Whether you call it a living room, family room, den, sun room or great room, there is that one room in your house with furniture you love to sink into for relaxation and entertaining. Here are some tips and traps that can make the space more or less enjoyable based on furniture placement. Experts say arrange furniture to suit the way you use the space.
Natalie Siegel, owner of The Upscale Attic, a high-end furniture and home accessory consignment store in Christiansburg, believes an effective room arrangement starts with the focal point. It’s a common living room arranging dilemma: Should the fireplace or TV be the cornerstone of your living room design? Or should a view out windows or French doors take center stage instead? Orient the main seating pieces toward the focal point.
Scale is important in grouping furniture. Siegel starts by placing the biggest piece of furniture first and working smaller pieces around it. Also critical are conversation areas. According to thespruce.com, position sofas and chairs to face each other (not necessarily straight on, but close), and so they are near enough that people can converse without raising their voices. If the room is too large, create multiple conversation areas.
To unify a seating group within a larger space, use a large area rug. Make sure it’s big enough that all the furniture in a seating arrangement can rest on it. You can also divide a large space into separate zones with furniture placement. A sofa facing away from the dining room defines the conversation area from the rest of an open layout, according to Better Homes & Gardens online.
Some people subscribe to the ancient Chinese art of placement called feng shui when arranging furniture. It teaches you how to balance and harmonize with the energies in any given space. Its aim is to assure good fortune for the people inhabiting a home. According to realsimple.com, feng shui dictates that the sofa should be against a solid wall—ideally, the wall farthest from the entry—with a clear view of the door. Leave a few inches of breathing room between the sofa and the wall. If you don’t have a wall to put the sofa against, put a console behind it, topped with tall, sturdy lamps. Add a mirror opposite the sofa so you can see behind you. That makes you feel protected.
Siegel, on the other hand, advocates ‘floating’ furniture if the space allows. She believes that people shouldn’t be afraid of placing furniture away from walls or at an angle as it gives a room interest.
Tah Hoq, store manager of Sleep Mattress & Furniture at University Mall, suggests letting your furniture serve double duty for sitting by day and sleeping arrangements by night. “We carry a large ottoman that converts into a single bed, but you wouldn’t know by looking at it,” he says. “The sofa sleepers are exceptionally attractive and sleep comfortably, but futons really shine in a contemporary space for style and ease of conversion.”
Thespruce.com gives a standard formula for tables: Side tables should be approximately the same height as the nearby chair arms; if that’s not possible, lower is better. For coffee tables, the height should be the same height as chair and sofa seats or lower. Ottomans can stand in as side tables, or they can move where you need them for seating.
Also important is flow. In general, you shouldn’t hit any furniture as you move across the space. For example, it’s not great to walk into the back of a sofa as you enter the room. And if there’s a walkway into another room, it has to be clear. As Siegel says: “Without good flow, a room just doesn’t work.”
Some pitfalls are buying furniture too large for a space. Be sure the entrance and egress of the room are large enough for potential purchases. Another issue can be having too much furniture in one room. Either use an online floor planner or old-fashioned graph paper to sketch out your desired floor plan and furniture size and placement. As hgtv.com admonishes: “Get out that tape measure.”
Be aware of color, too, advises Siegel. She suggests not having too many warm colors or too many cool colors in one place, but rather balancing the two. Have at least one item of the opposite tone in a grouping. For accessories, avoid “sprinkling.” Grouping together like things, such as collectibles, makes more of an impact and also gives the eye a place to rest. Sprinkling things around can simply make it look messy.
Myriad other considerations affect how to arrange your living space: The use and function of the room for family activities, like a game table or soft corners for kids crawling around, placing fabric furniture out of sunshine to avoid fading, watching TV without the glare of a large window. There are probably as many factors as there are living room layouts. The key is choosing what is right for your family and lifestyle.
Another Way to Shop
ReStore: (verb) to bring back
The Habitat for Humanity ReStore ‘brings back’ items that might otherwise inhabit landfills or way backyards. Recognized mostly as a home improvement store selling building materials, the ReStore also sells gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories and more at a fraction of the retail price. The store, which operates mostly on donations, is open to the public.
As with most thrift stores, your best bet is to come frequently and browse the changing inventory. There are many items listed on Craigslist to browse online from home. The ReStore supports the work of Habitat for Humanity NRV to provide safe and affordable housing for folks in need.
1675 N. Franklin St. – Christiansburg
Monday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper