How to Arrange the Perfect Living Room

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on September 3, 2019

Decorating the living room can be one of the trickiest (and most important) rooms in the house to get right. The living room, for most of us, is where our day starts and ends with several visits in between; a morning spot to sip on hot coffee, a place to gather and entertain, and a cozy retreat at the end of the day. Whatever your space is used for, here are a few tips for creating optimal functionality and flow with your living room setup. But first, logistics.

That’s right, it’s time to break out the measuring tape. No redesign begins without knowing the dimensions of the space you’re working with. Sketch your space on a piece of paper and label it with the measurements of the room’s perimeter and any prominent architectural features. 

Pro Tip: Use a 1:1 scale when measuring your space. For instance, if your room is 10’ x 12’, draw a box that is 10” x 12”. This will help to keep things accurate and to-scale when mapping out where things go. Go a step further and create paper cutouts for your key furniture pieces which you may use to experiment with different layouts.

Are things not measuring up? Check out a few additional tips for measuring your space.

Once all your measurements are on point, it’s time to determine the focal point of the room. Why is this important? Well, assigning a focal point to a room will allow you to strategically arrange your furniture in a way that leads the eye to the focal point while cultivating a space around it. When designing the space around your focal point, be sure that there aren’t any obstacles that prevent one from being able to engage–visually and physically–with the focal point. It should draw you into the room and always be the center of attention… besides you, of course. A room’s architectural features or entertainment centers can make an excellent focal point, but if all else fails, at least you’ve got four walls. In the absence of a natural focal point, create an accent wall with curated wall art or even a popping paint color for what we like to call “accent wall nirvana”. For inspiration, think about drawing attention to any room features listed below:

  • Fireplace
  • Television
  • Mirror
  • Accent wall
  • Window

It might take a couple of attempts for your living room layout to start making sense. Play around with creating different spaces and paths of movement throughout the room. There’s a lot to keep in mind, so here are a few tips to remember:

  • Always start with your chairs and couches, then move onto tables and cabinets, lighting, and finally, dècor.
  • Make sure your entryways are clear. Nothing is more annoying than having to walk around a sectional (or jump over it) to join the party. Try to create pathways into the space from various angles to make it seem more inviting. When space is of the essence, check out our small living room design ideas.
  • Leave room to walk around. Some will say three feet; others will say two. Either way, make sure that (when possible) you have a walking path around the perimeter of the room. If you were getting ready to push that sofa up against the wall, think again. Pulling your furniture toward the center of the room can help make your space feel cozier and more intimate instead of allowing for dead space in the middle.
  • Hit the lights. Lighting is one of the easiest ways to integrate flare and personality into a room, setting the tone for the space. This Mid Century Tripod Floor Lamp is perfect for a light, airy space, complimenting geometric, minimal design. For whichever lighting solutions you choose, make sure that they’re practical to use and complimentary of the room’s natural lighting, and don’t be afraid to get creative!
  • Last, but not least: rugs. Rugs can be tricky, but they don’t have to be. Always try to leave at least two feet of space between rugs and walls, regardless of the size of the room. And don’t worry, each leg of your couches and chairs doesn’t need to sit on the rug–just be sure that the front two legs of any couches or chairs in your seating arrangement do. Looking for the perfect rug? Check out of top picks here.

Still need help finding the perfect pieces for your small space? Discover your interior design style and get matched with the perfect designer.  

Words by Morgan Ernest Hitz