Small living rooms can be tricky. You have a limited amount of space and you also want to have a room that looks great and functions the best way possible. I’ve lived in many small spaces and each one had its challenges and limitations. I’ve had lining rooms with multiple doorways, rooms that need to have dual functions: living and dining for example. No matter what, I’ve always used these 5 proven techniques to arrange furniture in a small living room and they work great every time. And, these techniques also work just the same for bedrooms, offices, dens and any other small space. Let me show you what I mean.
5 Proven Techniques to Arrange Furniture in a Small Living Room: 1. Measure Your Space and Furniture.
Measuring your floor space is by far the first and most important step in figuring out the best way to arrange furniture in any size room, especially a small living room. This is because you typically have more furniture in a living room than in a dining room, bedroom or office. You have a couch, chair or chairs, an entertainment piece: media console or cabinet. You’ll often have accent furniture: credenza, cocktail table, end tables, shelving. There’s a lot to consider and when you have all these pieces that need to co-exist in the same space, you have to be strategic with your placement.
· Start by drawing a floor plan of your new space. Sketch out the space like you’re on the ceiling looking down at it from above. When you know the size of your space you know the appropriate size furniture that will fit into it. The sketch doesn’t have to be perfect it just needs to have the shape of your room.
· Measure the furniture that you already have and record the measurements of the furniture that you are interested in purchasing so you can transfer those measurements to your actual floor plan.
· Put the measurements of each wall on the sketch, include the placement and dimensions of doorways, windows and any other architectural elements like fireplaces, columns, built-in shelving or furniture. It helps to do an overall length and width measurement so you can double check the dimensions.
· Snap a picture of the sketch on your phone so that you have it when you’re out shopping for the day. Include a few pictures of the room as well for reference. I like to snap a picture of each wall from the opposite wall and one of each corner form the opposite corner. That way I have a full view of my space and I have a visual as well as measured cue to reference.
This will help you to avoid buying furniture that is too big for the space. It will also help you to determine the best position for furniture that you already have.
5 Proven Techniques to Arrange Furniture in a Small Living Room: 2. Determine Traffic Patterns.
You don’t want to have furniture obstructing pathways, in doorways, you don’t want to walk around or step over furniture to get into and through the room. Furniture blocking doorways makes a room look sloppy and not well planned. This is where the sketching process can really help you think through the placement. Sometimes a small space is like a puzzle: all the pieces must fit together so you can see the big picture.
When you sketch out your space and you can clearly see where the doorways, bump outs and other obstructions are, you’ll be able to see how you want to move around the room.
· Leave at least 3’ for entering into the room. You do not want to have furniture blocking your way into the space. Trust me, squeezing past the arm of a sofa I order to walk into the room will get old fast.
· Don’t try to jam furniture into spaces that are too small. For example, if you have a nook beside a fireplace, don’t cram your large sofa into. Think about that space as an opportunity to display books and collectables on a shelf or etegare. You don’t have to fill the entire nook with something just because it’s an open space.
Leave at least 15-18” between the cocktail table and the sofa so you can move freely into the sofa. This same measurement can apply to chairs. You should be able to place a drink on the cocktail table without having to get up from the chair or stretch across the floor.
5 Proven Techniques to Arrange Furniture in a Small Living Room: 3. Determine The Focal Point.
Most rooms will have a natural focal point, a fireplace, beautiful window overlooking a spectacular view. What if your room doesn’t have a natural focal point? Then it’s up to you to create it. Where are you going to be focused? Think about how you want to use the space. Will the primary function be watching TV? Then that is your focal point. Will you be using the room for entertaining and receiving guests? Then the TV is not the focal point – you may not even want a TV in the room.. Form follows function. When you decide how you want the room to function, it’s easier to arrange your furniture.
5 Proven Techniques to Arrange Furniture in a Small Living Room: 4. Largest Furniture Goes on the Largest Wall.
Along the same lines as determining your focal point, sometimes the room dictates where furniture should be placed. In most cases, the largest piece of furniture should go on the largest, unobstructed wall. That is not a hard and fast rule for all times. A large television cabinet across from a group of large, sun drenched windows might not be the best place for the television to go because of glare. Conversely, a long sofa or sectional might be the be the perfect thing to occupy that long wall.
5 Proven Techniques to Arrange Furniture in a Small Living Room: 5. Create a Seating Group.
Don’t arrange your furniture in a straight line. Place furniture in a conversation grouping, imagine having a person in every seat. Do they have a comfortable way to see each other for conversation? Is there anything obstructing their view of each other? Adjust if needed.
1. Think outside the box: float furniture if needed to get functionality. This is a great way to add a new traffic pattern to the space. It’s especially pertinent when you have perpendicular doorways. By bringing the furniture off the walls, you instantly create a comfortable conversation grouping. It will also make the room seem larger.
2. Trick the eye into feeling there is more space: pull furniture away from the walls a couple of inches. Gives you depth and looks like there is more space behind than actually there: give your sofa a sofa table behind to bring it out a bit from the wall. There are lots of narrow sofa tables on the market. Utilize open shelving and tables that have the ability to see through them to the wall. Don’t over saturate the space with tons of décor. Again, leave space so you can see the wall and under tables to the floor. You don’t want to pack a small room full of furniture that is visually heavy.
There you have it: 5 proven techniques to arrange furniture in a small living room. By knowing your actual floor space, the traffic patterns, focal point, vantage point and how you’ll use the space, you will be on the right path for a comfortable, functional and beautiful living room.
I hope you enjoyed reading about arranging small living rooms. I appreciate you spending a few moments of your time with me today. I’d love to hear what you think, please leave a comment below. If you think this would be helpful for a friend struggling with a small room, pass it along. Let’s keep in touch, sign up for my notifications so that each time I post you get to hear about it first. As a thank you for signing up today I’ll send you my Secrets Only Designers Know To Make Your Space Rock printable. You can sign up for that right below this post if you’re on mobile or along the right side if you’re on any other device. It’s got all kinds of great stuff in it to help you tackle a multitude of home decorating projects. Don’t forget to go on over to Instagram and follow me. I post daily inspiration about life and design and I pepper in my own life philosophies too. I am so grateful you decided to take the time to read my post and until next week, keep being the amazing and go tackle that small living room project!
I’m chief banana at Michael Helwig Interiors in beautiful Buffalo, New York. I happily share my experience in the world of home decorating and design to help folks avoid expensive mistakes and decorating disappointments. I’m pretty crafty with simple DIY projects and I love to teach others how to create beautiful and functional decor for their homes. My motto is “every decorating challenge is figure-out-able.”