Sat | Aug 8, 2020

A guide to good furniture layout

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2020 | 12:00 AM

A good furniture placement is the foundation to an efficient and comfortable room design. There are certain principles which work well and which lead to a practical and aesthetically pleasing room décor.

It is best to start with a floor plan, using graph paper or an online floor planner. Measure large items and/or get the dimensions of these before purchasing. Use these to plan the layout on paper in advance. You may also tape out the dimensions on the floor. This kind of preparation may be a bit time-consuming but could save you a lot of disappointment, and even costs.

For any room, start by determining a focal point – this could be a picture window with a good view, a fireplace, an entertainment unit or an art wall. Orient your furniture pieces around this focal point. Rather than scattering sofa chairs around the periphery of a room, pull them up close so conversations can take place easily and quietly.

In a large enough room (if at all possible) it is best to bring seating to the centre of the room and allow traffic to flow on the outside of this setting. If it is more convenient to place chairs against a wall, still try to avoid having a walkway through them. Use a rug to anchor this unit. The arms of sofas or chairs should not overlap each other. Side tables should be placed close to the chairs they serve and should be at approximately the height of the arm of the nearby sofa (they may be slightly lower). Night tables should be approximately at mattress height.

A coffee table should be the height of the sofa seats and should be placed parallel, not perpendicular, to the largest sofa.


By all means, avoid overcrowding any room. If your living room is small, it does not have to have an entire three-piece suite – go for smaller pieces and use less for comfort. A small bedroom may not be able to accommodate a bed, a dresser, plus chest of drawers. Explore other options for storage. Very large rooms allow for two or more seating options. Make one the primary placement and add other smaller ones, even with just two chairs. Be sure to leave adequate space between each setting, however.

Long, narrow rooms may also require more than one relatively small seating area, and may have to be pulled to one side. Consider using some circular pieces, in this setting in order to avoid bumps.

Rooms with very high ceilings will call for some tall furniture pieces such as armoires, cupboards, bookshelves. As with everything else in life, balance is extremely important in any room décor. A tall item on one side should be balanced by a tall piece on the other side. They don’t have to be exact in height, just close. A tall plant may sometimes do the trick.

It is important to place furniture around the room in a way that it doesn’t appear lopsided.

The artwork should be in proportion to the furniture over which they are hung. Therefore, no tiny piece of art over a large sofa. Instead, it should be approximately two-thirds the width of the sofa, whether as a single piece or a grouping (more on art placement in a future article). Art can be and should be used to help create balance.

A good furniture layout lends itself to comfort in any room and creating comfort should always be the aim.

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