10 Simple Decorating Rules for Arranging Furniture

Don’t Push Furniture Against the Walls

The size of the room will dictate how far you can pull your furniture away from the walls, but even in a small space, you’ll want to give pieces a little breathing room by allowing a few inches between the backs of furniture pieces and the walls. Despite popular belief, this little bit of space can actually make rooms feel bigger. Of course, if you have a larger space, feel free to arrange furniture in such a way that conversation areas are created in the middle of the room, leaving several feet between the walls and the furniture.

Create Conversation Areas

People should naturally be able to talk to each other without having to crane their necks or shout across the room. Position the sofas and chairs to face each other (not necessarily straight on, but close), and so they are close enough that people can converse without raising their voices. If the room is too large, create multiple conversation areas.

Find Balance When Arranging Furniture

Balance is always important in decorating, and never more so than when arranging furniture and other items in your living room. Consider both size and placement of the various pieces, making sure not to group all the large or small pieces in one area or to one side of the room, which can make space feel lopsided and a little unsettling. Also make sure there’s variety in the shapes—if you’ve got straight-lined seating, for example, consider a round coffee table.

Consider Traffic Flow

One of the most important things to consider when arranging furniture in any room is traffic flow. People should not be tripping over furniture, or each other, to pass through the room. Make sure there are a couple of feet (give or take a few inches) between the coffee table and sofa, and between chairs. Create a clear path so people can walk from one end of the room to the other without difficulty.

Use the Right-Size Rugs

Area rugs belong under the furniture—all the furniture, if you can manage it. Exposing some flooring around the edges of the room is fine, but when using an area rug, make sure it’s big enough that all the furniture in a seating arrangement can rest on it. At the very least you want the front legs of large pieces to sit on the rug (the backs can be on the floor, if necessary).

Get a Big Coffee Table

When it comes to coffee tables, more often than not, bigger is better. A large coffee table in the middle of a seating area is great for both aesthetics and function. It acts as an anchor for the room and it leaves plenty of space for people to put down drinks or for you to display favored accessories. A large table also offers easier access from the seats around it. That said, make sure to leave enough room between seating and the coffee table for people to pass through (about 18 inches). And if you can’t find a suitable large coffee table, two smaller tables or other coffee table alternative can be a good substitute.