Your Decorating Hotline receives lots of questions revolving around furniture placement. Today I’m sharing some general rules of thumb for placing furniture and then, over the next several weeks, I’ll examine standard room shapes one by one and present some of the ways furniture can be successfully placed in each shape. My hope is this furniture placement series will empower those of you wanting to rearrange rooms in your home but struggling with where to start or what to consider.
Rules of Thumb
1. When placing furniture in a room the first rule of thumb is to erase your old image of your room. Forget about where things have “always” gone – forget about how the previous owner had the room arranged – forget about relegating the same furniture to the same room all the time. Take a new, fresh look at the space and your furniture.
2. The first item to place in your room is the largest seating piece -usually a sofa or loveseat in the living room. In the dining room, the table. In a bedroom, what else?, the bed! Place this piece opposite the focal point of the room (the fireplace, the window, the TV, the art wall, etc.). Placing the largest seating piece across from your focal point ties the architecture of the room and the furnishings together. In the photo above the sofa is placed directly opposite the fireplace (and TV).
3. Place your other seating pieces, starting with the next largest piece and working down to the smallest. Place them in proximity to your sofa so that the pieces are all within a comfortable conversation space – not yards away from one another.
4. Place your furniture IN the room – not pushed up against the walls all around the room. Even in small rooms there is usually room to move pieces off the wall and into the room a bit – for example, put a table behind the sofa so it is in the room and off the wall.
5. Keep pairs of chairs together. Separating a set reduces their impact – if they are the same size, shape or color, keep them together.
6. As unusual as it may sound, the pieces of a sectional sofa do NOT have to kept together. The visual weight of a sectional can “tilt” the room or overpower it. Sometimes pulling out a piece or two (e.g. center pieces become armless chairs) provides other seating and helps balance the weight of the sectional grouping.
7. Large multi-piece wall units or bookcase series and also weight one side of a room when placed all together. If it feels like your room is tipping – separate the pieces and use them somewhere else in the room or somewhere else in the house.
8. Area rugs anchor groupings of furniture – use them in conjunction with your furnishings, not just tossed onto open floor spaces. Notice in the photo above how the sofa is pulled away from the wall toward the focal point and how the area rug anchors the seating area in the room – creating an intimate conversation area and directing traffic around the seating area instead of through it.
9. Unless you have a very large screen TV or it is housed in a built-in wall unit, the TV is not the focal point of the room and it should be placed after the seating area has been established.
10. After the seating area(s) is established, add side tables, sofa tables and coffee tables to the conversation area. Enabling each seated guest to be able to easily set a drink on a nearby piece of furniture will enhance the comfort and usability of your room.
Next – Placing Furniture in a Rectangular Room
Now that you’ve got the basic rules of thumb for placing furniture, the next step is to begin looking at different room shapes and applying these general rules along with considering some specific needs associated with each room shape. The first room we’ll discuss is the most common shape – a rectangular room. Be sure to read it next Thursday!