Arranging furniture is one of the most daunting -- yet most important -- design decisions. These common scenarios will teach you the basics.
Problem: Long room, entry at one end.
Solution: There’s no need to crowd; leave room for traffic and an entry drop spot. Cozy key seating pieces up to the fireplace facing each other. Use end tables as landing spaces on both ends of the sofa. Pair chairs to balance the visual weight of the sofa and to maximize seating.
Solution: Float seating in the center of a room filled with doors and windows. Face chairs and sofa toward each other to encourage conversation. Anchor the conversation grouping with a rug and large coffee table. Frame the space with additional seating and cabinets for storage, positioned around the perimeter of the room along the walls.
Face the View
If your living room doesn't have a fireplace, orient seating so it takes advantage of whatever view your room has to offer, whether it's a TV or a bank of windows. Create your own focal point by hanging a large piece of art on a wall or create a vignette of favorite objects on a console or bookshelf.
Conquer a Small Space
Whether your living room is long and narrow or boxy, these tricks work especially well in tight quarters. Watch and see how they work their magic.
Put a Table within Reach of Each Seat
Use round pedestal tables as side tables between chairs and sofas. The curves of round tables make them easier to navigate around. When space is tight, use nesting tables for flexible use when needed
Think About Lighting
Install in-floor electrical outlets to service floating furniture arrangements.
Problem: Irregular room, one wide traffic lane.
Solution: Use the perimeter of the room for a computer desk and storage console. Choose chairs with casters so that they are easy to move. Float the furniture to focus on the fireplace and the television. Ensure that the fireplace and television are visible from each seat.
Focus on Entertainment
Place the television and computer so the screens face away from the sunlight. The viewing distance for a standard TV is 8 to 12 feet, and the best viewing angle is not more than 30 degrees. For traffic flow, create paths that flow behind viewers and not between them and the screen.
Consider freestanding pieces in a smaller room and wall-to-wall built-ins in a larger room. Make sure there is some storage near the TV.
Problem: Long and narrow, one window wall
Solution: Face the bed to the window to make the most of the view. Include a desk/dressing table, chair, and mirror opposite the doorway. Place a pair of benches at the end of the bed for seating. Flank the bed with nightstands or nestle the bed into a built-in storage unit that includes two cabinet towers and a cabinet that bridges the head of the bed to create an alcove.
Problem: Square room, two free walls.
Solution: Place the bed so it’s the focal point and the room feels grounded. Stretch storage up the wall with a freestanding armoire. Pair matching small-scale dressers to use as nightstands. Position the bed on an oversize rug that extends at least 2 feet on either side and at the foot of the bed.
Watch and see how to lay out the furniture in your bedroom.
Place a bench at the foot of the bed or a small-scale armchair in a corner for bedroom seating. Consider placing a chair next to a bedside table. The chair and bed can share the nightstand. If there isn’t room next to the nightstand, pair the chair with a small garden stool, which will serve as a small table without occupying much space.
Plan Walkways Around Furniture
Allow at least 2 feet on either side of the bed to allow for space to make the bed. Avoid placing the bed within 3 feet of the door; otherwise the bed becomes a roadblock.
Select the Right Size Bed
It’s possible to use a larger bed if you don’t need a lot of storage furniture. Also, consider the visual weight of your headboard. If the bed is slightly large for the room, opt for a visually lighter headboard, such as one that features metal scrollwork. A solid headboard consumes more visual space, and taller, heavier headboards work best in bigger bedrooms or bedrooms with tall ceilings.
Problem: Rectangular space, no free walls.
Solution: Combine chairs, benches, and settees for an eclectic look. Duplicate the room shape with the table shape to maximize seating (for example, a rectangular table with the same proportions as the dining room will make the most of the space). Include storage, such as cabinets or bookcases, on the perimeter. Define the dining space with a rug that contrasts with the flooring.
Problem: Oversize space, multiuse space.
Solution: Opt for a table that preserves open space for other uses (for example, don’t buy a huge table with seating for 20 when you’ll only ever need seating for 12). Add storage that will accommodate all the activities that take place in the room. When choosing chairs, select models that can also easily be brought up to the table for extra dining seating. Anchor the secondary seating areas with lamps and occasional tables.
Maximize a Small Space
Squeeze more funtion into your dining room with these arranging tricks.
Suit the Space
Circular tables with pedestal bases let folks see everyone at the table and are suitable for tight dining spaces or square rooms. Rectangular tables limit seating, but work well in rectangular dining rooms and come in a variety of lengths and widths. Oval tables with added leaves also work well in rectangular dining rooms and offer flexibility by adapting to small gatherings or large.
Buy for Size
Be sure to allow a minimum of 36 inches from the table to the wall on all sides. Position the table so traffic flows smoothly around it
Know These Measurements
When determining how many chairs you can fit around your table, allow for a width of 20 to 24 inches and a depth of 15 inches per place setting and leave at least 6 inches between chairs.
Include Functional Storage
Make the most of square footage with a wall of shelves that provide storage for the dining room’s alternative uses -- office supplies, games, and crafts -- or dining extras such as china, linens, and barware.