15 Ways to Layout Your Living Room

How to layout your living room

Each week we share a decorating plan we’ve developed for a customer as part of our Decorating Dilemmas column, and in nearly every single dilemma we’re asked how to layout the room. Laying out a room is difficult, especially when you factor in television placement, space restrictions, open floor plans, and natural pathways. Every room is different and there are lots of ways to solve your difficult-to-layout space, but we’ve put together some foolproof layout options to make the task easier.

Bunny Williams' biggest suggestion for laying out your room, don't line your walls with seating. Float them in the center of the room

Before we start, let’s get into a few basics that will help you create a functional room layout.

  • DON’T BE A WALLFLOWER — one of Bunny Williams’ biggest pet peeves is furniture that lines the wall. We’re empowering you to float your sofas and chairs out from the wall. No wallflowers allowed.
  • DIVIDE & CONQUER — Just because you have a large living room doesn’t mean you have to have overscaled furniture. Instead, divide your large room into smaller areas to create two intimate seating areas rather than one large one. Any gathering of more than ten people will naturally break up into smaller conversations, so keep your seating arrangements tight.
  • TUCK IN SMALL SEATS — Once you’ve got your large seating covered (like a sofa), bring in smaller occasional chairs or upholstered cubes. They’re a great perch when guests come over, but they can easily be tucked away any other time.

1. A Pair of Sofas

We love this combination because it’s simple, clean, and can seat lots of people. A pair of sofas facing each other is great for large open floor plans because it naturally divides the space, and it works great for narrow rooms too.

2. A Sofa + 2 Chairs

Start with a great sofa, then place a pair of chairs across from it. This is probably the most common choice and can work in nearly all living room. Simply choose a pair of chairs with the right dimensions to fit your space. If you’ve got plenty of room, choose a deep armchair. For tighter living areas, chairs that are more upright rather than deep work well.

3. A Sofa + 2 Angled Chairs

In rooms where you’ve got lots of doorways, you may not be able to place two chairs directly across from your sofa, but that’s ok. Instead, angle your pair of chairs in a way that makes crossing the room easier.

Use two sofas perpendicular to each other, then two mismatched chairs in the fourth corner

4. 2 Sofas + 2 Mis-matched Chairs

If you’ve got a big space but still need to leave plenty of pathways, consider two sofas placed perpendicular to each other and two chairs of different sizes in the fourth corner. This arrangement leaves plenty of room for navigating in and out, seats 6-8, and has a mix of furniture that works for lounging or socializing.

5. A Sofa + 4 Chairs

If you’ve got a larger space, consider bringing in two pairs of chairs to create a u-shape. Maybe one pair is large and more like a reading chair so you’d be comfortable lounging, while the other pair is meant for sitting up and socializing. Or maybe you have four of the same chair like we’ve done above.

6. Super Sized Sectional

If you’ve got a big den and you won’t be doing much entertaining, a giant sectional is your best bet. You’ll want to maximize deep seating, and in many cases, a sectional is the best way to do that.

7. Sofa + 2 Swivel Chairs

In several of our decorating dilemmas, a reader is faced with the challenge of bringing in more seating but not being able to have every chair face the TV. Our solution is a swivel chair. In the room above, the television is in the armoire, and our Larkin Swivel Gliders can be turned around to face the TV when needed. Or they can face the sofa in you’re having a conversation. 

8. Sofa + 2 Mis-matched Chairs

Symmetry is great, but in some cases, mis-matched chairs can solve your problem. In a room with lots of doorways, you may only have space for a sofa and one large chair. In this situation, you can usually tuck a smaller, occasional chair into the space.

9. Sofa + 2 Chairs + Bench

Open floor plans are great because they make your home feel connected, but laying out your furniture in a big open space can be tricky. Adding a bench to your layout is a great way to differentiate one room from the next without blocking the line of sight.

10. Sofa + 2 Chairs + an Occasional Chair

Occasional Chairs are so underrated, but no matter how tight your room, you can almost always squeeze one more up to your seating arrangement. One advantage to this layout is that you can have two different seating options. For a family room, you often want something deep to sink into for TV watching a lounging. But when guests come over, it’s great to have chairs that are more upright for chatting and socializing. With this arrangement, you’ve covered all your bases!

11. Sectional + 2 Mis-Matched Chairs

For most sofas, only two people will feel comfortable sitting on them, but a sectional can comfortably fit at least three. Because of this, if you have the right floorplan, a sectional may make the most sense. Place a pair of chairs directly across from your sectional, and you’re good to go!

12. A Sofa + 2 Chairs + 2 Ottomans

Bunny Williams suggests trying to fit seating for at least 6 into every living or family room, but in a small space, you may not be able to swing that. A pair of cubes is a great solution. Tuck them away when you don’t need them, and pull them up to your coffee table when guests come over.

