How to Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right
Follow these 10 basic layout rules for a polished, pulled-together look in any room
Consider how the room will be used and by how many people. That will dictate the type of furnishings you’ll need and the amount of seating required.
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Identify the room’s focal point – a fireplace, view, TV – and orient the furniture accordingly. If you plan to watch television in the room, the ideal distance between the set and the seating is three times the size of the screen (measured diagonally). Therefore, if you have a 40in model, your chair should be 120in away.
Place the largest pieces of furniture first, such as the sofa in the living room or the bed in the bedroom. In most cases, this piece should face the room’s focal point.
Chairs should be no more than 2.4m apart to facilitate conversation. Unless your room is especially small, avoid pushing all the furniture against the walls.
Symmetrical arrangements work best for formal rooms; asymmetrical arrangements make a room feel more casual.
Think about the flow of traffic through the room – generally the path between doorways. Don’t block that path with any large pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 75cm to 120cm of width for major traffic routes and a minimum of 60cm of width for minor ones.
Try to direct traffic around a seating group, not through the middle of it. If traffic cuts through the middle of the room, consider creating two small seating areas instead of one large one.
Vary the size of furniture pieces throughout the room, so your eyes move up and down as you scan the space. Balance a large or tall item by placing another piece of similar height across the room from it (or use art to replicate the scale). Avoid putting two tall pieces next to each other.
Combine straight and curved lines for contrast. If the furniture is modern and linear, throw in a round table for contrast. If the furniture is curvy, mix in an angular piece.
Similarly, pair solids with voids: combine a leggy chair with a solid side table, or a solid chair with a leggy table.
Place a table within easy reach of every seat, being sure to combine pieces of similar scale, and make sure every reading chair has an accompanying lamp. Coffee tables should be located 35cm to 45cm from a sofa to provide sufficient legroom.
In a dining room, make sure there’s at least 120cm between each edge of the table and the nearest wall or piece of furniture. If traffic doesn’t pass behind the chairs on one side of the table, 90cm should suffice.
In bedrooms, allow at least 60cm between the side of the bed and a wall, and at least 90cm between the bed and a swinging door.
Give your back a break. Before you move any furniture, test your design on paper. Measure the room’s dimensions, noting the location of windows, doors, heat registers and electrical outlets, then draw up a floor plan on graph paper using cutouts to represent the furnishings.
Or, better yet, use a digital room planner to draw the space and test various furniture configurations. It’s less work and a lot more fun.
Which of these design rules would transform your home? Let us know in the Comments.