How to layout your living room

Each week we share a decorating plan we’ve developed for a customer as part of our Decorating Dilemmas column, and in nearly every single dilemma we’re asked how to layout the room. Laying out a room is difficult, especially when you factor in television placement, space restrictions, open floor plans, and natural pathways. Every room is different and there are lots of ways to solve your difficult-to-layout space, but we’ve put together some foolproof layout options to make the task easier.

Bunny Williams' biggest suggestion for laying out your room, don't line your walls with seating. Float them in the center of the room

Before we start, let’s get into a few basics that will help you create a functional room layout.

  • DON’T BE A WALLFLOWER — one of Bunny Williams’ biggest pet peeves is furniture that lines the wall. We’re empowering you to float your sofas and chairs out from the wall. No wallflowers allowed.
  • DIVIDE & CONQUER — Just because you have a large living room doesn’t mean you have to have overscaled furniture. Instead, divide your large room into smaller areas to create two intimate seating areas rather than one large one. Any gathering of more than ten people will naturally break up into smaller conversations, so keep your seating arrangements tight.
  • TUCK IN SMALL SEATS — Once you’ve got your large seating covered (like a sofa), bring in smaller occasional chairs or upholstered cubes. They’re a great perch when guests come over, but they can easily be tucked away any other time.

Colorful accents in a neutral room inspired by artwork

1. A Pair of Sofas

We love this combination because it’s simple, clean, and can seat lots of people. A pair of sofas facing each other is great for large open floor plans because it naturally divides the space, and it works great for narrow rooms too.

Blue and white living room

2. A Sofa + 2 Chairs

Start with a great sofa, then place a pair of chairs across from it. This is probably the most common choice and can work in nearly all living room. Simply choose a pair of chairs with the right dimensions to fit your space. If you’ve got plenty of room, choose a deep armchair. For tighter living areas, chairs that are more upright rather than deep work well.

Living room with velvet sofa, pink walls, and leopard print accessories

3. A Sofa + 2 Angled Chairs

In rooms where you’ve got lots of doorways, you may not be able to place two chairs directly across from your sofa, but that’s ok. Instead, angle your pair of chairs in a way that makes crossing the room easier.

Use two sofas perpendicular to each other, then two mismatched chairs in the fourth corner

4. 2 Sofas + 2 Mis-matched Chairs

If you’ve got a big space but still need to leave plenty of pathways, consider two sofas placed perpendicular to each other and two chairs of different sizes in the fourth corner. This arrangement leaves plenty of room for navigating in and out, seats 6-8, and has a mix of furniture that works for lounging or socializing.

Most living rooms should be able to seat 6 people, at least. Use a sofa and four chairs

5. A Sofa + 4 Chairs

If you’ve got a larger space, consider bringing in two pairs of chairs to create a u-shape. Maybe one pair is large and more like a reading chair so you’d be comfortable lounging, while the other pair is meant for sitting up and socializing. Or maybe you have four of the same chair like we’ve done above.

Matching a coffee table to your sectional sofa

6. Super Sized Sectional

If you’ve got a big den and you won’t be doing much entertaining, a giant sectional is your best bet. You’ll want to maximize deep seating, and in many cases, a sectional is the best way to do that.

 How to layout your living room

7. Sofa + 2 Swivel Chairs

In several of our decorating dilemmas, a reader is faced with the challenge of bringing in more seating but not being able to have every chair face the TV. Our solution is a swivel chair. In the room above, the television is in the armoire, and our Larkin Swivel Gliders can be turned around to face the TV when needed. Or they can face the sofa in you’re having a conversation. 

You don't need to match a pair of chairs in your living room

8. Sofa + 2 Mis-matched Chairs

Symmetry is great, but in some cases, mis-matched chairs can solve your problem. In a room with lots of doorways, you may only have space for a sofa and one large chair. In this situation, you can usually tuck a smaller, occasional chair into the space.

Living room with buffalo check drapery panels from Ballard Designs

9. Sofa + 2 Chairs + Bench

Open floor plans are great because they make your home feel connected, but laying out your furniture in a big open space can be tricky. Adding a bench to your layout is a great way to differentiate one room from the next without blocking the line of sight.

Suzanne Kasler used a garden seat as a side table in this living room

10. Sofa + 2 Chairs + an Occasional Chair

Occasional Chairs are so underrated, but no matter how tight your room, you can almost always squeeze one more up to your seating arrangement. One advantage to this layout is that you can have two different seating options. For a family room, you often want something deep to sink into for TV watching a lounging. But when guests come over, it’s great to have chairs that are more upright for chatting and socializing. With this arrangement, you’ve covered all your bases!

Matching a coffee table to your sectional sofa

11. Sectional + 2 Mis-Matched Chairs

For most sofas, only two people will feel comfortable sitting on them, but a sectional can comfortably fit at least three. Because of this, if you have the right floorplan, a sectional may make the most sense. Place a pair of chairs directly across from your sectional, and you’re good to go!

Squeeze in two more seats for when guests come over with two upholstered cubes

12. A Sofa + 2 Chairs + 2 Ottomans

Bunny Williams suggests trying to fit seating for at least 6 into every living or family room, but in a small space, you may not be able to swing that. A pair of cubes is a great solution. Tuck them away when you don’t need them, and pull them up to your coffee table when guests come over.

A grid of framed prints over the sofa creates order and symmetry

13. A Sofa + A Settee + 2 Chairs

A loveseat is a great addition to your furniture collection because they’re so versatile. They can be placed at the end of the bed, paired with a sofa, used in a hallway, or serve as your main seating in a tiny apartment. In this living room, we used a loveseat, a sofa, and two chairs to bring the most seating into the space.

Blush pink linen sofa with bright orange velvet

14. Sectional + 1 Chair + 2 Occasional Chairs

Most rooms are rectangular, so a rectangular room arrangement usually feels the most natural. If you already have a sectional, consider bringing a single armchair into the fourth missing corner. This will complete that natural rectangular shape while allowing you to easily move through your living room.

For small living rooms, use a settee and two chairs for seating

15. A Settee + 2 Chairs

In very small living rooms, skip the sofa altogether and instead opt for a settee or loveseat. It’ll allow for move space to move around and still give you enough seating for four people.

There are endless options for arranging your space, hopefully some of these combinations give you ideas for laying out your room. 

For more design inspiration, visit our Pinterest Boards, or find more gorgeous rooms in our Photo Gallery

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