Your Interior Design Issue Solved: How to Arrange Your Living Room Furniture the Right Way, the First Time

When it comes to decorating a home, there are few things more intimidating than standing in an empty room and not knowing where to start. There are so many things to consider; all the way from your own personal aesthetic, lifestyle, to your budget. However, the best plan begins always with a budget. Then you can begin determining where the sofas, chairs, tables, storage cabinets and everything else will go.

Here is a simple guide to follow that works for every room in the house, starting with the living room. These living room layout ideas will make the job of arranging furniture and decorating your home easy and enjoyable.

First, measure the living room from wall to wall, making note of the length and width of the room. Draw a box, noting the measurements on all sides. Whether you create it on a computer program or hand draw it on graph paper, having a scale floor plan is helpful for space planning. 

Deciding on a focal point will really help with space planning. Will it be the television? Or a fireplace, a chandelier, an arrangement of artwork? Once that is determined, the furniture arrangements usually tend to fall into place around it.

The sofa should face the focal point of the room. Any additional armchairs and chaises can be placed on either side of the television wall as well, rounding out the seating area while adding visual balance. For living rooms with a fireplace, most people consider conversation the most important goal. For living rooms with neither a fireplace or a television, a central focal point makes the most sense. Float a sofa (or two, facing each other) around a coffee table, with chairs placed around the circle to close any gaps. 

Once the seating area has been set, placing tables and storage cabinets is next. In a living room, the main coffee table or ottoman can be placed in the middle of the sofas and chairs. Sofa tables are long, narrow tables that go behind a sofa, against its back. Side tables go next to the armchairs and on either side of the sofa. Be sure to allow at least 30″ between furniture pieces in places where people need to pass through.

For small spaces, consider nesting tables that can expand when in use and fold up when they are not needed. Storage cabinets and case goods are placed against the wall, wherever the space allows. Media consoles and TV stands go under the television, and credenzas are usually placed on the longest wall. Etageres are high, open cabinets that display souvenirs, books, accessories and family photographs, and look best on a larger, empty wall so it doesn’t get crowded. Bar cabinets and bar carts are pieces that add an aura of glamour to the living room.

Next, assign floor and table lamps. Floor lamps take the place of side tables, so the coffee table should come within arm’s reach so guests can set drinks down. There are some floor lamp designs that come with a table attached as well. Gallery lighting can call attention to art works, sculptures or library built-ins as well.

The last element of a living room furniture layout is the rug. This should be centered in the middle of the main seating arrangement and extend a few inches beyond the sofa and chairs. If the room is already carpeted, adding a thicker accent rug on top is a nice way to add warmth and encourage guests to relax and stay awhile. Following these simple steps for your living room furniture layout will ensure a nice flow to the rest of your home as well. Happy decorating!


  1. Arranging living room furniture isn’t too difficult. In my opinion, the hard part is accessorizing. The actual pieces of furniture are easy to place. It’s organizing the bookshelves, and buying actual accessories that can be tricky.

  2. Very true. I’m pretty good at arranging furniture, but I called my friend’s decorator to come over and help me accessorize. Mainly, she just used things around my house. I had some great pieces, she said, I just didn’t know how to put them all together. Consider hiring someone to come over for an hour or two to help you accessorize. Its worth it 🙂

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