Walking into a living room furniture arrangement is like walking up to a group of strangers. If there are too many backs to you, you feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. But if the arrangement seems open, with multiple ways in, you naturally feel invited. And if that arrangement is also interesting and dynamic, you’re naturally drawn in. But if it’s awkward with everyone lined against the wall, you feel nervous and like no one knows what to do. The same goes for furniture arranging. Now let’s go over the details.
When you arrange a living room, arrange it, if possible, so that the arrangement creates at least 3 – 4 sides of a rectangle. In almost all occasions, this is your guideline to work from. Look at a space and see, is this seating arrangement creating a rectangle? Even if not all sides are closed, the rectangular seating arrangement is the best look most often. For example, if you have two sofas, face them towards each other and on one short end have the focal point (tv, fireplace, large piece of furniture, painting) and on the other short side place two smaller chairs, fully upholstered or not, depending on the space available. And if your furniture is floating, do the same thing but leave one side open for people to easily walk into the arrangement.
If you have one sofa and a couple of chairs (matching or not), make the rectangle smaller, and leave one side open. And if the sofa is up against the wall, put it against the longest wall, and then on each side of the sofa, place a chair. In the middle place a coffee table. Leave the other side completely open, or add in a couple of ottomans for seating that can be used in a pinch. But remember that furniture arrangements should be self contained. If this previous arrangement had a tv, then it should be placed on the “open” fourth side – the longer side opposite the sofa. But, be sure to not put it awkwardly far from the furniture arrangement. Although it’s somewhat of a personal choice, the tv should probably be no more than 5 or 6 feet away from the closest, perpendicular seating option.
Or, if you’re so lucky to have a very large living room, the tv could be placed in one of multiple arrangements where the furniture is “floating” or placed in the middle of the room. But furniture arrangements should be kept fairly tight, so the person walking in can clearly see where each one begins and ends. It creates a sense of comfort and coziness to have the arrangement tight, and clearly defined. If you have a tv too far from your seating arrangement, it can seem disconnected. One way to defeat this is to simply add more seating. With a larger space, add two chairs to each short side. Or on one side place two chairs, and on the other side place a chaise lounge, or a chair with an ottoman turned on an angle. This way you include the tv in the furniture arrangement by placing furniture closer to it.
Also, especially in a living room, its important to find your focal point, or to make one. No one wants to be surrounded by bland, blank walls. That’s the opposite of cozy! If you have a fireplace, that’s your focal point. In some rooms, it’s the tv. A beautiful piece of furniture, a painting or gallery wall, or a beautiful view can also be focal points. Just make sure you have something interesting in each room to focus the furniture arrangement on. Now, you need to decide if you want to place your furniture facing or framing the focal point. With a beautiful view as the focal point, you may not want to face it straight on, or you may. In those cases you have to use your own judgement. Often what is best is to frame your focal point. A fireplace is framed by having a sofa on each side, or a sofa on one side and two chairs with a table in between on the other. That way everyone can enjoy it while they’re sitting down, and when they’re walking into a room. And a beautiful view is the same way, space permitting. Or, you could place a sofa or a couple of chairs facing the view, just make sure that the furniture is low enough so that it’s not blocked from your view when walking into a room!
And what to do with those extra spaces? Sometimes we have an awkward space that’s not quite close enough to be included in the main furniture arrangement. But we also don’t want to leave it empty. With that, you have lots of options. And this is a great place to do something unique and personal! It’s one of my personal favorites. Love to play board games with your friends and family? Put a classic, square game table with a few chairs. Or, put two chairs with a table in between with a great lamp in the middle for reading. Put a small chest where you can store anything extra the room may need, and put two small wooden chairs or ottomans on each side for extra seating in a pinch.This is your place to do something a little fun and interesting.
Multi-purpose rooms really allow you to spend time as family, while also being engaged in whatever activity you’d like or need. And you can certainly put a desk in a living room as well, as long as you keep the look seamless in terms of style, colors, and materials. And keep the work space limited to a computer and a few desk accessories. Otherwise, a work space that needs more space and work materials, is often best secluded to its own space if possible.
So go ahead and have some fun! Look at your room in a new way, pull the furniture a little closer in, move some furniture so that its face to face, keep the arrangement closely defined, and create multiple zones in larger rooms. And as long as each seat always has a table within arms reach to lay a glass or magazine, everyone can relax in great comfort and style. And you’ll look like a pro.