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West Elm Living room with light blue walls and white trims

How to get the Best Living Room Furniture Layout at Your Place

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.

luxe coastal living room with polished concrete floor and globewest sofa by property styling melbourne

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.

black wall mounted entertainment unit in coastal living room with tan leather armchairs

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.

contemporary luxe living room with blue velvet armchairs and black marble coffee table

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.

hamptons style open plan living and dining room with black round coffee table and striped armchair

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.

dark bohemian living room with tan leather cushions and grey walls

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.

living room gallery wall with dark bllue and grey art from sheridan

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.

tan leather sofa in living room with round marble coffee table

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.

dark grey living room wall with floor tiles in living room from metricon

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.

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He's also spent time on TV, on Channel 10's Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7's Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you'd like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

COMMENTS
  • Sue

    REPLY

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

    12 September, 2017
    • daniel

      REPLY

      likewise! combined with weird window layouts its driving me nuts

      15 July, 2019
  • Lidiya

    REPLY

    How to set up lounge room with bay windows.

    15 September, 2017
  • Tegan

    REPLY

    Hi,

    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!

    18 December, 2018
    • Gavin Thomas

      REPLY

      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.

      17 January, 2019
  • Roshani Seneviratne

    REPLY

    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

    19 March, 2019
  • Toni O’Dea

    REPLY

    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
    HELP!

    1 April, 2019
  • Laurenne Eising

    REPLY

    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!

    6 May, 2019
  • Mollie

    REPLY

    I have a rectangle lounge with a large 2 seater and large 3 seater both are reclyners so need to make room for reclining. I need to place a rug but are unsure of what size, when you walk into the lounge it is also part of our walkway into the family room. I was thinking a rectangle rug but not putting it under the lounge as it would go onto the passage of people walking through. I have a 65inch tv on the wall with a small entertainment unit under it. Im still to buy something for inbetween the two lounges but because of the big space there sort of rectangle unsure what to put there as well. All your suggestions would be much appreciated. ☺

    20 October, 2019
      • Mollie

        REPLY

        Thanks Chris.

        2 December, 2019
  • Mollie

    REPLY

    Hello, Im just redoing my lounge and I have two electric replying lounges that have a large space in the middle of them that has a coffee table but there is still plenty of room at the back. Do you think a lamp or plant would be good to fill the space. Thanks

    2 December, 2019
  • Prem

    REPLY

    Hi, I have a lounge which isn’t rectangle. It has one wall at an angle. Need some suggestions on How to lay out my furniture.

    21 March, 2020
  • Cheryl

    REPLY

    I am looking for a modular lounge for my apartment but am struggling to find the right style. I don’t like the chaise returns. I am looking for some5hing like the one you illustrate at point number 5 without the chaise
    Can you recommend any good sellers?

    31 March, 2020
  • Barbara

    REPLY

    Hi there,
    I live in an apartment and have Bremworth silver grey carpet and a King Furniture silver grey lounge. I was wondering about using a rug to ground the space – is it an OK look to put rugs on carpet? The walls are white, curtains sheer white Linen.

    31 March, 2020
  • Claire Graham

    REPLY

    My lounge room is an odd shape (long and fairly skinny), that needs to be walked through to get from the front door to kitchen etc. What shaped couch should I be trying to put in there? I am trying to avoid walking in the front door basically straight into the back of a couch. But it still needs to be practical for two adults and two boisterous boy children. Help!

    22 April, 2020
  • Jennifer Shay Peffer

    REPLY

    I have a long somewhat narrow living room 170 inches by 115 inches with double doors in the shorter wall to my master on one end and a fireplace on the other end of long wall. I would like to have a sectional and have found one with a 67 inch chaise on one end and a cuddler on the other. It is 136 inches long. Would this be too big? My husband is worried about visually impeding the double doors with the cuddler.

    9 August, 2020
  • Brian C Chung

    REPLY

    I have a rectangular Edwardian/Victorian (?) living room (12’x17′) in San Francisco. I believe the room used to be a formal dining room because there are built-in shelves and drawers on either side of a fireplace. On the other end of the reoom three large bay windows face a view. One wall is completely wainscoting for all 17′. The other wall has two entrance doors, which are not evenly spaced along the 17′. In fact, the two doors are closest to the fireplace, with one right one opening on one of the built-in shelves and the other almost in the middle of the room. I put in a sliding door for the door in the middle of the room and closed the entry closest to the fireplace bc it just makes no sense. My issue is what to do with furniture. I like to watch TV and I like to enjoy the fireplace, but the room may be a tad too large for TV over the fireplace. Right now the TV is on the wall between the bay window and the entry door in the middle of the room. I simply don’t know what to do. I want to see my view, enjoy the fire and watch TV in comfy chairs and chaises and sofas! Any advise?!

    4 October, 2020
    • Gavin

      REPLY

      Hi Brian, thanks for the comment. It’s too difficult to give detailed advice like this, I’d recommend you hire a local designer to help you out.

      13 October, 2020
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