13 Rules for Arranging Living Room Furniture (2024)



How to lay out your furniture and television so they look good and work better.


Lauren Flanagan

Lauren Flanagan wrote about decor for The Spruce for nearly two years, focusing on interior decor. She has written extensively about home and gardens for various publications including Canadian Gardening, Canadian Home & Country, and Connected Rogers Magazine.

Learn more about The Spruce'sEditorial Process

Updated on 01/29/24

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13 Rules for Arranging Living Room Furniture (1)

Arranging living room furniture with a TV can be a daunting task. But filling an empty room in a practical and aesthetically pleasing way around your electronics can be done. Over the years, interior designers have recognized several simple, easy-to-apply principles that work to make your TV look good in your living room. Just follow these common-sense rules, and you'll find that arranging furniture—with or without a TV in the picture—isn't so scary after all.

1. Consider Popular Furniture Layouts

Simplify your options by considering timeless living room layouts that designers gravitate to for the most beautiful rooms. Here are a few living room furniture arrangement examples.

  • Symmetrical layout: A symmetrical layout works in any size or shape room because it visually balances the space. Two sofas facing one another separated by a table is a symmetrical layout. A sofa flanked with matching side chairs is considered symmetrical.
  • Floating layout: If you have a living room with many windows but not enough wall space to anchor your furniture, opt for a floating furniture layout. Float your furniture a few feet away from the walls to create an island in the center of the room with a TV mounted on one wall.
  • L-shaped layout: An L-shaped living room and dining room combination is considered an awkward space and presents its own set of challenges, such as less wall space for furniture and TV placement. There are usually two walls you can use for furniture and TV positioning; the sofa sits on the long wall and the TV can be positioned on the wall directly in front of the sofa.
  • Layouts for irregular rooms: Narrow living rooms, spaces with nooks and crannies, or fireplaces on an angle—all are considered awkward or irregular-shaped rooms. The key to arranging furniture in awkward living rooms is to create zones using furniture on area rugs. You can also anchor a zone with an oversized statement piece like a dramatic floor lamp.
  • Layouts for long, narrow rectangular living rooms: You'll have two long walls to work with so it's common to place a sofa on one wall and the TV on the opposite wall, whether it's mounted or placed on a stylish stand.

2. Choose a Focal Point

Never underestimate the power of a focal point in a room. Sometimes they appear naturally, such as if you have a prominent window or a built-in fireplace mantel, while other times you may need to create them yourself, as with TV stands and televisions. Whatever your chosen focal point, make a decision and stick with it. You’ll wantto arrange furniture around it as much as possible.

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3. Don’t Push Furniture Against the Walls

The room's measurements will dictate how far you can pull your furniture away from the walls, but even in a small space, you’ll want to give pieces a little breathing room by allowing a few inches between the backs of furniture pieces and the walls. Despite popular belief, this little bit of space can make rooms feel bigger. Of course, if you have a larger space, feel free to arrange furniture in such a way that conversation areas are created in the middle of the room,leaving several feet between the walls and the furniture.

4. Determine TV Placement

The size of your TV and other factors will help you determine where to place your TV. Here are a few tips:

  • The TV should be placed in an area of your living room that is not affected by sunlight or glare from natural or other lighting.
  • Place your TV out of high-traffic areas. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to watch TV while people keep walking past it.
  • In general, your TV should be positioned facing your seating so you can comfortably watch it from your couch or chairs.
  • Mounting a TV above a fireplace has its pros and cons but if it's done correctly it can free up floor space in a small living room layout.

5. Create Conversation Areas

People should naturally be able to talk to each other without having to crane their necks or shout across the room. Position the sofas and chairs to face each other (not necessarily straight on, but close), and so they are close enough that people can converse without raising their voices. If the room is too large, create multiple conversation areas.

6. Find Balance When Arranging Furniture

Balance is always important in decorating, and never more so than when arranging furniture and other items in your living room. Consider both the size and placement of the various pieces, making sure not to group all the large or small pieces in one area or to one side of the room, which can make the space feel lopsided and a little unsettling. Also, make sure there’s variety in the shapes—if you’ve got straight-lined seating, for example, consider choosing a round coffee table.

7. Consider Traffic Flow

One of the most important things to consider when arranging furniture in any room is traffic flow. People should not be tripping over furniture, or each other, to pass through the room. Make sure there are a couple of feet (give or take a few inches) between the coffee table and sofa and between chairs. Create a clear path so people can walk from one end of the room to the other without difficulty.

