How to Space Furniture in Your Room

How to build a floor plan with measurementsHave you ever been in a room that feels calm and happy? That might have just as much, if not more, to do with the spacing and placement of the furniture than the furniture itself. Having just the right amount of space between the things in your room contributes to the overall comfort and flow.

Finding that ideal placement with your existing furniture and rugs is easy to achieve. Just follow our basic spacing guidelines below.

Living room with lavender sofa, coffee table, and patterned rug


Line drawing of coffee table from sofaDistance between sofa and coffee table: 14-18 inches

You want the space to be close enough to reach for the remote or set down your drink, but far enough away to allow a little leg room. Follow the same rule for other seating in the room if you want to be able to reach the coffee table.

Line drawing shows how far should seating be from televisionDistance between seating and TV: 1.5 times the measurement of the screen

If you have a large living space, this won’t be an issue for you. However, if your living room is on the cozier side of things, then you want to make sure you leave enough space for a comfortable passageway in the room without feeling like you’re walking through a cramped movie theater. Here’s the standard rule of thumb: keep a distance between the TV and seating that is 1.5 times the diagonal measurement of the screen.

Distance between seating: at least 30-36″

The ideal seating arrangement encourages intimate conversation while offering enough walking space (and personal space, too) between those seated. The maximum amount of space you want to leave between seating is about 8 to 10 feet.

Side tables should be within arms reach of seating
Distance between chairs and side tables: Close enough to set down a drink

There’s no hard and fast rule for side tables, because they’re generally smaller and sit much closer to seating than a coffee table. Just be sure any side table is close enough to set down your cup of coffee or a magazine.

Distance between area rugs and the wall: 12 – 24 inches

If you’ve got a room-sized area rug, leave at least two feet of bare floor around it in a large room and at least 12 inches in a smaller room, so it doesn’t look like you ran out of carpet. For a smaller area rug, make sure it’s large enough to allow at least the front two legs of your furniture to rest on it, but not so large that there’s more than two feet of empty rug beyond the furniture. (If that does happen, you can fill the empty space with a table.)


Line drawing showing distance between dining table and furnitureDistance between dining table and furniture: 36 inches

Ideally, you want to leave enough space between the table and a piece of furniture, such as a buffet or bar cart, to allow enough room for guests to walk behind chairs while others are seated or to open a drawer or cabinet when you need to get an item out.

Distance between edge of dining table and edge of rug: 24 inches

There’s nothing worse than chair legs catching on the edge of the rug. This is the minimum amount of space that will accommodate chairs to sit on the rug even when pulled away from the table. An easy way to ensure you get the right size rug is to measure your dining room table and add at least 24 inches on each side.

Space needed between dining chairsDistance between dining room chairs: 24 inches

“Rubbing elbows” is just an expression — not something you actually want to do with your dinner companion. Stick to this general guideline to help create space for every person dining at your table as well as prevent collisions when they’re getting in and out of their chairs.


Distance between bed and bedside table should be around 3-6 inches
Distance between bed and bedside table: 3 inches

Leaving just a little space between these two pieces prevents the furniture from looking crowded, yet keeps your bedside table within easy reaching distance of your lamp, alarm clock and tissue box.  

Leave at least 24 inches of rug on either side of bed
Distance between edge of bed and edge of rug: 12-18 inches

Wake up to warmth underfoot with a rug under your bed, but make sure it’s proportional to the size of your bed. It should extend out at least 12 inches for a full- or twin-sized bed and 18 inches for a king- or queen-sized bed. Or, if you’d prefer to flank your bed with a pair of rugs, make sure it covers 75 percent of the space from the end of the bedside table to the foot of the bed (a pair of runners would do the trick).

Distance between a bed and the wall or dresser: 24″ inches

A bed needs at least two feet of walking space around it to accommodate room to make up your bed (unless you need a good excuse not to) and for opening and closing the drawers of your dresser or doors of a closet. If you have a bench at the foot of your bed, measure 24 inches from the edge of the bench.

Find tips on how to layout your living room and more How-To guides.

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.


  1. Reply

    Kim Froehlich

    October 2, 2020

    I love this website so much! I just bought a new house and want to maximize seating for our family of 6, but I don’t want to overcrowd the room. I found a couch I love, which is 155″ x 124″ in an L shape with the 155 going across the back of the room, which is 20.5 feet across. This leaves 91″ which is only 7.6 feet across to then place another 2 chairs for conversation along the other wall, plus allow for walking. It’s a great room, so the back of the 155″ side is the transition to the kitchen.
    I know it’s a little hard to picture, but would you think the 155″ is an acceptable size, or will it be too large for that space, with wanting another chair on the side?
    Thanks for your help!

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      October 9, 2020

      Hi Kim,
      Thank you for your question. Test it out using our Room Planner tool where you can really test out the sizing. Typically you want at least 24″ to walk around the chair.
      Good luck!

  2. Reply


    September 15, 2020

    Thanks for putting all these pointers in one place. Very useful! Please note, however, that each dining space should be 24 inches, as opposed to having 24 inches between spaces.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      October 9, 2020

      Thanks, Gwen. We’ll make that correction!

  3. Reply


    January 20, 2020

    What a great treasure trove of straight-to-the point recommendations! So glad I found your site. You’re the best!

  4. Reply

    Leighton Clark

    January 11, 2020

    Are there any rules or guidelines regarding the size/dimensions of a sofa relative to the size/dimensions of the buyer?

  5. Reply


    December 30, 2019

    Thanks Patricia, Needed info on how to choose lampshades for my lamps. Thank you so very much for walking me through the process. Look forward to learning the rule of thumb on other issues. Thanks again!

  6. Reply

    Thomas A Jackson

    November 24, 2019

    It would be great if she can list where one could find some of the furniture in the pictures.

    • Reply

      Abbey Nolte

      November 25, 2019

      Hi Thomas,
      All of the furniture can be found on our site.

  7. Reply


    February 15, 2019

    I love Patricia Palermo’s posts! She gives such practical advice for me to apply in my own home. Thank you Patricia! You never disappoint.