10 Fundamental Rules for Good Furniture Layouts

This week’s project theme in the Quarantine DIY Home Projects comes at zero cost! So what are you waiting for? Rearranging your furniture can make a room look and feel brand new, even though you haven’t spend a penny. And let’s face it, freshening up a room right now will give us a welcome break from staring at the same four walls. So check out these 10 rules for creating good furniture layouts, whether you have an expansive room or a small apartment.

Assess How You’ll Use The Space

The first most important rule is to assess how you’ll use the space. At the end of the day it’s your home, and you have to live in it. So if you use your living room to watch TV, there’s no point in arranging two sofas opposite each other and perpendicular to the TV! So sit down with your family and discuss how you do, or want to use the space before you start moving any furniture.

Good furniture layout and traffic flow in a large open plan room

Traffic Flow

The next most important thing to consider is traffic flow. Traffic flow through a room can drastically dictate the furniture layout. You may have a walkway that flows right through where you’d ideally like to place that large bulky sofa, so you either have to work around it, or move the door!

Assuming you don’t want the expense and hassle of moving the doors in your room, there are ways to navigate an awkward flow. The basic rule is, always try to allow at least 3 feet around furniture, and try not to place objects in the way of a traffic flow.

Always allow at least 3 feet around furniture

Focal Point

Next you should decide what the focal point of the room will be, and try to arrange furniture around it. It might be something obvious like a fireplace, or a view through a large picture window. If you don’t have an obvious focal point though, you can add one with a large mirror or piece of artwork.

Good furniture layouts in an open plan room with defined areas

Furniture Layouts for Open-Plan Living

If you have an open-plan living area, think of it as separate rooms still. For example, you could position a sectional sofa in the middle of the room, where the back of the sofa creates a distinct visual “living room”. Rugs are another good option for clearly defining individual spaces within an open-plan room. Try to make them large enough, so that all the furniture sits on them though.

Don’t Squeeze Furniture Up Against Walls

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. I’ve seen so many times, people squeezing furniture up against walls on the perimeter of the room. This might be the easiest layout, but it’s definitely not the best. Try leaving even a 12″ gap between furniture and the walls to create the illusion of more space.

Scale and Balance

When rearranging furniture layouts, think about scale and balance. If you have a massive bed or sofa, don’t place tiny end tables next to them. Try swapping them for larger tables you might have elsewhere in the house.

When it comes to balance, think about size but also color and patterns. A good tip is to repeat the colors throughout the room to tie it together better and make the design more cohesive. So if you have a blue armchair on one side of the room, and a cream sofa on the other, try adding a blue cushion to the sofa to balance it out.

Conversation area - good furniture layouts

Create a Conversation Area

Arranging furniture layouts to promote conversation is a good thing, especially in these days of being ‘always on’ with technology. But back to my first point, don’t arrange your sofas opposite each other if you know you love a good Netflix binge each night! You can create smaller conversation spaces with armchairs positioned next to each other with a small table in between. Make sure they’re not more than 8ft apart though, otherwise you’ll be shouting to your partner!

Optimal TV Position

And although we probably all love the idea of going technology-free, we probably all have a large screen TV somewhere in the house. So what is the best position for it? There are a few basic rules when it comes to positioning the TV. Your seating should be roughly 8-12 feet away, and the angle of the TV should be no more than 30 degrees. Also, try not to position it opposite or next to a bright light source, unless you have suitable shades.

Good bedroom furniture layout

The Bedroom

Rearranging your bedroom furniture can definitely make your room feel new again. There are a few different layout options for your bed position, and it really comes down to personal preference. I always like to position a bed away from a window wall, ideally looking out onto a view. So when you wake up in the morning, and pull back the curtains, you can can take in the beautiful view. However I’ve seen a lot of people positioning the bed over a window, even in a large room. This layout option definitely isn’t for me, as I feel it would darken the room, and make it difficult to close the curtains, but if you’ve found it different I’d love to hear about it! The general rules for bedroom layouts though are – 2 feet around either side of the bed, and not within 3 feet of the door ideally.

You should leave 2 feet either side of the bed

The Dining Room

And finally a great tip to maximize the space in your dining room, is to reflect the shape of the room in your dining table. I.e. if you have a rectangular room, opt for a rectangular dining table. If you have a square room, or small room, a circular table is a good option. Make sure that you leave about 3 feet around the table, and 6″ between each chair. Each place setting should have around 20-24″ of space.

So what are you waiting for? Start rearranging your rooms! But first, a good tip that will save you any unnecessary heavy lifting, is to use a floor planner tool like Planner 5D. By measuring your room dimensions and translating that to a floor plan on screen first, you can drop in your furniture and size it to the exact dimensions to see if it will fit. You can then see it in 3D to see if you’ll like it first. I use this tool for every room I design now, and it has been a great way to create great furniture layouts before ever moving a chair.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog post. If you liked this, consider subscribing to emails to stay up to date with the latest blog posts. I promise I won’t spam you – I don’t have the time to! 🙂

Thanks for reading,


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