How To Furnish A Living Room [6 Must-Have Items And Ideas]

The living room is one of the hearts of the home but what are the essential must-have items to put in it? We've researched to see what items really matter and have put together a list for you here. Let's take a look.

Here are the six must-have items for furnishing your living room:

  • Seating
  • Tables to place things
  • A paint color you love
  • Lighting
  • Wall decor
  • The people you love

Each of these items creates a space for living, relaxing, and entertaining. We'll look at each in-depth. We'll also talk about arranging furniture around a focal point, if furniture should go against walls, can you put furniture in front of a window, if a living room has to have a rug or a coffee table, and what you can use a sofa table for. So please, keep reading.

cozy fully furnished living room with small foyer, fireplace, center table, white sofa. How To Furnish A Living Room [6 Must-Have Items And Ideas]

Six Essential Things When Designing Your Living Room

We put together a wonderful list of the absolutely most important items for your living room. Each has options, ideas, and examples. 


How To Furnish A Living Room [6 Must-Have Items And Ideas]

Living rooms are the places we gather to relax at the end of the day, to watch a little television, to visit with our family and friends, and to take a good long nap on the sofa. So seating is essential. For most people, this means a sofa and maybe a love seat or additional chair. Some folks prefer a large sectional. But whichever you choose, look for both beauty and comfort.

White and gray sofa and leather armchair with a magazine table and a large designer fireplace in a loft-style apartment with a living room and brick walls

If you have a very large living room,  you might think about having a few separate seating areas. One can be the traditional couch and coffee table that faces the fireplace. And then you might have an additional love seat, or perhaps two beautiful accent chairs that nestle around a side table where you can place a shared bottle of vino.

A set like these two chairs, coffee table, and rug create a great secondary seating area in a larger living room. The two chairs are sold together here on Amazon.

You can also think about the strategic use of poufs and ottomans for extra seating. This is especially applicable in a smaller living space where you might not have room for loads of larger pieces. We have a post on these cute furniture choices here: 8 Types Of Living Room Poufs That You Should Know.

Tables To Place Things

modern living room with open bookshelf, white sofa, center, side, and end tables

Because we do gather in the living room, we need places for our things. Television remotes, glasses of tea, the excellent library book you're reading, a lamp for mood lighting—they all need a home. That's where tables come into play. Side tables, coffee tables, and sofa tables are all commonly found in living rooms. The space you have will determine which tables you need. 

If you're unsure, consider nesting tables. They save on space when nested, but can be split apart for ultimate functionality. Click here for this set of 2 on Amazon.

A Paint Color You Love

Let's not forget the backdrop for your living room. The paint color you choose sets the stage for the mood and design vibe. A soft neutral color will give you a spa-like feel, while a rich pigment-laden color will create drama and mood. We have a great post with lots of options here: 25 Paint Color Combinations For Living Room Walls.

Living room with high ceilings and architectural features. emerald green space

This deep emerald green space is rich and dramatic and creates a cozy vibe. It makes us want to pull out the throw blanket and curl up with a glass of brandy and an excellent crime thriller. 

Scandinavian interior design living room with beige colored furniture and wooden elements. airy living room in warm, light neutrals

On the flip side, this airy living room in warm, light neutrals is like the freshest air on a spring day. It's a place to have your friends over before heading outside for a long walk.


beige themed living room with simple chandelier lighting, open shelving, indoor plants on the corners and center table

Lighting is another important consideration for the living room. We're big fans of having a combination of options. We love overhead lighting for bright light when we need it, but also like to have lamps if we want more subdued warm, mood lighting. Whether you go for a simple overhead can light or a grand lighting fixture is probably more about the height of your ceiling than anything else.

luxury villa with floor lamp to provide mood lighting

As for lamps, consider matching table lamps on either end of your sofa. Or maybe a nice floor lamp tucked in a darker corner to brighten it up. You might also want a floor reading lamp next to an upholstered accent chair.

Here's a traditional style lamp with a shade available on Amazon.

Wall Decor

 elegant living room interior with a comfy couch, paintings and shelves as wall decor

Though you don't have to have anything on your walls, we're of the mindset that picking out a few beautiful things can elevate your design to the next level. This can be a painting purchased from your favorite artist, a gorgeous wall mirror to reflect the nature outside of your window, or a collection of family photographs. Check out our post on this subject here: 11 Eye-Catching Living Room Wall Decor Ideas.

Floating shelves are a fabulous way to display all sorts of things. Small plants, objects of art, figurines, a framed photograph, the ideas are endless. These are perfect for a small wall between doorways or windows. Click here for this on Amazon.

The People You Love

Finally, the living room wouldn't be the gathering place it is without the people you love. Make it comfortable for friends or colleagues to come by. Place a nice blanket on the ottoman for your cat or dog. Put a cushy shag carpet under the coffee table for the ultimate comfort. Or, if you're an introvert, fill it with books and share it with the people who live in the pages. But make it comfortable for you.

Where Do You Put Furniture In A Living Room? 

