You've seen it before, and maybe you didn't even realize it: living room furniture that is just too "matchy-matchy," so much so that it looks more like a showroom than a living room. Or maybe the alternative--choosing random furniture--stops you cold. Not to worry, we searched all kinds of interior design resources and found a method easy enough to apply to any living room, just like a pro!
If you're looking to find that interesting yet coordinated feel for your living room furniture, then here are your guidelines:
- Seat Dimensions: Ensure the seat height and depth of couches and chairs is similar and proportionately to scale.
- The 2 of 3 rule: Of these three furniture elements--style, color, and back height--ensure at least 2 maintain consistency.
If this sounds too confusing or vague, don't worry; we'll explain exactly how to use these design principles with your living room furniture. It'll be worth it when you see the results. Plus, we have the answers to the most commonly asked furniture arrangement questions. Follow the directions below, and you'll have a coordinated living room in no time at all.
Should All Your Living Room Furniture Match?
The short answer is no, your living room furniture doesn't have to match; however, it's okay if it does. More to the point, though, let's first disregard the notion that everything in a room must match. Instead, we'll say that furniture in your living room should be "coordinated." It's entirely possible to mix and match furniture pieces and still create a comfortable, stylish, and functional living room. That's what will make your living room stand out from others.
Coordinating Living Room Furniture
The number one rule for decorating with furniture for any room--and especially in the living room--is that your pieces should be proportionate; they must be to scale in relation to the room. As you can imagine, a super-sized sectional in a small room will look crowded and out of place, as will a dainty, traditional chair make the room feel way too big. The proportion in any room is paramount.
The next part is that the furniture seats, be it a chair, sofa, or sectional must be of the same height and depth. This is one of those things in a room that can feel "off" when you see it, even if you can't quite put your finger on it.
Envision a conversation in this mismatched setting; it would be odd for one person to sit higher in a chair than the other person seated in a low-to-the-ground sofa.
The 2 Of 3 Rule
The way to avoid a "matchy-matchy" living room is to consider a combination of these elements:
- The style of furniture
- The color of the furniture
- The back height of the furniture
Now, pick two of these components and make sure they are consistent in your living room furniture. This will guide you to find furniture that is coordinated. It's somewhat of a mix-and-match system to keep your room visually interesting, harmonious, and definitely not boring. Let's break down these combinations:
Use Consistent Furniture Styles And Colors
In this combination, the furniture style is similar, and the colors are complimentary. Notice how the couch and chairs seem a bit traditional, and the colors are complementary, not contrasting. Living room furniture does not necessarily have to be one single color; it is acceptable to choose 2 or 3 colors, in this example, white, pink, and light blue. Finally, notice how the varying back heights keep the room visually interesting.
Use Consistent Furniture Styles And Back Heights
In this combination, a consistent back height and furniture style allows for greater color exploration and often results in an eclectic style, bursting with bold colors. Indeed, it is far from boring, stilted, or "matchy-matchy."
Use Consistent Back Height and Colors
This final furniture combination maintains heights and colors yet allows for mixing styles. This one can be tricky as any combined assortment of furniture styles can look out of place when placed together. However, if the pieces are consistent in height and color, the furniture creates artful and unusual coordination.
Tables And Shelving
Your tables and shelving are essential elements in your living room, too. While they are most often neutral in color, they come in a multitude of styles and materials. Be careful to mix and match styles here; a shabby-chic side table and a contemporary bookshelf, for example, will look mismatched instead of coordinated.
Pillows, rugs, and curtains are also fundamental in coordinating your living room furniture. They can add that important pop of color, offer all kinds of texture variations, and be the dimensional component to make the room look and feel complete. Consider using different fabric types and color combinations such as velvet pillows and curtains. Or a plush rug and fluffy pillows to counterbalance the taut texture of a leather sofa.
As you consider the various ways you can coordinate living room furniture, you may wonder how the pieces should be arranged for optimal appeal and function. Of course, this will depend on several factors, primarily the size and shape of your living room as well as the kind and number of furniture pieces you have.
Determining a focus point is your first arrangement consideration. When doing this, designers caution against using a television as the central focus. Instead, think about using a fireplace, a picture window, artwork, a large shelving piece, or even a media table as your focus. From there, you can incorporate your television into the arrangement or pair the television with the focus point.
Your standard furniture pieces, typically a couch with a chair or two, can be arranged across from each other or perpendicular to form either an L or U shape. In some circumstances, the furniture can be turned diagonally, too, toward the focal point.
Some mistakes to avoid include placing your furniture at the rug's edge (at least the two front legs of the furniture should be on the rug) and pushing all your furniture against the walls. It's counterintuitive, but putting space between your furniture and the walls can make the room seem larger.
Can You Put Two Different Couches In A Living Room?
Yes, you can, as long as you are following the above recommendations. However, remember that the couches don't have to be identical for all combinations but need to be proportionate and share the same seat dimensions. This is the constant rule no matter how you mix and match your sofas and chairs.
What Should You Put Between Two Couches?
There are so many options for this dilemma. If your couches form an L shape, and you need to fill that pesky square corner between them, consider placing a tall plant or a standing lamp there. Or, as a very practical option, use an appropriately-sized end table; not only will it be a convenient place to set down whatever extra items you have, it's also an opportunity to display frames and small decor items, or, similar to the above, a small plant or lamp.
Alternately, arranging two couches across from each other is a lovely way to encourage socializing and easy conversation but certainly calls for something to go between them. Easy solutions are a coffee table of any shape, two smaller square tables, or an ottoman. However, as always, make sure the spacing between the couches and center component is proportionate.
Should You Put A Sofa In Front Of A Window?
You don't have to but certainly, you can, especially if arrangement options are limited. Just be sure the couch's back height is at or just slightly higher than the window sill. Placing a too-high sofa in front of a window not only blocks precious natural light but can look off-kilter as well.
Now that you know how to coordinate your living room furniture, perhaps you'd like to apply this knowledge to other rooms in your home! Be sure to check out How To Mix And Match Dining Room Chairs and Where To Put A Dresser In A Bedroom (Six Practical Placements).