Are You Arranging Your Furniture Wrong?

reading room library with black leather couch
If the furniture isn't arranged right, even the most beautiful of rooms can fall short. So how do you create a successful layout? For starters, avoid these furniture arranging mistakes. But if you're guilty (we've all been there!), fear not—it's easy to rectify with these tricks.

Mistake: Wallflower Furniture

Your room may feel bigger with all the furniture pushed up against the wall, but if you find yourself having to shout across the room to have a conversation, it may be time to rearrange. In this living room, the sofa "floats" in the middle of the room, but it's closer to the fireplace and the chairs, which creates a cozier conversation area. Intentional furniture placement like this can define how the room is used for years to come. 

Mistake: Foregoing Zoning

In large, open rooms, bring order by establishing zones for different activities: a seating arrangement for conversations and TV-watching, and a work area with a desk or table for homework, paperwork, and art projects, for example. Set up your space according to your needs, rather than the labels a builder may have assigned. Once you learn how to arrange furniture in ways that are outside of the box, the sky is the limit. 

Mistake: Beds that Partially Block a Window

A bed that peeks over a window frame looks odd from the street and can lead to uneven fading. However, what if it's the only place 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, or install top-down, bottom-up shades, which will allow light to come in but be a backdrop for the protruding headboard edges. If your style is modern, go with a platform bed with a headboard that's low enough to fit beneath the window trim. You can also install an entire wall of curtains as a fabric backdrop.


Make your small living room better with these furniture tips. We'll show you how to arrange the space right, plus what furniture pieces to use and what to skip.

Mistake: Not Considering Space Constraints

Let's face it: Our itty-bitty living rooms won't magically grow an extra 50 square feet. 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 on the accelerated track to furniture-arrangement bliss.


Mistake: Sticking to Conventions

Yes, conventions are good to stick by much of the time, but occasionally a furniture arrangement shake-up is in order. An oblong dining table sat square in the middle of this room, leaving space for little else. But flipping it sideways and scooting it to the end of the room left space for storage and streamlined traffic flow. Now nestled up against the cushioned bench, this family can enjoy mornings from their new kitchen banquette.


Mistake: Forgetting Creature Comforts

Think about what you'll be doing as you use the room and 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 puts convenience at the forefront. Sofas and chairs facing towards each other emphasizes conversations and leaves the television in the background. 


Mistake: Off-Balance Rooms

Shoving 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. A love seat on one end of an arrangement can be balanced by two chairs on the other end, for example.


Learn how to arrange a room and place bedroom furniture in a way that works for the space and for you.

Mistake: Wrong Starting Point

A general rule of thumb for your bedroom: Start with the bed placement. It's the most important furniture piece in the space. Watch and see more ways to get your bedroom arrangement right.


Mistake: Ignoring Traffic Flow

In addition to thinking about how furniture pieces relate to one another and the room, you'll want to think about the traffic flow: how people enter, exit, and navigate the room. For living rooms, make sure people can easily get in and out of the seating grouping without having to awkwardly tango around a side table, for example. 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 how to arrange living room furniture to make the most of your space while not getting in the way. 


Mistake: Eschewing Smaller Furniture

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 places, so you have flexibility when planning your furniture arrangement. 


Mistake: Forgetting to Get Situational

Yes, you may 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? Or if you need to open a buffet drawer when guests are gathered around your table? Try to plan a bedroom furniture arrangement so that you can comfortably open drawers and doors without having to step aside.


Mistake: Thinking Single-Function

When arranging and selecting furniture, consider all the activities your living room will see and plan accordingly. A pair of stools, for example, can be used as seating when you're hosting a large group of people, but they can also be moved around the conversation area to be used as end tables during a cocktail party. Arranging furniture around a fireplace in the winter will encourage lots of romantic movie nights. 


In this episode of Arrange My Space, designer Barbara Brock tackles a large living and dining room overstuffed with furniture and art. See her tips to simplify, arrange furniture, improve room flow, optimize views and choose the best art.

Mistake: Going for More

It really is true: less is more, especially in small spaces. This living room and dining room space was overrun with furniture. See how a few simple layout tweaks made the space flow much better, while retaining enough seating for all. The right furniture arrangement can make all the difference you need. 

Mistake: Off-Center Light Fixtures

Do your dining room a favor: arrange your dining room furniture so that it's centered around the room's light fixture or chandelier. If your current light doesn't sit right, hire a drywall professional to remedy this problem and relocate your dining room light fixture over the table. For a quicker fix, you can swag a fixture that has a chain.


Mistake: The Bowling-Alley Effect

Long, narrow rooms are the bane of furniture arranging. But there is a way to play up this awkward space to your advantage: Divide the room into zones. Arrange the conversation area in one zone, and place a desk along the back of the sofa to create a work zone, or place a small table and chairs in the area behind the sofa 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.



Mistake: Bad Backs

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 a bad back into a corner. Or give reupholstering a go and cover the back in an eye-catching patterned fabric.


Mistake: Uninspired View

Your main seating piece should have a focal point, whether it's a window, a fireplace, or an archway/opening into another room. Arranging furniture around a fireplace or TV are the most popular options. If the only logical place for your sofa faces a blank wall, the remedy is easy: Fill the wall with a bookcase and craft an attractive display of books and accessories, or stage a gallery wall. For extra interest, place a console table below your art arrangement.


Mistake: Poor Rug Relationships

A lot of 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. 

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