Furniture placement is powerful. There’s an art to it. If you don’t get the floor plans right nothing else will work and conversely speaking, you can make a fairly common room full of things come alive when placement is done well. Your room’s aesthetic as well as function relies not only on what the actual furniture, finishes, fixtures and accessories look like but also where you put them and most importantly, how they relate to one another. Styling your home and placing and arranging furniture and accessories with tips from this article will have you feeling like a pro in no time!
Placing and Arranging Furniture Like a Pro
The easy way to arrange furniture is with CAD or room planning app. We use Chief Architect, which I was trained on in college. But if you have willing and able helpers, moving furniture around yourself is actually way more fun and can have fantastic results. I’m always blown away at what a difference I can make in a room just by placing the furniture and accessories in artistic and dynamic ways.
Zach Desart, above
Understand you will likely be moving the biggest pieces of furniture in the home. If you’re not willing to do that, just know your results will be limited if you can’t move the big pieces too. Having the big pieces placed for the most impact will make a huge difference on how the room looks and feels and it paves the way for where everything else will be placed.
Arranging furniture in warm and inviting conversation areas; hanging artwork; placing ambient lighting (table and floor lamps—overhead lighting is horrible in living rooms, dens and bedrooms, big no no; removing unnecessary or unattractive furniture and accessories; moving in items from other, less used rooms; and arranging accessories in the most beautiful and natural ways. You will essentially be repurposing all the best stuff to your living room but that’s okay! You can always replace it with another item later. This way allows you to see what you truly need. I love how conservative this approach is and have used it in my own homes as well as my clients.
Via Conspicuous Style
Now begin to completely un-decorate your room. Set all those items (accessories we’ll call them) aside in a safe spot, preferably a staging area where you can easily access them without risking bumping into them, breaking them and injuring yourself too. I’ve owned five design stores and trust me, I’ve done this thousands of times rearranging my stores. It’s like, how many times can you make the same mistake right?
Begin moving the biggest pieces first, these will most likely be the sofa and the entertainment unit.
Make sure there’s a clear path from the entrance to the room to any other doorways. Doors and walkways should be about 36 inch wide. You don’t need a straight path. That’s not practical. But neither should you have to step around end tables and ottomans, etc.
Always place the biggest pieces first. In my 1,000 square foot living room there are one exterior door, a double doorway and one interior door to my home office. I place the furniture so that the foot path or foot traffic flows in an L rather than a Z. This provides comfortable entrance and exit and also forms a nice conversation area in the middle of the room.
Planter’s Lounge Eastern/Oriental Hotel
Start with scale, it’s your friend! Don’t be afraid to put a big piece in a place that might seem not to work at first. We have a beautiful family piece, an antique hutch but there was literally on the only one bare wall that would accommodate it. It didn’t look balanced there at all. I knew it would balance the fireplace beautifully if placed facing each other. The only problem was the wall facing the fireplace has a window overlooking the back patio. It ended up being perfect and has been there for twenty years! Try the sofa and armchairs in different configurations. I encourage you to ditch your end tables. They make a room feel cumbersome and we tend to catch them with our shoes or purses when we’re leaving the house.
Anne Decker Architect
Think about balance. For instance you don’t want two heavy pieces side by side. What about having them face one another, like my fireplace and adjacent antique hutch. Is the room big enough for more than one conversation area? In my living room I have two conversation areas: one in center of the room, in front of the fireplace and the other at the far end of the room.
Having furniture against the wall is best for small living rooms and dens but for large rooms, floating arrangements look and function best. They’re cozy and encourage lingering.
Placing and Arranging Accessories Like a Pro
When you’re very satisfied the furniture is placed in the most practical yet striking ways, it will jump out at you. That’s when you know it’s time to arrange the accessories.
Bring out accessories and framed pieces from your cupboards and storage too. Place these with the other items. Even if there are items you don’t care for, include those too. Gather baskets, potted plants, both real and faux. If the faux plants are dingy, can the branches and leaves be cleaned and rearranged? I like to take my faux plants outside and hose them down really well. Do this on the morning of a good weather day so they have time to dry before bringing them back in. If they dry too slowly, they may spot.
Again, scale is your friend so start with scale first. In my own entry I mentioned earlier, I took two very large, upright, footed ceramic pots, placed a pair of tall, faux triple myrtle topiary in them and in between placed a stack of hardbound design books and a tray with a silver service on it surrounded by smaller knick knacks.
Step back as you work (looking behind you) and assess how it looks. If it doesn’t jump out at you as feeling amazing, it probably isn’t. Keep trying. As a rule, it takes me four to ten times before I get a table arrangement just right. I spend the extra time because I want it to look unstudied. It’s contradictory I know!
Anna Braund, above
Shiree’s Style File
- Don’t be afraid to remove area rugs and end tables that aren’t working. While end tables work great between chairs, I detest end tables and sofa tables next to the sofa. Often a clean look is more energizing.
- Don’t shy away from ‘stuff’, use all the things you love but use them in a few, well thought out arrangements. Not all over the room.
- Leave place for the eye to rest.
- Mix up scale using large things which add feelings of permanence and stability and small things which are so thoughtful and often sentimental.
- Remember, a room or home looks just as silly under furnished as it does over furnished.
- Don’t feel bad for being tired of the farmhouse look. Me too! But if you have the Farmhouse look, you can update it by getting rid of all the signs, all the corrugated steel accessories and bring in some warm colored baskets. Touches of emerald green, ochre (a saffron yellow) and red can provide some really nice updates.
- If your room is missing something, it’s usually scale, texture or greenery.
Bye for now!
PS For more on wellness design and easy home makeovers, check out my post “Give Your Home a Wellness Makeover in One Weekend”plus, a link to my interview with Deirdre Fitzpatrick.Edit this post.