Chat, furniture or patio conversation groupings first arose from a desire to enjoy more intimate gatherings. Veering away from pieces that spread across a patio or a porch, these cozier arrangements allow everyone to engage in conversation comfortably seated across from each other. While chat sets generally will fit in smaller areas, they can also fill out larger spaces without losing the sense of conviviality. Conversation sets come in all material styles with wicker as a favorite choice in all-weather resin fibers.
The Concept Behind Conversation Groupings
This particular arrangement may have evolved from formal settings in larger traditional homes. They remain in place today with pairings of chairs and a table providing room to seat two, three or four individuals. In the early days, sitting areas with two chairs and an ottoman or table were a staple of bedroom suites. In more public areas, ladies retreated to the drawing room after dinner while gentlemen would escape to the library. Later on, dens or game rooms provided that service. Each of these places featured smaller furniture groupings where individuals could relax and converse. As decades passed, seating expanded in size and turned modular with outdoor wicker sectionals or deep-cushioned conversation pits with a fireplace as the focal point.
While the concept of conversation groupings is loose in definition, it is now a preferred term for many outdoor styles. Trends lean toward contemporary or transitional modular pieces with square or round tables at the center. For traditional tastes, Adirondack chairs are popular with a coffee table as the anchoring point. The timeless concept of sloped seating and wide, flat arms is available in a variety of interpretations that will appeal to more modern furniture tastes as well.
With a focus on comfort, conversation sets do have a few distinctive characteristics that are ideal for entertaining. Generally, the configuration forms a circle or a square and seating will all be the same style. There will, however, always be variations based on designer and manufacturer labeling choices that refer to sofa, loveseat and chair ensembles as a conversation set. Individual easy outdoor wicker chairs should be generously sized with armrests and cushions on seats and backs to optimize the comfort of relaxing over beverages or appetizers. They may be low in profile to create an easier reach to food and drinks on the coffee table or on side tables. Sectional banquettes, which can accommodate larger groups, are another choice, and many of these will be arranged with open space in between pieces for easier access.
Table Choices That Make the Difference
Keeping things simple, it is easy to choose ensembles that include classic square or round cocktail tables. Many will feature glass tops for added serving stability. They should be amply sized to hold beverages and appetizers to accommodate everyone. Newer styles incorporate added amenities that make serving on the spot even easier for hosts. Innovations include center flush-mounted bowls that serve as ice buckets and beverage chillers. Fire pits that become hot enough to cook shish kebabs, hot dogs or marshmallow treats are a warming option for cooler weather. Some include faux log sets complete with burning embers and flames along with gas hookups and storage underneath for canisters. At the higher end, convertible tables can perform both functions interchangeably, depending on the season.
Creating a sense of separation and containment with extended comfort that invites relaxation are key qualities to a functional conversation grouping. Taking time to spend with family members and friends leaves lasting memories well beyond the end of seasonal gatherings.