This month, Design 101 is all about furniture layouts!  Last week we talked about the basics of measuring your space and making furniture plans.    Now we're getting to the fun part: furniture layouts for each room in your home!  Starting with your Living Room and Family Room:

Living Room & Family Room Furniture Layouts



Fireplace from Chesney's

Step One: Find a Focal Point

Finding the focal point of your room is an important step, especially in a living room or family room, as it will give you something to plan the room around.  Once you determine the focal point, you can begin to place furniture, art, and accessories surrounding it.  Below are tips to help you find the focal point of your room:

  1. The focal point may come naturally if you step back and take a look around the room. It's typically the first thing you notice when you look at a room.
  2. Perhaps your room has some unique architectural feature such as a fireplace, a picture window, or a built-in that houses your TV.
  3. If your room doesn't seem to have any architectural features that could be the focal point, as mentioned above, think about something you could add to the room to act as the focal point such as a special piece of furniture or a piece of art.
  4. Remember that the furniture will be arranged around the focal point, so make sure it is something that you enjoy looking at.


Furniture from Pottery Barn

Step Two: Refer to your Furniture List

Last week we talked about making a list of essential items for each room of your home.  In your living room and family room, essential items could be things like seating (sofa, love seat, chairs), side furniture (coffee tables, side chairs, bookcases),  and accessories (TV, sound system, rugs) or accents (books, art, lighting).  Remember that if you own pieces that aren't essential for the living room or family room, it could be that they work in another part of your home.



Step Three: Arrange Furniture, Art, and Accessories

Now the fun begins!  Whether you plan to use your room for relaxing, lounging in front of the TV, or for entertaining, the furniture arrangement will set the tone for how you'll live in the space.  Below are tips on tackling your furniture placement:

  1. Think about the focal point of the room.  Start by orienting large pieces of furniture (such as your sofa, lounge chairs, and coffee table) around the focal point.  Then fill in the space with secondary pieces (such as side tables, lighting, and side chairs).
  2. If you have a large room, consider dividing it with furniture.  That way, you can make the room seem more intimate by creating smaller conversational groupings.  Just remember to leave a path around the furniture so you can walk around with ease.
  3. When creating conversational groupings, the primary seats (such as lounge chairs or sofas) should face each other.   There should be some kind of table, such as a coffee table, between seats as it creates natural spacing for conversation.  This also comes in handy for putting drinks down!  For additional seating, you can add chairs to the side of the main grouping or to other areas of the room.  We prefer chairs that can easily be moved around so that you can increase the size of the conversation area when needed.
  4. For a twist on the traditional, consider placing furniture on the diagonal.  Start by placing your sofa and coffee table to see if this works in your room.
  5. If the focal point is your TV, consider a sectional.  Sectionals come with many different features such as chaises, ottomans, and corner seats, offering flexibility to sit, kick up your feet, or lay down.  They can also create a natural "L" shape that is good for group conversation.
  6. Whether your furniture layout is broken into conversational groupings, on the diagonal, or something more typical, you can anchor the space with an area rug.  Typically we align rugs with the architecture of the room, or align them with the fireplace wall.  That said, we have broken this rule many times, so go with what feels right.
  7. When placing furniture, keep scale and balance in the back of your mind.  While you can incorporate an eclectic mix into your space by using furniture that varies in size or style, you want to make sure there is an underlying language in the room.  Scale is created by using furniture pieces that relate in size to one another.  If your furniture is similar in scale, it creates a sense of calmness and serenity.  Balance is created by using furniture pieces that are symmetrical to one another.  If your furniture is balanced, it creates a sense of order in the room.  Balance can be achieved by using pairs, such as matching sofas or side tables.  We also like to place table lamps at the same height if they're flanking a sofa or pair of lounge chairs.
  8. Furniture pieces in conversational groupings should have 16 - 20" in front of them (especially coffee tables!) so that you can easily pass through the seating area.  For the areas of the room that will be main pathways, we like to leave at least 36" to comfortably walk around without banging into anything.
  9. Don't forget doors, windows, and drawers!  You'll want to make sure these things are kept accessible.
  10. If you're placing furniture against a wall, we recommend allowing 2" of space between the wall and the back of the piece of furniture.  Give pieces some breathing room!
  11. Consider the lighting of your room.  We like to offer a light source for as many of the seats as possible.  Floor lamps and table lamps work great in living rooms and family rooms.  You could also add lighting to the room to enhance your focal point.   In November, we talked about ways to light your living room and dining room.  Check out our post for more lighting help.
Small Bar

Small Bar

Happy Planning.


Next Up: Furniture Layouts for Dining Rooms. Stay in the know by signing up for our newsletter!

READERS: Do you have a room that is impossible to furnish?  Let us know and we might feature you next month and give you free advice.