Are You Making These Common Furniture Layout Mistakes?

published Jul 16, 2017
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Furniture buying is hard; even harder still might be where to put it all and how to arrange a room. You might be inclined to just throw everything up against the wall, or set up your stuff the way your parents did in your childhood home. And though it might not seem like rocket science, the littlest tweaks in flow and placement can really make a colossal difference in the way a room feels and how you live in it. Below, we broke down four common errors you might be overlooking in your own home (and how to fix them).

Eyeline Eyesores

Flow isn’t just about physical maneuvering, it’s also about how your eyes move around a space, and even beyond it. Keeping the view across a room and out the windows clear improves the sense of space, so think low in the center of a space and high around the perimeter.

Obviously, we do a lot of this naturally: that’s why coffee tables and low sofas look great floating in a room, while bookshelves sit best against a wall. But some items, like high-back occasional chairs and floor lamps, can trip us up. Try keeping the higher, heavier ones under the typical sight lines across a room, and see how the space increases.

Frustrating Flow

By far the most common furniture layout mistake is poor flow. Every commonly walked “path” within a space (to closets, outside doors, other rooms and major pieces of furniture) should be comfortably clear—a good rule of thumb is to keep 3 feet of space open.

Sometimes, improving flow is as simple as switching out a single item. Smaller, curvier pieces of furniture are more easily navigated past than their bulky and square counterparts: in the living room in the video above, an oval coffee table makes the walk across the room much more pleasant.

Wallflower Syndrome

We all know that “wallflower syndrome” affects living rooms the world over, and ideally, we’d all float our seating areas. But what if your room is that annoying size, wherein pushing everything against the walls creates the “dance party about to go down” look, but there isn’t quite enough room to pull everything into the center?

Good news: you really only need a foot of space between furniture and the wall to reap the benefits of floating, not the full 3 feet of “path” as above. It may seem strange at first, but try pulling your sofa forward just a bit and see how it feels for a week. If that blank wall behind is really bothering you, hang some large-scale art that makes use of the newly empty surface.

Too Much Seating

When was the last time you really needed all those occasional chairs? I don’t know about you, but when I have more than four people over at once, we’re probably all standing around the kitchen anyway.

Try removing one excess chair and see what happens. I’m betting it will improve flow, the view, and a general sense of spaciousness. If you’re in the market for new seating, consider a sectional (which is more comfortable for everyday use). For extra seating when needed, consider double-duty pieces: in my opinion the best coffee table is an ottoman or pouf with a tray on top.