20 Furniture Faux Pas That Will Wreck the Flow and Feel of Your Space

white living room remodel black fireplace
Photo: Seth Smoot

If your furniture isn't arranged correctly, even the most beautiful rooms can fall short. To create a successful layout, be sure to avoid these common furniture arranging mistakes that can make your space feel off-balance, overcrowded, or unattractive. And if your current setup features any of these faux pas, it's easy to rectify with our furniture arranging tricks.

01 of 20

Mistake: Out-of-Scale Furniture

bright contemporary living room with sectional
David A Land

The dimensions of your furniture should relate to the size of your room. A huge sectional can easily overwhelm a small living space. At the same time, a skinny loveseat might look tiny in a room with soaring vaulted ceilings. Scale the furniture size up or down depending on your room constraints to ensure a proportional look.

02 of 20

Mistake: Using Too Much Furniture

white living room with blue sofa and side chairs and wood chest-style coffee table
Dana Gallagher

Less is more when furniture arranging, especially in small spaces. Trying to cram in too many furnishings can quickly overrun a small living room, making it feel crowded and chaotic. Instead, choose a handful of quality, low-profile pieces to fill the area while leaving plenty of open space between items.

03 of 20

Mistake: Not Adjusting for Height

Living room with wooden coffee table and white furniture
David Land

When arranging living room furniture, keep in mind that the accent table sizes should correspond to the height of your sofa. Coffee tables, for example, should be about the same level as the top of the couch cushions. For end tables, base the ideal height on the sofa arms so items are easy to access. This will help you create a balanced furniture arrangement comfortable for everyday use.

04 of 20

Mistake: Wallflower Furniture

white living room remodel black fireplace
Seth Smoot

Your room might feel more spacious with all the furniture pushed up against the wall, but it may be time to rearrange if you need to shout across the room to have a conversation. For example, the couch not touching the wall in this living room means it's closer to the fireplace and the chairs, which creates a cozy conversation area. Intentionally placing furniture can help define how a space is used and function better for your needs.

05 of 20

Mistake: Beds that Partially Block a Window

Liz Strong home mixed patterns in bedroom
David Tsay

A bed that peeks over a window frame looks odd from the street and can lead to uneven fabric fading. But what if it's the only available spot for your bed? Make it look better with these furniture arrangement tricks: Hang floor-length curtain panels that fall behind the headboard and block the back of the headboard from the window. Alternatively, install top-down, bottom-up shades, which will allow light to come in but provide a backdrop for the protruding headboard edges. If your style is modern, go with a flat platform bed with a low headboard to fit beneath the window trim. You can also install an entire wall of curtains as a fabric backdrop.

06 of 20

Mistake: Forgoing Smaller Furniture

open living room red velvet couch
Jay Wilde

Furniture doesn't have to be oversize to serve a purpose. Large pieces can quickly overtake a space, so don't ignore smaller settees, slimmer console tables, and petite end tables as contenders for your rooms. A bulky sofa can often go only one place in a room, but a smaller version can be flexible enough to fit multiple locations, so you have flexibility when planning your furniture arrangement.

07 of 20

Mistake: The Bowling-Alley Effect

open dining room round table with four fabric covered chairs
Annie Schlechter

Long, narrow rooms present a challenge for furniture arranging. To play up this awkward space, divide the room into zones. Arrange the conversation area in one zone, and place a desk along the back of the couch not touching the wall to create a work zone. A small table and chairs in the area behind the sofa can be used for doing homework or playing games. You can also place two small chairs and a side table along the back of the sofa for a smaller secondary seating area.

08 of 20

Mistake: Poor Rug Placement

white sitting room with blue, green, and yellow accents
Kim Cornelison

Many people make mistakes when choosing the right rug for their living room or bedroom. Ideally, all legs of your furniture should be on the area rug. If that isn't possible, aim to have the front legs of the furniture placed on the rug or consider layering rugs for a modern look.

09 of 20

Mistake: Foregetting Zoning

family room
Edmund Barr

In large, open rooms, bring order by establishing zones for different activities. For example, designate a seating arrangement for conversations or TV-watching and a work area with a desk or table for homework, paperwork, and art projects. Set up your space according to your needs, rather than the builder's labels. Once you learn how to arrange furniture in ways beyond what's expected, you can open up new opportunities for using the space.

