Space Planning: How To Decide On Your Furniture Arrangement

I've spent the last few weeks moving my furniture around. While the office is pretty much a done deal, the living room is in complete chaos. Into the dining room (now the office) went the mirrored sofa table, the end tables, the storage ottomans. The living room will now serve as both living room and dining room. The question is, how do I arrange the furniture to take the best advantage of the room's pluses (big room, high beamed ceiling) while working around its minuses (it's a very narrow room with lots of doors). Budget, of course, is a factor; I need to work with what I have.

After playing with the arrangements on paper, I decided I needed to move the furniture around to see what it felt like in real life before making the final decision. Here are some of the furniture arrangements I'm considering and their pros and cons given how I live, entertain and use my space.

  • Option 1: Dining room in the back of the room, living room in the front of the room as you walk in, leaving the TV and the poster where they are. The challenge with this arrangement is that it feels weird when you first come in, like you're walking into a crowded furniture store. The room is really big and I'd like to keep that lofty airy feeling which this arrangement lacks. If I kept this arrangement, I'd definitely need to purchase a new couch. Uh, no. Budget, as you may remember is a major concern.
  • Option 2: Dining room centered in the front of the room, living room in the back, move the TV, move the poster. A friend of mine pointed out that the poster may be what's hanging me up about figuring out the space. That was one of the lightbulb moments in this process. Good rule of thumb: figure out the furniture and then work the accessories, no matter how large they are, around them. Same with the TV. It's worth the few extra dollars you might have to pay the cable guy to structure the room how you want it rather than basing it on where the person before you had their TV. Similar issues to option 1: with the furniture front and center, the room feels crowded. I do like having a place to put stuff down right in front of me as I walk in though, something to keep in mind. Maybe the entry table can be pushed up against the back of the couch? This is why it's a good idea to keep everything in the outbox (or in my case, a corner) until you figure out your arrangement. You never know; something you might have decided to toss may just as quickly become the item you most need to complete your arrangement.
  • Option 3: Dining table on the wall (probably on the wall where the TV is now, which is just to the right as you walk in and feels like a "natural" place to be able to put stuff down if necessary). Since I don't have formal sit-down dinner parties that often, the dining table doesn't have to be front and center. It can just as easily be pushed to one wall or the other and be pulled out for parties. Against the wall, it can more easily double as a space to do craft projects, something which I'd like to do more often. And, if the TV ends up on the wall where the poster is now, all that space will mean it'll be easier to push back the couch to get up and play games on the Wii or XBox. And I like having a little "stretching room" between the front door and the rest of the room. I also like adding a couch to the items I'm planning to sell.

So I've decided to work towards option 3. What do you think? How did you figure out your room's arrangement and are you happy with it or could it use some tweaking? What I've learned is, however it looks on paper, at some point, I have to get up and move stuff around and see how it feels. I've also learned you can transform your room pretty quickly, without spending a lot of money, by moving the furniture around.

Images: Abby Stone

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