There are a number of things I see people doing wrong in attempting to achieve the best living room furniture layout. So let me talk you through some of the major mistakes you might be making at home.
And don’t worry, this article is full of solutions too, as well as stacks of visuals that depict living rooms that have successful layouts. By the end of this little flick through, you’re going to be a layout pro. You can go out and pay it forward to all your friends and family. Just don’t rearrange their furniture without permission 😉
Living room layout is one of the areas I help clients with in my work as an interior designer. So don’t sweat it, you’re in qualified hands here. It also a question that members of my private Facebook group often post photos and ask about too. So if you have a specific living room layout dilemma you need assistance solving, why not come join us in the group? We solve design dilemmas on the daily.
Image Credit above: Gorgeous living room with a perfect layout via West Elm.
1. Pull the Sofa off the Wall
The biggest issue I see people make when they’re trying to get the best living room furniture layout involves the sofa. So often it’s wedged right against the wall. Even in the largest of spaces, with tonnes of room, I still see sofas pushed into a corner, with buckets of dead space in front of them.
It always reminds me of a school disco with kids on the walls and a giant dance floor in between them. Do not let your living room give you a high school flashback. Try pulling the sofa off the wall and give it room to breath.
Also don’t be afraid to have the sofa cut across the room. It can often create a sense of cosiness in the space. Just make sure the sofa back is low if you’re going to do this.
In a small space where you’re not spoilt for room, I’d still recommend moving your sofa off the wall about 20cm. In fact, I have a whole post on decorating a small living room here if you need help on that front.
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.
The image above from Property Styling Melbourne is a great illustration of my point. Sofa is moved in from the wall, and a plant used in the corner. Sensational.
2. Conceal the TV: Don’t Let it Dominate
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 take a look at the living room above (from my Williamstown project) I flipped the entire orientation. When you hit the top of the stairs, you don’t see the TV.
In fact, I went a step further and concealed the TV altogether by installing a TV unit with a black back. You barely notice it in the room because it just fades into the background. This is best living room furniture layout at its best (if I do say so myself).
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.
3. Create a 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.
Another thing you can do is actually place low armchairs, stools or a bench seat in front of a wall-mounted TV, facing the main sofa. The room above from my Camberwell project is a good example of this. This can once again stop the TV from dominating the room and makes the soft pieces of furniture the stars.
If you want to see some of the best armchairs for your living room, check this post out.
4. Ground the Space with a Big Rug
Achieve the best living room furniture layout is definitely about function. You need the room to operate for you and the way you live. But the look is also important, and how pieces connect and relate to one another is key. A rug is one of those pieces that might not necessarily be functional, but it does make the room feel grounded. And it connects your sofa to your armchairs, and stops the coffee table ‘floating’ in the middle.
The biggest issues I see clients making when it comes to the rug in their living room is that it’s never big enough. Please, I beg of you, when it comes to your rug: go big or go home.
Small rugs in living rooms actually make them feel smaller. You need to tell the eye where the outer limits of the room are – and that’s what the rug does. It tells the eye where the living room zone starts and ends. So definitely make sure you go larger than smaller here. The room above at Bendooley Estate gets it right.
Need specific rug help? Check out my post on getting the perfect rug size, shape and style.
5. Ensure the Coffee Table Can be Accessed
I often see living rooms with rather large sofas in them, and a tiny coffee table that’s 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!).
Sometimes you’re faced with having a rather large sofa, and a large rug, but needing a jumbo coffee table. And jumbo coffee tables can be hard to find. The solution here is to consider a nest of coffee tables. There’s loads of round nest coffee tables on the market that’ll take up a large chunk of real estate on your rug. That way, you can reach them and they also feel right from a scale perspective.
If the coffee table is there merely for decorative purposes (which I’m totally OK with), you need to follow rule number six, which is a little scroll away.
But before you go down, let’s appreciate this stunning boho living room via Metricon.
6. Place Side Tables Beside Sofas or Armchairs
Side tables are a godsend. I have a bit of an obsession with them. They tick all the boxes: low-cost (for the most part), super versatile and functionally amazing.
It’s essential you have side tables when trying to get the best living room furniture layout. The reality is, not everyone is going to be able to reach the coffee table. That’s just how it works. So give them somewhere to rest their mug or glass and pop a side table at each end of your sofa (space permitting).
This not only works from a usability angle, but they can make your room feel balance and resolved. It gives your coffee table another piece of furniture to connect to stylistically. And it can often have a sofa make more sense in a space.
The image above via Sheridan is a glorious use of side tables – and so perfectly styled.
7. Give up your Obsession with 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. The scene above from Globewest is a stunner, don’t you think? I love the relaxed vibe it evokes.
8. Mount your TV and Unit if Possible
Truthfully, I’ve never walked into a space and thought the TV was better left on an entertainment 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, as will the unit beneath it. It also means your entertainment unit can be more streamlined and less imposing in the space.
And the other thing, as already mentioned; mounting the TV means it doesn’t have to be the focal point in the room. And you can decorate around it with more experimentation.
Metricon at it again above with divine custom cabinetry.
What’s your main issue in trying to achieve the best living room furniture layout? I’d love to know what’s bugging you. Drop a comment below and I’ll give you some hints and tips on how to correct it.