How to Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right

How to Get Your Furniture Arrangement Right

Like a blank sheet or page, an empty room can be an opportunity or a challenge. With all these ways to fulfill it, how can you know where to begin?

I’ve taken a number of the fundamental rules of furniture arrangement and then distilled them into 10 easy tips. They will help you figure out where to put things, where not to put things and how to market the choices you make.

These guidelines will not turn you into a interior designer immediately. But they’ll steer you in the ideal direction and allow you to achieve professional-looking results with a minimum of stress.

Boomgaarden Architects

Function. Consider how the room is used and how many people would use it. That will dictate the sort of furnishings you will want and the amount of seating required.

Jeffrey Dungan Architects

Focal point. Identify the room’s focal point — a fireplace, view, television etc.– and orient the furniture so. If you’re planning to watch television in the room, then the ideal space between the place and the seats is three times the size of the display (measured diagonally). Therefore, if you have got a 40-inch pair, your seat should be 120 inches away.

Tamara Mack Design

Priority. Set the biggest pieces of furniture, like the sofa in the living room or the bed in the bedroom. In most cases this piece must face the room’s focal point. Seats should be no more than 8 ft to facilitate conversation. Unless your room is especially little, avoid pushing all of the furniture from the walls.

Symmetry. Symmetrical structures work great for formal rooms. Asymmetrical arrangements create a room feel much more casual.


Traffic. Think about the flow of visitors throughout the room — generally the path between doors. Do not block this path with any substantial pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 30 to 48 inches of thickness for major traffic routes and also a minimum of 24 inches of thickness for small ones.

Attempt to direct visitors around a seating group, not through the center of it. If visitors cuts through the center of the room, look at creating two small seating areas instead of one large one.

L K Associates & DeFrances

Variety. Vary the dimensions of furniture pieces across the room, which means that your eyes move down and up as you scan the space. Balance a large or tall item by placing another piece of comparable height throughout the room from it (or utilize artwork to replicate the scale). Avoid putting two tall pieces next to each other.

Kristen Rivoli Interior Design

Contrast. Blend curved and straight lines for contrast. If the furniture is linear and modern, throw at a round table for contrast. If the furniture is curvy, then mix in an angular piece. Similarly, pair solids with voids: Blend a leggy seat with a good side table, and a good seat with a leggy table.

Malone Construction Company

Ease of use. Place a desk within easy reach of each chair, being sure to combine pieces of scale, and make sure each reading seat has an adjoining lamp. Coffee tables must be located 14 to 18 inches from a sofa to offer sufficient legroom.

Roman Interior Design

Circulation. In a dining room, make sure there’s at least 48 inches between each edge of the table and the closest wall or piece of furniture. If traffic doesn’t pass behind the chairs on one side of the desk, 36 inches must suffice. In bedrooms allow at least 24 inches between the side of the bed and a wall, and at least 36 inches between the bed and a swinging door.

Historic Shed

Planning. Give your back a rest. Before you proceed any actual furniture, then test your design onto paper. Measure the room’s dimensions, noting the location of doors, windows, heat registers and electrical outlets, then draw up a floor plan on graph paper with cutouts to represent the furnishings. Or, even better, use a digital room planner to draw the room and test various furniture configurations. It is a lot more enjoyable and less work.

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