Be Your Own Designer: 10 Flawless Ways to Lay Out a Living Room

updated Apr 2, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Our living rooms wear a lot of hats: we watch TV, entertain friends, have conversations and spend time reading in them. Sometimes they double as home offices, playrooms for kids, or even dining rooms, too. With all these considerations, it can be tricky to decide how best to arrange your living room, but thinking about the feeling you’d like the space to convey in combination with how you’ll spend time there is a solid way to start.

Here are 10 living room layout ideas to get those creative wheels spinning. And yes, most of these options apply to more traditional living room setups, but these floor plans are meant as a jumping off point for your unique space. Take what you want from them and make them your own! And scroll down to the bottom for some thoughts on working around awkward architectural features and being flexible with your living room layout.

10 Living Room Layout Ideas

In order to show you 10 different living room layouts, I first had to come up with a versatile enough floor plan, one that incorporated a few problems/features we’d all recognize. Here, a long rectangular room has a central fireplace, windows to the front, and glass doors/garden access to the rear.

It’s a generous space, but not one without challenges. In each layout, I’ve tried to consider TV placement (because, let’s face it, most of us prioritize that in a living room), storage, traffic routes, and zoning the space with rugs and accessories.

Your own home may not have a living room that’s quite so versatile—it’s a sad truth that the smaller (or more oddly shaped) a room is, the fewer ways it can work as a space. My own L-shaped living/dining area only really works one way due to short walls, radiators, and an entire wall of windows. So think of these specific layouts as tailored to this space, but take inspiration on how you can re-think your own home in a multitude of ways.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

1. Formal and Balanced

This is probably the layout many of us think of when we consider a “formal” living room: two small sofas facing each other, a coffee table between them. Built-ins to either side of the fireplace provide storage, and a TV over the mantle can be easily viewed from either sofa.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

2. Casual and Balanced

Similar to the above, this is just a bit more relaxed. Two matching chairs offer a different seating option, and the TV moves to one side of the fireplace, as it’s more likely to be viewed from the sofa. I’ve also squeezed in a little writing desk for occasional work.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

3. Lots of Versatile Seating

Swinging the sofa lengthwise to the room allows for a slightly larger one, facing the TV directly. Two armchairs in opposite corners can be moved where needed, and a pouf-as-coffee table can become seating in a pinch, as well. This is definitely a living room to welcome your friends’ ’round for movie night.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

4. Minimal and Comfortable

When comfort and style are both paramount, pare down the furniture but select it carefully. A sectional sofa and armchair and footstool offer the only seating, but since they’re both such comfortable options, nobody will feel like they got the sad seat.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

5. Retro Party Pad

There’s something deeply chic about a ’70s-style sectional and matching chaise, don’t you think? Here, we lose the built-ins in favor of some freestanding mid-century media and storage units, just for a change. For added party points, I’ve added a bar cart in the corner and an oversize coffee table, perfect for all those party snacks.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

6. Work & Live Space

The nice thing about a sectional is that it can divide a space without really dividing it if you know what I mean. With the chaise situated in the center of the room, this space is essentially a small living room + office. The rug, only under the “living area,” further underlines this.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

7. Modern Country Casual

Many cozy conversation areas come to mind when I think of country-style design. A small table, paired with two cozy armchairs, allows for board games or reading, while two small sofas face each other for comfier conversations. The TV is placed centrally in some formal built-ins but is probably less important in this space.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

8. Family Friendly

In this space, the sectional becomes a full-on L-shaped sofa, with arms and back all around. Extra seating is provided by a large pouf/ottoman, and the other half of the room is all play zone, with toy storage provided. I’ve even cleared the way for a child’s play table or toy kitchen.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

9. Separate Dining Zone

A lot of us have live-eat rooms, so here’s an option if that’s your situation. By placing the sofa in the center of the room with its back to the dining area, you create two separate spaces, and the rug also helps with this. The living area is small, true, but it looks out into the garden, and the TV is placed on a media unit nearby. In the dining area, I added shelving for books on each side, to make a sort of eat-in library.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

10. Integrated Dining Zone

This layout is similar to the above but more casual and spacious in feel. A sectional under the windows, a table by the doors, and a central TV that can be viewed from either space. I’ve kept the rug under the living area only, but this would work just as well with a large centralized one, provided you weren’t worried about food spills.

Credit: Gracie Brett

Small Living Room Layout Issues

Sometimes, a living room can feel like it’s impossible to work with, thanks to asymmetrical openings, large windows, weird dimensions, and other awkward features. Feel seen with these issues? These ideas can help you accommodate some of these real life design challenges.

Credit: Photo: Armando Rafael; Stylist: Margaret Ward

Very Large Windows, Several Doors, and/or Openings into to Other Rooms

It probably goes without saying, but when you have more than a few doors, very big windows, or live in a more open plan setting, your living room challenge is likely about your lack of wall space for anchoring major pieces of furniture. Floating sofas and chairs make sense here and may be the only solution, depending on how much uninterrupted wall space you ultimately have; just be sure to not obscure any of the room’s major walkways and work with any natural focal points you have, like a fireplace, for the best spatial orientation.

Credit: Andie Powers

A Weird Bump Out or Stairs/Staircase

When, say, your fireplace juts out into your space awkwardly, or maybe you have a staircase that starts right in your living room proper, you’re going to have to get creative with your layout. Start with your sofa; typically, floating this piece will be your best bet here, too. Orient it in a way that makes sense with the rest of your room’s dimensions. Be sure not to cut off any necessary walkways or entrances into rooms and/or other floors. The recesses created by bump outs are great places to put furniture, especially storage pieces. Dressers, sideboards, and the like are a perfectly suited for backing into a recess. Find one that fits your bump out like a glove for a built-in look. And consider hanging art, as shown above. Or try a television in this spot, if you can make it work with your sofa’s placement.

Credit: Wyatt Mangum

A Very Long, Narrow Footprint

When you’re working with a longer, thinner space for your living room, you’ll want to keep a few different things in mind. First, you might have to stick to the basics when it comes to furniture and go multipurpose where possible, as shown in the Brooklyn living room above. Think a two to three seat sofa against a wall, a TV opposite it that’s perhaps on a bookshelf or console, and a leggy chair or two for when company comes over.

Work the perimeter of the room where you can for extra storage pieces, like vertical bookshelves, storage ottomans, or even a secretary style desk or dresser. If at all possible, try to break up your furniture a bit, making sure it’s not on just one side of the long wall. This creates a better flow around the space and helps ensure your room isn’t reading like a hallway visually. For alternatives, including utilizing the middle of the room or a L-shaped sectional in a corner, check out these five long, narrow living room ideas.