A sure sign of an inexperienced designer (amateur or professional) is how they handle furniture placement in the most important room of the house; the Living Room. Those new to the rodeo of home design tend to keep things close to the walls which only work if the room is miniscule and there are no other options. The luxurious adaptation of space for multiple sitting areas not only encourages conversation among guests but give family members comfortable options for reading, talking or contemplating.
So how do we achieve the successful furniture arrangements we see in magazines and on our favorite television shows?
Here are my 3 keys for perfect furniture placement in your living room:
- Understand Scale. Scale (as applied to furniture in our living room) relates to the size of a furniture piece in relation to the room in which it will be housed. For instance a large sofa (96” long by 40” deep and 36”high) would be considered large scale for most living rooms (average living rooms are around 12’ x 18’. Whereas a settee with dimensions of 56” long x 30” deep x 30” high (perfect for tucking in a corner in an “average” living room) might be lost in a large living room (15’ x 20’ or larger). Neither is necessarily wrong in either location. The more accurate question centers around how the piece will be used in either space and what will be used around it. A large sofa tucked into a small room (sofa and end tables basically running wall to wall) can conjure a space that is deeply personal and intimate. So don’t fret over the scale of your existing pieces. Just understand what you have and how it relates to the room in which it will be housed.
- Understand Symmetry. The vast majority of nature is grounded in the concept of symmetry (the quality of being made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis). The human face is thought most beautiful when both halves are close to identical. Classical architecture utilizes the idea of symmetry to create spaces which humans of all backgrounds perceive as beautiful. The same is true of the rooms of your home. While asymmetry is used successfully as an advanced tool for furniture arranging the use of symmetrical furniture placement offers the reinforcement of positive results even for the beginner.
- Understand Balance. If symmetry is our goal (equal weight of furniture balanced on opposite sides of the room) once must identify the middle point off of which our symmetry springs. Major architectural elements (fireplaces, windows, arched openings…etc.) are always our starting point. To help establish a “balance grid” for your room draw the basic shape of your room on a blank piece of graph or white paper (for this exercise accurate dimensions are not necessary). Clearly include the major architectural elements present in your room. Even the simplest of rooms has at least a window and view. If this is all you have then clearly show the window on your drawing. On your paper draw a straight line from your major architectural element across the room (dividing the room in to two equal halves). If your line represents your rooms “north and south” axes then draw a line at 90 degrees to your first line. This will give you four equal quarters in your room. Highlight these two lines in red.
As you contemplate this rooms’ furniture arrangement you want your major pieces (sofa, cabinet, armoire…etc.) to rest on one of the red lines. You may, for instance, place your sofa opposite your fireplace (major architectural element) and your two lounge chairs to each side of the sofa; and by doing so you have created a basic, yet harmonious, furniture arrangement. Less important furniture items (television, side chairs, ottomans…etc.) will find their home in the four quarters of the room formed by your two red lines. Secondary lines (connecting each corner of the room through the middle) can be added in a contrasting color and provide the grid for placement of “secondary” furniture pieces.
As with everything practice strengthens our skills and makes us more proficient in any skill. Furniture placement is a skill that can be learned and improved upon. Use these 3 Keys for Furniture Placement and watch your furniture placement skills increase.