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West Elm Living room with light blue walls and white trims

The Most Common Living Room Layout Mistakes (and Solutions!)

Despite what people say about the kitchen being the hub of the home, I think the living room is where I spend most of my time.

It’s also one of the areas I’m asked most by clients to help them get right. In TLC’s closed Facebook group (which you can join here), a lot of living room layout issues have arisen too.

I thought it best I reveal some of my most-seen living room layout mistakes today, and of course, show you how you can fix these blunders. It’s all in the name of making your home amazing, so let’s dive right into sorting the living room out!

Image Credit above: Gorg living room shot via West Elm.

The Most Common Living Room Layout Mistakes (and Solutions!)

interior designers melbourne tlc interiors beige living room with leather sofa

Give your sofa room to breathe

The Sofa is Wedged to the Wall

The issue I come across most is the sofa pushed right up against a wall. Even in the largest of spaces, with tonnes of room, I still see sofas wedged into a corner, with buckets of dead space in front of them.

The remedy for this is simple; move the sofa off the wall.

In a small space where you’re not spoilt for room, I’d still recommend moving your sofa off the wall about 20cm. It can help the sofa to ‘breathe’ a little and give the illusion of more air flow.

In a larger room, you’ll often find that moving the sofa into the middle of the space and grounding it with a rug makes the entire zone feel fuller and more resolved.

brown living room with navy bllue sofa from h and m

A gorgeous scene to walk into here from H&M.

The TV is the Focal Point

I get it; the living room’s main purpose is to watch TV. But ideally you don’t want it to be the first thing you see when you walk into the room.

If the entire room layout can be flipped (so you see the sofa when you walk in instead) this is your ideal solution.

If you can’t flip the room, you need to bring in a focal point near the TV, so your eye doesn’t go right to the big black box. Try an artwork, cluster of frames, or painting the wall behind the TV black.

If you need some ideas to camouflage your TV set, this post will help.

black and white living room with black marble coffee table and geometric pattern armchair

There’s no Conversation Pit

Often, living rooms are set up with sofas and armchairs on one wall, and an entertainment unit on the other. This can often make the space feel long and narrow, with two giant pieces of furniture mirroring one another in the space.

The space can end up feeling like a hallway, with two open ends. The solution is to introduce some seating on the ends of your living room, so more of a conversation pit is formed.

Every living room benefits from a conversation pit, even if you don’t use it a lot. The chairs don’t have to sit directly across from the sofa, but they can sit on a diagonal or on the adjacent.

If you want to see some of the best armchairs for your living room, check this post out.

You need a Grounding Rug

Laying out the pieces in your living room is all about creating a space that makes sense visually and functionally. A rug often ticks the former box; it’s not necessarily functional but it does make the room feel grounded.

Without a rug in the room, pieces often feel like they’re disconnected (almost ‘floating’ in the space). It’s often the first thing I recommend to people when they say their room doesn’t feel complete or cosy.

Throwing down a rug will ground all of the pieces in a room. It can also give you a border with which to pull armchairs and sofas toward.

You can find tips for buying your perfect rug here.

soft grey sofas in living room with round glass coffee table

The Coffee Table is too Far Away

I often see living rooms with rather large sofas in them, and a tiny coffee table metres away from it that can’t be reached.

In this scenario, you either need to purchase a larger coffee table, or you need to pull the coffee table closer to the sofa (or both!).

If the coffee table is there merely for decorative purposes (which I’m totally OK with), at least have some side tables at the end of the sofa that you can put a drink on.

The TV is Across from a Large Window

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to watch a movie during the day on the weekend and having to sit in the dark because the reflection on the TV screen is in full force.

If you can, move the TV to a wall where reflection isn’t going to be such an issue. Many living rooms are designed in a way where the reflection can’t be avoided. But sometimes we’re just too lazy to rearrange the space.

If your power points and antenna holes are on one wall, it doesn’t cost much to get someone to come to your home and move them to a new wall. You’ll benefit in the long-run.

soft grey sofa with chaise and gold artwork in living room

OZ Design have the right idea here with the lack of symmetry

You’re Obsessing over Symmetry

A lot of us (myself included) get too caught up in symmetry. The TV unit is smack bang in the middle of a long wall. The sofa is centered perfectly across from it. Art is meticulously hung either side of the TV.

This approach can often make a room feel too formal. And in many cases, the room can feel smaller because there’s a lot of wasted space not being utilised properly.

The solution is easy; embrace the space being a little unbalanced. Moving a TV unit to the left a little can give you room for a shelf to display things on. Or moving a sofa to one side of the room can allow more space for an armchair, side table or floor lamp to be brought in.

Wall mounted tv set above gloss while entertainment unit with gold handles

The TV is not Wall Mounted

Truthfully, I’ve never walked into a space and thought the TV was better left of a unit rather than being wall-mounted. It always looks better on a wall.

The trick to getting TV’s on walls right, is to ensure the set is not mounted too high up the wall. You want it to be at eye level or slightly higher when you’re sitting down.

But 100% of the time the set will look nicer mounted. It also means your entertainment unit can be more streamlined and less imposing in the space.

stockholm sofa from adairs in charcoal grey with pink armchair

Image via Adairs

What’s your main Living Room Layout Issue?

I’d love to know what’s bugging you in your living room. Drop a comment below and I’ll give you some hints and tips on how to correct it.

Outside of writing the TLC Interiors blog, Chris is an interior stylist and author. You can also catch him on your TV screens as a designer on Channel 10's Changing Rooms. If you'd like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

Comments (10)

  • Sue

    My problem is a L shaped lounge dining room can never seem to get the layout correct.

    • daniel

      likewise! combined with weird window layouts its driving me nuts

  • Lidiya

    How to set up lounge room with bay windows.

  • Tegan


    I have “townhouse”of sorts and the front door opens straight into the stairs and the lounge room, from here you can also see part of the kitchen and the dining area. So my lounge room does feel like the couch is shoved into the corner because there isn’t anywhere else for it to go (it’s an L shaped lounge). I want to define the space a bit more as we are getting floorboards laid in a couple of weeks. I am needing a rug but not sure whether it should go under the couch and the tv unit or just the couch? There isn’t much space between the two so I’m really not sure. Please help!

    • Gavin Thomas

      If you’re cramped, consider getting a regularly shaped sofa and maybe an armchair. As for the rug, don’t put it under the tv unit. If you’re still struggling, you might need an interior decorator to help.

  • Roshani Seneviratne

    How can i place 2 two seater lounges & a beatiful Retro Lamp Table ? i dont want to sit it in the L shape corner, as i will hide the look of the Lamp table & no use of the drawer. Please help with any ideas

  • Toni O’Dea

    Hi Chris!
    I’m a Lorraine Lea Stylist and have pretty much nailed each room in my house to my taste and so they all “work”…except my walk-through living room
    It is a thoroughfare from our bedrooms to the dining, tv room and kitchen. We have a wood heater in one corner.
    What I want is a conversation space that I can also use for reading while the fire is burning in the winter.
    I have one other constraint… I have two labradors who insist on sitting on my lounges when we are asleep (and no, I can’t put them outside…), but they won’t sit on a single chair so thinking that might be the way I have to go…
    I’m happy to send a pic

  • Laurenne Eising

    I have one room that you need to walk through after a small entrance area from front door. We will eventually have a fireplace on one of the walls & seating on the other wall. For now though, I don’t know how to style it so that it doesn’t feel like a giant hallway with seating on either side, but you do need to walk through the centre of it. Room is approximately 3 metres wide by 4 or so metres long. Any tips would be awesome!


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