Crumbs and stripes of jam are left behind on plates, sitting on a polka-dot tablecloth. Clusters of people lounge and chat on sofas and armchairs sprayed with floral patterns or stripes. The space “probably looks a lot like your grandma’s house,” says Maff Potts. “I don’t know if that’s a compliment.” It’s cozy and unpretentious; it invites plopping down and staying put for a while.
Last spring, in cooperation with the local city council, Potts launched the space he calls the Living Room in a public library in Blackpool, England; another location opened last month in the town of Rotherham. Now, the campaign is expanding across the ocean. Two locations are slated to open in New York City this winter: one in Manhattan, and one in Brooklyn. Potts calls the spots a “hub of kindness,” pivotal places to fend off loneliness and build community around shared struggles.