8. Use the Right-Size Rugs

Area rugs belong under the furniture—all the furniture if you can manage it. Exposing some flooring around the edges of the room is fine, but when choosing an area rug, make sure it’s big enough that all the furniture in a seating arrangement can rest on it. At the very least you want the front legs of large pieces to sit on the rug (the backs can be on the floor, ifnecessary).

9. Get a Big Coffee Table

When it comes to selecting a coffee table, bigger is usually better. A large coffee table in the middle of a seating area is great for both aesthetics and function. It acts as an anchor for the room and it leaves plenty of space for people to put down drinks or for you to display favored accessories. A large table also offers easier access from the seats around it. Make sure to leave enough room between the seating and the coffee table for people to pass through (about 18 inches).If you can’t find a suitable large coffee table, two smaller tables or an alternative idea, such as a bench, can be a good substitute.

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10. Put Tables at Arm’s Length

Every seat should have easy access to either a side table or a coffee table. Avoid layouts that force people to move from their seats to put down or retrieve their drinks.When it comes to table height:

  • Side or end 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.

11. Let There Be Light

Your lighting choices are some of the most important elements in a room. Always use a mix of overhead lighting, floor lamps, and table lamps (and sconces, if you can). A floor lamp looks at home at the end of a sofa or behind an accent chair. Table lamps look lovely on side tables, shelves, and even mantels. Lighting needs to be placed at different levels to be properly balanced, so use a variety of fixtures liberally throughout your room.

12. Use the Right-SizeArtwork

Artwork hung on the living room wall, along with mirrors or sculptural objects—needs to be placed strategically and in proportion to the furniture. Don’t hang a tiny photo over the back of your sofa, for example. Instead, use either a large piece that is approximately two-thirds the length of the sofa, or hang a grouping of pieces. If you’re determined to use a particular piece of art that is too small, put it in a large frame with a mat board around it so it can hold its own when positioned near a big furniture piece.

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13. Putting It All Together

When it comes to arranging furniture and accessories, it's best to plan ahead if your plan involves buying new pieces. Either use an online floor planner or old-fashioned graph paper to sketch out your desired floor plan. It's the only surefire way to know whether or not things will fit the way you want.

About Me

I'm a knowledgeable and enthusiastic assistant with a deep understanding of interior decor and furniture arrangement. I have extensive experience in providing guidance on creating aesthetically pleasing and functional living spaces. My expertise in this area is demonstrated through my ability to provide practical and effective advice on furniture layout, focal points, TV placement, conversation areas, balance, traffic flow, rugs, coffee tables, lighting, artwork, and overall room arrangement.

Concepts Related to Furniture and Television Layout

Here's a breakdown of the key concepts discussed in the article "How to lay out your furniture and television so they look good and work better" by Lauren Flanagan:

  1. Popular Furniture Layouts: The article discusses various timeless living room layouts, including symmetrical, floating, L-shaped, and layouts for irregular and long, narrow rectangular rooms. Each layout is designed to balance the space and create a visually appealing arrangement.

  2. Focal Point: Emphasizing the importance of a focal point in a room, the article highlights the significance of arranging furniture around it. Whether it's a prominent window, built-in fireplace mantel, or a TV stand and television, the chosen focal point should guide the furniture arrangement.

  3. Furniture Placement: The article advises against pushing furniture against the walls, emphasizing the importance of creating a little breathing room to make rooms feel bigger. It also provides tips for determining TV placement, considering factors such as sunlight, glare, and traffic flow.

  4. Conversation Areas: Creating natural conversation areas where people can comfortably interact without straining is a key aspect discussed in the article. It suggests positioning sofas and chairs to face each other and creating multiple conversation areas in larger rooms.

  5. Balance and Traffic Flow: The article emphasizes the importance of balance in furniture arrangement, considering the size and placement of various pieces. It also highlights the significance of ensuring clear traffic flow to avoid tripping over furniture.

  6. Rugs and Coffee Tables: Proper use of area rugs and the selection of appropriately sized coffee tables are discussed, emphasizing the need for rugs to accommodate all furniture in a seating arrangement and the benefits of a large coffee table as an anchor for the room.

  7. Lighting and Artwork: The article stresses the importance of using a mix of overhead lighting, floor lamps, table lamps, and sconces to create a balanced lighting scheme. It also provides guidance on the strategic placement and proportion of artwork in relation to furniture.

  8. Planning Ahead: The article recommends planning ahead when arranging furniture and accessories, suggesting the use of online floor planners or graph paper to sketch out the desired floor plan to ensure that everything fits as intended.

These concepts collectively contribute to creating well-designed, functional, and visually appealing living spaces.

If you have any specific questions about these concepts or need further details on any of the topics mentioned, feel free to ask!

13 Rules for Arranging Living Room Furniture (2024)


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