Get tips for arranging living room furniture in a way that creates a comfortable and welcoming environment and makes the most of your space.

By Sarah Egge
Updated August 31, 2018

From family game nights to book club gatherings, the living room is a social hub. The proper placement of the room's furniture goes a long way toward making the space feel welcoming. Nothing is worse than living room layouts—no matter how attractive—where people have to perch against the walls, as if stuck there by magnetic force. Rather, push seating together so everyone can sit close and converse comfortably.

How to arrange living room furniture in a rectangular room depends on the natural focal point of the space. In some rooms, this is architectural, such as a fireplace or a set of windows. In other living rooms, the focal point is a television. Once you determine this feature, orient the seating toward it. This feature now has the attracting qualities the wall is used to—let the furniture gravitate there. For a large living room layout, find ways to create zones in the space.

Flexible Living Room Layout

How to arrange living room furniture is up to you and your particular pieces. Most of us have a sofa and another chair or two, which we can position and reposition as often as we like. When trying out new living room arrangements, make sure to allow enough space between furniture corners so people can swish past in search of a comfy spot. And give everyone a reachable drink rest, even if it's just a stack of books on the ottoman.

Focal Point Furniture Arrangement

The most basic and functional living room furniture layout is to place the sofa across from the focal point with all other pieces angled to face the same direction. This allows everyone a good look at the television or crackling fire. When entertaining, round the grouping into a conversational circle by adding ottomans or pillow poufs that face back at the sofa. These additional seating options make it easier to figure out how to arrange a living round with the TV as the focal point.

Learn how to arrange living room furniture around a TV.

Furniture Ideas for Small Living Rooms and Multiple Doorways

For spaces with multiple doorways, draw an imaginary line that angles through the room from opening to opening, creating a straight trail between furniture pieces. This dynamic arrangement of furniture keeps the focal point in mind but also directs people through the space, which is also key for figuring out how to arrange furniture in a small living room. Blocking the corners of the room like this can be helpful when you have children's toys or hobby supplies you'd like to hide.

Learn how to arrange furniture in a small living room.

Sectional Sofa Furniture Arrangements

When a sectional sofa is your primary seating, you might be tempted to push it into the corner of the room and call it a day. But this can feel claustrophobic, especially to those people seated on the deepest cushions. Pull it away from the wall to let light and air flow around it. Place a brightening lamp or slender console table at the back, and put any other seating in position to see people seated at both ends of the L. When used in a narrow living room layout, it can be an easy barrier to add a section function to the space: a toy room, a craft table, or a pool table.

Symmetrical Living Room Arrangements

A traditional and popular living room furniture layout idea is the face-to-face stance. Two sofas (or a sofa and a pair of chairs) sit directly across from one another, with the focal point at one end. Positioning the seating this way facilitates conversation because no one has a direct view of the focal point. It's useful when activities such as reading, working on a laptop, or listening to music are just as important as watching television.

Get more living room furniture layouts and arragements with our Arrange-a-Room tool.


Comments (15)

liz.minthorne
February 4, 2019
I wish you would consider having a series for seniors on tight budgets who have moved into active adult communities with limited space. I have open space that is divided into a slim kitchen, dining area and then family/living room woth three windows and a door across the back of the "paired home". Thanks
JaneHowell2
December 10, 2018
No one addressed the living room with an upright piano or a grand piano or a harp! . Each need light, and space for making it work! Some of us have to use the space we have. Ours is a step down living area with fireplace, tv and media equipment on one wall. An antique screen on one corner with the curved couch in front of it, a piano in a corner and chairs, sofa and end tables on the angle of the rug angled in the center. Not ideal, but it works. The need for “music studios” in living spaces has always been a problem for my room arrangements. They need to be accessible yet the room needs to function as a living area too!
melissaps1
December 9, 2018
I find that lighting is often the most overlooked aspect of furniture arrangement. In a separate article, it is recommended that each chair should have a table and if possible a lamp. In the first of these layouts, there is one lamp near a chair and one close to a chair. There is none near the sofa. At night, where does the light come from? Overhead lighting is not good for reading, does not create an intimate atmosphere and can be too glaring. My family has rented cabins for vacation for several years and my biggest complaint is that the lighting is usually awful. An article about lighting would be appreciated and layouts that include thoughtful lighting would be great. Thanks!
bobandjean08735
December 22, 2018
Melissaps1, you are so right!
HeidiErlandson
December 9, 2018
Yes, lighting tips would be very useful.
tonyrobles47
November 2, 2018
The way things are placed definitely can change the aesthetic of the room. Side note: love the furniture in the example.
abertram2
July 21, 2018
What about the living room that has two focal points, a t.v. and a fireplace when it is not large enough for two separate seating areas?
jjoyal12
February 4, 2019
I have the same issue - the fireplace is on the wall opposite the tv which is kiddie cornered at the moment
stephen.lapointe
July 21, 2018
Me too
autumngazr
July 21, 2018
I also have a difficult 15’ x 15’ living room layout. There are two focal points, fireplace on east wall, flanked by floor to ceiling windows, and the TV on the southwest corner of the room. There is a bank of windows on the north, a double door opening on the south and a flooring change from carpet to wood on the west side (transition area from living room to kitchen). I’ve never seen rooms this challenging addressed as far as room lay outs.
heart2home9048017
July 21, 2018
This is a good article but my living room has a corner fireplace so it is very difficult to arrange more than one way. I would have liked some input on that.
blcc3519
July 21, 2018
Me too!
sjohnson79897
July 21, 2018
This article is great for traditional rooms but what about the living rooms with odd shapes - large open doorways on two sides? Half walls in one side to kitchen? Smaller rooms? These are not addressed. Also, the link to Arrange-a-Room tool does not work
lbergevin
July 23, 2018
You need to upgrade your Flash Player
louiepatti
July 21, 2018
The link works for me. I use Chrome for my browser, if that's any help. Good point about the odd layouts not being addressed in the article.