Do you struggle with knowing how to arrange furniture in your living room?  Well you’re not alone.  I’ve got some simple furniture arrangment tips that you can use to work out the best layout for your room.

furniture arrangement tips

Image: Interior For Fun

Last week we received this comment from Tina when we asked What’s Your Decorating Problem:

Furniture placement in my long, narrow living room with a fireplace in one corner is driving me bonkers and I’ve been living with it for 19 years! The room is 4 x 7.5 with our hallway running through the middle of it as the room continues onto the dining area and kitchen. There are 2 doorways and a staircase on the wall opposite to where we currently have our 3 seater and armchair. We also have a 2 seater along the shorter wall. there is an entertainment unit made up of 3 separate pieces; 2 mini cabinets 80 cm wide each and a central cabinet with 6 raws and 2 shelves; 1.5m wide. I know that we have way too much furniture in here and that is part of our problem. I have sketched a rough drawing of the dimensions and current furniture placement but not sure where to post it. Thanks so much for your interest and help, Tina. PS love, love, love the look you have created in your home.

Thanks so much Tina.  Here are some tips for working out the best possible furniture layout.

Analyse the Empty Room

The first step is to look at the room’s structure.  The walls, windows, doorways and other elements such as stairs and cupboards.  These are the physical characteristics of the room that would remain even if you were to move out.  Write down all the measurements, and create a floor plan if you wish.  Recognise that however you arrange the furniture will have to work with these elements.  If an element in the room creates a real problem, perhaps you can make structural changes to modify it, such as closing in a door or window, or creating a new opening.

furniture arranging tips

Image: Remodelista


Now consider how you want to use the room.  Just because the room is called living area on the floorpan doesn’t mean you have to use it that way.  What activities will you do in this room – watch television, read books, listen to music, entertain friends?  Maybe you have a treadmill and want to exercise here.  If you have a large room you may want to divide the space into separate zones for performing different activities.  Write down all the activities that your room needs to cater for, and what that involves.  For example:

  • Watch TV – need TV, media cabinet, seating, coffee or side table
  • Reading – seating, lighting, storage for books/magazines

furniture arrangement tips create library

Image: Home Edit

Focal Point

Decide on the focal point of the room.  In Tina’s case is it the fireplace or the television?  Maybe the room has a great view.  Decide what is going to be the hero in the room.

furniture arrangement tips focal point fireplace

Image: Evolution of Style

Traffic Flow

Look at the traffic flow that will happen in the room.  Where do you need to walk to get to other rooms, to open windows, get to the fireplace, open cupboard doors.  These will all influence where you can put the furniture.  You can draw arrows on your floorpan to indicate where you need to leave space for traffic.

In Tina’s case, she has to walk through the lounge room from the hallway to the kitchen/dining area which cuts through the middle of the room.  She needs to decide does she want to walk straight through or can she steer the traffic around furniture?  You also have to allow space between pieces of furniture to get around, and take into consideration television viewing distances.  Ideally you should be 3 times your screen size away from the television, so if your television is 100cm, your sofa should be roughly 3 metres back from the television.

furniture arrangement tips

Floorplan via Ballard Design’s Blog, arrows added by me

Start with the Main Furniture

Once you have determined all the factors above you can start working out where the furniture should go.  You might find that the furniture you have is not actually the furniture that you need, but you will need to work with what you have until you can make some changes.

Start with the big pieces of furniture.  Media cabinets usually need to go up against a wall that has a power outlet and tv aerial point.  In Tina’s case she has a fireplace in the corner, so she might like to put the media cabinet on a wall next to the fireplace so she can see both the television and glow of the fire when she is seated.  Work back from the television to get the right distance for your sofa and other seating in the room, taking into account traffic flow.  Tina’s media unit is large, but is made up of 3 sections, so maybe she can put the sections that don’t hold the television at the other end of the room to create a library and reading area or even a study nook.

furniture arrangement tips large furniture first

Image: Elevation Homes

Add the Small Furniture

Once you have the big pieces of furniture in place, add in the smaller occasional pieces such as side tables, baskets and add accessories such as lamps.  Define or anchor areas with rugs.

furniture arrangement tips small furniture

Image: Better Homes & Gardens

Play Around

Whether you play around with furniture layouts on paper or are happy to physically move your furniture around, keep playing with the layout until you find an arrangement that works for you and your lifestyle.