The Living Room Layout Hack That Makes My Apartment Feel Way Bigger

published Jul 22, 2023
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deep red patterned runner, wood desk in corner, black swivel desk chair, white fur throw, green couch, orange throw pillow, floating book shelves, colorful books, wood coffee table, dark curtains, desk lamp, geometric art, white molding
Credit: Madeline Bilis

Long before I ever had my own apartment, I often fell victim to a common furniture placement blunder: putting all the biggest pieces flush against the wall. Take a gander at any of the home designs I dreamed up during my childhood in games like the Sims, and you’d notice couches, tables, and bookshelves shoved against each of the room’s four walls, with a strange amount of empty space in the middle. (And what is adulthood if not a longer, more complicated version of the Sims?)

Even in some of my first apartments in college, I’d push my couch up against the wall. It just seemed like the natural place for it to go. And sometimes, it is! But it wasn’t until later that I learned about the magic of creating “zones,” in your space, thanks to the intel of home stagers like McCall Dulkys, who uses furniture and wall decor to delineate open-concept floor plans.

“Clients constantly think they need small furniture in their small rentals, yet the opposite is actually true,” Dulkys told Apartment Therapy last year

It turns out, large pieces of furniture can comfortably sit in the middle of a room, if you want them to. It’s a living room layout hack that actually made the space — and my entire apartment — feel much larger than it actually is.

Credit: Madeline Bilis

Here’s how it went: I decided to divide up my living room with my new, generously sized sofa by putting it closer to the wall with the TV. The idea was to establish a cozy “living zone” with it. Then, behind the sofa, I laid down a long runner rug that leads to my desk, essentially creating a faux “hallway” leading to my “office zone.” I’m using a lot of quotation marks here, because the hallway and the home office, for example, don’t actually exist. Rather, they halfway exist.

Credit: Madeline Bilis

Now what I have is a living room that feels super spacious, with a place for relaxing, a nook for working, and even a little hallway to do yoga in the mornings. I’ll continue to be impressed by the magic of a well-placed sofa and a well-placed runner. I encourage you to play around with your own living room layout (using one of these apps, perhaps?) to see what zones you can come up with. The possibilities aren’t quite endless, but they’re close.