13. A Sofa + A Settee + 2 Chairs

A loveseat is a great addition to your furniture collection because they’re so versatile. They can be placed at the end of the bed, paired with a sofa, used in a hallway, or serve as your main seating in a tiny apartment. In this living room, we used a loveseat, a sofa, and two chairs to bring the most seating into the space.

14. Sectional + 1 Chair + 2 Occasional Chairs

Most rooms are rectangular, so a rectangular room arrangement usually feels the most natural. If you already have a sectional, consider bringing a single armchair into the fourth missing corner. This will complete that natural rectangular shape while allowing you to easily move through your living room.

15. A Settee + 2 Chairs

In very small living rooms, skip the sofa altogether and instead opt for a settee or loveseat. It’ll allow for move space to move around and still give you enough seating for four people.

There are endless options for arranging your space, hopefully some of these combinations give you ideas for laying out your room. 

For more design inspiration, visit our Pinterest Boards, or find more gorgeous rooms in our Photo Gallery

Did you like this post and find it helpful? Rate it below and share your thoughts in the comments!

Caroline McDonald

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.

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30 Comments

  1. Reply

    Cheryl

    August 29, 2017

    How can we see the style of the designers? Id like to talk to one but want one with a style that I like too.
    Thank you- Cheryl W.

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      August 29, 2017

      Cheryl,
      Do you mean the designers from our Design Solutions team that answer our decorating dilemmas?
      We don’t have a list or examples of their work, but perhaps if you describe your style for me we can pair you with someone whose tastes reflect yours.
      Have you submitted a dilemma yet?

  2. Reply

    Wendy Fielder

    June 8, 2017

    Is the Larkin swivel slipcovered or upholstered?

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      June 12, 2017

      Wendy,
      The Larkin Swivel Glider is one of our upholstered chairs that you can customize by choosing from a wide selection of fabrics. You can also supply your own fabric to have this chair upholstered. Either way, it’s a great piece!

  3. Reply

    Lauren

    June 7, 2017

    Can you tell me who makes the large sectional and also the white slip covered sofa?

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      June 8, 2017

      Lauren,
      Both of these sofas are ours! The large sectional is our “Baldwin 4 Piece Sectional Right Arm Chaise, Left Arm Loveseat, Armless Loveseat, & Corner-Slipcover & Frame”, which you can find here:. The white slip covered sofa is our “Davenport Apartment Sofa-Slipcover & Frame” which can be found here: .

  4. Reply

    Jessica

    June 5, 2017

    Hi, we are moving into a very tricky space. It’s a super large (long) room that runs from the kitchen into the living room. From the kitchen (facing the living room) to the right is fireplace with built ins. Straight ahead (opposite the kitchen) is entertainment built ins for TV. To the left is s set of 3 French doors. I’m at such a loss for where to put furniture. I currently have a couch, two swivel club chairs and two small leather chairs. I am limited to the left by traffic through the room and access to the French doors. Hope this detail makes sense. Any help is appreciated. I’d love to submit a photo for one of the room challenge features. Two focal points in a room are so tricky.

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      June 5, 2017

      Jessica,
      We’d love to help you with your space. We actually offer a free service where interior designers will help you layout your room, pick fabrics, and help you with accessories. You can send in your question and photos here, and one of our designers will reach out to you with a design plan.
      Caroline

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      June 5, 2017

      Jessica,
      We’d love to help you with your space. We actually offer a free service where our interior designers help you layout your room, pick out furniture and accessories, as well as fabric. You can send in your questions and photos here, and one of our designers will reach out to you!

  5. Reply

    Cristal

    June 2, 2017

    Love all the ideas! Is thr round coffee table in option #11 available for purchase on the Ballard website?

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      June 5, 2017

      Cristal,
      It is! It’s our Olivia Cocktail Table.
      So glad you like it,
      Caroline

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      June 5, 2017

      Cristal,
      So glad you love this table!It is called the Olivia Cocktail table and you can find it on our website here

  6. Reply

    Sharon Lewis

    May 15, 2017

    As a Realtor, we often find our clients have TV’s in these rooms, I would love to see more ‘tv’ placement ideas

  7. Reply

    Karen Davis

    May 5, 2017

    I have a long living room that is used primarily for lounging but we do have guests who prefer to sit upright. Here is the problem. One wall has built-in book selves, one wall has a long fireplace, one wall has glass patio doors and we like the view. The 4th side is open to the kitchen. The TV (cables) are in the corner between the book case and the fireplace. Fireplace is too tall for TV. How to place lounge furniture (not yet purchased) to watch TV, fireplace and outside views? Would also be nice to face the cook in the kitchen. As I write seems like it should be in the middle of the floor facing out (not each other).

