The Living Room Layout on Its Way Out (And the Retro One That’s Replacing It)

published Mar 13, 2023
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Couch and bookshelf in cozy living room
Credit: Getty Images/Westend61

When it comes to living room layouts, the open-floor concept has its friends and its foes. I’m going to just go hide in another room so I don’t have to moderate that passionate debate. 

Instead, I did decide ask a whole bunch of real estate agents which living room layout is falling out of fashion. Regardless of whether you’re Team Open-Floor or you like your living spaces to come with more definition, there was one common underlying theme in real estate agents’ responses — and it’s tech-driven. 

The living room layout that’s on its way out… is any one in which the TV dominates how the space is arranged. Helping fuel this trend is the advent of TVs that don’t look at TVs at all. (Think: Samsung’s Frame TV that can inconspicuously double as a digital art gallery and is framed like a work of art or can be placed on a studio stand.)

Credit: Getty Images/FilippoBacci

“We are seeing homeowners get really creative with how they make televisions seamlessly a part of the living room without it being a primary focal point,” says Emily Waldmann, an Austin, Texas-based real estate agent with Douglas Elliman. “Whether it’s a Samsung Frame TV as a part of a gallery wall, or a creative sliding cover for the TV when it’s not in use, this is definitely something our clients are talking about.” 

Perhaps even more interesting is what’s replacing the TV-centric living room. Waldmann says she’s seeing the revival of the sunken living room — the kind that creates a distinct living space that’s more about facilitating conversation and socializing than TV watching. 

“It’s partially driven by the trend of restoring and remodeling mid-century homes and a return to hosting and connecting with people in your home as a focal point in a post-Covid era,” Waldmann says. “This style is being done in a new, modern way. We love to see it.”

With less of a focus on television-watching, there’s more flexibility with how seating is arranged, says Scott Nachatilo, property manager and owner at OKC Home Realty Services in Oklahoma City. Options like smaller sofas and different styles of seating (egg chairs! Low-slung rattan chairs! Scalloped armchairs wrapped in velvet and floor poufs!) are joining the more traditional armchairs and recliners we associate with settling in to watch Netflix.

Brady Bridges, broker and owner of Reside Real Estate in Fort Worth, Texas, is also seeing the trend away from TVs being the central focal point in a living room. The increasing popularity of streaming services, he points out, means people can watch their favorite shows or a movie from just about anywhere.

“Instead, people are now aiming for incorporating a more social and interactive living space,” Bridges says. “The conversation pit style of seating arrangement has become a popular alternative to TV-centric layouts. This involves arranging the furniture in a circular or semi-circular style, with an ottoman or low table in the center.” 

The layout, Bridges says, encourages conversations and creates a relaxed and cozy atmosphere. Here’s how to create a conversation pit in your own space.