Or you may want the plushness of velvet bean bags? There is certainly a huge range of options available.
Bean Bag Room Ideas: Wrapping Up
Decorating a living room is never as straightforward as people imagine, but bean bags give you options. While you can use them to add to your existing seating arrangements, you can also use them to replace your existing setup outright. Using them in your interiors requires you to follow all the usual style cues you would when installing any other piece of furniture. You need to:
- Consider the colour of the bean bags so that they match the rest of the room
- Think carefully about where you place them so that they have utility
- Consider whether they are purely decorative or whether you want them to have a functional role
- Work out where to place them so that you get as much utility from them as possible
- Consider whether the texture you choose matches the rest of your room and is appropriate for your lifestyle
- Think about the shape that you want and whether it will allow the bean bag to fulfil its function
Bean bags have come a long way over the last fifty years. They’re no longer marginal pieces of furniture that add “fun” to a room. Instead, they’re grown-up pieces of furniture that can make your interiors more inviting and functional, while saving you money at the same time. Bean bags come in practically every form factor you can imagine, letting you play and experiment with different setups. And it's that versatility which is driving their foray into the living room. People want a relaxed vibe, and these bean bag room ideas provide it for them.