Arranging Furniture

Positioning your furniture is one of the most daunting -- yet most important -- design decisions. These three common scenarios will teach you the basics.


When arranging furniture in a living room, one easy way to begin is with the focal point. Think of it as an anchor for the room and place furniture directly in front of this important design element.

See the floorplan below and read our furniture placement tips to get ideas for arranging pieces in a multipurpose room.

  1. Find a focal point -- a fireplace, a large window, or an entertainment center -- and build the furniture design around it. The focal point should be anchored to a wall. Move your furniture away from the walls to create an intimate grouping.
  2. Place chairs no more than 8 feet apart to encourage conversation.
  3. Position a table within reach of every seating piece. If possible, place a lamp near each seating area.
  4. Allow ample legroom by placing the coffee table 14 to 18 inches from the sofa.
  5. Choose side tables that are about as tall as the arm of the chair or sofa they are serving.
  6. Create traffic lanes that are several feet wide to allow easy movement through the room.

Large rooms or open plan homes can be daunting to decorate. Where do you start? How can you plan for function? And, where should you place the furniture?

See the floorplan below and read our furniture placement tips for a multipurpose room.

  1. Give each area in a multipurpose room a dominant feature. For instance, focus your dining area on a large hutch and your sitting area on an entertainment unit. If possible, place these elements opposite each other to create equal weight in the room.
  2. Create a natural divide using furniture placement. Face a sofa or a pair of chairs away from the dining area. Or, use a folding screen to separate the areas.
  3. Aim for harmony by balancing two or more smaller items against a large one. Pair chairs and even accessories for balance.
  4. Use area rugs to define each grouping.
  5. Allow at least 3 feet of space around the dining table to leave room for comfortable sitting, as well as a wide aisle for traffic flow.
  6. Clear the entry of furniture, and direct traffic toward the dining and sitting areas.

Tired of the same-old look in bedrooms? Maybe an angled bed placement is right for your room.

See the floorplan below and read the do's and don'ts of furniture placement in a bedroom.

  1. Angle furniture to give your room drama: This arrangement works well in rooms with many doors and windows. It also helps cozy up groupings; furniture that's placed around the perimeter often results in arrangements that are too far apart.
  2. Anchor the space with an area rug or small runner placed on the same angle to emphasize the diagonal.
  3. Pair side tables at each side of the bed to create balance. For a sitting area, position tables at each side of a sofa or between matching chairs.
  4. Create traffic options in tight quarters with diagonal furniture placement. This also helps the room appear larger and more complex.
  5. Play up the bed as a focal-point. Position baskets, a trunk, or a bench at the foot of the bed. If you don't have a headboard, create one with a folding screen or old shutters.
+ enlarge image From awkward to lively, then dramatic.
  1. As awkward as a lineup of new recruits, this shoulder-to-shoulder arrangement of thin bottles is not pleasing to the eye. The even number of similarly sized bottles and even spacing between them make the grouping uninteresting. Keep in mind that even numbers look best when used in contemporary arrangements such as two prints side by side or a set of four prints in a horizontal grouping.
  2. Slide a few objects out, move another over, and this grouping starts to live a little. The two heavier bottles on the left side are visually balanced by the taller bottle on the right. Overlap the edges of two out of three of the items for more dimension and to ease the monotony of equal spacing. Liven the trio by adding some breathing space on the other side. As a rule, the space between the bottles should be less than the width of the bottle that stands alone.
  3. For a bolder statement, add more objects to the grouping. Keep an odd number, but vary their shapes, sizes, and spacing. The plate in the background, set slightly off-center, pulls your eye into the arrangement and bridges the gap between the bottles. The weight of the arrangement remains on the left with the tallest bottle. Balance is maintained with the thickness of the shorter bottle on the right.
  4. When it comes to successful displays of collectibles and accessories, the odds are with you. As a rule, odd numbers of items create more interest than even numbers. Likewise, a variety of shapes and sizes catches the eye.
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