10 of 20

Mistake: Not Considering Space Constraints

Let's face it: Your small living room likely won't grow an extra 50 square feet overnight. The sooner you figure out how to work with what you have, the sooner you'll arrive at a small living room furniture arrangement that works. Take a few tricks from these living rooms to get some ideas for your space.

11 of 20

Mistake: Sticking to Conventions

banquette in kitchen
Michael Garland

Adhering to conventional design ideas is usually a good idea. Still, occasionally a shake-up of furniture arrangement is in order. For example, an oblong dining table previously sat squarely in the middle of this room, leaving space for little else. Flipping it sideways and scooting it to the end of the room created an area for storage and streamlined traffic flow. Now nestled up against the cushioned bench, this family can enjoy mornings from their new kitchen banquette.

12 of 20

Mistake: Not Emphasizing Convenience

living room with green hues and mixed patterns
David A. Land

Think about what activities will happen in the room, then determine how to arrange living room furniture to encourage the experiences you want. Having coffee tables and side tables within reach of all seats for drinks, books, and other items is convenient and practical. Sofas and chairs facing each other emphasize conversations, leaving the television in the background.

13 of 20

Mistake: Off-Balance Rooms

teal bucket chairs in large white airy living room
Anthony Masterson

Placing the living room furniture to one side of the room is like a seesaw with only one person. But achieving balance doesn't mean you have to go completely symmetrical. For example, a love seat on one end of an arrangement can be balanced by two chairs on the other end.

14 of 20

Mistake: Wrong Starting Point

A general rule for arranging your bedroom: Start with the bed placement. It's the focal point in the space. Watch and see more ways to get your bedroom furniture arrangement right.

15 of 20

Mistake: Ignoring Traffic Flow

modern neutral open-concept space with sofa
Robert Brinson

In addition to thinking about how furniture pieces relate to one another and the room, you need to think about traffic flow. Consider how people enter, exit, and navigate the space. For living room furniture arrangements, make sure people can easily get in and out of the seating area without an awkward tango around a side table. If your room has several entries and exits, plan a clear path between these points, such as between an archway that leads from the kitchen to the living room and patio doors. Think about arranging living room furniture to make the most of your space while allowing natural walkways.

16 of 20

Mistake: Forgetting to Consider the Details

bright new york coastal home white bedroom pink bed dressers
Laura Moss

Think through how the space needs to operate each day when arranging furniture. Yes, you might be able to walk between the dresser and the bed, but what happens when you open the drawer to get your clothes out in the morning? Try to plan a small bedroom furniture arrangement so you can comfortably open drawers and doors without having to step aside.

17 of 20

Mistake: Thinking Single-Function

traditional sitting area with green accents
David Tsay

When arranging and selecting furniture, consider all the activities your living room will see and plan accordingly. If you're short on space, look to versatile furnishings that can be used in various ways. A pair of stools, for example, can be used as extra seating when you're hosting a large group of people or end tables during a cocktail party.

18 of 20

Mistake: Off-Center Light Fixtures

houston home dining room after table chairs light fixure
Julie Soefer

To create a balanced look, arrange your dining room furniture to center it around the room's light fixture or chandelier. If your current light doesn't sit right, hire a professional to relocate your dining room light fixture. For a quicker DIY fix, you can also hang a light fixture that has a chain.

19 of 20

Mistake: Exposed Furniture Backs

white bungalow living room with black window trim
Brie Williams

Nothing makes a room fall flat like a bad first impression. So if the first thing you see when you walk into a room is the ugly or plain back on a piece of furniture, rethink your furniture arrangement. Tuck a chair with a pretty front but unappealing back into a corner. Or give reupholstering a go and cover the chair back in an eye-catching fabric.

20 of 20

Mistake: Uninspired View

living room with tall fireplace and folding glass doors
Jean Allsopp

Your main seating piece should have a focal point: a window, a fireplace, or an archway/opening into another room. Of course, arranging furniture around either a fireplace or a TV are the most popular choices. However, suppose the only logical place for your sofa faces a blank wall. The remedy is simple—add a bookcase and curate an attractive display of books and accessories. Or, if you prefer, you can stage a gallery wall. For extra interest, place a console table below your art arrangement.

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