When arranging your living room, you want to think about the focal point. Do you have a fireplace? Do you watch a lot of television? Or is your living room a place for gathering to enjoy each other's company? The key to placement is setting up your seating area to work with your focal point. 

furnished living room in newly constructed luxury home with a fireplace

If you love to gather around the fireplace, then set up your seating area to take advantage of it. Here, the television is also centered above the fireplace.

Modern living room with mezzanine. There are wooden floor decorate wall with groove.furnished with brown fabric furniture.There are large windows look out to see the nature

If conversation and visiting are your things, then have the seating area itself be the focal point. Center your pieces around a beautiful area rug and hang a gorgeous lighting fixture overhead.

Don't forget to allow space to move around, get in and out of chairs easily, and keep things from being overcrowded. Also, place your side tables and coffee table in a way that they are functional as well as decorative. A side table that's too far away to set your glass on is no good for the person sitting in the chair. It's okay to move things around and try them out to see what works and looks best.

Should You Put Furniture Against Walls?

Putting every single piece of furniture back against a wall is not very interesting if you can avoid it. Though often we need to put our sofa against a wall because of size constraints, think about arranging your room in design blocks. You can have your primary seating arrangement of sofa, table, and chair.

Then maybe have a secondary arrangement next to the fireplace. We recommend a wingback chair with a cozy table for your tea. We have a post on wingbacks here: What Couch Goes With Wingback Chairs?

Beautiful living room interior with hardwood floors and fireplace in new luxury home with sliding glass doors and vaulted ceiling

Sometimes your space may dictate your arrangement. In the case of a long narrow room, using your wall space may be your only option. In this room, the couch lines one wall and the tv console on the other. An area rug is used between them. There is one small armchair with an ottoman that butts up against the window at the far end

Sea view living room of luxury summer beach house with large glass door and wooden terrace. TV on white wall against big gray sofa in vacation home or holiday villa

Can You Place Furniture In Front Of A Window?

Though you probably don't want tall pieces of furniture in front of your window blocking the light, you can absolutely place furniture there. 

Beautiful living room interior with tall vaulted ceiling, loft area, hardwood floors and fireplace in new luxury home. Has large bank of windows

In this lovely living room with huge floor-to-ceiling windows, one of the sofas is put in front of the window. It looks perfectly at home there. See our post on this subject here: Can You Put A Couch In Front Of A Window?

Beautiful living room interior with tall vaulted ceiling, loft area, hardwood floors and fireplace. Has large bank of windows

In this living room, a secondary seating area is placed in front of the sunny windows. Two armchairs, a shared table, and a lamp look gorgeous and don't block any of the light.

The one time you might not want furniture in front of a window is if you have really strong sunlight that can bleach or damage upholstery or wood. You also might not want furniture in front of a drafty window if you live in a cold climate.

Should A Living Room Have A Rug?

A living room doesn't have to include a rug, however, a rug can be a nice visual element to build a seating area around. And if you have hardwood or tile in your living room, an area rug can add warmth and softness to the spaces where you might not wear shoes. 

modern living room with large white sofa, flat screen TV, rug, center table

In this open concept living room and kitchen combination, the soft area rug is a clear indication of the purpose of that part of the room. It's centered among the seating area and grounded with a glass coffee table. 

What Can You Do With A Sofa Table?

Sofa tables are tall, long tables that typically butt up against the back of a sofa. They can also be used as hall console tables or buffet tables when placed away from the sofa. They are handy if you have a door that opens directly into the living room because you can place your sofa perpendicular to your door wall and back the sofa table to it. This way it works as both a foyer table and a sofa table.

See our post here: How To Decorate A Living Room With No Entryway

This example is interesting with its L-shaped design that will wrap your sofa. As you can see, it's a great place for a reading lamp, book storage, photo albums, and objects from your travels. A sofa table also works well if you need to back your sofa to a window, put the table between the window and the sofa to add some distance from the elements that might slip through.

Click here for this sofa table on Amazon.

Do You Need A Coffee Table In A Living Room?

A coffee table is a really nice addition to your living room as it can provide a place for food, drinks, and decorative objects. However, it's not necessary. If you have a large sectional sofa and you've opted for big ottomans to expand your seating area, then you might not want one. It can clog up the space for getting in and out of the sofa. 

Another time you may not want a coffee table is if you live in a small apartment. They can take up a lot of room. You can easily use end tables or a set of TV trays or stacking tables to give you options when you have company. But then they can be stored away when you don't.

A mobile tray table like this is a great alternative to a coffee table if you have a very small living room. It can be used for multiple purposes and rolls easily on casters. Click here for this one on Amazon.

A Great Living Room Makes A Great Home

You may not have room for all of the items on our list, but that's okay. Choose the ones that are right for your living room's configuration. Pick the pieces in your style and color scheme. Remember to play with the arrangement to find what works best for your lifestyle. And have fun! Design should be fun.

For more information like this on, please check out these other posts:

11 Living Rooms Without A Sofa That You Need To See

17 Fabulous Furniture Ideas For A Small Living Room

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