I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a client say “I’ve tried every arrangement possible – there’s just no way to make this furniture work in this room!” Furniture placement can be challenging but there are a few “rules” that make the process of finding the right furniture arrangement go more smoothly. If you’ve found yourself lugging furniture around the room piece after piece, continuing to shuffle and never quite happy with the results then read on…
Address the Focal Point
- Start with the largest furniture piece first – usually the sofa (if you’re doing a bedroom it’s the bed). The sofa is your foundation piece and it should address the focal point you’ve selected.
- Place the sofa directly across from the focal point at a comfortable distance (adjust distance as needed during process). This single action connects the content of your room to the room’s architecture. Too often people place the sofa in front of a large window or a fireplace looking away from the focal point. Placing your sofa opposite the focal point sets the room’s anchor, around which everything else revolves.
- When placing a sofa and a love seat place the arms close to each other, without a big gap. Alternately you can place the sofa and love seat facing each other IF you can balance the love seat with an end table or something to give it the same visual weight of the sofa and IF you place them close enough to create easy conversation (no shouting across the room).
- Sectional sofas may need to be broken up to create a better conversation area. They are more dramatic when kept together but take an honest look at the room and see if the scale and balance of the sectional works. It’s OK to break up a sectional in order to create a better grouping or conversation area. Sometimes just removing a single section of the sectional will help the scale and balance of the arrangement.
- Consider traffic patterns as you begin adding other seating pieces and tables around the sofa. Do not force traffic right through the middle of your sitting area.
- Move furniture away from walls whenever possible. Don’t push all the furniture up against the walls – float it out in the room. If the room is too small to “float” furniture, put a table behind the sofa to help push it away from the wall. This provides more visual interest in the room and helps create an intimate conversation area.
Create a Focal Point
If there is no natural focal point in the room, you need to create one. For example, in a plain bedroom the bed will become the focal point. In a living room without a fireplace perhaps a large window (or view) is the focal point, or a very large blank wall that can accommodate an armoire holding a T.V., etc.
- Observe the room’s angles and architecture – take your cues from the room to determine the best spot for your focal point.
- Determine the major furniture pieces needed to build foundation and select accent pieces.
Create a Conversation Area
After placing the initial pieces so they address the focal point, you need to create a conversation area.
- Build an intimate seating area by keeping furniture pieces for sitting near each other. You only need about 18″ between sitting pieces and a coffee table – so don’t leave a football field between the sofa and a love seat. If your room is very large you may need to create more than one conversation area or activity area.
- Avoid leaving big spaces between furnishings or you’ll create an inhospitable ”shouting distance.”
- Add an area rug to the sitting area to anchor the furniture grouping and define the conversation in a “floating” arrangement.
- If more than one focal point exists in the room try to include at least two of them when placing furniture for sitting. For example, people can see the fireplace and the TV.
- Place additional chairs, ottomans or benches to complete conversation area.
Place Remaining Furniture
The next step is adding furniture to accent your foundation piece and conversation area. As you select the furniture pieces you want to add back into the room, please consider the following:
- You don’t HAVE to bring all your furniture back in the room – some of it may not work well in your new redesign.
- You CAN bring in furniture from other areas of the house – there’s no rule that says furniture always has to stay in the same room. A little game of “musical furniture” is OK when redesigning!
- Consider balance and scale when selecting furniture pieces to accent your foundation piece and conversation area. Your redesigned space needs to “weigh the same” around the room – don’t tip the room to one side or make it heavy visually by loading it down with all the big or bulky furniture on one wall.
- It’s OK to separate bookcases and display cases created from multiple units and move the extra pieces to other rooms in the house. Putting too many tall or heavy pieces together quickly overpowers a room.
- Complement furniture lines with like pieces - if you have a round backed chair, set a round side table next to it or a round ottoman near it.
- Look at pieces with fresh eyes and use them in unique new ways. Consider color, size and shape of the piece, NOT the way in which it usually functions.
- Think out of the box when considering your furniture. Maybe an antique dresser would shine more in the foyer intead of stashing it in a guest bedroom. Perhaps a weathered garden bench would add great texture and look great in front of the fireplace.
- Arrange furniture to accommodate another activity in the room if possible - perhaps a comfy chair in an empty corner for a reading spot, or a small table and chairs for a game or eating area, or a pair of chairs for a private conversation area.
The Next Step
Next Friday I’ll introduce Step 4 of the Redesign Process – placing lighting and art. Remember, if you’ve any questions or comments leave them by clicking on the Comment link beneath the ads on this post or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Terrie and I appreciate your comments, ideas and questions!