    I’d like 2 chaise sectionals that face each other in front of patio doors. They’d give me light for reading and be comfty while I gaze at the view. But what about the rest of the room? TV? Fireplace? How many sofas and chairs can you have with being cluttered?

    • Reply

      Annika Dupree

      June 5, 2017

      Karen,
      We’d love to help you with designing your living room! We offer a free service in which our interior designers help pick out furniture, fabric, and accessories. Just send in your question and a picture of your living room here, and a designer will reach out to you with a design plan!

  8. Reply

    Kelli

    April 23, 2017

    Caroline,
    Thank you for some great ideas. i have a couch and two easy chairs, but have had difficulty figuring how to place them in my living room. How far apart do you recommend playing the couch and chairs, and how far should they be from a coffee table?

    Thank you,

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 24, 2017

      Kelli,
      The rule of thumb is 12-18 inches from the edge of the sofa to the coffee table. The same rule applies to the coffee table to chair. In some cases, you could even pull the chair in tighter than that.
      I hope that helps!

  9. Reply

    Debbi

    April 18, 2017

    Caroline,

    In our family (which isn’t big) we have a neutral sofa, large leather recliner, and a club chair with no real options to re-arrange things. I can’t seem to find a coffee table that is smaller than our current one (48″ wide) and doesn’t take up a lot of limited space.

  10. Reply

    Martha

    April 15, 2017

    I absolutely loved this post. I am moving to a smaller home in another state, and trying to figure out what furniture to take, with only photos is very hard. It’s tricky to visualize space. These plans helped me with placing only pieces that I need. Thanks a million.

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 17, 2017

      So glad you found this post helpful, Martha! Thanks for your comment.

  11. Reply

    Mary Lynn

    April 12, 2017

    Any design for a living room with corner firplace and tv. That is how the average family lives. Not just for show, but to live in.
    Thanks. You have beautiful items.

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 19, 2017

      Mary Lynn,
      You’re corner fireplaces are very common. I’m sorry we didn’t include any of those in our examples. Personally, I like to arrange the furniture like the corner is the corner of my seating arrangement. So maybe you have a sofa and two chairs. Arrange them perpendicular to each other, then have the corner act like the missing corner of your arrangement. Does that make sense?
      If you send in some photos of your space, I’d love to offer some more specific suggestions!
      Caroline

  12. Reply

    Cheri Wuertz

    April 11, 2017

    Would love an idea for a room that has two sofas now, but they are not facing each other. I’d love to float them like your example #1, but not sure where to put the TV. The spot where you have a picture between two windows is where our fireplace is with a large permanent mirror above it so we couldn’t put it there.

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 19, 2017

      Cheri,
      I would suggest something like #7 with two swivel chairs. This doesn’t help with your two sofas though. It sounds like you’ll need to place them perpendicular to each other maybe oriented toward the fireplace, then have the TV on a third wall. You can place two swivel chairs with their backs to the TV to complete the third ‘wall’ of your arrangement, but then can turn around to face the TV when necessary.
      Does that make sense?

  13. Reply

    Elizabeth

    April 10, 2017

    This was a great post. I’m still wondering if my layout of my room is best for the space. It’s narrow and pretty small so I think “wallflower” is my current problem and solution 🙂

  14. Reply

    Christina

    April 10, 2017

    In #6. Super Sized Section there is a saddle leather ottoman. Is that for sale on Ballard’s website?

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 19, 2017

      Christina,
      This ottoman is discontinued! I’m so sorry!

  15. Reply

    Lori

    April 6, 2017

    This came at a great time. We are military and about to relocate (our 22nd home in 28 years!). I’m ready for a new LR sofa. I currently have a small scale sofa and love it but it’s being “donated” to one of my children. I’m debating purchasing two small scale sofas to go along with two arm chairs I already have. I’ve always loved the look of two sofas facing each other. I just don’t know if it’s practical given how much we move and how we always have different size living rooms. Any advice?

    • Caroline McDonald
      Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      April 19, 2017

      Lori,
      Wow, 22 homes in 28 years is hard to imagine! You’re obviously a packing machine. It’s hard to say, but I do think that two small sofas could be versatile enough to reconfigure in various homes. If, for example, your next space has a smaller living room than your current one, you could split up the two sofas and use one in a living room and another in a bedroom or entryway. Also, maybe they don’t always works facing each other, but you could place them perpendicular to one another in a different space.
      It’s hard to make a suggestion without seeing your current space and without knowing where you’ll end up next. In cases like this, I always suggest trusting your instinct. You can’t know what your next space will be, but maybe think back to previous homes, would you have been able two accommodate two couches in the various spaces you’ve lived?
      Best of luck and thanks for your comment!
      Caroline

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