You can fill a room with the most amazing, complementary furniture but it will always fail to live up to its potential if it isn’t laid out properly.
Given the amount of times we have arranged and re-arranged our small shop, we probably know this better than anyone.
Since we appreciate how tricky it can be to get it right and how effective the results can be when you do, we thought we’d compile this short guide to getting the most from your furniture.
Before You Start…
…piling furniture up in one corner of the room to try and find the perfect spot for a lamp in another, we recommend that you:
- Take everything out of the room. It is easier to see what you’re working with when you have a blank canvas.
- Start the process of re-introducing furniture into the room with the largest or principal item. For example, this would be the dining table in a dining room and a bed in the bedroom.
- If you get things to a point where you are happy, and you still have some pieces to find a home for, ask yourself whether it’s time to let them go.
Now that you’re ready to begin in earnest, bear these four placement tips in mind when planning your space:
1) Build Your Room Around How You Use It
This might sound obvious but it’s probably easier to get it wrong than you might think.
For example, if you rarely entertain there is very little value in establishing a conversation zone that could disrupt the flow of your living room just because a guide told you that every home should have one.
However, if you have the space, and you do entertain, then you should absolutely listen to that guide. Remember, rugs are brilliant for zoning a room.
(Zoning, in case it is not immediately apparent, is the act of dividing a room into smaller spaces that serve a specific function).
Keep high traffic areas clear so you can move freely around the room. Obstruct the path to frequently used areas such as a workplace and you’ll quickly grow frustrated with the space.
Identify a focal point in your room (this could be a fireplace, TV or even a view) and tailor your placement around it.
Be honest about your focal point. Identify it as the Victorian fireplace (or similar) when you actually spend your time gazing at the TV and the room might be tainted with a lingering sense of awkwardness.
2) Keep it Balanced
A balanced layout is almost always a good layout.
The balance we are referring to should not be confused with symmetry. We’re not saying you have to include two of everything and they should be aligned along a dividing line.
(In case you were wondering, this will create a very formal feel in your home and it can be hugely impactful when done correctly.)
We’re just saying if you do something in one corner of a room, think about how you can complement that move in another.
This might mean, for example, balancing one large item off against two smaller ones or designing your space from the ground up if you have installed a hanging lighting fixture on the opposite side.
Just try to think about equilibrium when making decisions. It’ll make a difference to the end results.
3) Lines of Sight
Never obstruct views worth seeing.
This rule still applies even if the furniture that is blocking that view is something spectacular.
Placing tall furniture near the entrance to a room or in front of a window will make it feel like you’re walking into a wall when you enter.
This is a particularly pertinent issue in open plan spaces where that sense of flow is really the defining and most valuable feature.
In the broadest terms, you want the taller items to be along the wall and the smaller items brought to the fore.
In fact, most of the time, you want the taller items to be at the edges, unless, of course, you are trying to zone a room with a dividing element.
Long story short, don’t block the horizon.
4) Keep Furniture Off the Wall
This is harder to do than a lot of interiors resources are prepared to admit.
Reality is, many of us don’t have homes large enough to allow us to place the furniture anywhere other than along the wall.
However, that is not to say it’s impossible.
What’s more, when you get it right, it has a dramatic, two-fold impact: it makes the useable space feel more intimate while making the room itself feel larger.
That’s a move worth making.
The Wegner GE236 sofa is a perfect example.
If the room in question is really narrow, and you can’t move the furniture towards the middle without blocking the path, try angling one end out from the wall.This will make the room look broader. Similarly, placing furniture across a corner can help kill dead space and while allowing you to create a more enveloping feel.