No-Fail Furniture Arrangements
There's a lot to consider when laying out the furniture in a space, and the arrangement can say a lot about how a room will function. Is it ideal for conversation or settling in to watch a favorite show? Is it formal or casual? No two spaces are ever exactly alike, but there are some furniture layouts that we use in different variations again and again because they just work. These combinations that can be translated in large or small spaces, be casual or more formal, and work for entertaining a crowd or relaxing alone. Read on for our favorite combos, plus some advice for common issues.
First: Establish a Focal Point
No matter the size or shape of your room, the first step to a successful furniture arrangement is to determine its location and orientation in a room. This is especially important in open-concept spaces -- you need something to ground your furnishings! A fireplace is an obvious choice, but if there isn't one available, or the room will need to share attention with a television that isn't over the mantle (it's not always the best spot!), determine that location in order to place your biggest item: the sofa! After it's in place, you can add chairs, tables, and other accents.
Here are our most-used combinations...
Sofa + Two Chairs
A classic combo that works in large or small spaces, you can't go wrong with a sofa and pair of chairs. This works great when there is a clear, symmetrical focal point in the the room (like the fireplace flanked by two windows here), but it can also be used to bring a little balance into a room. When the chairs are placed opposite the sofa, this arrangement definitely feels a little formal, and since none of the furnishings face the focal point, it's better used for conversation than television viewing.
Another option for a sofa and pair of chairs is to place the chairs on either side. This version feels more causal and open, and works better for viewing a television. I like this option when the sofa needs to be placed against the wall as it is a natural place to hang art and also creates a secondary focal point to balance the fireplace and/or television that is opposite the sofa. For added seating options, we'll often include a bench or pair of ottomans here.
Two Sofas + Two Chairs
If you have the space and need to maximize seating, try two sofas plus a pair of chairs. The sofas do not necessarily need to be identical, but should be similar in scale. This works well with both sofas facing each other and the pair of chairs at one end, or with the two sofas perpendicular to each other. This will cover a significant amount of square footage, so be sure to incorporate a large rug to anchor the furniture and a large coffee table -- use two if necessary!
Sectional + Chair
An L-shaped sectional on its own may be perfect for cozy family movie nights, but they leave an empty spot in the room and can feel off balance. For this reason, I almost always include an additional chair and orient it toward the sofa (instead of toward the focal point) to promote conversation and balance the space. A round coffee table is a good option for this type of sofa as it lacks hard corners that might get bumped while navigating around it.
Sectional + Two Chairs
For a space that is used for both entertaining and family nights, adding two chairs to a sectional is a great option that provides plenty of seating but feels very casual. Be sure to leave plenty of space for walking between the chairs and the sectional for the best flow, and source a coffee table or ottoman large enough to fill the center (we had this one custom made).
Trouble-Shooting: Multiple Focal Points
The first item to place is your sofa, and there are two options: either facing or perpendicular to your focal point. In this living room, there are multiple points of interest in the room -- the fireplace, the television, and the window with views to the backyard. We centered the furnishings on the fireplace for symmetry, and placed the sofa perpendicular to it to maintain views to the TV and out to the yard. The pair of chairs across from the sofa have a swivel base, so they can be oriented toward the TV or toward the window, and a pair of ottomans offers additional seating. The room has some odd angles, including the television mounted in the corner, but the symmetrical furnishings lend balance.
Trouble-Shooting: No Focal Point
If you space doesn't have a natural focal point, it might be necessary to create one. In the front living room of our Blazing Star project, we did just that with a pair of black cabinets. The room was little more than a pass-through when we got our hands on it, and our clients wanted a sophisticated spot to welcome guests (the front door opens into the space). There was no fireplace and no need for a television with the family room around the corner, so we anchored the room around the cabinets with a simple Sofa + 2 combo that promotes conversation.