Wondering if your living room furniture is working for you? Are you making the most of the space available to you? Is your current living room furniture arrangement making the room feel cramped or crowded?
First you will want to consider the layout of the room, its function and how you prioritise the different elements of the room. Think about foot traffic when arranging furniture, as you don’t want to be creating too many obstacles that disrupt the flow of the room. People don’t want to be navigating a maze to sit on the sofa from the entrance of the living room.
If you have quite a big living room or an open plan dining and living room, you can use the pathway to separate the different functional areas of the room. The focal point of a room should be suited to the room’s function. Create too many focal points and your living room will feel visually cluttered or confusing. Arrange your furniture around the focal centre of the room (which doesn’t necessarily have to be the literal centre of the room).
I’ve reluctantly included a black marker for television placement in the living room floor plan diagrams below, as the television is typically the focal point of most living rooms today. To quote Joey from Friends, “You don’t have a TV? What’s all your furniture pointed at?”. But if you don’t have a TV, (good for you!) you can replace this with a console table or artwork or whatever you like really to act as an anchor for the rest of the room. Even better if you have a fireplace that would make a great focal point for your living room.
If you want an intimate seating arrangement that allows your family or guests to converse with one another comfortably, keep the seating positions within an 8ft radius to ensure a natural distance (and volume!) between people for conversation. There should be an obvious surface that is easy to reach from every seat in the living room, in the way of side tables or a coffee table or both! Nothing’s worse than sitting down in somebody else’s home not knowing where to put down your cup of coffee. Just make sure that there is sufficient leg room when you have a centre coffee table.
In the diagrams above, these simple living room furniture layouts show different ways that you can arrange furniture in context to where the room’s entrance or entrances may be. A living room should welcome you in from the moment you step foot through the door, so ponder on that as you arrange your furniture. If you arrange your living room furniture asymmetrically, your living room will feel a lot more casual. Too much symmetry and your living room may feel more like a place of formality – which is fine if that’s what you’re going for. But for most, the living room is where you should feel comfortable kicking your feet up in your PJs. Using angles to arrange your furniture asymmetrically can help to make the room feel easier on the eyes, and not so rigid as you glance around the room.
Leaving a little room between different items of furniture (and space between furniture and walls) will give more of an illusion of space, rather than squeezing everything together. You might be able to “fit more in” but you do this at the risk of making the space feel cramped which in turns make the room look smaller. Empty space contributes to the illusion of more space. Similarly, by keeping wall hangings low the empty space at the top of the walls will help to make the ceiling look taller and therefore the room feels physically bigger or “airier”.
Of course, you will also want to bear in mind where your windows are and work actively to not block them with furniture.
Different shapes and sizes of living room all present their own challenges. Narrow living rooms and L-shaped living rooms can often feel tricky when structuring a furniture layout. In the layout diagrams above, each square room can be applied to different sizes and shapes of living room and act as more of a main furniture guide to the layout and not a conclusive layout that only works for small, square living rooms. But they should give you a basic idea of the simplest living room arrangements.
If you have an odd shaped room with irregular angles or alcoves, you can use these unique features to your advantage by highlighting them with interesting furniture or decor. A bookcase or some shelves can fit nicely into an alcove to display your books or other knick knacks attractively whilst making the most out of the space. Sharp angled corners can be visually softened to appear less harsh looking with the help of something circular or spherical, like a circular coffee table or a spherical sculpture of some sort. If you have a tight corner, try to de-clutter the layout to make the corner less heavy on the eyes. Aim to minimise the clutter in certain spaces, and add clutter in others. Much like using contouring cosmetics to sculpt someone’s face in order to highlight their best facial features and distract from their less flattering, you want to be thinking about your living room in the same way.
If you have an open plan dining area in your living room (as many new homes do), ensure about 4ft distance between the table and the wall, or the dining space will feel cramped and lessen the dining experience. If you want to unify the different components of different spaces in an open plan living room, such as the dining area or reading nook, you can use area rugs to almost create “wall-free” rooms within the large room.
Experiment! Move things around, measure them, look at your room from all angles and picture it from an aerial point of view for an idea on available floor space. What’s important is that it’s comfortable and feels like home.