Home Tip Tuesday: How to Arrange Furniture in Your Living Room

Consider function, flexibility and flow when arranging furniture.

Big or small, open or closed off, arranging the furniture in your living room or family room sets the tone for how your family enjoys their time at home together. There are no hard and fast rules to furniture placement. In fact, finding what works best for your family should be the only rule! Before you start lugging heavy furniture across the room, make a quick sketch of your room and the pieces you want to include in it. Once you decide on paper where the main pieces should go, you can move smaller items around by hand. Arrange your living room or family room like a pro by remembering three key design elements: Function, Flexibility and Flow.

Every good designer starts by understanding the function of the room. If the main use of your living room is to watch television then the furniture should be arranged to support that. In this case, the television would be considered the "focal point" of the room, and the majority of the furniture would be placed to view the TV comfortably. If the main purpose of your living room is for family or guests to join in conversation with one another, you might select a fireplace, a work of art or a stunning view as the room's focal point. 

Sometimes the living room is a movie theater, sometimes it's a game room and sometimes it's where the adults enjoy a private conversation. In rooms that must fulfill many functions, opt for smaller, more lightweight pieces of furniture that can be moved as needed. For example, instead of one large sectional sofa that dominates the room, include a standard sized couch where the family can snuggle up for movies and one or two groupings of occasional chairs where people can chat or play a game. Furniture that does double duty will also make the space more flexible. Look for storage cubes that can be used as seating, tiny tables or footstools, nesting tables that stack neatly into a small space when not needed or furniture that reclines or folds out when extra coziness is required.

Flow is a fancy word that really just refers to the traffic patterns in and out of a room. The placement of exterior doors and interior openings determines the flow. In most cases, you can't change the flow with furniture arrangement, you can only enhance it or block it. If you can't walk comfortably in and out of a room there may be too much furniture or pieces may be too close together. A room with "good flow" is one where open spaces naturally lead you in, out and around seating. 

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