8 Furniture Arranging Tips

Make the Most of Your Space

By Sunshine Menefee
Staff Writer

Arranging furniture can be a daunting task. You want to make the space feel cozy, but still have good flow and be completely functional. All of this while still looking good. There are a few rules that designers always follow and if you use them, you too will have a great space.

Function of space

Function is the foremost indicator of how a room will be arranged. It determines what the room will be used for and what furniture is required. Think about all the activities that occur in the room. Is it a private or public room where entertaining occurs? How many people will use the room? Good design starts with accessing the needs of the room and occupants.

2016 Idea House

How a space will be used determines the seating options.


Focal point

The focal point is the main attraction of the room. Whether it is the fireplace or the tv, the furniture should be arranged around this centerpiece. When designing around a t.v., measure the set diagonally and place the furniture three times that away from the set. So a sofa would be 120” (10’) away from a 40” t.v. If your furniture faces a blank wall, fill it with a large armoire or artwork.


The focal point is the main feature of the room.


Large pieces first

The bulk of the room will be filled with larger items, like the sofa or bed. Set those in place first and then fill in with smaller chairs, tables and accessories. The largest piece should face the focal point. Consider downsizing the size of the sofa to create a more versatile arrangement.


Sofas and larger items should be placed in the room first.


Traffic patterns

Traffic is how you get from point A to point B within a room, usually between 2 doors. Think about the most direct route to follow and avoid placing furniture in the middle of the “road.” You don’t want guests getting run over! Also, don’t block natural paths with large piece of furniture. That leads to sharp corners and accidents. Allow a 30”-48” corridor for proper movement.


Traffic should not interrupt a conversation area.

Conversation areas

For conversation areas, keep furniture grouped together with a maximum of 8’ between pieces. Create intimate areas by using smaller furniture grouped together. If at all possible, keep furniture from being pushed against walls.


Larger rooms should have more than one conversation area.

Landing space

Every chair and sofa should have a landing space nearby for drinks or lighting. Keep a flat, sturdy surface within arm’s reach.


Side tables should always accompany seating.


Create interest by using pieces of different shapes and sizes. A mid-century modern teak chair would pair nicely with a heavier round side table. Variety keeps the eye moving around the room and keeps it from getting bored. Angle furniture to create


Items of varying shapes, textures and sizes should be used to create interest.


In design, there are two types of balance: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical balance is formal and restful. It is equal and harmonious. Asymmetrical balance is more energetic and moving. Objects don’t have to be the exact same to strike the right balance in a room. A love seat can be balanced with 2 chairs.


Each side being the same creates formal symmetry.

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