One of the easiest ways to update or improve the look in a room is to simply rearrange the furniture. An unbalanced furniture arrangement isn't just visually unappealing; it can also interfere with traffic flow or the functions of other furnishings in the room. When deciding on the best furniture arrangement in a living room, you must consider the best use first and the best appearance second.
Planning the Layout
With each of the following furniture arrangement ideas, you should first make a scaled floor plan of your own living room. This important first step in planning can save you a lot of physical work and frustration later on. With a scaled floor plan, you will find out on paper first whether or not your arrangement idea will work with the size of your furnishings, the physical dimensions and architectural features of your room.
If you plan on drawing your floor plan, use ¼ inch graph paper, where each little square will represent one square foot of space. Otherwise, look for free designing software online where you can create your own virtual floor plans. With either method, you will first need to take accurate measurements of the room. Refer to this list when taking measurements:
- Overall width and height of each wall
- Overall width of each entryway and window
- Accurate locations of each entryway, window and architectural feature (by measuring the distance from the corner to the first door or window opening, fireplace, stairway, etc.)
- Width, depth and height of furniture pieces
- General locations of outlets
Once you have your measurements taken, you can start designing your furniture layouts. Don't forget to take a few pictures of the room before you move anything, so you can compare your before and after results.
Arrangement A: Face to Face Grouping
Create conversation areas that are focused on the room's focal points. Typical focal points include:
- Entertainment centers
- Large picture windows
- Other types of artwork
Create groupings of furniture that don't interfere with traffic flow in the room.
In this example:
- The sofa and love seat are placed near the center of the room, facing each other.
- The fireplace serves as a focal point.
- Two easy chairs angled toward each other on the other side of the sofa and loveseat complete the conversation grouping.
Notice that each seating position has a table nearby. A lamp placed next to the easy chairs can provide light for reading if needed. The area rug helps anchor the conversation area.
Arrangement B: U Shaped Grouping
The U shaped conversation area in this example is positioned conveniently for both the fireplace and the TV mounted above.
- Moving the sofa away from the wall and placing a table behind it helps define the conversation area in front while providing a walkway behind it.
- The end tables placed between seating furniture helps tie the pieces together and provides a foundation for both task and accent lighting and a place to sit drinks or reading material.
This casual type of configuration works well in small living rooms or for separate conversation areas in large living rooms.
Arrangement C: On the Diagonal
Add a touch of flair to an open floor plan by angling large furniture pieces in a diagonal line. This can be an effective technique in an area where two or three rooms share one large space, such as a living room, kitchen and dining room.
Here you can see the sofa and coffee table forming a strong diagonal line in relation to the walls. The chairs facing each other on each end of the coffee table are also angled on the same plane.
Arrangement D: Symmetrical Grouping
Symmetrical arrangements are commonly seen in formal living rooms. In this example:
- The fireplace, the artwork hanging above it and the coffee table form the center while the furniture and décor placed on either side mirror each other.
- The two tables with lamps directly to the right and left of the fireplace, the two candleholders on the mantle, the two sofas facing each other and the two angled chairs are all symmetrical.
Offset the symmetrical groupings with a few single pieces such as the floor lamp by the sofa, the square storage chest between the chairs and the wooden settee on the right wall.
Arrangement E: Divided Areas with Separate Groupings
Large, rectangular living rooms can be a challenge to decorate and often have more than one focal point. In a large room:
- Pull the furniture away from the walls.
- Divide the room into separate areas.
- Group furniture according to the activities taking place in each section.
This diagram shows two separate conversation areas, each focusing on a different focal point.
- The sofa and chairs form a U shaped grouping focused on the entertainment center.
- The two sitting chairs are arranged for easy conversation in front of a large window wall that looks out into a lovely garden.
- The desk at the far end is used for computer work or online browsing.
Key Concepts of Good Furniture Placement
When arranging furniture in a living room, remember these key concepts:
- Form must always follow function.
- Keep the room balanced by mixing solid, heavy pieces with light, airy furniture.
- Use empty space as part of the design scheme.
Once you have the larger pieces in the room placed, fill in empty spaces with accessories like houseplants. Accessories can help anchor furniture arrangements while enhancing the atmosphere with warmth and character.