We recently shared an evening with friends that inspired a day of furniture shuffling and satisfaction. We wanted to duplicate whatever it was that prompted such warm conversation between the four of us, and it wasn’t hard to come up with the reason this visit was different — the furniture, and lighting you probably couldn’t read by. A comfortable couch and chairs were arranged quite close together, in the kind of close that sparks good conversation. The kind that lets people into your life and you into theirs. 
The next morning we sat in our small living room, discussing different arrangements. Possibilities that seemed impossible before suddenly seemed doable and the shuffling began. TV in that corner, chair and table here, lamp over there. Aha, an empty space. By now we were on a high of “change” and anxious to test the results, so we marched ourselves down to the local thrift store on the wild idea that we could instantly find another chair for the corner. Unbelievably, there it was. The right color, the right size, the right price. After careful measuring, my husband said it would squeeze into my car. I said no way. I was wrong. I’m happy to report that the impersonal “TV watching station” has been transformed into a very inviting, cozy space. 
Letting go of the notion that furniture has to look nice instead of just being comfortable is important because the secret is making sure chairs are comfortable enough to curl up in. Then, pulling them quite close together. If you love the treasurer hunt of resale like I do, a great thrift shop makes swapping out chairs pretty painless.
Great conversation is the best but the atmosphere has to be conducive to sharing. I used to wonder — whenever we had guests over for dinner — why we sat at the table talking long after the final cookie was devoured. The chairs are never that comfortable, but we seldom noticed because conversation flowed so easily — face-to-face, noses 4 feet from each other. Hmmmm. Anyone who has raised teenagers knows that the best conversations usually happen sitting on their bed together. It’s when the space between you is just a few feet.
The cozy feeling I get every morning since, as I drink my coffee curled up in our new/old Lazyboy rocker, is evidence that something as small as changing the furniture around can make a huge difference. That sense of ease and intimacy is good for calming nerves… and nurturing relationships.