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How To Arrange Living Room Furniture

Updated on August 8, 2012

If the kitchen is the heart of the home the living room is the social hub of the house. This is where the family congregates for conversation, playing games, watching television and relaxing in front of the fireplace on cold winder nights.

This is the room where the family spends the greatest majority of it's free time and entertains family and friends. It's natural for us to want our living room to be attractive and functional.

To accomplish this it needs to have a pleasing layout and this isn't always an easy task but there are some methods interior designers use that will make it easier.

Video: How To Arrange Living Room Furniture

Placement Tools

There are template tools that you can buy but many online applications are free and they work very well. One very good one is Better Homes and Gardens "Arrange-a-Room" on the Better Homes and Gardens website.

First you choose your room shape and then add furniture shapes by dragging and dropping onto the "room." They have rugs, flooring and accessories too. It's very easy to use and you can experiment to your heart's content--there's no time limit. For more on rugs click here. For flooring information and advice visit here.

You can print your design out when you're finished. Floorplanner (www.floorplanner.com) is good too and they have a free version. It's easy but pretty basic. American Drew (www.americandrew.com) has a fairly good planning tool and it, too, is free.

Furniture Placement Rules

Good placement of your living room's furniture helps your room to be functional and makes it a lot easier to enjoy it. There's nothing worse than furniture lined up against the wall like it's waiting to be executed by a firing squad. In every room there is a focal point. The main thing you want to see and enjoy when you are sitting in the room. This might be a beautiful view from the window, the fireplace and in most living rooms the television.

There can be more than one focal point and that complicated furniture placement. Instead of arranging your seating to face one point you will need to arrange it to enjoy more than one place. Furniture should be grouped in the area of your focal points.

When trying out various layouts be sure to allow enough space between pieces of furniture so people can easily walk past on their way to a chair or sofa or going out of the room. Also give everyone a table of some kind to set a cold drink, a cup of coffee or a snack.

Furniture Placement Ideas

Straight Placement: In this basic placement the sofa is placed across from the focal point and the chairs are angled to face the same direction. This gives everyone a good view of the fire or television. This works well for a room that only has one focal point. This arrangement can work for entertaining by adding ottomans or floor pillows for additional seating facing the sofa to create a conversation circle.

Sectional Sofas: Placing L-shaped sofas can be problem at times. You might a tempted to just stick it in a corner and call it a day. Resist this temptation. Pull it away from the wall to let light and air flow around it. Place a sofa table behind it for a lamp or one

Symmetry in the Living Room

Symmetry in the living room is very important. One very common furniture arrangement is face to face. Either two sofas, a sofa and a loveseat or a sofa and two chairs sit directly across from each other with the focal point at one end. If desired a chair can be placed directly across from the focal point. Example 1. This placement is great for entertaining because it makes conversation easy. No one in this room has a direct view of the focal point. It is a nice arrangement if other activities are just as important as the television or other vocal point such as reading, using the laptop or sewing for example.

Rectangular Shaped Living Rooms

Rectangular shaped living rooms are among the most difficult to furnish for the average homeowner (the worst by far is the L-shape). But it's a snap once you lean this tip. Visually divide the room into two areas, one will be the main area and will take up about 2/3 to 3/4 of the room the remaining area of the room will be about 1/3 to 1/4 of the room. See Example 2: in this example there's a nice sitting area for watching television in the main area and it works nicely for conversation as well. In the secondary space there's a computer area and a reading area; both sections of the room are comfortable and functional. A secondary area could be a music area with a piano perhaps or a game area with a table and chairs and game storage of some sort.

Square Shaped Living Rooms

Some misguided souls believe a square living room is the easiest shape to furnish. It is in actuality one of the most difficult rooms to arrange without ending up with furniture lined up along the walls.

To arrange the furniture in a square shaped room first find the focal point or points. This is usually a television cabinet or fireplace. Next lay down a large rug in front of the main focal point. This will define your grouping.

Position the sofa on the edge of your rug about 10 feet from and facing the main focal point. If your room is small it can be a little closer to your focal point so that it does not touch the wall behind it. Ideally have at least 4 feet from the back of the sofa and the wall but at least 2 feet will do in a pinch. Now place a loveseat or 2 chairs on the short end of the rug. If you're looking for area rugs try click here.

If the focal point is a fireplace like this example 3 position a television cabinet on the wall across from the loveseat Provide a table and lamp between the sofa and loveseat. Set a coffee table in front of the sofa. If you would rather not use a coffee table an ottoman or two will work instead. If you need the extra seating use both ottoman and table.

Hint: Some ottomans have a flip top so they can be used as a table for drinks or games in a small room this saves critical space.

If there's no fireplace you can place two chairs facing the sofa with a table and lamp between.

When Furnishing Your Living Room Always Remember...

Traffic: Keep the traffic flow through the room--where you do and don't want it. Do: behind the furniture. Don't: between the seating and the television.

Scale: For instance: don't hang large piece of art over a small table or chair, or one small piece of art behind a large sofa or table--the scale would be all wrong. A grouping of small prints or paintings over a large sofa or table would correct the scale problem.

Mix Various Sizes: To add visual interest to a living room plan a nice mix of furniture pieces with different height, depth and width. The same or very similar sized furniture makes a room seem boring and dull. Example 4 uses a large sectional with various sized tables and a tall television cabinet and even mixes wood finishes to utilize differing physical qualities and add depth, volume and interest to the room.

Balance: The relationship of pieces of furniture in relation to one another to form a pleasing whole is balance. There are two kinds of balance--symmetrical and asymmetrical. Bilateral symmetry is balanced--two of everything--like a pair of chairs or tables. Asymmetry pertains to an imbalance--a pair of chairs that are slightly different in height for instance. When you want your room to be restful use symmetry, it you want your room to be exciting, common in modern styles, use asymmetry.

Create Depth (see figure below): Interior designers use the same trick painters use to add depth in their paintings. Paintings usually have a foreground, a middle ground, a background and a vanishing point. Place a chair or two in the foreground, and a coffee table as a middle ground and a sofa as the background. A painting on a wall somewhere behind the sofa serves as a vanishing point. Example 5 Or the vanishing point could be a window.

By properly placing the furniture in your living room you can create depth and make the room feel more spacious and comfortable.
By properly placing the furniture in your living room you can create depth and make the room feel more spacious and comfortable.

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    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 4 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      An awesome read and nice suggestions, thanks, voted useful.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 4 years ago from India

      Wonderful ideas!

      Thanks for this hub; it will be useful to me as I am shifting to a new house soon...

    • Arco Hess Designs profile image

      Arco Hess 2 years ago from Kansas City, Kansas

      A very useful lens. I think what it all comes down to is the purpose of your room. Some people use it as a social area while others use it as a place to just watch TV.

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