The living room is the focal point of a home, where families gather to spend time together and relax. If you want to maximize the use, you get out of this versatile room. You may be wondering how to best arrange the furniture. We have done the research and talked to top designers to bring you some great advice and tips.
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
While the specifics will differ based on your living room's size and style, there are some universal design principles that apply to all living rooms. To achieve the most functional and beautiful layout for your living room, follow these steps:
- Choose a focal point.
- Create conversation areas.
- Plan the traffic flow.
- Place large items first.
- Arrange small tables close to seating areas.
- Fill in with lamps where needed.
- Add some artwork and decorative pieces.
While it may seem complicated at first glance, decorating your living room doesn't have to be hard. Read on to find out more about each step as well as to get additional styling tips.
1. Choose A Focal Point
Every room needs a focal point. This can be a television, a nice view out of a large window, a fireplace, or a large piece of statement art for a living room. Your focal point should naturally be the center of attention in your room. It will be the first place your eye goes when you enter the room. It should be visually interesting.
Where Should be the Focal Point in a Living Room?
Start by looking for the room's largest architectural feature, such as a fireplace or built-in bookcases. If your room doesn't have an inherent focal point, you can create one with furniture, paint, or artwork. You can hang a favorite painting prominently and flank it with wall sconces. A media center is a good option if you'll be watching television in the living room.
2. Create Conversation Areas
Since you want your living room to foster a connection with your family, arrange your furniture to encourage conversation. The sofa, loveseat, and chairs should be close enough together that people sitting on them can talk to each other without having to twist, stretch, or raise their voices.
If your living room is small, one conversation area may be all that you need. For larger rooms, you can create several smaller conversation areas. Each area should consider the comfort of those who will be using it. At a minimum, make sure to include comfortable seating, a place for everyone to set their drinks, and adequate lighting.
An area rug is a great way to define a conversation area. Designers also recommend pulling the furniture away from the walls for a cozier feel. This will be easy in a large room. However, even smaller rooms will benefit from having a few inches between the back of the furniture and the walls.
3. Plan the Traffic Flow
Before you start placing furniture, consider how people will move within and throughout the living room. Where will they come into it, and where will they go when they leave it? You want to make sure everyone has enough space to move around the furniture easily without tripping or knocking their knees on a table. There should be a clear path through the living room. Leave several feet between large pieces of furniture such as sofas and chairs.
4. Place Large Items First
Once you've chosen a focal point and defined clear lines of traffic, start by placing the largest pieces of furniture first. Make sure they are spread around the room fairly evenly. It's essential to have balance when placing your furniture. You don't want all of your large pieces of furniture on one side of the room or grouped in one conversation area.
The conversation areas don't have to be perfectly matched, but they should all have a mix of larger and smaller pieces if there is more than one. A large coffee table can be a good anchor for a conversation area. In addition to varying the sizes of furniture, try to vary the shapes as well. If your sofa and chairs all have straight lines and hard angles, you might want to consider some circular tables to balance them.
5. Arrange Small Tables Close to Seating Areas
When the larger furniture has been placed, you'll be able to see where you need to put the smaller pieces. Keep in mind that everyone needs a place to set a drink, snack, or book. Make sure every seat is in close enough proximity to a table. If you have a large coffee table that isn't accessible to everyone, you can add some smaller side tables between or near other chairs.
6. Fill in With Lamps
Lighting is one of the most critical aspects of planning a room. A well-lit living room should contain different layers of light. You will want to make sure that you have light for a variety of situations. Because a living room is such a versatile area, your lighting may be a combination of natural light, ambient light, task light, and accent light.
Start by assessing the natural light your room gets. This will help you determine how much light you'll need during the day. You may want to avoid having lamps too close to windows where they won't be effective during the day and may cast harsh reflections at night.
If your main light is a chandelier or overhead fixture, it's a good idea to have it in the center of the room or the center of a conversational area. You can supplement overhead lighting with floor or table lamps for task lighting. Additionally, if you have artwork or architectural details you want to highlight, you can add spotlights.
Where to Place Floor Lamps in the Living Room?
Floor lamps that don't have a table attached should be placed in conversation areas to enhance ambient light. They will provide task lighting in the seats closest to it. Floor lamps with built-in tables can take the place of a side table in a conversation grouping.
7. Add Some Artwork and Decorative Pieces
At this point, your living room is coming together nicely. After you have a focal point, conversational groupings, and layered lighting, it will be easy for you to see where you should place your artwork and decorative items. If you have many pictures or framed art, you might want to create a gallery wall above your sofa.
It's important to keep in mind the proportions of your furniture when you're hanging your artwork. A lone, tiny print placed over a colossal sofa will look unbalanced and uncomfortable. A better choice would be a large print or a grouping of smaller photographs.
If you have one or two pieces you want to highlight, you can hang them by themselves with spotlights on either side. As with your furniture, you'll want to balance your artwork. While matching groupings can appear static and dull, you don't want a lopsided look, either.
How Do You Arrange Furniture in a Living Room with Lots of Doors?
If your living room has many doors, it will be even more important to factor in the traffic flow when you're placing your furniture. You will have a lot of entrance and exit points and less wall space. One good option is to have several conversational areas and direct the traffic between them.
If you do this, the furniture will help create borders. You can emphasize this even further by bordering your conversational areas with an area rug or using one or more runners to create a path between the conversational areas. The doors will naturally break up the room, so work with that by creating more smaller furniture groupings rather than having one larger group.
Is it Okay to Block Windows with Furniture?
Generally, it's better not to block windows with furniture. Windows, especially ones with lovely views, are a great design element on their own, so blocking them with furniture takes away from a room's aesthetic. Even windows without good views tend to look awkward with furniture placed in front of them.
However, sometimes the best option is to place furniture in front of windows. If you have a small space and don't have the option of buying furniture to suit the space, your best option may be to arrange some of the furniture in front of a window.
If you do need to do this, it's best to don't place the furniture right up against the window. As with other walls, try to leave some breathing space between the window and the furniture. This also works best with furniture that hits the wall lower than the bottom of the window. So a sofa with a lower profile is a better option than an armoire.
Make sure you follow safety guidelines if you do this. If placing your furniture in front of a window will endanger children or pets in your household, you may have to find another place for the furniture.
Is There an App to Place Furniture in a Room?
There are several great apps available that can help you plan the layout of your room.
MagicPlan lets you create customized floor plans with the dimensions of your room. You can create custom reports with photos and notes as well as 3D renderings of your room.
House Design Lite is another app that helps you plan out your design. It has a real-time 3D view and creates detailed 2D plans that can be exported to your photos. It offers over 300 items to customize your plan.
Room Arranger allows you to design one room or your entire house. You can view your project in 3D and use the library to create a personalized design. You can keep track of the colors that you use in your projects using the color palette option.
Your living room should be a welcoming place for your family and friends to gather. Whether you're playing board games, watching a movie, or just talking with each other, having a well-designed living room will make everyone more comfortable.
Arranging your living room furniture like a designer doesn't have to be an overwhelming job. By following a few simple steps and paying attention to details like proportions and lighting, you can achieve a designer look without a designer.
For more great decorating ideas, check out these posts: