Our living rooms come in many shapes and sizes, and we all yearn for a welcoming, social space where we can unwind alone or gather with friends and family. Creating that sense of warmth and welcome, however, can sometimes be a challenge.
Whether you are viewing a property you are interested in buying, puzzling over an estate agents floorplan, preparing a home for sale, or just looking for a change, here are some creative ideas to help you organise the layout of your main living space in the most pleasing and welcoming way.
Use existing elements as a guide
Think in terms of placing, rather than putting, the furniture in the room. This means taking time to think about where exactly each piece should go and how it relates to the other elements in the space.
Using existing features, such as a fireplace or window, as organising tools or starting points will create a sense of order and calm. At a window, for instance, two chairs will block the light less than a sofa. A large rug and sofa placed symmetrically in front of a fireplace, meanwhile, will create a strong and inviting focal point.
Find a room’s ‘centre of gravity'
Think of the centre of gravity in a room as the place where the largest item of furniture wants to be. In the case of a living room, this piece will usually be the main sofa. Frequently, this will be happiest opposite or adjacent to a fireplace or stove, if there is one, or perhaps the window if not.
Working with this centre of gravity will bring balance and a sense of harmony to the space; the furniture will act as an anchor and provide a strong starting point for organising the rest of the room.
Pull furniture away from the walls
Avoid the temptation to push furniture against the walls. While pulling it away may seem counterintuitive, especially in smaller rooms, it will, in fact, improve the flow of both light and space. Just a few centimetres will suffice.
In a large space, think of the room as having different parts, like little moments of calm. For example, a long room could include both a cosy seating arrangement around the fireplace, and a low table for plants or a chair for reading at the window.
Resolve the fight between the TV and fireplace
Fireplaces often form a natural focal point for a living room, but nowadays increasingly large screens vie for attention as the central feature. One solution is to place them side by side, perhaps by extending the chimney breast to create an alcove for the screen, as in this space, or by placing the TV on a low unit.
Another solution is to sit the TV on a mobile unit – on wheels – beside the fireplace. This means the TV can be wheeled in or out of the conversation, as required. Or place it on a wall perpendicular to the fireplace.
Introduce good quality lighting
Our furnishings and rooms tend to have corners, or be square-ish in shape, so consider the opportunity to introduce a sculptural element in the form of a light fitti
ng to soften the lines. This could be a floor lamp or a wall-hung fitting.
An oversized lamp can bring drama to a small room and scale to a larger space. It also acts as a natural starting point for furniture arrangement, so if you feel your room is lacking a pleasing layout, try starting with a statement light.
Employ a coffee table as an anchor
A low table placed in the middle of a seating space will both define the conversation area and provide a useful surface for books and nibbles.
A height of 35-40cm is perfect: any higher and it can become too dominant. In terms of size, err on the larger side; just like a small rug, a small table will be lost and contribute nothing to the arrangement.
Place a painting or print strategically
Paintings or prints can give scale and intimacy to a space, and can provide a striking focal point in a room that would otherwise lack one. If you’re struggling with how to place your furniture, try hanging a striking piece of art on the wall and using it as a guide for your furniture.
What you hang can be less important than how you hang it. Using a height of 150cm as a centre point for most pieces will give a pleasing result – engaging to both the eye and the room.
Unleash the power of the rug
A large rug will further anchor the main seating area, and also provide the opportunity to introduce texture and colour into the room. It works best to place the furniture either fully or partially on the rug rather than around it.
Consider also the shape of rug you choose. A rectangular one can have a huge impact on how you perceive the room, depending on which direction you lay it.