We use many terms describe leisure space: a space where people gather to interact and take part in various forms of entertainment, from reading to computer work/games and television viewing. Let’s say, Living room, gathering room, great room, or family room. But currently, a formal living room—“where no one ever goes”—is no longer desired. Instead, a great room or gathering room where all family members can gather and take part in a range of activities is preferable. Similarly, formal dining rooms are not favored by some current homeowners because these people often prefer a more casual eating area that is open or partially open to the kitchen, forming a cooking, eating, and entertainment area.
Spaces that are specifically meant to support conversation require seating and/or furniture that can accommodate a certain number of people, arranged at appropriate distances for speaking and discussion. In addition, such spaces, as well as all others used for leisure activities, require adequate circulation. In addition to furniture placement supportive of interaction and appropriate circulation, many leisure spaces are designed in relation to some focal point. A fireplace or wood stove; window(s); or views of adjoining spaces, television, or artwork may become focal points and therefore major influencing factors on the design of the space and the layout of furnishings.
Regardless of the relative size of the room or the specialized nature of the room, there are some general rules that can be of help in planning leisure spaces. Areas that are meant to support interaction are best planned for a minimum of six seated individuals. This is not true for dining spaces but generally holds true for other rooms where other forms of interaction take place. When there is not room for six actual seats—such as in the cases of small rooms or rooms used for a range of purposes—it is helpful to find an area for standing interaction for six. This could be done by providing four seats plus room for two people to stand. Another option is to allow space for pulling up a small chair or chairs.
Reference: Residential Interior Design: a guide to planning spaces by Maureen Mitton & Courtney Nystuen, 2007