Thanks to one-click online shopping and free shipping the entire furniture buying process now seems super easy and convenient. But what happens when you start to unbox pieces and realize you are completely clueless when it comes to where you should put them—or worse, whether they’ll even work with the other furniture pieces already in your room?
Arranging furniture is an art form. The good news is that there are several guidelines out there that you can follow to figure out the process. Let these six expert tips be your starting point in designing and setting up the perfect space.
Identify Your Space’s Focal Point
Furniture planning begins with building expectations for how you aspire to use a room and the feature you wish to highlight, whether architectural or otherwise. So essentially, identify what you’re working with and try not to counteract the architecture that is already in your space.
Things like entertaining, TV watching or a great view all command the design and layout of a room to thoroughly serve those needs.
Naturally, you want to arrange a room so that all those who enter can sit down and recognize the focal point, whatever it may be, and be close enough to a solid surface (an end table, coffee table, or whatever rocks your boat) for placing their drinks.
For example, if your room has a fireplace, you should arrange your furniture around it so that people can see the fire and feel its warmth. That usually means two sofas facing each other close to the fire, or a sectional facing the fire, making space for easy conversation between the seated. Extra chairs or benches in the area should focus on what the focal point offers.
If a room doesn’t have a naturally occurring focal point, create your own with a large piece of art, a media cabinet with your TV, or an accent furniture piece like our personal favorite, the Barcelona Chair.
You also need to consider how many people you plan to accommodate comfortably, which will influence the seating alternatives you need. With a really large room, you may also want multiple seating areas to anchor it.
Consider How New Furniture Will Couple with the Rest of the Room
Take a look around your room and make sure all the furniture items in there complement one another, even as each silhouette and finish is varied. You might be pleased with your new set of sofa, end tables, and a cocktail table, but you have to be careful. If they all are too leggy, it might end up looking awkward in your home.
The same is true if your room is full of one thing, whether it be just wood or upholstered items only. Of course, there are some exceptions to this amount of variety, but if your intention isn’t to be deliberately matching, then don’t go there.
If Possible, Plan Out Arrangement Before You Buy
Whether shopping for furniture in stores or online, designers never leave their tape measure behind, and they always reference measurements when viewing a space. Most also use CAD programs to effectively create a diagram for the rooms they’re designing, though most non-experts don’t have access to these resources.
If you don’t have access to an elaborate software, there are many apps that you can use for room planning instead. We enjoy using SketchUp, mainly because it’s intuitive. You can create anything, even a paper drawing, as long as it is to scale. Then you can start placing items you’re considering to purchase and items you already have to see if they’ll work together. Another trick is to take pictures in a space, they can even be selfies against the walls, to use for reference for the walls and scale, when you are out shopping.
Separate Furniture From The Walls In Social Spaces
As counterintuitive as it might sound, the more breathing room your furniture has from the walls, the snugger your home will feel. Yes, it’s important to have the space to float pieces, because even a few inches of separation can make a room feel more intimate.
However, keep traffic flow in mind when designing your layout. You can place your furniture at different angles and separate it from the wall but only if you still have enough space so people can move around freely.
Scale Is Everything
In terms of length, width, and ceiling height, furniture should ideally be the right proportion for a room. That said, you can always be inclined towards having a few over-scaled furnishings rather than stuffing a room with smaller pieces. Another trick to create a much more interesting visual is to have pieces of varying heights.
Feel Free To Break The Rules In Private Spaces
Generally, you’d be advised against placing furniture taller than the window sill in front of windows because this obstructs the view and cuts off a room in a bothersome way. But often in bedrooms, particularly those with lots of windows and no designated bed wall, it’s okay to get creative.
Sometimes the best answer can be to have the window act as a feature wall and place some furniture pieces against it. When dressed with a remarkable curtain and a tailored bed, the furniture placement becomes intentional.